Checkmate

Jon Vincent Deacon Josh sighed when he saw that it wasn’t over. He could not believe that she was still hanging on to this and would not let it go or even try to get over it. He had seen it in her expression, her body language, and felt the tension from her. He just turned around and closed the door to ri!a’s and his apartment. He loo!ed at the door for a few seconds wondering what he could do. He drew a blan!. He simply decided that he wasn’t going to get into it at all this evening. He had had a great day at wor! and he would not let his evening be ruined by her incessant mood about this. Josh felt that it was ridiculous" in his mind it didn’t even involve ri!a in the least. He just decided to give himself the night off, he deserve a night off from this what he had termed a running jo!e. He too! the !eys in his right hand and twisted toward his left to place the !eys in the wic!er bas!et on the stand beside the door. Josh then fished his wallet out of his right hip poc!et and put it in the same bas!et with the !eys. #or! had been a very good day. Josh had started wor!ing at a machine shop only a month earlier. He had had no experience with a machine shop but after tal!ing to the owner and a short test, Josh had shown that he had the aptitude to learn and do the job. $t first, he was primarily a janitor. %t was a small shop and all machine positions were filled so he was mainly the clean up and jac! of all trades guy. &n his second day he had been promoted to being a machinist" someone had 'uit and Josh’s first tas! was rethreading several hundred bolts. (y the end of the wee! he was wor!ing on )wiss lathes" cleaning, ma!ing sure oil reservoirs were filled, chec!ing parts with a micrometer, and loading material. $s his test results had shown, he had been a 'uic! learner. (y the end of wee! two Josh had earned a fifty cent raise. $t the end of the month his progress in doing the job had been so good that he earned another fifty cent raise. *idway through his second month Josh had started to create the carbon cutting tools and setting up the lathes for the parts to be made. +hings were going very well for him and almost every cent was going to their life together and helping ri!a deal with her ex and their children. He had !nown from the beginning that things would not necessarily be easy in the least. Josh understood that the single biggest reason that ri!a had left her ex was because ,obert had been an extreme asshole. -ot physically abusive but ,obert had been definitely played a lot of control and mental games with ri!a. $t first, he tried to impose supervised visits on ri!a without any court orders" he was just doing it on his own with the help of his family members. #ith Josh’s help, ri!a had hired a lawyer who put ,obert in his place and put an end to most of ,obert’s games. %t hadn’t been easy and ,obert did continue to try to play games such as interfering with ri!a’s visitation and doing all he could with the help of his family members to poison the children against ri!a. ri!a and Josh had to deal with accusations of drugs and alcohol abuse. +here were the rumors of Josh abusing ri!a and forcing her to stay with him under threat of physical harm. However, through it all, Josh and ri!a stood there ground, wor!ed together, and shut down most of ,obert’s games. (oth had resigned themselves to accepting that ,obert would never grow up and stop. $fter all, it was this level of immaturity and the endless stream of childish games and controlling nature that drove ri!a away and into Josh’s life. Josh listen for any sounds from ri!a. He heard nothing and turned around to head for the bathroom to get cleaned up. $s he turned, he made a 'uic! glance at ri!a and saw that she was

pretending not to notice him as she just !ept her nose in the boo! she was reading. He sighed 'uietly to himself and headed toward the hall leading to the bedroom and bathroom. He wal!ed bac! the hallway thin!ing to himself, that he wasn’t going to let her get to him. +his was ridiculous and he was just going to get cleaned up and relax. +omorrow was the start of the wee!end, he had put in a great wee! earning a paychec! that for the most part was going to cover ri!a’s legal expenses, and he was going to relax this wee!end.he had earned it. He was going to enjoy it with or without her. His muscles just seemed to relax in unison across his bac! as the hot water shot out of the shower head and made contact. Josh stood there for about a minute, not moving, just enjoying the warmth and force of the water. %t felt so good. He wished that the shower could just engulf them both and washed away this problem between them. He just wished that they could go