She’s everything I’m not looking for yet each day when I return, she’s there, greeting me with the warmest smile, the softest touch and expecting nothing but hospitality in return; and each night I lie in my bunk and think of her. I imagine what it would feel like to run my fingers through her sun-bleached hair. I close my eyes and picture myself holding her tight, our bare skin touching, our lips connecting. I tell myself that tomorrow will be the day. Tomorrow I’ll walk into work and, instead of taking my charts from her I’ll ask her to dinner. I’ll ask her to take a walk with me at lunchtime. Anything to get us away from the clinic and allow us to be adults for one moment before the hectic day bombards us with agony and despair. Each morning I wake, prepared to start the day as I had planned and fail. When I look at the picture that sits on top of my nightstand I’m reminded why I’m here No matter how many days, weeks, months pass, things have not gotten easier. The way I left Beaumont haunts me. I was a coward. I was a grown man in an adult relationship – one that was raising a child – and instead of staying and fighting for my family, I allowed someone to walk in and take it away. I knew I had a fight on my hands when the doors swung open and he was behind Katelyn. I thought for sure that if he ever came back she would be on my side, but actually seeing her with him, I knew. My life flashed before my eyes. The only problem was that instead of me with Noah, it was Liam and I was standing on the outside. It didn’t matter if Josie was on my arm, deep down I knew she was going to be wherever Liam was. I tried so hard to be the bigger man and I failed. I thought I could make it work. I could be the bona fide stepdad and we’d be a happy family. Josie and I would finally get married and Noah could visit Liam on alternating weekends and holiday. I had it all planned out in my head. Late at night when I’d wake and find that she wasn’t in our bed, all I could do was think. Think about how it was going to fall on me to make sure everyone was happy. Think about how in the blink of an eye I was losing everything and did nothing to deserve what was happening. Instead, I left. I walked away from my practice and my life without a goodbye and now I live with regret. I should’ve never walked out on Noah’s life the way I did. He didn’t deserve that. For years I was his father figure. His football and baseball coach, his study partner. He was my go- to guy when I wanted to do something special for Josie, my right hand man and I left him. I never once considered his feelings. Even though he has Liam, we had something special. Each day that I think about it is a reminder that he’s the only person with whom I need to make amends for my actions.
I watch as she leaves for work. She doesn’t even look away from her car. If she had she’d see me sitting out here watching her. I hoped she’d stay home today and we could talk. We could fix things and figure out how we're going to make it. She drives away oblivious to her surroundings. It pains me to see her like this. When did I not matter to her anymore? I pull into the driveway and park. This will be the last time I’m here. I stare at the house and see all the happy times we spent outside landscaping the yard. The hours I spent teaching Noah how to throw a football and baseball. The nights under the floodlights where we’d shoot free throws. Memories. That is all I have from the last six years. I let myself in the house and look around. I think I was secretly expecting things to be different when I walked in. Maybe I was hoping to see that she’s moving on without me, but everything is the same. My football bag is where I threw it last night. Her afghan is spread across the couch, her new bed. My heart breaks thinking that she didn’t sleep in our bed last night even though I wasn’t here. It’s as if she thinks it’s