Simancilla was almost upon us. Since my argument with Joseph, we had been spending even more time apart. It was frustrating since this was supposed to be a romantic vacation. I was about ready to give up and go home alone. It didn’t make sense for us to waste Sugar’s gift when we really only came back to the room to sleep and always at different times. I couldn’t understand what had gotten into Joseph. He was acting hot-headed and jealous, and for no apparent reason. At least I wasn’t crying all the time like I was in the first trimester.
I wandered out to the festival, hoping to catch sight of Joseph. I wanted to make up and put this weird tension behind us. I wanted to enjoy the rest of the holiday together. I visited half a dozen artisans, stopped by the food vendors, and wandered through the crowds gathered around comedians and musicians and singers. I even saw Don, though I avoided him purposely. I didn’t want to give Joseph even more reason to be upset, not that his mistrust of me was justified. I couldn’t believe he was jealous.
Out of the corner of my eye, a large painting caught my attention. The artist used broad and narrow brushstrokes to capture a beautiful spring flower. The shades of pink and yellow reminded me of happiness, and I wasn’t surprised to find the piece entitled “Joy.” And it was well out of my price range too. I sighed. Still, the colors were gorgeous.
“You want to buy?” the artist inquired.
“No… I’m just looking…” I shook my head. “Admiring,” I added, more slowly.
“It’s a good luck flower,” she explained, bending over as she put a few items away in a canvas satchel.
“Yeah, I need some of that these days,” I chuckled weakly.
“It will ward off evil spirits and bad intentions,” the artist smiled as she straightened. “I can sell it to you for fifty-percent off.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“What are you looking at?” Joseph inquired of Cathy, not five minutes after I left the artist.
“The stars. I can’t see them,” Cathy grimaced.
“It’s hazy tonight,” Joseph replied. “But we should be able to see the fireworks at midnight.”
“Cheap imitations of true natural beauty,” Cathy scoffed.
“Alright,” Joseph made a face. “If you say so.”
“Where have you been?” I exclaimed, approaching Joseph.
“Where have you been?” he stared at me over the edge of his glasses. “Off with Don again?”
“Gawd! Joseph. What the plum is your problem?” I yelled. “Do you really think so little of me?”
Riley was standing nearby and gasped. “Uh oh. Trouble is brewing.”
“Butt outta this,” Joseph snapped.
“Wow, I’ve never seen them so angry with each other,” Sage said to Riley as they watched both Joseph and I stomp off in different directions.
“Or at us,” Riley frowned, and touched his lips. “I hope everything is okay.”
“Foul games are afoot,” Cathy skipped over to Riley and Sage, her ponytail swishing a little too happily behind her.
“What does that mean?” Riley exclaimed, covering his mouth.
Sage grimaced. “Superstitious nonsense.”
Joseph didn’t even come back to the hotel room and I slept through the midnight fireworks. I did notice he came in around six to shower. I wondered why he didn’t just go home. I planned to tell him we should leave but he stormed out before I could have a normal conversation. When he still hadn’t returned by night fall, I decided it was time to go home. I called Riley.
“Lizzie, are you okay?”
“….no, I’m not okay… Joseph is so angry with me.”
“I don’t even know. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like someone did something with my husband and replaced him with an angry, jealous clone.”
“Oh gawd! Liz. I’m so sorry. What do you need? Anything? Dulcie and I are just curled up watching dumb comedy shows on TV.”
“I need you…” I sighed unhappily. “Can you come get me? I don’t want to go home alone.”
“Sure. Aw… Lizzie. I’m so sorry. I’ll bring chocolate and some chick flicks and we’ll have a sleepover so you’re not alone. Or I can bring tissues and a listening ear if that’s all you need.”
“I love you!” I swiped at the tears pricking my eyes. “You’re the best.”
I didn’t realize that Joseph was behind me during the conversation. He jogged off in a silent rage. Riley stayed on the phone with me until he arrived, bringing Dulcie in tow. I missed my kitty. It was strange that just a week ago Joseph and I were happy and in love, excited about our impending parentage, and proud new parents of an adorable cat. What had happened to us?
Joseph angrily paced the halls of the gallery, hoping to find some clarity. When he entered the lobby, he nearly bumped into Courtney.
“Hey are you okay?” she asked.
“No! I think my wife is having an affair,” he stated woefully.
“What? Oh my gawd! That’s horrible,” Courtney gasped. “What do you need?”
“A new life,” he joked harshly.
“How about a hug?” Courtney offered.
“I don’t understand what I did wrong,” Joseph sighed as they embraced.
“Nothing. You’re a great guy and if she can’t see that, then she’s an idiot,” Courtney exclaimed.
“Some days I feel like I’m surrounded by idiots,” Joseph shook his head and rubbed his temples. “I guess he was just more attractive than me and more talented than me. She loves music. Why shouldn’t I be surprised?” he threw his hands up in the air. “She dated a musician before me. Well, while dating me…”
“So once a cheater…always a cheater…” Courtney muttered, tucking an arm awkwardly behind her back. “I’m so sorry, Joseph.”
“It’s not your fault,” he sighed.
“And he’s not,” she said quietly.
“He’s not more attractive,” she said shyly. “Cuz one look at you and I’m practically drooling.”
“I’m not…sure… how to respond to that…” Joseph puzzled.
“Then don’t,” she said quietly. “Let me.”
Her pale pink lips were against his before he could stop her. His brain fogged as he felt the warmth and sincerity of her emotions. He couldn’t believe he was responding. He didn’t want to respond, and yet after Lizzie’s recent betrayal, he wanted to feel anything but sad and angry anymore.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. My husband was wrapped in the embrace of another woman and she was kissing him. If this day could get any worse… I ran upstairs sobbing. I could hear his voice calling after me as the elevator doors slammed shut before he could reach me. I didn’t know what I would’ve done if he did. My whole body was shaking. I felt my world collapsing, like fragments of the universe cracked the mirror and I was seeing things clearly now. Joseph was having an affair. His behavior made sense now… and yet it didn’t.
Once I reached the thirtieth floor, I exited the elevator, walked to my room, and changed. I wasn’t sure why. Nothing made sense to me anymore. I just didn’t want to wear the clothes I was wearing when I caught Joseph kissing another woman. When I was done, I grabbed my phone and keys and made a beeline for the stairs. I wasn’t sure where I was going. Somewhere. Anywhere but here. I wasn’t even sure if Riley would find me. Or if it would matter. Or if I ever wanted to see Joseph again.
My vision blurred by tears I stepped out in the road to hail a taxi. I don’t remember the impact. I don’t remember falling. I remember the blue. Everything looked blue and hazy. I remember screaming and horns honking and panic, but it was all muffled as I gave into the blue.
Nothing but blue and smoke.
Author Note: Yes… it is what you think. And it’s not. I’ll explain more soon, but in the meantime, cliffhanger. Joseph and Lizzie started arguing during their trip and things escalated. Of course, a misunderstanding here and there caused something minor to explode. There is more than meets the eye here. I will say this. LASL is not over. I will continue as the game proceeded without Lizzie and I promise you things do get better.
FYI, Simancilla is my Simworld version of New Year’s Day!