I opened the door to the garage as the truck backed into the driveway. I helped the three men load all of the boxes into the back of the truck and then one of the men wrote me out a receipt, the men climbed into the truck and it drove away.
Two days later another truck backed up to the garage and when they left I took the receipt that they gave me and put it with the first one. I spent the rest of the day scouring the house to make sure that every last trace of Jilly was gone. The few things that I did find were packed up and put out into the garage with the rest. Goodwill would be by in the morning to pick it up. That would give me three receipts that I could use on Schedule A under Charitable Contributions when tax time came. At least I would get something out of the marriage.
After Goodwill made their pick up I used the rest of the day to finish moving what was left in the house to my new apartment. That done I called and had the gas, phone and electricity turned off. The lease still had two months to run and I had no way to get out of it so I called the landlord and let him know I wasn't going to renew. I mentally accepted that I could kiss the security deposit goodbye. Jill had a temper and what she might do when she came home to an empty house might even exceed the amount of the deposit.
I supposed a good deal of the blame could be laid on me because I wasn't more assertive with Jilly. I tended to always let her have her way. Some say I was pussy whipped and I guess that was true enough, but it was to be expected, especially from a guy like me. Most people, me among them, couldn't understand why the most beautiful girl in our class had saddled herself with me. She had her pick of the best-looking and most popular guys in school and she picked me.
I was an average student, didn't play sports and my only extracurricular activities were the Chess Club and The Classical Music Society. So everybody was stunned when at the Senior Prom she had an argument with her date and walked away from him leaving him standing in the middle of the dance floor. She looked around, saw me and walked over to me.
"You didn't bring a date tonight, did you?"
I stuttered out a "no" and she said, "You have one now" and she took me by the hand and said, "Let's dance" and she led me out onto the floor.
The rest of the evening was a confused whirl as guy after guy asked her to dance and she kept saying, "Sorry, I'm with Benny tonight." During the last dance she moved in close to me and said, "I hope you aren't in any hurry to get home tonight Benny because we have a couple of parties to go to."
My car wasn't as nice as the limousine that she had arrived in, but it didn't seem to matter much to her. On the way to the first party I asked, "Are you sure this is okay? I don't exactly move in John's circle."
"Don't sweat it Benny, you're with me and that's what counts."
"Which brings me to my next question, why me?" She smiled and patted me on the knee, "Because you were there Benny, because you were there."
Frankly, I expected that I would be ditched as soon as we got to the party, but Jilly stayed close to me as we circulated and talked to kids who had never before even acknowledged my existence. I got a lot of looks from people that I interpreted as, "What are you doing here?" and I wanted to shrug and say, "Hey, I'm as much in the dark as you are." We hit two more parties that night and except for a different cast of characters they were pretty much all the same as the first one.
I pulled up in front of Jilly's house at six in the morning and walked her to her door. She opened the door and then turned to me, "Thanks for coming to my rescue Benny" and then she kissed me. I felt her tongue flick into my mouth and then she broke the kiss and went inside. The one thing that registered most sharply on me was that she didn't say "Call me" or even "See you around" or anything else that would lead me to believe she would be receptive to my continued attentions. I chalked the night up as a gift from my fairy godmother and went on home.
For the rest of the school year I occasionally saw Jilly in the halls or in a class we shared, but outside of a friendly nod we never spoke to each other. Then it was off to college and Jilly and I both attended the one that was in our hometown. I rarely saw her since we didn't have any of the same classes. Whenever I did see her she was on the arm of some jock. Once in our third year our eyes met across the room while we were in the cafeteria, held for a moment, and then she looked away.
I dated a lot during my college years, but I never hooked up with any one girl. The one's I really wanted to see again always had something else to do when I called and the ones that seemed willing to go out with me again just didn't seem to interest me after the first date.
One day in my senior year I was sitting at a table in one of pizza places that seemed to surround the campus when a voice from behind me said, "Benny baby, can we join you?"
I looked around and saw Jilly and two other girls. I wondered why they wanted to join me until I noticed that the place was full. I motioned for them to sit and then Jilly introduced me to Mary and Nancy.
"So" asked Nancy, "Where do you two know each other from?"
Jilly laughed and said, "Benny was kind of my date for the senior prom."
"What does that mean, 'kind of my date?"
Jilly went on to explain and then said, "And do you know Benny never called me after that?"
Nancy and Mary looked at me with "What's wrong with you" written all over their faces.
"Hey, what can I say? We moved in different circles and I knew I was only a means to an end. Two days later you were back with your boyfriend and life went on."
Jilly shook her head. "Benny, Benny, Benny. Don't you know that when a girl kisses you goodnight like I did that night she expects to hear from you again?"
"Obviously not. How about that ladies" I said to Mary and Nancy, "The love of my life lost because of my poor communication skills."
"Maybe not lost Benny, maybe only just delayed a bit" Jilly said as she slid me a piece of paper. I looked at it and saw that it was a phone number.
I called, we started dating and after we graduated we became engaged. A year later we were married. Our first two years were like a dream to me and then the dream turned into a nightmare. I began to hear rumors that Jilly was running around on me. I had nothing concrete to go on, just rumors, and since we seemed to be getting along great I put them out of my mind. But the rumors persisted.
One week during the third year of our marriage my company sent me to Salt Lake City for a three-day seminar. The first night I called home four times and never got an answer. When I got up early the next morning and called home before the seminar started I still didn't get an answer. That night Jilly answered and when I asked where she had been the previous evening and in the morning she told me she had been home and then asked why. "I tried to call several times and never got an answer."
"I don't understand that honey, I was right here."
My last night in Salt Lake she answered the phone on the sixth ring and she sounded out of breath. And I could almost swear I heard other heavy breathing in the background. For the first time I began to seriously wonder if the rumors had any substance to them. The last day of the seminar I called Jilly and told her that I had to stay over one more day and then I caught the first flight out that I could get on.
There was a strange car parked in our driveway when I got home and I parked at the end of the street and settled in to wait. I had intended to wait and see who came out; for all I knew it could be one of Jilly's girlfriends and in fact, that is what I was praying for. As the hours passed and darkness fell and it got later and later it looked as if my prayers were going to go unanswered. At eleven-thirty the lights went out and still no one had come out of the house.
It was decision time. Time to either go into the house or call and tell Jilly I got my business out of the way, caught a late flight and was on my way home from the airport. I suddenly found that I didn't have the intestinal fortitude to confront Jilly. I loved her and I couldn't picture myself living without her. I sat there in my car and convinced myself that Jilly had just gotten a girlfriend to come and stay with her because she was lonely with me gone. It just couldn't be anything else; our relationship was just too strong for it to be anything else. I started the car, drove to a motel and checked in for the night.
.... There is more of this story ...