I was jealous from the start. Of course, I didn’t see it… not right away at least. Under different circumstances, if I didn’t love him as much as I did, perhaps I would have declined his offer of marriage. But like every other girl in the world, I was starstruck. He was everything; the world’s favorite boy. He had it all – charm, good looks, talent. He could have had anybody in the world he wanted and they would have been his, but he wanted me; he loved me.
That was the most painful part of it all, I think. That he loved me. It should have been enough for me knowing I was in his heart, knowing that wherever he went, even if I wasn’t with him, my presence was wrapped up in the gold band on his finger. I wanted it to be enough, God, how I wanted it to be enough, but I realized – a little too late – that while, yes, he loved me, he loved what he did more, and I would never be able to compete with that.
“Jealously doesn’t look good on you, dear.” I turn to face Jonathan, my husband’s manager. “Excuse me?” He gives me a sympathetic smile, and then using his cane for balance, he pushes himself out of the chair and into a standing position. “Being second.” His deep, raspy voice says. “It’s not easy, but surely you wouldn’t be so naïve as to think you’d come before his career.” He shakes his head at me, tsking all the while. I dig my nails into my palms to resist the urge of slapping him. “He’s meant to be on a break, not playing shows.” I say returning my gaze to the retreating form of my husband, watching as he climbs into his car. “He’s a star, dear. He doesn’t get breaks.” Jonathan hobbles over to the door. “One day it will all settle down.” He says. “Then it will be your turn to come first.”
Jonathan opens the door. I stand staring out the window as hot tears of frustration run down my cheeks. I watch as my husband’s car drives away. “You’ll see.” Jonathan shuts the door behind him. My eyes trail his car to the end of the street, his words ringing in my ears. I wait until his car turns the corner, and when I can no longer see it, I let out a scream.
“Why are you so upset?” My husband says with a mouth full of toothpaste. “It’s a good opportunity.” I spit my mouthwash into the sink. “You’ll have plenty of opportunities like this, and we’ve hardly had any time together since the wedding.” I walk out of the bathroom to the bed and begin pulling back the covers. He follows me out, leaning on the doorframe as he continues to brush his teeth. “We’re together right now.” I raise an eyebrow at him, stopping what I’m doing. “You know what I mean.”
He retreats back into the bathroom and I get into bed. “You told me this summer was about us, but one call from Jonathan has you packing your bags.” He returns a moment later toothbrush free. “I know what I said, but you heard Jonathan today, he doesn’t think this chance will come again.” He begins to pull back the covers from his side of the bed. I shake my head. “What?” I reach up and switch off my light. “I want you to say no.” He sighs. “I can’t just say no. Baby, you know that.” I turn away from him, annoyed. “No,” I say as I bury my head into the pillow. “You can say no. But you won’t because of Jonathan.”
“He has nothing to do with my decision.” I sit up, anger flaring. “He has everything to do with it! You do everything he wants. We had plans and you threw it all out the window for him and his plans!”
“This is my job we’re talking about!” he shoots back. “You knew things like this would happen when you married me.” I begin gathering my blankets and pillows. “Yes. When I married you. You! I didn’t marry Jonathan and what he thinks is best for your career.” I get out of bed, heading for the door. “Where are you going?” He calls after me. “I’m sleeping on the couch.”
‘You’re upset, dear. Talk to me.”
When I don’t respond he fills in the silence.
“It’s because your vacation is ruined, isn’t it? Yes, he told me about your fight.”
I keep my eyes forward as the curtain on stage begins to part. Jonathan leans in close to ensure that I hear him over the roar of the crowd.
His raspy voice is thick in my ear. “My dear, how many times do I have to tell you, jealousy doesn't look good on you. Until this is over, there is no room for you.”
“Can I ask you something?” He sets his coffee mug down and smiles. “Always.” I take a seat next to him. “Do you—” I begin and then stop, suddenly feeling nauseous. I clear my throat. “Do you think that we got married too fast?” His eyebrows furrow, confusion on his face. I look down at my lap.
