28 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
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She kept walking, each step determined, yet with no destination programmed. Her brain doing its best to triangulate one but rage; her rage and that all-consuming blackened guilt delayed the programming.
Regardless, her feet kept moving, footstep after footstep, intent on getting away from the muck she'd smeared on their relationship's bed until she stood outside the door. Her unconscious memory brought her here.
The key card shoved firmly into the lock, except the lock didn't budge. Tried it again, this time, the door light went red. Did the key no longer work? A glance at the card, another at the door number, and both matched. Frustrated, the door bore the brunt of an assault before trying again. Though the pain pinging off her hand made her soon regret doing that.
This time the light went green, and the door clicked open.
Inside the room, she slumped down behind the door. The non-pinging fingers making long-drawn-out circles on her forehead. What had she done?
It was always Joshua. Joshua, who came running after her. Joshua, who kept up the chase when they'd first met, and she played the long game. When she moved out of their place. And now when he couldn't find her for some two days, he was the one that came running. He always wanted her, bent over backwards for her. And he said he always would, but realising now she'd just thrown him and their relationship out like garbage. There was no way he'd come calling after this mess.
The realisation triggered and it broke her. Her head collapsed between bent knees. Hands did what they could to stifle the sobs that heaved. The sobs that fast became rivers, rivers of pain. Swollen, blackened and muddy, broke their banks. And it poured out. The heartache, hurt, stupidity masked under floods of tears.
How had she fucked this up so badly? Feeking idiot, lunatic, asshole, idiot. Is exactly where she'd need to file her actions. She fist punched the air. Frustration taking over.
She couldn't blame it on Josh turning up. It was her own bloody silence that did that. Left him worried about her. Left him thinking she'd gone and buried herself in her grief when she'd only gone gotten herself blown side ways by another man.
That, a step too far.
She knew now that of all the decisions she needed to make, the things she needed to do, what happened should never have been one of them. Not another man, not pastures new. Nothing she needed from Josh, she didn't already have. Nothing she'd wanted from him, of him, that he wouldn't give. So, where had she lost sight of this and their relationship?
Except, of course...
And it was here she'd started with the blinkers, became hostage to an absent wedding ring.
Coming out on the cruise was one thing, but her getting tangled with Harry...
It never should have gone that far.
And then to walk out on Josh just now as if...
The realisation smacked and it smacked hard because this was all her fault, her stupidity, her short-sightedness.
Without Eleanor knowing it, and Eleanor can never know it because Lemara had just handed live ammunition to her words.
'Josh, you can do better than that. She's no good for you.' Eleanor said the second she'd got Joshua in the kitchen and away from Lemara, as if she wasn't sitting in the room next door.
Julia's most welcomed but untimely presence through the front door, silenced anything Joshua may have said in response to his mother. Or maybe she was just too fuming mad to hear it. Because if he did. She hadn't heard it. Those words left her hot for a long time, speechless too, if only for the remainder of the visit.
Eleanor, holier than thou inside the church's doors, but inside her house, behind her kitchen door, Lemara knew differently. She'd double back if she could, erase the past few days. Because how could she come back from this? How could she come back from this fling?
Her sister would know, have an answer. The back of her hands wiped a snotty nose. Sat upright, rummaged through her bag for the phone she'd tossed in it earlier. And in the search for her sister's name, realised her mind played games. Her name was still there, Lia and her profile photo too but that was it.
Just like the day Lemara received the news, a cold, crushing blow hit her. Her stomach came up for another taste. Both hands clasped her mouth, binding the fresh grief that sought to escape. There was no sister to call, only this dark, empty, bottomless abyss of countless unanswered questions.
They'd shared everything. Lipsticks to interview tips. Lemara's go-to for hugs, her diary, her plus one, her therapy until she'd trusted Joshua enough to be those things for her. She a pragmatist. Lemara the spontaneous.
They'd near talk this cruise into existence. Where they'd cruise, which cruise line, islands they'd be visiting, and too how many bikinis they'd take.
Lia planning for one per day. Lemara recalling she'd said she'd only need bikinis on a Caribbean cruise and Joshua giving her his 'what-a-surprise' side-eye.
She smiled at the memory momentarily. But that memory blade jabbed, brought on fresh grief, buried the smile. She cried her name. Cried for all their missed adventures, planned trips, pillow talks and just them being together.
Lia would have known what to do. And because she'd know what to do, new brooks made their way down her cheeks—the pain, even more unforgiving. Numb, she got to her feet, walked and slumped onto the bed. The one she slept in the first night.
She couldn't rewrite this episode, but how could she fix it if she couldn't rewrite it?
But for the hangers, the wardrobe stood bare. The room, empty just like she felt. Offered no consolation. Neither did the pillow offer an answer, only a cushion for her sore head and a towel for her tears. Curled up, her head whirled with what she'd say to Joshua because she knew now she didn't want to lose him. She cried her Lia's name. Cried for all their never to be had adventures, for this cruise they should have been taken together. And the tears kept coming for the words she could not put together for Joshua.
Lia, I wish you were here. That I could bring you back.
Those cries took over the eerie silence of the room.