Tuesday, January 3, 2017

You're Joking, Right?--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

     (Friday, November 30, continued)     

     When I calmed myself down I called JB. “I want you out of the house tomorrow morning. I contacted Tom’s school psychologist yesterday hoping I’d get guidance on what to tell him. She hasn’t gotten back to me but I’m not waiting for her. Let’s both think about what to tell him tonight. I’ll call you this afternoon before you come home. You need to go tomorrow.”
     “Okay,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
     Tom got home from school. He and I talked about his day. I left for the grocery store. I was going to buy a prepared dinner I could warm up. I parked in front of Sunset Foods and called JB.
     “I should be the one to tell Tom,” JB started. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”
     “What are you going to say?”
     “I’m going to tell him that I did some bad things. That I hurt you and let the family down and that I’m very sorry and we have to separate for a while so I’m moving to uncle Troy’s temporarily until we figure out what to do.”
     “Don’t position this as a temporary problem. Don’t put Tom in a place where he feels he can influence the outcome.”
     “All I ask Brenda, all I ask,” JB gasped, “is that you don’t go and file for a divorce right away, that you give this some time and think about it. Talk to me before doing anything.”
     “What are you going to say to Tom?”
     “I’ll say because of what I’ve done, you and I need to live apart and I’m going to uncle Troy’s until I figure out where to go next.”
     “Okay. Let’s have dinner at six and tell Tom after we eat.”
     I bought parmesan-encrusted tilapia, rice, and green beans. Tom and I chatted while we ate and JB looked like he was going to the electric chair. When Tom started getting up I looked at JB and nodded. JB swallowed hard.
     “Sit down Champ,” JB told Tom. “We have something to tell you.”
     Tom sat down. His eyes darted from JB to me. He looked petrified.
     “This isn’t about anything you’ve done,” I said. “Dad has something he needs to say.”
     Tom put his hands on the edge of the table and gripped hard. JB delivered the second version of his short speech. 
     “What?!” Tom shrieked. His face turned red, his eyes filled with tears, he looked from me to JB. “You’re joking, right?”
     “No, Buddy,” I said. “Dad is moving out tomorrow. You’ve done nothing wrong. This is entirely between your dad and me. We love you very much. Your father did some things that married people agree not to do to each other. We can’t live together.”
     “What?!” Tom shrieked. He looked disoriented, sick.
     “I love you and I’m still going to see you all the time,” JB told Tom. “I’m just not going to live at home. I’m leaving tomorrow morning but we’ll go out to breakfast first.”
     Tom sat at the table fighting back tears. I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him hard. Tom wrapped his arms around me and rubbed my back. We stayed like that a long time.
     “I’m so sorry,” I whispered into Tom’s ear. “I’m sorry this is happening to you. You don’t deserve it. I’m sorry.”
     “Does Blake know?” Tom asked, unlocking arms.
     “No,” I said. “Blake has finals coming up. I don’t want this upsetting him and screwing up his tests. We’ll tell him when he gets home for winter break. He’ll be home in two weeks. He’ll be home for a month.”
     “Okay, good,” Tom said.
     I started cleaning up. JB, looking like Droopy Dog, got up from the table and shuffled into the TV room where he and Tom began watching King of the Hill reruns.

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