Carl and Catherine

Chapter One

“Let the water calm you..NO…STOP PANI..KING…JUST..DOWN!!!” I wished he would shut up, I honestly did but I watched him carry on teaching the little girl – who clearly wasn’t interested – how to swim. How else is he going to make the money to bail his asshole brother out? I thought to myself as I took a drag of the cigarette I was smoking , and watched as the smoke fluttered above me and disappeared into thin air. I wish Carl would disappear like that.

I got back to reading the unbearably banal book by Johnson McSomething-Something about ‘How to Save You Marriage When Your Marriage Has Cracks’ gifted to me by mother dearest. She was hell-bent on saving my marriage, ‘you have to get through it, Kate!’ she kept messaging me every day ever since I told her I’ve been sleeping in the guest bedroom. I wish mother understood that Carl and I sleeping in different bedrooms meant we had more than just cracksin our marriage. But I read it anyway. To keep mother happy, to show her that I was trying even if he wasn’t.

“JUST CALM DOWN, SYDNEY, THE WATER IS NOT GOING” – Splash, splash, splash – “STOP IT!”

“More shouting than teaching going on there, Carl!” I said, giving way to my frustration. “I AM TRYING AREN’T I..WHY DON’T YOU GO AND READ THAT DAMN BOOK INSIDE, CATHERINE! AND FOR GOD’S SAKE STOP WITH THE SMOKING!!” he snarled back at me.

Catherine? I scoffed. When did he start calling me by that name? Jackass.

Carl and I were in love at some point in our lives. At least, I think we were. We’d been married for five years before the ‘cracks‘ started forming and three years after the cracks is when we got to this point. And, about a month ago I retired into the guest bedroom. Why we were still married was beyond me, but as mother said I have to get through it. SPLASH SPLASH “SYDNEY JUST TRUST ME” SPLASH SPLASH.

I decided to leave. The screaming girl and Carl were too much for me. I dabbed the cigarette on the crystal ashtray that was placed on the plastic table on my side. I stood up trying to regain my balance, adjusting my eyes to the sunlight as I took my sunglasses off. I placed the book under my arm, grabbed my keys from the plastic table and headed towards the entrance of the building that was interconnecting with the pool.

“Have a nice day, ma’am!” greeted the greying security guard at the reception.A nice day? I do not remember the last time I had a nice day. “Thanks, Joe!” I said anyway. Joe was a nice guy always giving out nice days. I liked Joe. He was here when Carl and I first moved in, during our happy days. The days before The Day. The days before the ‘cracks.‘ “Welcome to the building, good ma’am, good sir!” he had said chirpily. Carl had tipped him $20 to which he replied “GOD BLESS YOU!” and gone off with a massive smile pasted on his now wrinkled face.

Ding..the elevator opened up and I made my way in, half struggling with the book at my underarm, half trying to get my keys ready, half trying to find some familiarity in the reflection before me. When did I get so old? I searched my neck for any sign of The Day, but all the scars, the wounds, the scratches had faded with time. Everything was dust now, everything had moved onto something else, something better, except for maybe Carl and I. We were not the same anymore.

“10th FLOOR!” said the robotic voice in the elevator. Ugh, I had hated stopping, I had hated waiting. I had told Carl the 18th floor would be too high up, and we’d have to stop and wait a lot..but, look at the view!!! he had said embracing me from the back pointing towards the open beach’s abundant water. Jackass.We spent a month or so being excited by the view before it became old and boring. It slowly went unnoticed, like the wall on the left side of our flat with a slightly lighter shade of blue from when Carl and I painted in a drunken state. I mean, who paints when they’re drunk? Carl and Catherine. That’s what they do. That’s their thing. I had failed to see what a bunch of sad losers we were back then – too lost in love, too blinded by the awesome and great Carl. I wish I had, though. I would have avoided The Day, the ‘cracks’, and this god damn day. 12, 13, 14, “15th FLOOR!”, 16, 17, “18th FLOOR!”

I made my way out of the now crowded elevator and towards the dimly lit passageway of our oh so amazing building. Moments later, her door swung open, fuck, she walked past me I held my breath and carried on walking, “you bitch!” she shot out at me, in her strong Indo-American accent.

I swallowed hard and just carried on walking blankly ahead, towards our apartment which was right at the end of the passage. Apartment 1809, the one that read ‘WELCOME HOME’ Home? Welcome? Why haven’t we gotten rid of that yet? I put the key into the lock, “bitch!” the voice automatically replayed in my head, I unlocked the door, sighed and walked directly into the shit hole excuse of our home, swinging the door shut behind me.

I get that 11:45 a.m. is too early for a glass of vodka, but, when you cross paths with the woman whose husband is in jail because of you, it’s about the only cure. I filled up the glass half way in a hurried manner, and drank it just as quickly, shutting my eyes as its bitterness hit my throat. I’m sorry. I left the empty glass in the sink and watched it bob in the dirty water that neither of us cared to drain out anymore. Sigh. I walked out of the kitchen, past the guest bedroom, and into mine and Carl’s room.

The bed was made. Impressive. My side of the bedside table still had the earrings I wore on the last night that I slept in here. The last time we had sex.Great. I walked towards the bathroom which now smelled entirely of his cologne, of his shampoos, of his body sprays, just his god damn scent everywhere. I picked up the bottle of perfume I had gifted him on our anniversary and sprayed it into the air. The scent that once reminded me of his love, now makes me want to gag. I placed it back and eyed myself in the mirror before I started to undress myself.

I noticed my bones had started to stick out a little more, and my breasts had become slightly smaller. I lifted my right arm to take a look at I lifted my right arm to take a look at the tattoo Carl and I got – him on his left rib, me on my right – ‘forever together’, it read in Hindi. Pft. A constant reminder of him glaring right at me. What happened to the love?

I stared at my neck, in search, again of any sign of The Day, but everything had disappeared. I entered the shower cubicle, turned the tap on and let the water travel upon my body. Warmth surrounded me and I leaned against the wall, just letting the water comfort me. I didn’t realise when, but I started to cry. I was angry, I was sad, I was frustrated, I was alone. I cried and I cried, the tears mixing with the water. Salt and steam. Steam and salt.

I was interrupted by a slight knock from the outside. “You okay, Catherine?”Don’t call me that. “Fine” I shouted out. That was my cue to get the heck out of the bathroom. I wrapped the floral off-blue towel around me, unlocked the door and made my way out of the bedroom. Carl had left. Asshole. It was so easy for him to move on and interact normally with the woman who called his wife a bitch on any occasion that she could. I wondered how he did that. So easily, so smoothly, so normally. But that was Carl in general. He was easy-going, he had a smooth personality, and he was always seemed normal – the no extra baggage, no shit kinda guy. Normal, yeah okay.

I put on an oversized shirt which read “Dark Side” in bolded uppercase letters – Carl had loved Star Wars, I had loved Carl – with a pair of shorts. Another day with the darling husband gone. I had stopped wondering where he would always disappear off to ages ago, it didn’t concern me anymore, what with his asshole brother in jail now. I paced aimlessly around the house before collapsing onto the couch. The couch. I am surprised we didn’t change the couch after The Day. Carl’s darling mother had gifted it to us on our wedding day, that’s probably why.