She caught sight of him at dawn when the sun woke from its slumber. He for a brief moment saw her at dusk when the sun peered over the horizon, and the moon rose to take its place. Like passing trains in the midst of night they traveled separate journeys. Neither spoke much these days, buried by the silence, and the reluctance to resolve their troubles.
Puppy love turned to malevolence quickly after the weights of life beared down and reality sank it's teeth deep into their teenage fantasy. Brenda and Damon, almost thirty, no longer relished the idea of being in love ensnared by a suck hole they called marriage.
Damon arrived at dawn; Brenda left at dawn. Neither wanted to shatter the piercing silence of their arduous life. They couldn’t afford to speak to each other because they would have to confront their lack of intimacy, the miscarriage that kept Brenda bedridden for months, and, above all, Damon’s affair.
Damon preferred the night shift, providing him with an excuse to sleep the day away and evade accountability for his transgressions. As a result, Brenda preferred the morning shift in order to avoid looking at him for long periods of time. After discovering his affair, being in the same room with him made her skin crawl. One day, everything that had worked for eight months collapsed; She spoke.
“This isn’t working,” she said, sipping her aromatic coffee that Monday morning. She knew she had to confront him. She took a deep breath and said, “It’s over.”
As he entered and placed his lunchbox on the table, Damon pretended not to hear her. Surprised and relieved to hear her voice, he pretended to be oblivious.
"What?" he frowned, his brows knitting together in a perplexed expression. The unexpected news hit him like a sudden gust of wind, leaving him momentarily disoriented.
He grasped the meaning behind her words, but admitting that he couldn't afford a divorce right now was a bitter pill to swallow. The job at the warehouse was unreliable, with the constant threat of layoffs. Adding to the financial imbalance, she, as a legal assistant, earned more than him, and he had recently splurged on a new truck.
"This... the quiet, the lack of intimacy—I just can't go on like this anymore," she sighed, frustration evident in her tone.
Had she found someone else as well? Not Brenda—she was loyal to a fault. A whirlwind of thoughts raced through his mind. He yearned to ask questions, but emotions tangled his words. Anything he said at this moment would be tinged with the intensity of his feelings.
“Why are you doing this?” Damn it, there it goes.
“Damon, you know just as well as me that this hasn’t been healthy for either of us,” she tossed her cup in the sink and prepared to leave for work, not bothering to wash it.
“Is this about the affair? I told you that was a one-time thing. I don’t even talk to her anymore,” he tried to explain, though it was all just lies. He was still entangled in the affair and had no intention of giving up the pleasure and comfort the other woman provided anytime soon.
“We need to end this and move on, my mother said…”
After that reference to her mother, he shut down, unwilling to entertain any more conversation. Clarice, her mother, had been overly involved in their marriage, and he couldn't help but feel she should foot the bill for the divorce. Brenda, being the empathetic daughter, always seemed compelled to follow her mother's wishes. He blamed Clarice for the miscarriage, attributing it to the stress caused by her influence and the superstitious beliefs she had implanted in Brenda's mind. He harbored a strong dislike for Clarice, convinced that her deceased husband's escape was a deliberate choice to get away from her.
“Oh, your mother said? You know you’re a grown woman, right? Your mother should not have a say in our marriage,” he walked off into the bedroom, shutting the door behind him.
She despised when he did that. It was precisely why she avoided these conversations with him. He never seemed mature enough to confront the blunt truth. Brenda followed him into the room, continuing to speak.
“I’m leaving, that’s it. I’m packing up this weekend and going to stay with my mother in the country. It’s over, Damon.”
As she turned to walk away, her heels clacked against the linoleum floor. What happened next was beyond his control. He reached for the back of her jacket and pulled her back.
Brenda raised an eyebrow, looking at him, unsure if he would respond with violence or perhaps a desperate kiss. To her surprise, he did neither; he simply released her. In that moment, he recognized he didn't deserve her, realizing he was destined to be alone, to grow old and face the final days by himself.
