Rocked by Him(3)

By: Lucy Lambert



It took me a second to realize those rustling noises were him picking up his suitcases and stepping past me. The apartment door opened and shut.

He's leaving! I thought. Some impulse spurred me to action, breaking me free of that shocked paralysis. I ran, trying to catch him. Some part of me felt that if I could just get to him before he left the building, I could fix this. I could make everything all right.

A stupid belief, but I was too panicked, too out of it to really question myself.

I wrenched the apartment door open and practically sprinted the few steps to the closing elevator door, jamming my arm in at the last moment. For a second, I thought that the old door might just close on me. But just as the pressure got painful, it backed off and opened up.

"Jennifer..." Jerry said, shaking his head at me.

The door closed behind me as I slipped in, the elevator beginning its descent. Great, a real sinking feeling to go with the one in my stomach, I thought.

"Don't go, please," I said.

The elevator stopped at the next floor. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw two figures enter. Something in my brain registered a handsome guy, and a pretty girl all done up like they were going out to the club this Monday afternoon.

Jerry glanced at them, then to me, as though to say, "Stop, this is embarrassing."

Well, I didn't care. I could take a little embarrassment if it meant saving my relationship.

"We can work it out. Whatever it is. Please, Jerry, don't go. Whatever I did, I'm sorry, okay?"

I almost couldn't believe the words coming out of my mouth. I mean, he was the one cheating, wasn't he? He was the one who'd tried to leave without even saying anything to me. Why was I the one groveling, the one apologizing?

Because I was the weaker one. The needy one. We both knew that. Was that why he was going?

Jerry rolled his eyes and shook his head.

"It's over, okay? There's nothing you can do about it! So stop making an idiot of yourself and just leave me alone.

"Please..." I said, feeling the tears begin pushing at the back of my eyes. I couldn't cry. It would ruin my makeup, and I'd spent so long on it this morning, getting it just right.

"Stop it. Just stop."

"Jerry, please..."

I reached out for him just as the elevator dinged for the ground floor. The door opened up. Jerry picked up his suitcases and left, along with that guy and the girl he was with.

She must have thought she was out of earshot or something, because I heard her say, "Jerry, please..." then laugh, shooting a look back at me.

The guy looked back over his shoulder at me. He wore a fancy leather jacket, a skull or some such stitched into the back. His black hair fell down past his ears.

I expected that handsome, sharply outlined face of his to share in his girlfriend's mockery, but instead I saw pity, and a bit of sympathy. Then the elevator door closed.

I leaned against the wall, staring blankly at the bank of buttons with numbers beside them. My whole world seemed to collapse to the size of that little metal box, its walls pressing in on me.

My heart slammed in my chest, and I felt short of breath. My legs didn't really want to hold me up. All I wanted to do was climb into bed, pull the covers up, and force myself to sleep and forget about this.

But I had to start work soon. I couldn't be late. Not on my first day. This was my first real job. My first real step into that so-called "real" world. I couldn't stumble into it. Even if it did feel like Jerry had just reached into my chest and cracked my heart in half.

My vision started blurring as my eyes watered. I fought against it, resisting the tears. I didn't have the time to fix my makeup. So I reached forward and stabbed at the "4" button with one finger.

"Shh... Shh..." I said to myself.

I had to force it all down, sitting on it like Jerry had needed to sit on his suitcase to get it closed. I needed to close these feelings behind some door or in some box until I had time to deal with them after work.

The elevator took only a few moments to travel up to my floor. I stepped out. A minute earlier, I'd been sprinting. Now, I just shambled forward to my door. It was unlocked, I knew. A stupid decision. I was in Manhattan! I had to keep my door locked.

I went back into my apartment. It felt quiet, empty, lifeless, even with most of my stuff still in there.

Work would be better than this, I knew. I hoped. It had to be better than this. At least, I hoped it would make me forget, at least for a few hours.

***

The taxi ride down to Madison Ave. should have been exciting. I'd heard all my life about New York cabbies and just how crazy they could be. When I'd climbed in I glanced through the protective window between us and saw his name was "Faroukh S." though he spoke with a British accent.

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