Saturday, January 10, 2009

Her Best Man by Michelle Houston

As Rick headed out with his last load, Katherine stood and walked through the house for the last time, the ghosts of the past trailing behind her. Some of her friends had told her she should take Brian to the cleaners, get the house and everything in it, but she had settled for a quick divorce. He had moved into a hotel during the three months required to be considered separated to push the proceedings forward. This morning they had signed the last of the paperwork. In the eyes of the courts, and everyone else, their relationship was officially over. But standing there in the house, she could feel the memories pressing in on her.

Brushing at a tear that had escaped, she wondered just how trapped he had felt the last few months. Certainly she had felt it for a while, and given they hadn’t slept together in the same room in more than two months, she wondered why she hadn’t filed sooner. She had thought about it frequently, but always put it down that he needed her. Maybe it was her fault.

Signing softly, she trailed a finger over the faint coating of dust that had accumulated on the banister in the last few days. The house did hold some good memories. Brian carrying her up the stairs on their anniversary, their first night in their own home. One afternoon when he had been out of town for a few days, and he came home early, they had made love in the entryway. The long dinners, where they had sat and talked for hours. The bubble-baths together.

Each step easier to take than the last, she climbed the stair case and walked down the hall, until she stood in the bedroom doorway. Leaning against the doorframe, she stood there in silence and let the tears win. As the heat of them trailed down her cheeks, rolling along the line of her jaw until they landed with a wet splash against her shirt, she remembered the good and the bad times.

Being chased around the room until he tumbled them both onto the bed, where they had screwed each other senseless.

The sight of him on top of some nameless blonde, his lean hips pumping as he groaned out his ecstasy. His drinking himself senseless and stumbling to bed.

A throat clearing behind her had her jerking away from the doorway and turning. Rick stood near the top of the stairs, a hesitant look on his face. “I didn’t want to bother you, but you’ve been standing there almost a half hour, and I started to get worried.”

As his gaze flowed over her face, his eyes darkened and he climbed the last few steps. His hands cupped her cheeks, and calloused thumbs brushed the tear stains from them.

“Are you sure?” Rick asked. “Are you ready to move out and move on?”