The pain he inflicted on her was tangible; he could feel it in the touch that had once held warmth. The light that had once glistened in her eyes, under the summer sun, was now extinguished. She had become an empty shell, drained by his lies and deceit. Brenda had yearned passionately to build a family with Damon and experience a love akin to her parents' enduring bond of 40 years.
However, Damon fell short of being the man her father was. His peak in college still lingered in his self-image, holding onto the illusion of his teenage body. He was on the precipice of needing Weight Watchers, and, truth be told, she was no longer attracted to him.
“I’ll start packing my things when I get off tonight.” That was all she said before disappearing through the front door. The urge to run after her and confess how much he needed her lingered, but the harsh reality that it was truly over had already settled in.
He sat on the side of the bed in his dusty uniform, staring into the abyss of his thoughts. Showering, sleeping, and gearing up for another 12-hour shift were the only things left on the agenda. He had lost his wife, and now, in the midst of this upheaval, he couldn’t afford to lose his job.
Brenda couldn’t concentrate at work all day, the weight of realizing she had loved Damon for a decade, and only him, gnawing at her. How could he betray her like that after she had unwaveringly stayed faithful to him? He nullified their vows when he lay down with that tramp. She endured the loss of their baby, and instead of finding solace in him, he sought refuge elsewhere.
He didn’t care about her; his actions were purely selfish. It was time for her to be equally self-centered and prioritize her own well-being. During those months of grief, she lay there, in tears drowning out the world, mourning the loss of that small part of him she'd lost. He never once entered that room to console her, too absorbed in his own little game, occupied with someone else, fitting his piece into another puzzle.
The truth of the matter remained that he didn't know how to comfort her. His distraction came in the form of a five foot four caramel skinned coworker who eagerly took up the chance to seduce him. He accepted, and without regret continued even after Brenda found out. Brenda's boss looked into her eyes and sensed that something was profoundly wrong.
“Are you okay, Bren?” Reynaldo had a look of concern spread across his face.
"Oh yes, I've completed the dissertation for the Bonner Oil case. I'll make sure to place it on your desk, Mr. Fields," she said, attempting to hide the strain behind a smile.
He settled on the corner of her desk, placing his coffee cup down.
"Call me Reynaldo, Bren; you’ve been part of this office for almost a year now. What's going on with you today?" he said, leaning in.
She attempted to halt it, but events unfolded rapidly. Tears streamed down her face, and she found herself enveloped in his embrace, shedding tears without restraint.
"Hey, easy now; do you need to leave?" he asked, genuine concern in his voice.
"No, it’s just... well, Damon and I are separating," she said, wiping away mascara.
Reynaldo lacked the details, but he sensed the significance of Brenda confiding in him. Brenda, with her long peanut butter brown legs and an hourglass figure, had caught Reynaldo's eye more than once. Office rumors painted her husband as a loser; she deserved better.
"How about we get out of here? I’ll buy you lunch," he suggested with a smile.
Handsome and seemingly impervious to dentist envy, Reynaldo's perfect smile made Brenda hesitate to decline.
"I’d like that," she replied, her voice taking on a low, somewhat sensual tone.
"Great, grab your things, meet me at my car," he smiled.
Brenda found herself in her boss’s Porsche, the wind tousling her hair as they drove with the top down. The scent of his Armani cologne wafted through the air, casting a spell. She had never regarded Reynaldo as more than a boss, but now, sitting there in his sunglasses, he looked undeniably appealing.
Desiring him, she felt entitled to this one indulgence. She was determined to have him, even if it meant making it the last thing she did. Revenge, some might call it, but she was savoring her just desserts. After all, who didn't like dessert?
Brenda didn’t return home until late that night. What started as lunch with Reynaldo morphed into drinks after work. Damon, who had never bothered to check on her before, now called her twelve times.
She didn’t answer. Recalling how he had ignored her pleas during his affair, Brenda hummed a tune from the restaurant, reminiscing about the charming Reynaldo. He was a breath of fresh air, pulling out chairs and opening doors, a stark contrast to Damon's neglect.
