Colette sighed as she watched the tiny sugar crystals swirl around in her half-empty cereal bowl. The sound of her mother-in-law’s soft playing carried gently through the wall of the music room as she studied her breakfast. The gentle melody was so calming and soothing that Colette almost felt herself being lulled back into another sound sleep. She was just so exhausted. Her students, though cute as always, had been driving her up a wall lately, and she’d been so busy running her kids back and forth to practices and rehearsals while her husband was off at work.
At least it’s Saturday. The young woman thought to herself as she brought another spoonful of cereal to her lips.
She had to drive Gus to a friend’s birthday party in a few hours, and she’d promised Lucas she’d bring him to the store to look at some new effects pedals for his guitar… But at least she’d been able to sleep in a bit.
“Hey, have fun today, kiddo.” A deep voice called from the doorway.
“Thanks, Papa.” Gus beamed at his father. “I will!”
Colette looked up at her husband, her eyes drinking in the sight of him. He wore a small smile on his full pink lips, and his shaggy hair was still slightly damp from his shower. Tobi was already dressed for practice – his wife’s gaze lingered on the smooth skin of his large, muscular arms, exposed beneath his sleeveless shirt.
It was all she could do not to let out a sigh at the sight of him. She wanted him so badly, it almost hurt. For so long, Colette was amazed at how she’d ended up married to the most gorgeous man in the entire world. How did I get so lucky? She used to wonder.
But Colette hadn’t felt lucky in a long time.
“See you tonight.” Tobi said, giving his wife a tiny nod and calling her back to the present.
She tried her best to smile. “Have fun at practice.”
With a soft sigh, Colette pushed her chair back from the table and rose to her feet. “Alright, time to get dressed, mister.”
As always, Gus did not argue. “Okay, maman.” He leapt up from the table and headed straight out into the hall.
“And don’t forget to brush those teeth!” She called as he skipped happily up the stairs toward his bedroom.
Alone at last, Colette finally allowed her cheerful mask to fade.
The memory of her husband’s farewell still stung. It was so cold… Formal, almost. Colette could still remember a time when neither she nor her husband ever left the house without giving each other a kiss, or saying “I love you”…
When was the last time either one of them had even said those words to each other? Colette couldn’t even remember. Probably the last time we had sex. She thought sadly. Maybe even before that.
A soft sigh escaped her lips. She missed making love to her husband so much more than she was willing to admit… But she just couldn’t do it anymore. For so long, it had become so cold and passionless. Neither one of them were really enjoying it… Where was the excitement? The feeling? The love?
I will not let my marriage turn into nothing but passionless, meaningless sex. Colette had promised herself months ago. And before too long, things sort of fizzled out on their own. Even Tobi had stopped trying to initiate things in the bedroom.
But without the sex… what did they have left?
Colette couldn’t even remember the last time they’d had a real conversation. Or gone out to dinner together. Or seen a movie without the kids. When their children were younger, they’d try to go out for a date night at least once every few weeks. But the more time that passed, the less frequent they’d become.
And now, it seemed that whenever she would suggest going out together, Tobi was always too busy. “Next time, I promise.” He’d say.
But Colette quickly learned that there never was a “next time”. So she’d stopped asking. He’s so goddamn obsessed with work all the time. Even in the off-season, her husband spent hours each week at the gym training.
And when he wasn’t… It was all about the kids. Tobi had always been a loving and devoted father to her children. But what happened to being a loving and devoted husband?
I don’t get it… How do they make it look so easy? She thought to herself almost bitterly as she watched her husband’s grandmother tend to the plants in the sunroom.
Alex and Jade had been inseparable, it seemed, from the moment Colette met them. And Alex was always doing the sweetest gestures for his wife, right until the end – opening the door for her; pulling out her chair at dinnertime; holding her hand every time they walked together, no matter where they were going.
They were married for more than fifty years.
Will Tobi and I even last that long? Before she could find an answer, Colette shook the shameful thought from her mind as quickly as it had come.
As she crossed through the hall and into the living room, another bit of her mother-in-law’s beautiful playing reached Colette’s ears. The young woman shook her head slowly at the thought of her husband’s mother and father. Another couple that just made it look so easy.
They were always laughing and smiling together – no one could ever make Mari light up the way Jonas did.
And they could never seem to keep their hands off each other. There had been more than one occasion when Colette had gotten up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and heard a bit more than she’d bargained for coming from her in-laws’ bedroom.
And, as horribly awkward and uncomfortable as it was, Colette could not help feeling a twinge of jealousy at the thought of it. Mari and Jonas were in their fifties now, and had somehow never lost that spark, that passion for each other.
How had she and Tobi lost it at thirty-three?
“I’ll be back later!” Lucas’ voice called as his heavy footsteps descended the stairs.
Colette rose from the couch, raising her eyebrow curiously. Clara was usually the one running off unexpectedly. It was a bit unusual for her son to do so.
“Where are you off to?” She asked kindly, catching him before he made it out the door.
Lucas turned to face her. “Just meeting Ari down at the park for a little bit. Don’t worry, I’ll be back in time to go to the music store.” He promised.
Colette couldn’t help but laugh. “Didn’t you just see Ari last night?”
“Yeah.” Her son shrugged, smiling. “So?”
She let out another burst of laughter. “So have fun, and text me when you’re on your way back.”
He rolled his eyes but did not lose his smile. “Bye, maman.”
Colette’s smile faded as she watched him head out the door. Things were starting to get serious with Lucas’ new girlfriend, it seemed. The two had been practically attached at the hip lately, and texting each other all day and all night. She and Tobi had even been forced to impose a “no cellphones at the dinner table” rule because of it.
She could still remember when she and Tobi had been like that. Though hundreds of kilometers had separated them, it never really felt like they were apart – every text, every phone call, every email kept them close together, until those precious few weeks of summer when they could see each other again.
What happened to that sweet little boy who had stolen her heart all those years ago?
That awkward, handsome teenager who’d made love to her for the first time beneath the light of the summer moon?
The strong, mature young man who’d stepped up into his role as a father without hesitation?
The loving husband who’d promised her forever?
You let him slip away. She reminded herself. And you let HER slip away too.
The girl who gave away her body and soul to that sweet, handsome boy she met at camp. The terrified young woman who learned how to be a parent with her husband at her side. The devoted wife who’d promised him forever in return…
She was lost.
They both were.
And Colette feared she may never find them again.