Today is my appointment at SottoPelle. I’ve scheduled it over my lunch hour, so I spend the morning stressing about it. When I walk into the office, I quickly fill out the sign-in sheet. Maria is on the phone, her head tilted against the handset in the crook of her neck while she types on the computer. She flashes me a bright smile and I take my seat.
It isn’t long before the nurse calls me in. She takes my weight, blood pressure and pulse. All of them are higher than they should be, but she doesn’t say anything.
Inside the cheerful exam room she begins asking me questions about my symptoms. Then they send me to the lab to have my blood drawn.
It all happens very quickly, and before I know it it’s over and I’m back at my desk at work. I have a follow up appointment in one week to go over my results.
Fifteen minutes before quitting time, Lila makes her way over to my desk.
“How’d it go?” she asks me about the appointment.
I give her a brief overview. “You’ll be so happy you did it,” she tells me with a big grin. “It’s the best thing I ever did for myself.”
That evening, Steve, my ex, calls. When I see his number on my caller ID I waffle for a moment, not wanting to pick it up, not wanting to deal with this right now, but finally on the fourth ring I do.
“Hello Steve,” I say. I sound a bit like Newman on the Seinfeld Show.
I wait for him to say more. I mean, after all he’s the one who called me. His hesitation tells me this is hard for him. Good. It should be.
“I have some news,” he says finally.
Again I wait. I’m not going to make this any easier for him.
“I’ve asked Nadine to marry me, and she’s accepted.”
On my end of the phone I suck in air a little. The news is no surprise, of course, but it’s still a shock to hear it from him.
“Camille told me,” I finally manage, trying to sound nonchalant. I’m tempted to say congratulations, but I can’t bring myself to do it.
“Oh,” he replies. Then he chuckles. “Figures.” The fact that he’s laughing about it ticks me off.
“Is that all?” I snap.
“Yeah, I really wanted you to hear it from me first,” he says, the humor gone.
“Well, you screwed that one up,” I say. I don’t add as usual. But my comment is biting enough.
“Sorry, Claire,” he sighs. “I guess we all have to move on sometime.”
“I guess so,” I reply.
“You’ll be getting a wedding invitation for you and Alex,” he goes on. “I know it’s kind of weird, but you know, you’re the kids’ mom and Nadine’s okay with it.”
I don’t know what to say to that. At first I’m thinking is he crazy? Next, I kind of want to go. To be there for Camille and Alex. And even for him in some way. Could it be I’ve actually begun to let him go?
There’s another long silence, then Steve offers a few platitudes and says goodbye. I hang up before he can finish the g word. I feel the tears coming, like a hurricane it’s too late to evacuate for. I hurry to my bedroom just in time and hunker down underneath the deluge of grief, loneliness, and defeat.