Wrapped in Reynaldo's fur-lined coat, Brenda hadn’t felt this way in ages. At the end of the night he'd kissed her and she let him. The house was dark when she arrived, and Damon, disheveled, awaited her in the doorway.
She pretended to appraise him before casually walking toward the kitchen for a glass of water. As she turned to see Damon standing behind her, rage burning in his eyes, she couldn't help but laugh at his ridiculous expression.
"Where have you been?" he demanded, furrowing his brows.
"Don't worry about it," she laughed, heading to the room.
"What do you mean, 'don't worry about it'?" he followed her, reversing their usual dynamic.
"Just what I said, don't worry about it. I'm here now. Aren’t you supposed to be headed to work?" she asked with a smirk.
"I called in," he replied, plopping on the bed.
She walked off towards the bathroom, leaving her shoes in the hallway, an act she would never usually tolerate in her meticulous tidiness. Tonight, she didn't care. Living carefree, thoughts of Reynaldo danced in her head. Although he was her boss, he made her feel things she had never felt with Damon.
"You're acting really strange," Damon observed as she flounced around on her tiptoes, floating through the house.
Tired of his constant questioning, all she wanted was for him to go to work and leave her to her fantasies.
"It’s called happiness, Damon. You know, that’s when a woman feels beautiful and loved. Happiness," she scoffed.
Trying to enter the bathroom, he surprised her by standing in the doorway, glaring at her with a look of hatred.
"Happiness, huh? What’s got you so happy?" he squinted at her, rubbing his chin.
"Oh my God, Damon, can’t I just be in a good mood?" she tried to push past him.
He grabbed her shoulders and shook her.
"Are you cheating on me?" he bit his lip so hard that blood left the surface, making his lip white.
"What? Let me go. What is wrong with you?" Damon couldn’t accept the idea of her with another man. She belonged to him, no matter his transgressions; He wouldn’t allow her to do the things he did.
Brenda tried to squirm from his grip but found his hand around her throat, squeezing. Even without evidence of wrongdoing, Damon's actions were relentless. He couldn't endure the same treatment he subjected her to for months.
"Damon, you're hurting me," she whispered through gasps for air.
In this intense moment, Damon's grip tightened, fueled by a possessive desperation. "Is it one of those fancy pants lawyers?" he demanded, squeezing even harder. Brenda, engulfed in darkness, struggled to respond. Shocked and overwhelmed, she yearned to fight back, to kick or scream, but the reality of the unfolding nightmare paralyzed her.
Finally regaining some sense, Damon released his hold. Brenda crumpled to the ground, tears streaming down her face. The weight of his actions crashed over Damon with a crushing force, a realization that struck him like a relentless barrage of heavy bricks, each one laden with the gravity of his deeds.
Brenda, his college sweetheart, and the pillar of support during his most challenging moments, standing by him with unwavering loyalty, didn't deserve this. She played a pivotal role in helping him secure the job at the warehouse, a gesture that held profound significance in their shared history.
"You know what? You’re right, it’s over. I’ll leave," he declared, turning away. For once, Brenda didn't stop him. In that poignant moment, both acknowledged that what they once shared had disintegrated. Their entrenched codependency and the resistance to embrace change, rooted in the comfort of familiarity, finally led them to a breaking point.
Damon packed, and Brenda wiped away her tears. Uncertain of his destination, Damon couldn’t stay there any longer. He despised the person he became, and Brenda shared that sentiment. The problem wasn't her; it was him. Though imperfect she, loved him through thick and thin. The inappropriate involvement with Reynaldo was her misstep, and she knew it. Knowing Damon tormented himself with jealousy provided an odd comfort.
That fateful night, Damon departed, and the shadows of unfamiliarity cloaked them once again. The specter of divorce loomed ominously, but, as per their usual dance, neither yielded. They desperately clung to the fragments of a bygone connection, acutely aware that the tapestry of their past could never be rewoven. Long before Brenda sought her vindication, Damon had fractured her heart irreparably. Their bond resembled quicksand, each sinking deeper, powerless to rescue the other.