Small Cuts (9) James

To find links to all parts of the story, please visit the Small Cuts page. Here is James again:

I hated these golf outings. Not that I hated golf —I actually thought it was kind of Zen to follow the ball over the terrain of the course— but I hated having to make small talk and show the appropriate balance of humble gratitude and ambitious hunger to the partners who sponsored the excursion. I had asked Elaine to join me. All the spouses were invited. She had declined and I didn’t press her. I couldn’t blame her for not wanting to waste 5 hours of her day listening to the false bonhomie of young lawyers eager to impress their bosses. I couldn’t remember the last time Elaine and I had golfed together. Had it been two years, maybe three? Was this one more thing she had gone along with just to please me when our relationship was new?

Sleep eluded me. I listened to the sounds of Elaine not being able to sleep either. She tossed and turned, sighed heavily, rearranged her pillow, got up for water and then a second time for the bathroom. At some point, I must have drifted off because a rumble of thunder startled me awake. I’d been dreaming, but the vision dissipated immediately when I opened my eyes. Nevertheless, it left me with an overwhelming sense of dread. When the storm abated, dark finally gave way to grey scale, and I abandoned further hope of slumber and threw off the covers. After a shower and shave, I quietly relocated to the kitchen for coffee. Elaine never stirred.

After three strong cups of coffee for fortification, I loaded my clubs into the car and went back upstairs to let her know I was leaving. I touched her bare shoulder and she opened an eye.

“Hey. What are you up to today?” I asked her.

She rubbed her eyes, looking as tired and drawn as I felt. “I don’t know. Get in a workout, maybe. I feel fat after that dinner last night.”

“Yeah. Let’s keep it light tonight. Salads or something,” I replied.

She murmured something under her breath and burrowed under the covers again. I asked, “You want me to pick something up on the way home?”

“Sure, whatever.”

“Ok. I…” I paused. “I’ll see you tonight.” I kissed her cheek and backed out of the room.

I didn’t know how to fix this. I didn’t know what ‘this’ was exactly. I never took Oliver’s flirting with Elaine seriously until recently. Until I saw how she had begun to bask in his attention. Maybe that was my fault. If Elaine wasn’t getting what she needed from me, she would look for it elsewhere. The trouble was, I wasn’t getting what I needed either, but I didn’t know how to tell her that without sounding like I was casting the blame. I didn’t want to lose Elaine. I wanted the Elaine I had married, though. The woman who shared all my interests had been replaced by a woman I barely knew.

As I backed out of the garage, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. Had I misled Elaine? Had she married a different man from the one who stared back at me now? Or had she known and hoped somehow that I would change? That was surely a recipe for disaster. I paused at the end of the driveway to let a car pass and wondered if there was any way for Elaine to be happy with me. The road ahead was neither smooth nor straight.

Illustration my own.

22 thoughts on “Small Cuts (9) James

  1. I’m kind of sad at how much I identify with this one. I was going to quote a few particular lines… but then there were too many…!

    This one, though…
    “If Elaine wasn’t getting what she needed from me, she would look for it elsewhere.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have seen so many people pretend to be someone else when they are infatuated with someone. Then later on when they show their true selves, their likes, dislikes, etc. their relationship suffers badly if not fails altogether. James and Elaine aren’t the people they were when they met. Plus the whole lot of them are making assumptions and not really communicating with one another. I hear what you’re saying… understand completely. 💔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes… people change over time and you’re definitely not the same people. This is one of the reasons I don’t truly believe humans are meant to “mate for life,” so to speak. I wrote a post about that… I need to dig it up and post it…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think its possible to mate for life on a couple of conditions, one of which is maturity. People who marry young haven’t always figured out what things are important to them yet. Marrying someone when you don’t even know what you want, sets you up for a struggle (at a minimum) The other thing is having both people committed to keeping their love alive. Too many people get complacent and let the relationship go stale. You have to be friends as well as lovers and enjoy doing stuff together. (Why James and Elaine are in trouble…) Yes, if you find it, definitely post it!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think part of the problem is, like you said, people grow and change over time… and often, I think, they don’t grow and change the same way. And also yes… some people start out not knowing what they really want… and some people get complacent…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So interesting to read. I think we all can relate somewhat. Who hasn’t thought, geez, what happened to the person I married — and for me that was over 30 years ago. But hopefully you talk it out and find your way back — or not…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Meg, I am enjoying, “Small Cuts” so much, looking forward to what’s coming next. All of the characters are likable, but there’s something about Elaine, I can’t quite put my finger on it yet. I’m so glad you decided to continue with this story. Have a great Friday evening and a wonderful weekend. ~ Mia 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mia. I am empathizing with all of them in different degrees. It’s going to be tough to decide who is the antagonist for this story really. And lately I’ve been thinking about giving the story a sinister twist – maybe it will become a suspense/thriller but I haven’t decided yet. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the story! Hope you are having a great weekend, too! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I didn’t know how to fix this. I didn’t know what ‘this’ was exactly.” That seems so real. Sometimes we need to fix a relationship but we don’t know what to fix and where to start from.
    Really enjoyed your story Meg and the characterization, too. 🙂
    It seems that the road is going to get bumpier ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love these, catching up from where I left off a few back. James is frustrating to me, if he loves Elaine why doesn’t he communicate with her his feelings. I know he’s a guy and that it could be less natural for him to do this, but little compliments and attention, such as the attention Oliver is giving Elaine are things James could mimick in how he treats his wife.

    If he wants Oliver to stop having all of Elaine’s attention than start giving her a reason not to pay attention to Oliver, but to him. As for his needs, Elaine is likely to be more receptive to a talk about this if things between them are good again and they are emotionally closer. Who knows? Maybe she will start fulfilling those needs better when she feels he cares about her again. But maybe neither of them want to try?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is exactly right! There is fault on all sides with these couples. The people who should be talking to each other are turning away instead. Unfortunately this is often how it happens in real life as well. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the story! Thanks so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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