bac! to where they were in their relationship before she found out. He stood there letting the water flow over his body with his eyes closed leaning forward with his right arm extended out and bracing against the tiled wall of the shower thin!ing of the way things were about a month ago. )ure, li!e any relationship, especially new relationships, there is that adjustment time" learning to get use to each other 'uar!s and habits, wor!ing through misunderstandings, just getting used to living with another person on such an intimate level. Josh understood this as he had hoped ri!a would" he loved her and loved her unconditionally and had hoped it was mutual. He had actually made allowances for ri!a thin!ing that the little things he could get used to in the long run as they grew together. His apartment had been that of a single man’s and he thought that a woman’s touch would be a pleasant change to the d/cor and it had been. However, he wasn’t ready for the stuff animals everywhere or her obsession with photos, he enjoyed art and excellent photography but not photo after photo of the same persons staring directly at the camera" he enjoyed more the action or candid shot where the subject was photograph in a natural pose or doing something without the !nowledge of the camera. (ut he got use to it all, her photos, her decorating ideas, her habits, her grooming routine, her rules about laundry and cleaning, her choices in food, and her underwear hanging around the bathroom.to him, she was worth it. He soaped up and scrubbed" wor!ing in a machine shop is so oily and he hated that feeling. He rinsed off but stayed in the shower allowing the warm, strong stream wash over him. %t was nice all he thought about was how nice the stream felt on his shoulders, his bac!. He didn’t want it to end, he felt as though he could just stay in there enjoying the massage. However, the water heater was not bottomless and the end came far too soon for him. He sighed as he turned around in the stream which was losing its warmth 'uic!ly and grabbed the !nob turning it off. He opened the steamy door and reached blindly for the towel hanging on the towel rac! mounted on the wall through the steam filled room while using his free hand to wipe some water from his eyes. 0etting dressed in a pair of shorts and a t1shirt, he noticed the feelings coming bac!. -ot all at once but gradually as the spell of the warm water under pressure wore off when he left the mist of the bathroom for the dry air of the bedroom. He sat down on the corner of the bed as he put on some soc!s. He sat in silence and just shoo! his head. He thought that this was totally ridiculous, without thin!ing, he said audibly, 2Damn it all34 He paused for a moment. He was sure that she had heard. He sat in silence listening for any sound that she had heard. He couldn’t believe how nervous he was that she might have heard. He couldn’t believe how much it meant to him that she didn’t hear. %t wasn’t that he was scared" he just wanted to have a peaceful

evening. He wanted this to be over and over now. He !new that just getting into another argument with her, another attempt to wor! it out with her would just !eep it going. He wished that he could find the things to say, to do to be able to reach her and get her through it so that they could get bac! to the world of being a couple, of building a life together. &h, how he wished that they could go bac! to the way they had been two months ago. 5es, all relationships have that growing phase with plenty of ups and downs in learning to live with each other but other than her problems with her ex1husband and his games with the !ids, they had done so well together up to the night of that party. He wanted to be able to say the right or do the right thing so that they could get bac! on trac!, but the problem was, he just wasn’t that bright. He was convinced that no one was that bright. He felt that the best way was just to let her get over it and the best way was not to !eep bringing it up and trying to fix it only to run into the same bric! wall as usual with his inability. 