Kevin paced the apartment, frantically trying to fend off his wife while looking for his second suitcase. "Can we please talk about this later," he said.
Chelsea gave him a look that would unnerve the dead. "What's to talk about later?" She asked. "Once you start this job, that's it. This is a definitive moment in both of our lives, and you are just being dismissive of every single one of my objections!"
Kevin sat on the bed and covered his face with this hands. He let out a deep sigh. "Chels, I know this is a big move, but what choice do we have? I've been out of work for six months, and the income we have coming in from your part time work at the school and my unemployment is not going to keep us afloat much longer."
Chelsea stood over Kevin with her arms folded, she was the picture of scorn. "You taking a job 200 miles away is not a solution to this problem. You're just changing the problem. We've been together for six years, now is not the time to try out a long distance relationship."
"Honey, 200 miles is not a long distance relationship," Kevin said. "Jesus, you're acting like I'm going away on a tour of Europe or something."
"It's long enough away that the company you are working for is going to set you up with an apartment! It's long enough away that I'm not going to see you five nights out of the week. Those are five days where there might as well be an ocean between us."
Chelsea shook her head and stormed out of the room. She went into the kitchen and opened the cabinet under the microwave, she searched around for a minute, pulled out a pack of cigarettes. She had quit around the same time Kevin was laid-off his job doing highway work for the state. She knew sacrifices had to be made. But this was all too much. The first hit of the cigarette took some of the edge off. She was at her breaking piont, but refused to let Kevin see her cry.
By the time Kevin walked into the kitchen Chelsea was already on her third smoke. "I thought you quit?"
The look that Chelsea gave Kevin had the force of a 1,000 expletives.
Kevin held his outs out in front of him in a submissive, 'please don't kill me', gesture. "Listen, we've been talking about this for a week. I'm sorry if I've been coming off as dismissive. I'm just trying to look at this whole situation logically. If I don't start making money in this next couple of weeks we are going to be kicked out of this apartment. Then what? Do we move in with my parents?"
This provoked a look of absolute dread from Chelsea.
"Exactly," Kevin continued. "And I know you would rather live on the street then ask your parents for money. I respect that. But we have to deal with the reality of this situation. If there was another job on the table i'd take it. Hell, I'd work three different jobs at the same time if I meant I could stay close to you, but those jobs just are not out there. We're going to have to make this work."
Making this work was a phrase that Chelsea had been hearing since her and Kevin met as undergrads, sophomore year. After a couple of awkward dates, Kevin tried to hook up with her in his dorm room, with his roommate passed out on the bunk above them. "We can make this work he whispered in to her ear." And she believed him. There was something reassuring and confident in his voice. Every time he said it to her, she believed him.
When they moved into their first apartment together they made it work. When Chelsea’s parents all but shunned her for being with a man of limited means, they made it work. When Kevin dropped out of school and started working for the state, they made it work. And now that they were desperate for money, this would have to work.
“I understand the predicament we are in,” Chelsea said. “But don’t you understand what’s going to happen to us if you take this job? Sure it will help pay the bills, but if we can’t be together what’s the point? I don’t need you to take care of me, I need you to be with me. I need you to be present.”
“What do you want to do then?” Kevin asked.
“Derrick and Tanya said we could stay with them for awhile, just until you found something that paid well. Let’s just dump this place and start somewhere new. I’m almost finished with my Masters, and I already have a couple of potential jobs lined up for early next year and…”
“You know I won’t do that,” Kevin said.
“That’s what I don’t understand, why not?”
“Because I’m not going to live off someone’s couch like I’m a fucking homeless person that’s why not!”
At this moment the wall of patience Chelsea had carefully constructed over the last six months came imploding in on itself. She walked over to Kevin and struck him across the face so hard she could feel a bone in her wrist crack.
“Fuck you!” She screamed. “I’m so God damn sick and tired of you talking about sacrifice and responsibility when you simply refuse to accept any of the help we’ve been offered over the years. I know that you resent me because I come from wealthy means. You’ve never liked my friends. You think we are all a bunch of spoiled brats. But there is no nobility in refusing help when you need in most!
“You couldn’t accept a little help from my uncle when you were having a hard time paying for school, so you dropped out instead. You completely gave up on everything you cared about because you didn’t want to be looked upon as a charity case. If you would have finished school you could have had your pick of jobs as a teacher. I could have finished my Masters a year ago and we wouldn’t even be in this mess! It’s as if you can’t help put us in hopeless situations. You love to wallow in our collective misery, and it makes me fucking sick!”
“Wow. You know who sound like when you talk this?” Kevin asked. A sneer staining his face. “You sound like your fucking mother that's who. And I guess we are hitting each other now, I wonder where you got that from.”
“How dare you.” Chelsea sobbed. “How fucking dare you.”
Kevin, knowing he had gone too far, reached for Chelsea. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that,” he said.
Chelsea knocked his arm away and ran into the bedroom. She slammed the door shut, buried her face in the bed and wept uncontrollably. Kevin opened the fridge, grabbed a beer and plopped down on the couch. He knew crossed a point of no return. ‘How had things gotten this fucked up?’ he wondered.
"How do I make this work?" He whispered to himself.
"How do I make this work?"
Well that is my first bit of fiction of the New Year. Thought I'd start off by trying to capture a small moment between two people. Not sure if I'm going to continue working on this piece or move on to something new, but it felt good trying to get into the head space of a couple of new characters. There's obviously some work to be done with world building - I don't describe the physical attributes of the characters or setting, but I wanted to the tension to embody its own character.
I'm going to try to get write a couple of scenes for public consumption every week. I'm open to any and all feedback. Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog in the first couple days of its existence. It means a lot.