“That’s pretty much where I’m at.” – Tomer Peretz
Caramel Cake and Yu-Gi-Oh
Fiction. Based on a True Night of Disappointment
By Suzanna T.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
The day didn’t really begin until he called. I asked him to “play nice” later on, and he said yes. “Play nice” is code for making love. It was long overdue, since we’d spent the last several weeks arguing or either not talking at all. I knew that playing nice would contradict how I was really feeling, but I didn’t care. I’m not the type to sleep around. So, if I have to… it’s going to be with one person. End of story.
Work was brutal. I adjusted my crown and handled it as gracefully as I could. When I got off, I went to his house and cleaned the mess he’d left behind in every room from left to right, and tried not to let it bother me that he never did pick up behind himself. I cooked his favorite meal of smothered minute steaks, butter beans, turnip greens, and cornbread made from scratch. I added spinach to the greens. He wouldn’t notice, and I thought that his immune system needed the extra boost. After all, I do want him to be healthy and live a long life.
He made it home right after dinner was done, but he didn’t eat. He stepped outside to talk with a friend. I had to force myself to eat on account of my not being hungry, not for food anyway. After that, I combed the girls’ hair and helped with homework. He came back inside and pulled out a caramel cake that he’d hidden as a surprise for us. He cut the cake in healthy, even slices, and asked me to ration it out. I did, growing more and more excited with each piece that I laid on our plates. Our oldest girl sat beside me on the couch, and we ate our cakes in silence. Once we’d finished our slices, my daughter and I looked at each other with smiling eyes. She did what I’ve grown too old to do; she licked the icing from her plate. I laughed and shook my head at her. Then, I got up and walked over to give him a hug, a kiss, and thank him for the caramel cake. I stood over his chair and leaned down for a peck when someone knocked at the door.
It was his Yu-Gi-Oh buddy. I didn’t know squat about actually playing the game. He’d tried to explain things to me for years, but it was just too much for my brain to process. I had to stick with looking at the pictures. I didn’t do that too much either since he didn’t like people touching his cards. So despite the fact that we hadn’t spent a romantic night together in months, I ushered the kids to their room, and let him play the game that he loved so much. He deserved it. “I’m gon’ take a shower in a minute,” he promised as I walked out. I hoped he would keep his promise this time.
In the next room, I listened to the kids talk and watched Fuller House with them until they fell asleep. Then I went down into the front where he was sitting alone, eating. I didn’t know what time his Yu-Gi-Oh buddy left. I only saw that he’d chosen to eat the food he’d bought home from the deli where he worked instead of eating the meal I’d put so much effort into. I tried not to be upset and let him eat his fill. I watched television and waited, waited for him to finish and put his strong arms around me.
I waited until I heard him snoring on the opposite couch. He’d hadn’t taken a shower, hadn’t moved towards me. It was safe to assume that playing nice had not been a priority, not like talking to his friends or playing Yu-Gi-Oh. In fact, I hadn’t been a priority to him…ever I don’t think. Just then, something buzzed on my thigh. I jumped up to see his phone under me. I picked it up to sit it on the coffee table until morning so that he could find it. “Don’t go through my phone!” he’d shouted after waking from his slumber. Funny, that was the only thing on his mind, the women in his phone and protecting his secrets. He wasn’t thinking about me, or us, or repairing our relationship.
I stared at him as he snatched the phone from my hand. He wasn’t mine. He’d never been mine, and he would never belong to me because the truth is that he didn’t want to. And I was wrong for trying to mold him into something that he was not. He deserved to be himself, he deserved to be happy.
But…didn’t I? Didn’t I deserve to see whatever else the world has to offer me?
I think so. Yes…I think so.
The next morning I pretty much knew where I was at. I woke up early and readied the kids for school and myself for work, alone. He remained asleep on the couch with his phone tucked tightly in the palm of his hand, and close to his chest. I took the caramel cake, and the keys to my future, and I walked out the door. He could keep his phone, and his Yu-Gi-Oh cards.