I look up and see Will step into the kitchen from the pantry. He looks a mess. He looks how I feel. I try to speak, but no words come out of my mouth.
“I-I made breakfast. I tried to make it healthy. You’ve been talking a lot about that lately, and I’ve listened,” he says, his blue eyes encapsulated by puffy eyelids. His hair is completely disheveled, as if he’s run his hands through it a thousand times. His five o’clock shadow is pronounced and his dimples absent because his lips are pressed so firmly together.
This is the first time I’ve looked at him since I found out. The first time I’ve ever looked at the man I married and felt anything but love, hope, and strength. It’s funny how a few hours have changed everything for us.
Seeing him makes my emotions crash against each other. Each second I stand here, I become more enraged. How could he do something so stupid, so selfish, and so… unforgivable? And he stands here like nothing has happened, as if we’re going to eat breakfast together and everything will be okay?! Nothing will be okay. I realize this as I stand in my kitchen in front of him, the same place he and his whore ate with me and sat with our family.
“I can’t believe you did this to us.” The words are automatic, as if triggered by his presence. They hurt to speak but hurt even more to hold in.
His voice breaks as he tries to approach me, but I step back and push my arms out to let him know to stay back.
“Please, just let me explain,” he begs. His voice sounds pained, and my heart aches for him—for me
“I can’t. I can’t. I don’t want to hear it, and there’s nothing that you can explain. Anything you say will only make things worse!” I’m frantic. It’s a lie; I want to know everything, but I don’t think I can survive hearing it.
“Gwen, you’re my best friend,” he says with tears in his eyes.
I have to turn away. I grab a chair to keep my balance. To see him like this hurts, but I can’t hurt for him. He didn’t hurt for me. I don’t even know if he hurts for me now. I’m sure he hurts for himself.
“I never meant to hurt you. I know how that sounds, but if I could take it back―”
“You did hurt me! Worse than anything I’ve ever experienced, and you cannot take it back.” My voice is loud and unrecognizable.
His gaze isn’t on me but set on the floor instead.
“In our home, William. How could you? With Lisa of all people!” I’m close to screaming at the top of my lungs.
“There’s no excuse for what I did,” he whispers.
His words make me want to throw something. To see him broken… I haven’t seen him like this since I was sick. A chill shoots down my spine.
“Were you seeing her when I was sick?” I ask cautiously. I don’t know if I can take hearing the answer. His eyes widen, and he approaches me; I retreat again.
“No. I stopped before I found out you lost our child,” he promises.
The pain of that memory shoots through me. I know he thinks what he said should give me some consolation, but it doesn’t. It tears open a wound I’ve tried to forget, a wound that has become purulent. “You stopped out of pity. You stopped out of a sense of duty, guilt, and a mournful promise but not out of love. Do you love her?”
He shakes his head. “It’s always been you, Gwen—”
My eyes narrow on his. “Except when you were screwing her.”
He looks defeated, as though he’s given up and realized there’s absolutely nothing he can say to fix this. I feel as though my soul is beginning to crumble. I can’t talk to him about this. I can’t think about this.
“I need you to leave.”
“Gwen, please. I’ll give you time. I owe you that, but we can get past this.” His voice deepens with each word to the more familiar, authoritative tone I’m used to from him instead of the sad, broken one.
“How dare you!” I scream. “You have a daughter, William! A daughter! How can we get past that? Tell me?!”
He covers his face. “I didn’t know.” He attempts to touch me again, and I swat him away.
“You didn’t know? You think that makes it better?” My whole body shakes as I shed angry tears.
Tears are falling down his face now too. He gets on his knees and grabs my waist. “What can I do? Tell me—what can I do? I’ll do anything. Please!”
I try to get out of his grasp, but he holds me tighter.
“We can get through this. I promise you we can,” he cries against my stomach.
I realize getting him to let me go will be futile unless I hit him on the head with one of the table utensils, so I gently grasp his face and make him look up at me. “We don’t have to do anything, and you don’t get to decide that. You decided to ruin us—everything we had, our family, our history, you decided that. I get to decide whether I can even consider the possibility of looking at you without seeing you as the person who hurt me more than anyone in my entire life.
“You have no idea how this feels, how badly I hurt. You can’t, because if you got it, if you understood, you would leave me alone. You’d know how much it hurts me to see you, to hear your voice as I look around our home and think about how you desecrated and disrespected the place where we built our family. And the very worst part of it all is that I was completely oblivious. I thought we were fine, that we were okay. I’ve been happy!”
“I’ve been happy too! I haven’t been involved with Lisa in years!” he shouts, and hearing him say her name makes my stomach churn.
I cover my face, trying to catch my breath.
“Is everything okay?” my son’s wife, Lauren, says from behind me.
“William was just leaving.”
His face falls, his expression crushed. “We have to talk about this.”
“I need you to go now! Right now, William.” My screeching makes even me flinch.
He glances behind me at Lauren, then he nods. “If that’s what you want.”
He wipes the tears from his face. I’ve only seen William cry once in his life besides today, and that was when his mother passed away. Now I have to squelch the instinct to go to him and hug him and tell him everything will be okay. A task made easier as my urge to lash out at him consumes me.