6inally, Josh was certain she hadn’t heard. He gave out a sigh of relief with his eyes closed and whispered a breathy than! you to the powers that be. +a!ing a deep breath as he opened his eyes and loo!ed about the room, he stood up trying to thin! about how nice the shower had felt trying to ta!e his mind off the situation brooding out there on the recliner he had bought her for her birthday last year. %t seemed to be wor!ing and he had a bit of appetite. He decided to go and ma!e himself a sandwich and get something to drin!. 7oo!ing around the room one more time to ma!e sure that all was o!ay in the room.he didn’t want to give her any reason to start tonight" he wanted to just get something to eat and drin! and come bac! to the room to read a bit before they had to leave for the appointment with her optometrist at five. %n the !itchen, he retrieved the sweet bologna, cheese, mustard, and pic!les from the refrigerator. He turned and placed all of the ingredients on the table and turned to the counter near the stove to get the bread. He placed it on the table and was about to sit down when he remembered that he had forgot his drin!. Josh went bac! to the refrigerator and got a can of soda. He sat down at the table to ma!e his sandwich. He felt much better" he wasn’t thin!ing of the problem, he was thin!ing of eating his sandwich. $fter he finished constructing a perfect sandwich, he found that the thoughts just started to flood bac! in when ri!a wal!ed out to the !itchen to get a soda for herself. He !ept loo!ing down at his sandwich watching her in his peripheral vision. He thought as he watched her how beautiful she is, how wonderful she could be, and how ridiculous this all was. His appetite was gone. He just sat there loo!ing at the soda and the sandwich. #ith her in the room, he just felt the tension boiling up from deep within his being. He wanted her to leave, he wanted it to stop, he wanted to come home and just get a hug, a !iss, appreciation for him and all that he has done. )ince they first met, they both had helped each other. +hey really wor!ed as a great team. He couldn’t believe how smooth, other than the games her ex was playing, things with them were going. #hen they had an appointment they wor!ed it around their busy schedules and made it on time. %f there was a problem and Josh was at wor! and was unaware of the problem, he learned that he could count on ri!a to solve it or at least get the ball rolling on it as she learned that she could do with him. )he found that she could trust him with her children. +hey wor!ed together with the !ids on their homewor!. ,ules and decisions ri!a had made for the !ids, Josh was supportive. +here was none of this, 2$s! your mother what she thin!s,4 they were one step ahead of the !ids in trying to go behind each other’s bac!. Josh helped around the house with chores and ri!a helped Josh with his projects and goals. Josh gave all he could to helping ri!a with her 89: pound ex problem everyway he could, financially, emotionally, and with ideas. $ny

disagreements they would wor! through together. #hy couldn’t they wor! this out; +his was ridiculous to begin with and it just ate at him. He didn’t see how he had done anything wrong. 2Don’t forget, % need you to ta!e me to my eye appointment,4 she said finally brea!ing the silence. He just sat there and absorbed them as they washed over him. )he said it plainly almost completely sterile with a flat emotion almost li!e a boss to an employee. %t just added to the frustration building up in him. 2#ould you mind just going yourself;4 he as!ed while still loo!ing at the sandwich !nowing what the answer was going to be already. 25ou !now that % don’t !now 7ancaster that well,4 she answered with a bit of irritation in her voice. )he leaned against the sin! loo!ing out the window silently. )he stood there for roughly a minute, just loo!ing out, thin!ing. 6inally, with a sigh, she said, 2%’ll just cancel it.4 2%’ll ta!e you, let’s get going,4 said Josh with a complaint in his voice sha!ing his head slowly. He got up from the table and started to wal! bac! to the bedroom to get the paper on which he had the address written. 25ou can eat your sandwich first,4 ri!a called after him. 2%’m not hungry.4 )he loo!ed at the sandwich on the table and shoo! her head as she said, 2&h, great, then let’s just waste the food now.4 <oming down the hall bac! into the !itchen, Josh was silent. He didn’t want to fight, he just wanted a hug and !iss, he wanted to have a relaxing evening, he wanted this to be over and moving forward with their lives. 2$re you coming;4 he as!ed over his shoulder as he headed toward the door. ri!a just stood and watched him put on his shoes and retrieve his wallet and !eys from the bas!et on the stand by the door and then leave. )he just turned and wal!ed over to the pantry and fished out a plastic sandwich bag. )he wal!ed over to the table and grabbed his sandwich and placed it in the bag, sealed it, and then placed it in the refrigerator. )he put his dish in the sin!. #ith a sense of reluctance, she wal!ed to the door and put on her shoes. )he loo!ed about their apartment as she struggled to get her shoes to slip onto her foot. )he loo!ed at the photos, the furniture, the television, the computer on the des! in the