She wanted to get off the couch and throw her shoes at them, but her head hurt too much and besides she couldn’t remember where she kicked them off the night before. Instead, with eyes closed, she reached for the bottle of vodka on the coffee table, knocking over her half-filled tumbler in the process and on to the concrete floor.
As Janey watched the liquid spread beneath the broken glass, she thought of Tom and how he argued against her wanting carpet. “Too many things remain hidden beneath the surface,” he had said in his slow, deliberate drawl. So she acquiesced to the jail-like floor, in great part because her best friend Sophia had agreed so enthusiastically with him.
Sophia and Tom. Just three days before, on Thursday at 3:04 pm to be exact, Janey had found them naked on the very same couch on which she herself was now lying. When she stepped into the doorway that day she was greeted by Sophia’s signature scent and knew immediately she’d been betrayed. If she stopped and breathed hard enough she could still smell it buried within the fabric, a sickly-sweet reminder of their infidelity.
As the ceiling swirled above her, Janey cursed herself for not stopping Sophia and Tom from going into business together six months earlier. But her fights with Tom about his not working had escalated to an almost daily occurrence. “At least it will get him off the couch,” she had thought when finally agreeing to front them the money.
So while Janey was at work stressing over never-ending deadlines, Tom and Sophia were spending their days in a converted warehouse leisurely making soap out of goat’s milk, while sharing joints and laughs and each other along the way.
Janey took a swig of vodka and allowed her gaze to shift from the floor to her computer. She was way past due on her article and had pressed “ignore” every time her editor, Alana, had called. She wanted to get up and wash away the events from the past 72 hours. But the dogs next door were now quiet and all that could be heard was the steady, dependable rhythm of a lawnmower, lulling her back to sleep.
It was dark in the room when the buzz of her cell phone woke her. A photo of Tom, taken on their honeymoon, flashed across the room like a ghost calling to her from the dark.
Janey, woozy and unsure of almost everything else, knew that she had to talk to Tom. She needed answers. When she screamed “why” at him over and over again that fateful day, he just looked at her and quoted Rumi. “The cure for the pain was in the pain,” he said and closed the door.
Janey rose from the couch and headed toward her phone. Stepping on to the floor, she slipped on the vodka and landed face down on to the pile of broken glass. As a large, clear shard made its way deep into her neck, she marveled at how she felt nothing.
Janey crawled toward her phone and at the final, insistent ring was able to answer it. Tom’s voice sounded foreign and faraway. “Janey, Alana called me worried. Said you weren’t answering any of her calls. Are you okay?”
“I’ve never been better, Tom. Rumi was right.”
As everything went black, Janey could hear her neighbor’s dogs howling in unison to an unseen, not-so-distant siren.