While Trixie decides between which scrubs to wear today, she thinks on Alex’s hasty goodbye. Even after seven years together, he still doesn’t know how to leave properly. After a moment’s hesitation, Trixie realizes she shouldn’t be so harsh with him. He has gotten better over the years. At the peak of what you might call their “good years” he would at least buss her on the cheek or put his forehead to hers before leaving, creating a closeness that Trixie craved at the moment.
Trixie reaches for her day planner, a habit she kept since college, trying to think of all of her appointments today. Finding today’s date Trixie notices that she has work from 8-4, then group at 7, which gives her enough time to go to the gym. She’ll need the intense workout to clear her head before the group therapy session this evening. It’s her turn to share, talk about the events of the past year, the turning point leading to the distance in her marriage and the crossroad where she’s currently standing.
All of the couples in group have had similar experiences, a series of moments that hold them hostage and haunt their movements. Alex went for the first two sessions, until he found the whole experience taxing and overwhelming.
“Why do we have to keep reliving what happened Trixie? I don’t want to continue to talk about past events. We’re here, now. Let’s be happy for today. You need to move on. I’ve moved on.”
“It’s like you want me to pretend he never existed. A AingilÍn, my angel. I carried him. I listened to his heartbeat. I felt his hand squeeze mine. I can’t just let that go as if it never happened. I want you to go with me Alex, I need your support. I need help to move on.”
“Trix, I can’t. I can’t keep going week after week to hear these sob stories. I’m sorry this happened. But life doesn’t stop because of a tragedy. We have to move on Duchess.”
Alex was always good at compartmentalizing his life, sectioning off difficult emotions until he either repressed them or was ready to handle the aftermath. Trixie used to envy that trait. Now what she feels is a mixture of resentment and despair. Mentally shaking off bad memories, she heads to the closet in search of her gym bag.
After a 10minute search she realizes Alex must have taken hers by mistake on his way out today. It was a mistake to buy matching grey bags, the only distinction being the navy handles on hers and the black handles on his. Trixie starts removing items from Alex’s black-handled bag, prepping it for her own use. On the bottom of the bag Trixie discovers a disposable cell phone, not Alex’s normal smartphone. Opening the phone, Trixie sees the same number listed repeatedly in the call log—‘Stunner’.
That’s what Alex used to call his conquests in college.
Scrolling through the text messages her eyes can’t help but alight on love words and a rendezvous.
Trés Café 8pm. I made reservations. See you soon love-bug.
This latest date is set for tomorrow, when Alex is supposed to be in San Diego. But Trés Café is off Walnut Street in Montclair, right outside the city, near where Alex grew up. When Alex would want to connect with his high school friends after work, he’d go to Trés for dinner and drinks. This can’t be a coincidence. Trixie looks down to see it’s 7:15, if she doesn’t leave soon she’ll be late for clock-in and to relieve the overnight nurse. Throwing clothes in the bag, Trixie places the drop phone on top, sealing it in the zipped duffel. She grabs the rest of her work stuff and her purse before shutting the bedroom door.
It’s time to confront ‘love-bug’ and figure out what the hell is going on.
Photos line the halls from the bedroom to the stairs and down to the ground floor. Pictures from college, of family gatherings, of Trixie and Alex’s wedding, the honeymoon in Fiji, holiday celebrations—this was their life. And with one text message, Alex had called in to question the sincerity of every smile and sentiment captured on film.
Tears threatened as Trixie reached the garage, passing the ½ drunken juice Alex left on the counter, juice she would normally grab to finish on her way to work. Now she couldn’t guarantee where his mouth had been. Her husband. Her best friend since freshman year of college. Looking up, Trixie wonders what will be taken next.