Rich and Miranda had been together for nearly a year. On Monday mornings she would wake hours before the sun and drive Rich to a co-workers house where they would then ride to their out of town work site together. Friday evening, she would return again to pick him up. During the week his car was hers to do as she pleased, but that too would soon change.
Rich wanted his car back. Miranda wasn’t quite sure why as the weeks rolled by that he became more and more intent on taking the car out of town with him. She feared being trapped there. Trapped at his house, miles away from any store worth going to, miles away from her friends and her family. And she noticed, that the more serious she became about going to college to obtain a degree, the more serious he became about leaving her without a car to get there.
The car was only one of the many problems between Rich and Miranda lately. He was becoming more angry with her each week as he portioned out his check to cover the bills. Surely, it would be cheaper for him if she wasn’t there all week using his electric and heat, wasn’t eating or smoking, wasn’t driving his car. She knew that she added to his expenses, but she did all she could to repay him in other ways, ways that made his life easier. Rich never had to clean his house, his car, his laundry. Never had to cook a meal or mow his grass. Anything Miranda could do to take care of Rich she did, because he took care of her financially. But it wasn’t enough for Rich, and each weekend he voiced his frustrations louder. Miranda became more and more hurt that he would even consider her a financial burden, especially so when he never calculated the added car payment, rider mower payment, car insurance, and everything else that he had chosen to add to his expenses since they had first started dating. Then he uttered one single sentence, and Miranda assumed what his real money problems were… and she was far from the blame.
Rich started having his co-worker pick him up and drop him off at home more often. It offended Miranda, she enjoyed doing things for Rich, and he was taking that away from her. One Friday night he stumbled through the door later than the week before, and the week before that. He stumbled in and as Miranda greeted him, he told her that he had done a little cocaine and didn’t even remember half the trip home. She shuddered, knowing that he had been driving his co-workers truck home that evening. He had been driving through entire cities. Cities filled with other innocent drivers, and their families, and their children. He had been driving, and didn’t even remember how he got home.
Miranda had known about his history of cocaine use. She knew it was something he had gotten himself entangled in, and that he had found his way out. She also knew that it was perfectly normal for girlfriends, that knew nothing of any drug use, losing everything for their boyfriends actions. She had told him when she found out. She had blantly told him that if he ever did it, she would be gone. Yet, he had chosen to use cocaine that evening. Not even use it, but come home and nearly the first words out of his mouth were telling her that he had used it.
Now, if Miranda had experienced drug addiction before. If she knew how such an addiction can truly trap an individual. If she had felt proud and respected that he had chosen to admit this to her. To be honest with her. If she knew that all she had to do was extend her help to him. If she had known, maybe things would have turned out different for Miranda and Rich. But, she hadn’t known.
Miranda thought his admittance to cocaine use was the easiest way for him to tell her to leave. To tell her that he was done. To tell her that he was doing everything to get her to leave. And when nothing else he did had worked, he did this, because she had said if he did she would go.
Miranda didn’t leave right then though, no, she let it stew through the entire weekend. They did the normal things that happened each weekend. She nagged Rich to take her grocery shopping. She loved going grocery shopping with Rich. She loved doing anything with Rich, but the normal things like that, those were her favorite times with him. Of course the weekend was filled with their arguments, as they all were lately. Rich leaving, Miranda pleading with him not to, in the angry bitter way that girlfriends are known to plead.
Through the weekend Rich would throw lines at her about how his ex girlfriend could make nearly the same amount of money he gave her each week last for herself and her three children. Miranda boiled inside. How dare he compare her to his ex. His ex that he claimed over and over was a crazy bitch. The weekend was filled with words that should have never been said. Words Miranda wished she had never heard. Including those she overheard from Rich’s very own father as he answered a question Rich had asked with, “if you fight more than you laugh, it isn’t really worth it.” Miranda could have felt hope in the fact that Rich was asking about their relationship. He was asking his father for advice. He wanted to know what to do. Which means he didn’t know, and he wasn’t intentionally tearing them apart. But no, of course Miranda didn’t feel that way. Miranda only felt rage. Rage that his father’s advice said exactly what Rich was already doing, breaking them up.
