Recovery, Relapse, Relationship (part 6)

(Continued from the last post. Click here to catch the whole story from the beginning.)

“Is there anything else you need from Clydene Jackson?” I stood up.

“No, I don’t think so,” she said. “Let’s meet with the police lieutenant.” And so we did.

By the time I got back to Clyde’s room, she and Ted were talking. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but overhearing a conversation can be like a drug. I paused for a moment outside the partially open door.

“What if I never get over this?” Clyde said. Her voice was quivering. “Will you leave me?”

“Never,” Ted said unhesitatingly. Then he did hesitate. “But… you might—“

“I’m not a good wife,” she said. “I just can’t anymore. I think maybe you should try to find someone else.”

“Clyde,” Ted said, “no one but you could ever be my wife. No matter what. You think I don’t know that?”

I teared up a little, as if I were watching a romantic movie, but more real. And loneliness washed through my body. Somehow, at the age of 31, I had avoided meeting the right man, falling in love, moving in together, and all that stuff. Romance has always been an uphill battle for me.

I knocked on the door and swung it open.

Ted had calmed down. He was speaking in quiet, even tones. He looked a little sad, but not angry.

I told them that the police had gotten everything they needed, and I relayed their thanks. I explained that trauma like this could cause lingering issues, and I suggested that they consider talking to a psychologist or counselor who specializes in these types of cases. I offered to recommend someone.

Ted said nothing, and Clyde gave a noncommittal grunt.

“Just think about it, okay?”

They both nodded.

I promised to return the next day to see how Clyde was doing.

I don’t remember much of the rest of that day or that night, only a fitful sleep. I remember waking up the next morning, calling my virtual assistant, and having her cancel my morning appointments. Instead of going to work, I raced over to the hospital. Clyde was sitting up in bed, eating breakfast, and Ted was nowhere to be found. Clyde looked refreshed, despite her wounds. She looked happier.

“Good to see you’re feeling a little better,” I said.

“Yeah. Thank you so much for coming by yesterday,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t have managed without you.”

“You’re welcome,” I said. “Do you mind,” I asked tentatively, “if I sit with you a while?”

We chatted almost as if we were old friends. That is, it felt like we were old friends. We talked about our careers, our interests, hobbies, even politics, religion, and love. Before we knew it, we had spent hours together, and I was glad the nurse had not kicked me out. Clyde asked me if I was married, and I didn’t blush when she said, “Because you have guys lined up around the corner and you don’t want to jinx it.”

I went with the joke. “Are you kidding? Have you seen the slim pickin’s out there? The last one I dated made me feel like a trophy wife, and we weren’t even married. And let me tell you, he was no prize, either.”

Then, after a moment, I got serious. “You’re really lucky to have found someone who loves you as much as Ted clearly does.”

That apparently was the excuse Clyde needed to tell me all about what had happened after I had left the previous day. She and Ted had discussed everything, including their marriage and their sex life. They decided to wait until she felt a little better, physically, before getting too intimate. But during their talk Clyde had felt more connected to Ted than she ever had before. She didn’t blame Ted for having defended the man who attacked her, because that was his job as a criminal defense lawyer. And it was a noble career, because for every one criminal he helped escape, there were a dozen innocents he kept from being victimized. As he left her to go home and get some much-needed sleep, he kissed her, long and tenderly, on the lips, and she did not stop him. She didn’t even want him to stop. She even let him goose her behind beneath the sheets, because all her injuries were on her front; her backside was unscathed. In fact, she had felt like getting a lot more randy, but they both knew she couldn’t handle it, physically.

“Well,” I said, “most erogenous zones are on the posterior surface of the body,” something I had read somewhere.

“For a few weeks, that’s gonna be kinda fun,” she remarked with a salacious twinkle in her eye.

Still, I felt uneasy about her quick psychological recovery. A day earlier, she had been terrified of men, even her loving husband. She recoiled from him more than once. She had not talked to anyone about the incident, not in a mental-health context. Maybe she was on some sort of high. Or maybe she was repressing her feelings, or even the memory of what had happened.

“Have you thought anymore about what I mentioned to you yesterday?” I asked.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“About talking to someone.”

“You mean seeing a shrink?” Clyde asked.

I giggled, but Clyde giggled along with me, so it must have been all right. “Yes, that’s what I mean,” I said.

She told me they probably would pass, but thanks for the offer. I asked for permission at least to give her the name of a psychologist, just in case they change their mind, and she was okay with that.

(To be continued…)

This story is tangential to The Conscience of Abe’s Turn and takes place in the Abe’s Turn universe. If you enjoy this story, please also check out The Conscience of Abe’s Turn (the novel).

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