Two Days

We were playing with Zachary  in the pool at Ray’s parents’ house.  He and Todd were hot and sweaty from lifting boxes and moving them all around for the last two days.  The warm August humidity was hard for the little ones too; Dawn and Todd’s place was not air conditioned.  With Ray’s parents only about twenty minutes to the west, we hopped in the car and drove over.  We purposely chose mid day so that we wouldn’t have to have another run in with his father.

“So what exactly did your parents say?” I asked.  I hadn’t heard much of what apparently was quite a terse conversation between Ray and his father the previous day.  As we walked in, together, me with Z on my hip, I saw Ray’s normally very friendly father motion Ray over to the side before greeting me.  I couldn’t quite make out what he said quietly in his ear or what was said back, but I thought I heard, “What about Josephine,” and “Dad, not now.”

“Well, they think that I am not being fair to either you or Josephine.”

“How so?”  This confused me.  The Josephine part, I got.  I actually felt badly for her.  I knew their relationship was over, but it still would be a very, very hard blow to hear that your ex took up with his ex so quickly after the end.  It was the kind of thing that would make you question the entire time you spent together.

“Well, they don’t of course realize how serious we are.”  This was true.  I had agreed we wouldn’t tell his parents about our engagement, even though we’d already told my family.  It wasn’t like they would run into each other at the grocery store, living 100 miles away.  “So they think I’m basically screwing you for fun while you have a kid.”

“That would be a pretty crappy thing to do.  You can’t really blame them for not thinking otherwise, without any evidence to the contrary.”  I looked over at Z in his inner tube splash toy, happily bouncing up and down in the lukewarm water.

“I get that,” Ray said.  “But they also don’t realize how far gone the situation was with Josephine, either.  They pretty much think we’re still together and I’m screwing around on her.  With you.”

I felt the sucker punch to my gut, even though I knew the words weren’t true.  “They must think I’m a real slut then, not caring who gets hurt.”

“No, don’t worry.  They still love you.  They just think I’m a real jerk.”

That had to suck coming from your own parents.  “OK…and how exactly did you dissuade them from thinking that you really are the worlds worst asshole?”

“I told them that they had to trust me, that there was a good reason for everything that would be obvious soon, but that I just couldn’t talk about it right now.”  Ray’s blue green eyes, which had been crinkled happily upward for most of the past two and a half weeks we’d spent together, were troubled and looking downward.

“I’m sorry,” I told him, putting my arms around his narrow waist and pulling him to me.  “You’re right though.  They’ll understand soon enough.  And they’ll be happy for us, I know they will.”  I could already see his parents in my head, walking down the aisle of an unknown church somewhere, dressed in their finest, beaming at their only son marrying me.  My mother and father, walking with me as they had my sister two years ago.   Zachary, being held by my friend Jewel, because Karen and my sister were standing at the altar, waiting for me next to Ray.  I could see him there too, dressed in a dark suit, his face lit up with emotion.   It was all there, in my head.

He let me comfort him, breathing slowly, calmly and quietly.  “Thank you,” he answered as he stepped back out of the embrace.

Little Zach splashed water happily and I dove under the water to pop up right in front of him.  “Peek a boo!” I shrieked loudly at him and he gurgled and laughed.

When I looked back at Ray, he was staring at his parents’ house , still perplexed.  I wished I knew what exactly he was thinking.  I could feel a tiny space open up between us that hadn’t been there before.  I wasn’t sure why, or what to do about it. I wanted every minute we had to spend together to be perfect; we didn’t have much more time left before he had to leave.

We had only two days left.

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