That evening Miranda cooked Rich a superb meal. It wasn’t that she was trying to impress him, exactly. In a way, everything Miranda did was to impress Rich, but she knew by now that none of it worked anymore. No, that night she cooked him dinner more out of habit. As the potatoes simmered she realized that they were out of milk, and only having a few minutes until dinner was done she did what any other girlfriend would do, she asked Rich to run to the corner store to buy a small jug. The corner store, next to the bar that he went to far too often.
Dinner burned that night. Miranda let it burn for awhile. Let it burn the way that Rich was burning her. Nearly four hours later Rich came back from the corner store that was less than a mile from their house. Somehow, some miraculous way that to this day still amazes Miranda, she swallowed her anger that night. As he stumbled in the door, Miranda was impressed that he actually had a jug of milk in his hand. She reached for it, and battled through the overpowering smell of alcohol to give Rich a kiss. He said his friend Buck’s truck had gotten stuck and he had to help him out, so Buck bought him a beer. Miranda knew Bucks truck was much more powerful than Rich’s. She knew that Rich’s truck did not pull Buck’s out of anywhere. She knew that he was busy doing something else for nearly four hours. But, she didn’t tell Rich that. Instead, she told him that dinner had burned, and she could whip up something else quickly. He wasn’t hungry, he mumbled as he flopped onto their bed and passed out.
Miranda was hungry, she was so hungry that it was devouring her, but it wasn’t a hunger that food would ever satisfy.
The next day Rich spent the day outside drinking with Buck. The night before ate at Miranda as Buck and Rich’s trucks sat side by side, and she had a constant visual reminding her that Rich’s story was physically impossible. Finally, Miranda cracked. Something in her broke and she turned into everything she despised in girls. She told Rich she was pregnant. It was all she had left to get his attention, and nothing else was working. She even went so far as to drive to the drug store to buy a pregnancy test, but she never got around to take it. Her antics of making it obvious to Rich what she went to the store to buy had finally brought Rich in the house to her. Brought him in to say, that even Buck thought she was a crazy bitch.
A crazy bitch. The single term that Rich saved to describe his ex’s, he had just called her. She knew it wasn’t Buck that said it, it was Rich who was calling her one, in the same backdoor way he had slowly been trying to get her to leave. At that moment, anything that was left holding Miranda together, shattered. She was broken, and nothing Rich could have done before he left the next morning would have fixed her.
Fine, she thought. He wanted her to go, she would go, and he would see just how much she meant to him. He would miss her, and all this fighting, all this arguing, all this blaming her for everything wrong in his life would stop. It would be over and they could move forward.
The next morning Rich awoke for work before the sun, as he always had. Miranda kissed him sweetly as he walked out the door to his co-workers truck, as she always had. And then she turned around and packed her bags. A day or so later Rich called her and she told him she was moving out, his only reply was that she better take his car to his dad’s house. He never asked why she was leaving, never asked her not to leave, never indicated that it even matter that he was losing her, as long as he didn’t lose that damn car. Miranda wanted to smash the car into a tree. She wanted to have him hurt for only a second, the way she had hurt for months. She wanted him to feel the depth of pain that she had been trapped living in.
But Miranda never did anything like that. She could never do to Rich what he had done to her. Friday morning she drove to his house one last time, took his grandmothers ring off of her finger, kissing it gently, before placing it on his bedroom pillow. Then she drove to his dad’s house, parked his car safely out of the way in the driveway and went into the house. She grabbed a napkin and scribbled his dad a note, “I’m sorry. I love you.”
Miranda never said what she was sorry for. Sorry that they had to be involved. Sorry that she had to go. Sorry that there was nothing else that she could do. Sorry that it came to this. Sorry, that this was the only way she would ever wake up his son. Sorry, for the downward spiral that would very soon be their sons future.
The last words Miranda thought she would ever leave for Rich to find were, I’m sorry and I love you. She loved him, even in her final goodbye.
But, Miranda and Rich’s effect on each others lives were anything but final.
~TO BE CONTINUED~