I drop another letter onto the growing pile at my feet. How could I have let myself start to trust Mark again? I hide my face, fighting the tears that threaten to spoil my makeup. The weight of the gold band speaking of a forever love weighs my heart to the ground. Pulling it from my finger, I sling it across the room.
I go back to the gym room and bury my fists again and again into the solid bulk of my punching bag. It swings from the relentlessness of my blows, and I smile imagining Ronda’s unknown face bruised by every swing. My mind numbs as the tingling pain shoots up my wrists and I fall to my knees at the foot of the bag, sobs choking my heaving lungs.
Covering my mouth, I fight to quiet myself as Timmy’s steps clatter down the hall toward me.
I force a smile as his small hand tugs on my hair.
“You’re eyes are closed. Are you sleeping? Why are you crying? You need a nex.”
I laugh as his pudgy fist plunges into the depths of his backpack. “What are you looking for?”
He pulls out his homework and shoves it in my face. “Here! Blow.”
I shake my head, “You’re my favorite five year old.” I take the papers from him.
“I’m your only one!” He says as I scoop him into a hug, my tears slowing to a stop.
I wince as his foot connects with my stomach.
“No cuddles!” He says as he squirms free and scurries out. “Come see daddy!”
I have nothing to say to Mark that a child should hear. I get to my feet and walk to the mirror. I gather my hair into a tight ponytail hoping to somehow pull the puffiness from my eyes.
I focus on my eyes as Mark stands in the doorway. He holds the letters.
“I don’t know why I kept these.”
I whirl around as I see his reflection drawing closer. “Why didn’t you tell me Ronda was being released today? That wasn’t the Valentine’s day gift I was expecting, but the truth would have been nice.”
He shrugs. “Because we were just getting past all of…” Mark waves the letters. “I’m with you, all the way, now.”
I stiffen as he wraps his arms around me.
“You know that, Honey.”
“Keeping love letters from an ex,” I duck out of his embrace, “doesn’t seem like you’re all of anywhere.”
“What do you expect,” he sighs, “when you do this every time I touch you?”
“I can’t trust you yet—”
“Then why are we still married? It’s been six months! That dang lawyer has been over every inch of my finances.” He steps toward me. “You know I’m not hiding anything. Ronda is Timmy’s mother, she’s in my life whether you like it or not.”
“Stop yelling at Aurora!” Timmy darts between us.
I lay a hand on his head. “Don’t worry Munchy, we’re fine.” I pat his butt and send him along. I take a deep breath, straightening my shoulders as I see Mark look at my battered knuckles.
“When are we going to get back to where we were?” He runs a hand through his hair.
“Then when are we going to get beyond it?”
As I turn to leave he grabs my arm.
“Don’t ignore me! You’re the Valentine I want for the rest of my life. What do you want me to do?”
“Be the man I thought you were.”
His grip tightens.
“Let go of me!” My head bounces as he shakes me and I dig my nails into his arms.
“I can’t be the perfect man you want!”
I stumble and fall as he releases me. “I never asked for perfect. I asked for real.” I scramble up, bending my knees slightly as I raise my hands in defense.
“Wow,” Mark’s eyes widen as he shakes his head. “You really think I want to fight? I don’t want to hurt you, Aurora! Why don’t you believe that?”
“Because your actions don’t back up your mouth.”
He pinches his lips as his jaw tightens. “Timmy and I are going for ice cream. Try to calm down in the mean-time.”
As they head out the front door I go into the bedroom and burry my face in a pillow, letting free the scream I wanted to direct into his ear.
“Would a locksmith be able to change front lock by the time they got home?” Timmy’s innocent smile flashes through my mind and I discard the idea. “If it weren’t for him,” I scowl, “you’d be on the street, Mark.”
I lay down, curling myself into a ball. “I should have stuck with my original plan. All travel,” I yawn, “and no man.” Why do I love him? As my emotions subside, sleep pulls me to it. “Dreams won’t solve your problems,” my eyelids droop, “but they’ll make you feel better.” I smile, remembering my funniest dream. “Octocat was riveted.”
My head pulls back and I wave my arm as something pushes against the back of my head. “I’m sleeping.” I pry one eye open a crack and check the clock, it’s only been a half hour. The thing pushes my head again. “Go away, Mark. I’m not ready to talk.”
“Oh,” a woman giggles, “We’re not here to talk.”
I roll over and find myself staring into the soulless pit of a gun barrel.
“Maybe I should introduce you,” Mark’s cousin Jenny says, grinning to the woman whose finger toys with the trigger. “This is Ronda.”
Thank you all so much for reading! Have a question you’d like to ask Aurora? Please leave it in a comment bellow and I’ll be sure to ‘ask’ her in my next character interview. I sincerely hope you all have a better Valentine’s day than Aurora!
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