Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jimmy Phoenix - 10 - Another Day

The children were pleased to have Zoe back. The food was better, the house was cleaner, they had clean clothes for school and they could find their toys again.

If Zoe wasn't happy, then it's not like she felt she deserved to be. "After all, I brought this on myself." she thought. "I should never have invited Dina over. It's all my fault."

Jimmy wasn't happy either. Having Zoe there was a constant reminder that things were not the same between them. Photographing weddings only made him bitterly resentful that his marriage had gone so badly. He wanted to feel angry with Zoe, but he couldn't understand why he kept apologising to her.

Her sad brown eyes looked down - rarely did she look anyone in the face anymore.

"I'm sorry Zoe. I'm going to be late for dinner tonight." Jimmy rang one night.

"That's ok. I'll save you some dinner - you can reheat it in the microwave."


He hung up. "She doesn't even care what I'm doing." He thought. He put on a jacket and got ready for his job interview. "Blast it. I should never have let her back into the home."

He straightened his tie. The little inner voice he preferred not to hear whispered to him. "You should have never let her go in the first place."


Zoe hung up the phone. "I don't deserve an explanation." She sighed. "I suppose he's found another woman."

She didn't even realise that she was crying until the tears fell into the mixing bowl. She only hoped that the boys didn't see it.

Mark refused to sleep in his dad's bed, and curled up on the couch. He ran to his mother, first thing when he got home, and they had a cuddle and a talk about his grades. Always a quiet boy, Mark withdrew from his school mates, and clung to his mother. He took to wearing black all the time.

Matthew didn't think that was a good idea though.  He put the radio on and danced around his brother like a hooligan, until Mark joined in or got fed up. Other times they went outside and hit each other with pillows. Sometimes it got intense. And Mark and Matthew would yell at each other in anger.

"It's your fault mumma went away!!" Matthew yelled at Mark once, "If she goes away, it's going to be all your fault again too!"

"It's Dad's fault she's going to go away again. He's being mean to her!"

"It is not! Dad's a good daddy!" Matthew swiped the pillow across Mark's head. Mark saw stars and burst into tears.

"Mumma Mumma! Mattie's being mean to me!!" Mark ran inside to his mother, and clutched her around the legs.

"Am Not Marky, you're a liar!" Matthew ran in behind him, and smacked Mark on the back of the head.

"That's enough Matthew! Say sorry to your brother for hitting him." Zoe looked at Matthew sternly.

"Sorry Marky." Matthew looked at the ground, "You're not going to go away again are you Mumma?"

"No Matthew. I'm not going to go away again. That's a promise!" She hugged both her boys.

Zoe felt guilty that she had caused such insecurity in her boys, but she couldn't talk to  Jimmy about it. He'd send her away for causing trouble, and she didn't want to break her promise to the boys. 

The weeks went on. Jimmy got a promotion into creating copies of masterpieces for purposes of insurance. It wasn't his own art work, but it was a raise, and it meant that he kept better hours for the boys.

If Zoe thought he did it to make sure that she didn't go seeing Dina behind his back, then she didn't say anything.

The boys settled down at school, and their behaviour improved as they got used to having their mother around.  Jimmy tried to convince himself that this was best for the boys, and everyone was a lot happier.

Zoe liked to think that nobody noticed how unhappy she was. Until the day she came home from shopping and was ordered out of the kitchen by both boys.

"No! We'll put the food away. You can't come it!." The boys were very adamant. and pushed her away from the door.

Matthew took the food from her, "Go to your room Mumma! It's a surprise!"

"What is?" Zoe tried to look over his shoulder.

"If we told you that, it wouldn't be a surprise, would it!" He looked at her with a raised eyebrow. In the meantime Mark continued to beaver away in the kitchen.

"OK. How long do I have to wait? I will need to put on your dinner soon."

Matthew went and had a serious conversation with Mark. "Marky says 30 minutes. OK?"

"OK. " Zoe went to her room and sat on her bed. Matthew came and sat next to her. "Don't you have to work on the surprise too?"

"No. It's Mark's surprise for you. My job is to sit with you and make sure you don't peek."

Zoe suppressed a giggle. Matthew was looking very serious. "How about you tell me about your day then?"

Half an hour went by, and Mark called out - Ready! At that, Matthew ran from the room and out of the house. Zoe got up, and went to the kitchen.

There on Jimmy's easel was a new painting. Obviously done by Mark. The picture was done with love and some little talent. That much was obvious. But what made her burst into tears was the note "For you Mumma, Because I want you to be happy. Love Matthew and Mark."

She sat on the floor and cried. Mark and Matthew came in and put their arms around her shoulders. "We love you Mumma."

"I love you too" She hugged them fiercely to herself. "I love you so very much."

Zoe put the picture up over her bed. Every evening - she looked at it, and said to herself. "That's why it's worth it."

