Either Jay canceled his call with Insight, or it ended quickly. Caitlin heard the water start about 10 minutes later. Twenty minutes after that he kissed Caitlin on the cheek, told her he loved her, then left the living room where she was folding laundry while watching the Today Show and left for work.
By the first commercial break after he left, Caitlin felt truly, thoroughly alone. She was almost weepy, watching an idiotic commercial for detergent. When Caitlin was in a good mood, she loved watching commercials. When she was in a bad mood, she hated them. Some were insulting, while others were sexist. Some were racist, many were ageist. A shocking amount were simply stupid. Sometimes they were funny or artistic.
Caitlin had always thought so, but Jay helped her see it with different eyes. Every commercial ever made was scheming, unscrupulous, an insult to her intelligence, not that she minded when she was in the mood. One of the reasons she loved Jay was that he was such a giddy marketer. He understood that even though it worked, a great ad campaign didn’t try and get buyers to buy by making them feel like losers if they didn’t. He never fell into the easy traps of false flattery, telling consumers that they were worth it, or that they deserved it. He didn’t try to scare people, poking and prodding their fears of getting old and lonely; dying alone. Propaganda and persuasion worked for P&G, just like it worked for dictators, religious leaders and politicians around the globe, but Jay always went with funny, which was why he was perfect for Punchy Bear.
Alone in the house, she missed him, and even though he’d only been gone for a few minutes, the way he had left made Caitlin long to hear his laugh. She wondered if Jay could possibly be right, and why in the hell she had to be so defensive all the time. For three seconds, after the commercial but before she killed the signal, Caitlin considered Jay’s ridiculous idea.
Maybe it isn’t ridiculous.
She could barely keep her mind on the Today Show, and certainly didn’t feel like folding laundry, so Caitlin picked up the remote, aimed it at the LCD, and clicked it to off. She sighed, yawned into a stretch, then went into the bathroom and poured her morning bath.
She filled the tub to scalding, then let the water cool while she went to make the morning’s second pot of coffee, trying to send her mind anywhere other than her morning argument, though of course it spun around it in endless circles anyway.
Caitlin took her hot coffee into her hot bath, then soaked in the water to try cooling her mind. She scrubbed her body, eyeing the water nozzle as she washed between her legs. Caitlin knew many women supposedly masturbated in the bath and shower, she never had. Their tub was beautiful, and almost made Caitlin guilty when soaking inside it. The bathroom was the first and only room remodeled after Jay made partner, and the price tag on the tub was enough to embarrass her, even before accounting for the rest of the room.
Caitlin considered turning on the jets and giving the nozzle a shot, but felt about as sexy as a pile of dirty socks. She got out of the bath instead, quickly dried her body without looking in the mirror, then pulled on a pair of yoga pants and a cami.
Through the next 40 minutes of her morning, Caitlin couldn’t stop thinking of Jay. She felt horrible, and wanted to tell him she was sorry; promise she would make it up to him, in almost any way he wanted.
I could never be his whore.
How could he even ask?
Caitlin returned to the bedroom, retrieved her phone from the nightstand, checked for texts, saw none, then sent one to Jay to say she was sorry.
Sorry sweetie. My fault. CU when you R home. Can’t wait.
Caitlin was on her second cup of tea and tenth glance at the clock when she picked up her phone for the eleventh time.
Her heart sped its beat for no discernible reason. She knew Jay wasn’t mad at her, they just had to finish their conversation. It was an open loop, and open loops were always uncomfortable. Caitlin’s brain couldn’t rest until the crap was gone between them, and that couldn’t happen until he got home, they slipped away from the children or put them to bed, and they could finish what they started before his morning call – face to face.
Maybe I’ll surprise him with a blowjob when he gets home…
Caitlin pushed the thought from her mind, like she always did. Today’s fight surely sent the dirty idea into her mind, but there were plenty of times when she thought something like that anyway. Several times a week. Caitlin had acted on it exactly zero times. She picked up her phone, still nothing.
It buzzed in her hand.
Can’t wait to be home. Sorry too. Long day.
Caitlin stared at the phone wondering what she should text back. She wanted to text him something sexy – a sext, her friend Sarah called it – but couldn’t think of anything, or at least everything sexy she could think to sext sounded like it was coming from someone else.
I have to be me.
She set the phone back on the counter and felt a chill, as if she putting a pillow over the face of a part of her Jay wanted. Their argument sat nested in her mind, trapped where Caitlin had kept it all morning. It bubbled to the surface and sent Jay’s words screaming between her ears.
Sometimes I want to fuck you, Caitlin. Sometimes I want to hold you down and fuck you to tears. Sometimes I want to come home from work, slam you against the wall, lift your skirt, tear the panties from your ass and fuck you until I’m finished. Not slow and without an I love you before or after. I want to fuck you hard, just to get off. Like I don’t even know you.
The last part, the like I don’t even know you hurt the worst, even though she knew Jay hadn’t meant her any pain. That wasn’t how she saw sex, not for her. And if it was once, well it wasn’t anymore.
Maybe that part of me is dead?
The thought, so familiar inside her it may as well have been a friend, was an omnipresent whisper in Caitlin’s head.
She went to the microwave to warm up her tea, feeling sad and helpless and awfully alone, not knowing who she could call. She could call Sarah, but she didn’t want to complain about Jay, and really had nothing to complain about. He was a normal man with a normal drive. What he was asking her to do was embarrassing, for both of them.
What could she say, even if she were to get Sarah or April on the phone?
“Jay wants to fuck me like a whore. Yeah, he says that sometimes he wants to fuck me like he doesn’t even know me.”
Melancholy bloomed. Even if that part of her wasn’t dead, it was clearly dying. And if something was dying inside her, it was killing Jay as it went.
That didn’t seem fair.
Caitlin left her cold tea on the counter, went into the bedroom, climbed under the covers, and fell asleep wishing for filthy dreams, hoping her horrible past wouldn’t keep them from coming.