corner.a year ago, she had no idea how to wor! a computer, he had shown great patience in teaching her. )he loo!ed and thought of everything they had accomplished together, how he had stuc! with her through thic! and thin, how he had helped her with her children" their homewor! and other things they needed without complaint as if he was their real father" what their real father wouldn’t do if it interrupted his sitting on the sofa and watching sports. +here was no doubt, she loved him and appreciated him and all that he has tried to and has done for her and her !ids, but this whole affair just rubbed her the wrong way. )he had just gotten out of an abusive, childish relationship and it wasn’t going to happen again. How many times did her ex tease her about having an affair, a sexual liaison; )he wasn’t going to put up with it anymore. Josh needed to honest and faithful to her as she was to him. He just had to get it through his thic! head before they go any further that she has had enough and this must be a lesson learned before they go any further and that was all there was too it. )he had never done that to anyone and she wasn’t going to put up with the stupid bullshit that guys pull especially

when they let their small head thin! for them. ither he loved her unconditionally, faithfully or he didn’t. )he felt strong as she pulled the door closed behind her with a force of confidence that she would win and drive the lesson home with Josh. )he felt the warmth of the sun splash onto her s!in as she wal!ed with a purpose towards the par!ing lot behind the apartment complex. Her steps were strong, long strides as she wal!ed. )he was tired of being a victim in relationships. )he !new that the only reason that she was still with Josh was because she did love him and wanted to give him a chance. )he held her head high as she wal!ed around the corner and suddenly wal!ed into a wall. )he stopped" she stopped right in her trac!s and just too! in the scene. +here was Josh sitting in the car with the engine running. )he had seen this many times and never had she felt li!e this as she loo!ed at him. $ month ago, he was always laughing and jo!ing with her, showing her new things" he was so full of life. -ow, there he sat in the car with the appearance of a defeated champion boxer. He didn’t sit up in his seat" he just slouched with his head down as if he was loo!ing at the instrument panel. )he !new that he wasn’t. )he !new that he was loo!ing down and was lost in thought. )he loved him" she did want him in her life but not the games. )he didn’t want to lose him" she just wanted him to learn this lesson about games. )he wondered if perhaps she was being too tough and would end up pushing him away. )he wanted him to learn his lesson and to apologi=e to her. )he wanted to ma!e sure that it never happened again. )he decided that it was not going to be her to give in and couldn’t believe that the thought had just crossed her mind. -o, she wasn’t going to be wea! about this and give in to him. )he started to thin! that this would be good for their relationship. +hat is, if he learned the lesson, they would have an even stronger relationship. %f he wasn’t the one, then it would weed him out and show her his true side. )he felt that surge of confidence again and finished the rest of the trip to the passenger’s side and got in without missing a beat. #ithout a word, Josh popped the car into gear and bac!ed out of the par!ing space. <hanging gear, he guided the vehicle out of the par!ing lot and into the stream of travel. +ogether, they both sat in silence with only the wind in the windows and the sound of the engine laboring to get them to their destination. (oth lost in their thoughts on the subject that had dominated their lives for the last month. ri!a wanted to drive the lesson home and Josh just desiring a hug, a !iss, a total warm embrace. Josh hadn’t wanted to get into this fight again with her. )he didn’t want to listen to reason" she didn’t want to listen to his argument about it at all. He was confounded that it had lasted this long. %t had been a month since she had found out and it was still going on and on with no end in sight just li!e this traffic he had run into within the city. %t just all agitated him, this insane ongoing fight and the idiots he had to put up with while driving. He was so glad when they reached her doctor’s office. #hen he had pulled into a space, she got out. ri!a too! a step and then turned around and opened the door and as!ed, 2$ren’t you coming;4 2-o, %’ll just wait here,4 he answered without loo!ing at her. He just sat there staring out of the windshield. 2(e that way then,4 she replied and headed for the office.