Jimmy got her an easel, but it was Mark who painted pictures for his mum. There was no room for a dresser, and all her clothes were upstairs. Organising changing, bathroom and so on was proving difficult. She felt uncomfortable getting through the morning routines in her pyjamas, but using the bathroom, and changing afterwards was problematical, because Jimmy was invariably upstairs and she felt shy around him. She wasn't sure what to do, and Jimmy was being remarkably obtuse about it as well.

Whenever their mum wasn't looking, the boys would take the pillows from her bed, and play around. They loved seeing the feathers fly. Zoe went through so many pillows, so she eventually had to get tough with them.

She hadn't disciplined them since her return, and Zoe felt very nervous about doing it, this first time. Would they yell at her? Would they resent her?

They sulked and pouted, as they went and sat on their beds. But they stopped using her pillows as snow makers, and Zoe felt a little more confident about "being the mum".

Jimmy was not taking a back seat with the boys though - the night time routine was his alone time with boys, and Zoe was careful not to intrude.

The boys had been good all week, so she organised a play date with some of their friends. All was going well, until one of the girls started teasing Mark to put him off his chess game.

"Your parents are going to get a divorce, because your mummy and daddy live in different rooms. You have to "

"No they're not. Mummy has promised she won't go away."

"She's only saying that. MY Mummy says that your mummy is a bad lady, cause she was kissing another lady. MY Mummy says that your mummy has always been a bad lady."

Mark tipped up the board and the pieces went all over the floor.

"Mumma is a good lady! You take that back!" Mark lunged at the girl and she fell backwards off the chair.

In the meantime, Matthew rang his father at work. "Dad?"

"Yes son, what's up?"

"Are you going to divorce Mumma? Beth says that you are, and that Mumma is a bad lady."

"Where's your mum?" Jimmy was alarmed at the noise, "I'm not divorcing her. That's not something we've talked about."

"You don't talk to Mumma at all, Dad. Why is that?"

"Matthew I have to get back to work. Can we talk about this when I get home?"

"OK Dad." He hung up. Jimmy went into his boss, to ask him for some time off.

Zoe, rushed in when she heard Beth screaming. "What's happened?"

"I wanna go home." Beth wailed. "Marky pushed me over."

"Send her home, Mumma. We don't want her here."

"Mark go to your room! Now!"

When the havoc settled, and the children were collected, Zoe went up and spoke to both the boys.

"OK. Tell me what happened." The boys recounted their tale, and Mark told Zoe what Beth had said.

"Your dad and I haven't talked about divorce, but I don't think we'll ever be sharing a room together."

"Don't you love each other anymore?" Mark looked at her with tears in his eyes.

"I can't speak for your Dad, Marky. I know that I love your father, and both you boys very much, and I'm really sorry that I hurt you all."

Mark and Matthew hugged their mum. "We love you too mum."

"I'm sorry your day went so badly. I have an idea. How about I change your looks?"

An hour later, and both boys were looking much different. Mark wanted his hair long and black, but Matthew had his hair bleached. They both felt very grown up with their new hairstyles, and went to bed happy.

Jimmy was late home (so much for having a considerate boss!), and he heard the quiet crying of Zoe in her room. Jimmy opened the door and stood next to her.

"I'm sorry Zoe. You must have had a rough day." He put his arm around her shoulders, and without a word, she turned towards him and clung to him, sobbing - the tears soaking his shirt.

Jimmy wrapped his arms around her and soothed her with pats, and meaningless words. He was overcome with nostalgia, at the smell of her hair, and her own personal perfume. The feel of her soft body against his skin.

His arms tightened around her. "Oh Zoe. I've missed you so much."

She looked up at him, her eyes wide - showing the pain she felt and the longing she had for him. "Are you going to divorce me?"

"No. I'm not going to divorce you."

"Why not? You don't want me any more. Isn't there another woman that you want to be with?" Zoe remembered his late nights.

Jimmy leant towards her. "No. There's never been any other woman I've wanted to be with." He ended the sentence with a kiss.

She returned his kiss without thinking.

One thing lead to another and before either could question the wisdom of the next move, they found themselves in a familiar situation, both caught up in the passion.

Zoe was hungry for Jimmy - the feeling of his skin, his arms about her - and his whispered words to her while they were together fired her enthusiasm for him.

Jimmy felt like he was turning back time. He remembered how much he loved the silky texture of her skin, and her feminine softness.

In the heat of the moment, Jimmy didn't take precautions, but neither really though about it. The woo-hoo was just as magical as it was when they first started to woo-hoo so many years ago at University. 

Jimmy fell asleep afterwards, spooned towards his estranged wife.

Zoe lay beside him, feeling his body snuggled against hers. She wondered how he would feel in the morning when he found her there.

She had a feeling that they had made a big mistake.

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