Those words hit Red with the full force of every bad decision he had ever made. The world went hazy as his mind whirled through his past failures in crystal clear focus. The teenage pregnancy that had turned him away from a career in the military. The rampant alcohol abuse in college, and the accident that had permanently put an end to his dream of being a police officer. It all crashed down on him like an emotional tsunami.
“What do you mean you’re leaving?” Red asked numbly. He knew exactly what she meant.
“I’m taking the kids and we are leaving Red.” His wife was sitting on the couch, her face completely unreadable. She had been planning this confrontation for months and had steeled herself against any argument Red could possibly come up with. Her heart had been hardened and her mind was made up.
A month ago Red had been ecstatic about completing the final semester of his two year technician program. This was the turnaround that he had been dreaming about ever since his spine had been crushed in the accident. The doctors had told him he was lucky to be alive. Celebrating the rare victory, he had applied to a new job immediately and surprised his wife, Blue, by taking her out on their first date in months. He should have known something was off that night when Blue seemed distracted. Her smile when he asked if she was ok was just convincing enough to put his mind at ease.
“You can’t leave. Where would you go?” Red snapped back to the present. This could not be happening, he was certain that he had to be having a nightmare. Of all the things that he could imagine, this was the most terrifying scenario his mind could come up with.
“I’ve called my mother. She will be here in the morning.” Blue stated coldly.
Reeling again Red invited Blue onto their apartment balcony to talk where they would not wake the children.
“Why? Why now Blue? After everything we have been through you decide that now is the time to leave?” Reds voice cracked as he tried unsuccessfully to keep the tears from his eyes. He knew the look Blue was giving him. She could be so stubborn when she decided to be.
When they had returned from their date their two children were asleep. The babysitter told them that things had gone amazing and that they were so lucky to have such great kids. Beaming at the compliment Red had thanked the young woman and escorted her out of their cramped two bedroom apartment. Returning to the living room to find Blue sitting at her computer desk, headphones on, watching the latest episode of her favourite anime.
“Red you knew this was coming.” Was all that she said. Blues eyes had a dead gloss to them as if she was in another world.
“No Blue! I did not know this was coming. Look I know things have been rough but we have been through harder times. We always make it through. Together.” Reds raised voice caused an angry flash in Blue’s eyes. She glared at him but did not speak.
“Come on Blue.” Red begged, “Talk to me, What did I do? How can I make it better? You know I’ll find work, This is just a temporary thing!” His tone becoming more frantic by the minute. Blue’s silence hurt more than any words she could have spoken in that moment.
A few days after their date night Red had gone to the interview for his dream job. He was confident and perfectly professional. When the interviewer asked his first question Red smiled. He was going to ace this. And he did ace it. With a warm smile and a firm handshake after the Interview the man on the opposite side of the table told Red to expect a call from him and thanked him for coming in. Red was grinning ear to ear when he returned home to tell Blue the good news. Blue was in the kitchen chopping vegetables and preparing for dinner while his children were sitting on the couch watching tv. When he whisked in and wrapped his arms around Blues waist she turned her head to see him grinning.
“Blue say something please!” Red’s voice cracked as the tears rolled down his cheeks. Inside he was a chaotic mess of anger and sadness, anxious and fearful. Feeling as though his chest might just burst there on the balcony he began to sob.
“It’s not working. We aren’t working Red. You know it too.” Blue’s calm broke for an instant. Tears welled up in her eyes as she struggled to push her feelings aside and stay resolute. “I have to go.”
A week went by after the interview and Red was starting to get nervous. The Interviewer had seemed so sincere when he had told him to expect a call. Now Red wasn’t so sure and his growing anxiety was getting worse by the day. Sitting at his computer staring at the help wanted ads he nearly jumped when the cell phone next to him started to ring. Red quickly picked up the phone and asked the kids to quiet down. Catching Blues eyes from across the room he gave her a halfhearted smile and answered the call. Red’s nerves were well founded and his heart sank as the speaker on the other end of the line began to recite the message. He had not gotten the job, and they wished him the best of luck. Encouraging him to apply again when the next position opened up.
Opening the door that lead into their living room Blue retreated to her familiar seat on the couch. Her face was blank again and Red followed her inside. Pacing in the middle of the room he was still sobbing. “You can’t take the kids.” He cried. “I can’t lose another one.”
Blue’s stone face once again showed no emotion as she replied, “I can and I will.”
Red’s sobbing turned into a growl as he rounded on her. In a moment he was standing over her and reaching out his arms to grab onto her shoulders. He squeezed his hands and his voice broke. “I won’t let you!” He yelled.
Blue freed her arm and slapped Red as hard as she could. “Let go!” She screamed as she brought her arm back for another slap.
Red’s face was full of hatred as he grabbed Blue off of the couch. “Get out of my house!” He yelled back as he tried to restrain Blue’s arms against her side and lifted her off the ground in a bear hug.
She struggled and freed her arms as Red carried her towards the kitchen and their small entryway. Screaming Blue punched Red in the eye “Let go of me!” He didn’t.
Punching his face over and over and kicking at his legs Blue screamed and cried as they reached the kitchen. When it was clear he was not going to let her go Blue reached for the knives on the kitchen counter.
Seeing her grab for the deadly utensils Red dropped Blue onto the floor. Kneeling next to her he turned her over onto her stomach and restrained her arms behind her back. His mind racing at the thought that she was about to try and kill him, Reds anger gave way to fear. What had he done?
The tears returning to his eyes he croaked for Blue to stop. Blue was in a frenzy and didn’t hear him. She was screaming at the top of her lungs, and in that sound Red’s whole world collapsed in on him.
“I’ll go.” he said, his voice weak and resigned.
Pushing off of Blue when she stopped struggling he went to the door, slipped on his shoes, and left the house.