“Where is this coming from?” Jonathan told me so, I think. I shrug. “Sometimes—sometimes I feel like there is no room for me in your life.” I begin to pick at my fingernails. “Is this because I told Jonathan yes?” I take in a breath and blow it out slowly. “Partly.” I say looking up at him.
He goes to open his mouth but is cut off by a voice. “Good morning. I’m sorry to break up family breakfast but my favorite star is needed for a sound check.”
“Give us a minute, Jonathan.” He says. “I already gave you five. Time to go my boy.” He looks at me, apology in his eyes. “We’ll talk when I get back.” I give him a tight smile in return, “Of course, duty calls.” I can’t help the bitterness in my voice. “Come on, don’t be like that. It will be over in a few hours. We’ll talk then.” I don’t respond. I simply watch as he leaves the room, Jonathan trailing behind him.
“Alright I’m here—” he stops talking when he sees the suitcase. “Where are you going? I still have a few days left at this venue.” I begin to zip the suitcase closed. “I was going to see my mom.” I say it lightly, like it's no big deal.
“Your mom?” he says it slowly, like my reasoning will appear at the end of the words if he does so. I nod. “I haven’t seen her in a while.” I pull the suitcase off the bed and start to roll it towards the door. He steps in front of me. “What are you doing?” he says taking the handle of the suitcase from me.
“I told you. I am going to see my—” He cuts me off. “No, you’re leaving. Why are you leaving?” I let out a breath and looking up at him I say: “Can you really not see it?”
“See what?” he asks exasperated. “This!” I say gesturing between the both of us. “You don’t have time for me. You only have time for your career. There is no room for anything else.”
“Baby,” he begins, reaching out to me. “No. No, stop.” I say holding up a hand and taking a step back. “I want to be first, but I know I never will be. Not while you have this life, so I’m going to go.”
He’s quiet for a moment. I can see his mind working, trying to figure out what led up to this moment, what it was that went wrong. Finally, softly, he asks: “Are you jealous?”
“Am I jealous?” I open my mouth to deny it, but then I think about it. I can’t stand when you leave with Jonathan, and it makes me so angry that you never have more than a few minutes of time for me. All I want is time you don’t have for me and when I think about it, it makes me hate you. I hate that you’re famous, I hate that the world loves you, and I hate that I have to share you. If I’m not jealous, what else would you call it?
I let out a small laugh. “You know what? I think I am.” I say. “You put everything before me. Your concerts, and your shows, and your manager, it all came before me and it’s always going to come before me. How it makes me feel… it’s not right. I don’t want to do it anymore.” I take the handle of the suitcase back from him and begin walking towards the door. “You can’t just leave!”
I turn around, and looking at him one last time. “I have to.” I say giving him a bittersweet smile. “Jealousy doesn’t look good on me.”
When we first married, I was often asked how it felt to be her; the girl who won him over, who stole his heart. How they said it —her— they spit it out, hated the way it tasted on their tongues. Her, it was a bitter flavor in the mouths of the jealous. When I was with him, wherever we went, it became my new name. That word, it hung above my head like a title. Those three letters, they labeled me. I was her; the girl he chose, the girl he went home to, the girl he loved. After leaving him, I still had the title of her. Of course, it now had a different meaning. I was her; the girl who left him, the girl who broke his heart, the girl he wished he put first.
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I enjoyed your story. Your voice came through clearly and it actually reminded me a bit of my own writing. I do suggest that you work on formatting, especially when it comes to the dialogue. The paragraphs without dialogue were great though. One specific line I liked was, "It should have been enough for me knowing I was in his heart, knowing that wherever he went, even if I wasn’t with him, my presence was wrapped up in the gold band on his finger." Good work!
Thank you for the critique! Glad you enjoyed the story.
Well done Victoria! Your story reads very well! You write clearly and directly. I liked how you had the manager show up whenever she was jealous, kind of like the green-eyed monster. I love the repeating of the phrase "Jealousy doesn't look good on you." Your ending tied everything together very nicely. My only suggestion for improvement would be to space out your dialouge so that it makes it very clear as to who is speaking.
Thank you for the comment and critique! I appreciate it!