%t was a short chec! up and she was bac! in the car less than thirty minutes later. #ithout a word said, she too! her seat and Josh started the car and placed it in gear. He turned on the radio to brea! the silence" to put up a wall of cheer in his life. ri!a turned it off saying, 2% just don’t want to hear it now.4 2#ell, % do. %’m tired of all of this.4 2+hen you shouldn’t have done it.4 25es, % slept with her and % have admitted that over and over, but why is it any of your business;4 2#e are together, we are married, and we are trying to build a life together.4 2%t happened a year before % even met you, before % even !new that you existed. How is that any of your concern now;4 2#ell, % don’t need it rubbed in my face.4 2#ho is rubbing it in your face;4 25our family is.4 2+hen be mad at them.4 2% am and maybe % am being childish, but % don’t care. % don’t need to hear how you fuc!ed her. % don’t need to hear any of this, but % do.4 2How do they !now what happened; +hey weren’t there. 5es, yes, % slept with her, what is wrong with that; % had just gone through a nasty divorce, % was hurt, % was drun!, % just wanted to be touched and loved. #hat is wrong with that;4 2-othing, but % don’t need to be told about it.4 2+hen be mad with them.4 2(ut you slept with her. % wouldn’t be hearing about it if you hadn’t have done it.4 2% have no idea why she told you about me and (everly. % have no idea at all. *aybe she is jealous of us because our relationship is, well, was going so well while hers is languishing. *aybe she wants you to be li!e her so that she has a partner in her misery. % just don’t !now, but be mad with her.4 2% just don’t want to be reminded or told of flings or whores you have had.4 2)he wasn’t a whore. (esides, being reminded; #hat are you tal!ing about being reminded;4 as!ed Josh in an incredibly strong, determined tone with a tinge of frantic in it, 2%’m reminded of someone you slept with for years. very time % wal! into the apartment or loo! around it are photos of your !ids. veryday of my life % see and help your !ids" !ids you had with another before % met you and % am reminded of it everyday of my life.4 His tone changed to a louder tone hardly having any idea where all of this was coming from" not wanting to say it" afraid of what would happened but he couldn’t stop, it just came flowing out with no ability to stop it as if he had absolutely no control, 27et me as! you one thing.4 2#hat;4 she fired bac!. )he was pissed and he !new it.

25ou slept with someone for years and had children with him,4 he forged ahead, 2)hould % waste my time eating myself up worrying about what happened between you and him, or should % spend that time building a life, a future with you; #hich do you thin! says % love you more;4 +here was silence, nothing but silence as they continued their drive home. Josh was worried he had crossed the line. He loo!ed over at her. )he just stared out the passenger side window at the countryside flowing by the window. He was nervous, scared because he couldn’t see her face, he couldn’t see how she too! it, how she felt, what she was thin!ing. +his was even worse than before. He thought over and over that he should have just let it go as he pulled into their par!ing lot and guided the car into a space. He sat there and loo!ed at her. )he sat there with the bac! of her head to him. )he just sat there loo!ing out the passenger window. 27oo!, % !now that he played all types of cruel games with you but %’m not him. 5eah, % told you about the girl hitting on me at wor!, that was just me being as honest as % could be. % want to have an open and honest relationship with you with nothing to hide,4 again, he wanted to stop but found that he couldn’t, 2% love you with all my heart. % never too! hers or anybody else’s offer because % !new what it would have done to you and % couldn’t do that not in a million years, % really love you and % mean every word of it. %f all % have done for and with you and this doesn’t say loud and clearly that % love you, then % don’t !now what does.4 )he just rolled up her window and got out closing the door behind her. He watched in the mirrors as she wal!ed 'uic!ly behind the car heading towards the apartment. He got out with little energy. He felt deflated, that it was over, he had lost. He wal!ed up to the apartment and reluctantly entered. He felt as if all he had done was to throw more gas on this fire. %nside the front door she just lunged at him with a big hug and said, 2% want you to spend that time on me.4 25ou couldn’t tell me this in the car;4 he as!ed nervously, obviously sha!en. 25ou !now me, % don’t li!e public spectacles,4 she answered with a huge smile and her eyes filled with tears, 2<ome let me ma!e you something real to eat.4

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