“Hi, Arlene, let me talk to Walter.” I was surprised to hear my voice sounding perfectly normal. And apparently Walter’s secretary heard nothing amiss either as she replied, “Sure, Fox. Hang on a second.”
Tinny hold music then, some crappy muzak rendition of a Rod Stewart song that I hated anyway. And what the hell was I thinking? What did it matter what music was playing when it felt like my heart was actually split in two and spraying my life’s blood out like a damn pumper truck? And—
“Fox? Hey, hon, you’re home early.” Walter’s voice, strong and cheerful, and I took a deep shuddering breath.
“How did it go?” he asked.
“Good,” I mumbled.
“Yeah. Great,” I added a little louder, and dimly wondered if I was going to throw up again.
“I’m so glad to hear that.”
And the hell of it was, he did sound genuinely happy for me.
“I’m glad it’s going well,” he was saying, and it was tearing me apart. I wanted to believe him so badly. “Any good stuff this week?” he continued, and I could still hear the smile in his voice.
I took so long answering him that he got concerned, and I heard it as his tone changed and he quietly asked, “Fox? You still there?”
The dam broke in me.
“I remembered everything!” I spat out and I swear I could hear him gasp on the other end of the line.
“Eh-everything?” he stammered.
“Everything, you bastard!” I yelled into the phone. I heard him start to say something, protest his innocence, maybe, or something to try and mollify me, but it was too late—much too late—for that. “You liar!”
“Fox.” He’d gotten louder now, and some of his words slipped through the fog of rage wrapped around me. “I’ll come right home. We need to talk about this—“
“Why?” I snapped. “So you can tell me more lies? No thanks!” I was about to hang up the phone when his next words froze me.
“Fox, I love you.”
The worst lie of all. And the one I wanted most to believe. I started crying at the words, and couldn’t seem to stop. I hated myself for the tears, and hated him for making me feel this way, and for one of the last times, I had a brief bright moment where I wished I had simply died in that car crash with Scully.
“Fox, listen. I’m coming home. Just wait there for me. Please. I—“ Walter sounded far away now as my bleak thoughts and the pain in my heart jostled me and vied for top spot in my psyche. I thought my heart had won as I burst into fresh tears, but then I heard him saying again that he loved me, and I was able to speak clearly and coldly.
“I won’t be here.”
I hung up on his protests, wiped my face on my sleeve like a four year old, and tried to compose myself. It wasn’t working, so my second choice was to ignore the tears as I pulled on boots and jacket, just like I ignored the phone as it began ringing shrilly.
I collected my wallet, some extra cash from the cookie jar in the kitchen, and nothing else. I almost couldn’t bear to walk through the place, let alone touch or take anything. Finally, I paused at the door to look back into the house, now haunted with a myriad of additional memories, and a wave of nausea assaulted me. I fought the insane voice in my head urging me to stay by yelling at myself that leaving was the only option. But even as my feet were moving me out into the street, my heart was shrieking protest, and my brain was chanting a mantra “this is not happening…this is not happening…
It was happening. It was over.