Except for the kitchen lights the rest of the the apartment was dark. No one else was home after all. More often than not these days, Chelsie Kay Kanemura felt like she was the only one living there. Just like right then. Two places were set for dinner but she was the only one seated at the table. She had been reading while pointedly listening for the sound of keys jangling at the front door. Glancing at the clock hung over the kitchen entrance, she could see that there were only five more minutes before it would be eleven. Chelsie's empty stomach lurched, as it finally made it's needs known. It demanded dinner but the congealed gravy and cold mess laid out before her looked wholly unappetising and made her stomach lurch for an entirely different reason. Transferring the cold meals into Tupperware and then into the fridge, Chelsie made herself a bowl of cereal. Nothing like sugary goodness and marshmallow bits to make a person feel better, right?
Except she didn't feel better at all. Sitting alone in the one lit room of a dark apartment and eating cereal was not how she'd imagined married life when she'd said 'I do' just a year ago. She banged her spoon on the table. No, this was not how she'd imagined it at all. Not when she and Mark had been so in love with each other. Though oblivious to it themselves they had been told by their now long time friend, Kourtni, that the two of them were so sweet on each other it gave others toothaches just watching them. That had been then, these days the couple rarely went out with their friends anymore. More accurately, the couple didn't go out or do anything together now. Every time Chelsie asked, Mark was busy. He was more in the office than out of it and when he was at home he locked himself in the office he'd converted their second bedroom into. Chelsie had always imagined that the room was going to be a nursery.
While getting ready for bed, Chelsie thought about the events that had led up to all this and wondered if Mark hated her now. Splashing her face with cold water she stared at the reflection in the mirror. At twenty one years old, she was much too young to become a widow. She wasn't even losing him to something that made sense – like Warcraft. She just had to... reassure herself that things would be alright. She'd make dinner again tomorrow and it was Saturday so they'd eat together and then she'd take Mark out. They would have fun, just like they used to. Chelsie clutched the white porcelain basin so tightly that her knuckles matched it in colour.
“Mark...” As she remembered what happened, she decided she hated fate. It had a seriously fucked up sense of humour.
“Mark! Oh god, Mark!” Chelsie clutched at his arm while he lay bleeding right there on the street and a crowd started gathering.
“Call an ambulance!” She screamed at all these foreign faces. What was WRONG with them? Just staring, couldn't they see he was dying right in front of them? Tears were welling up in her eyes. This was supposed to be their honeymoon, this wasn't supposed to happen.
Chelsie fumbled with her phone before she realized she didn't even know what the emergency number in this country was. She felt so stupid. Stupid and completely helpless. All she could do was cradle Mark's head in her arms.
Sirens rang in the distance. Thank god. Thank god.
“Chelsie...” Mark rasped out. “Chelsie, I love you.”
And that had been the last time she'd heard him say it. They had been married for less than a week before it all fell apart. Chelsie felt wetness fall on porcelain knuckles. Oh... tears.
Mark pushed back his jacket sleeve to look down at his wristwatch. It was a bit past eleven and he realized he hadn't called Chelsie to tell her that he wouldn't be back for dinner. Well, she knew he was only a few more clients away from being top sales that month so it was important that he finish his reports. Or maybe she didn't know. He couldn't recall ever telling her about that. They hadn't spoken very much for a long while now.
Their last conversation had been awkward, stilted. Chelsie had told him that she had gotten a job at a dance studio as a part-time Latin instructor and he had wanted to congratulate her, say he was proud of her and give her a hug. However, when he'd looked into her eyes, his words died in his throat. Her eyes had been lit up with an excitement he recognized. It was the same light they all got, 'they' being dancers, when they thought of dance and it was a light that had been lost to him. His hands had clenched into fists on their own and Chelsie noticed almost right away. She always saw everything he did. She was the person who knew him best in the whole world and yet, there was an immeasurable distance between them now.
Chelsie's eyes had widened as soon as she'd seen his reflexive action and she looked down as though he'd slapped her but it was shame that coated her voice.
“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... remind you about...” Her hands were in her lap, bunching up her skirt and she would no longer meet his eyes. Her sentence trailed off but he could finish it. Remind you that you're useless now. Remind you that your legs are only barely good for walking and for a dancer that's like being still.
It wasn't her fault that he was no good. That he was broken.. There was some small irrational jealousy there but more than jealousy, there was fear. Dance brought them together and what would happen to them now that he could no longer dance with her? Chelsie would realize sooner or later that she could do better and dance right out of his grasp.
Mark's fists clenched in the present as though trying to hold onto something but if Chelsie wanted to leave him, he wouldn't fight it. He'd let her go and have the wonderful life she deserved without him weighing her down. ...At least that had been the idea but he knew that he didn't want to. He knew that part of him was hoping that if only he could get that promotion, please that client and make enough money, then she would stay with him.
Stupid. He was so stupid.
“Mark? You're still here?” A female voice interrupted his thoughts and made him look up to see who else would still be at the office at such a late hour. Standing there was, his direct superior within the company, Amber Wickham. She was young, just twenty-six but was something of a business prodigy. As an ex-dancer, the transition from stage and studio to the office had been a difficult one for Mark but Amber Wickham had seemed to have taken it upon herself to help Mark and had done so since he'd been hired.
“Ms. Wickham,” He greeted. “I was just finishing up some reports. Tomorrow's Saturday so...”
Amber smiled as she made her way up to his desk and idly leafed through the pages of the report.
“You should go home, these could have waited.” Her eyes glanced down at his hand where a familiar gold wedding band shone and she reached out to tap it. “Your wife probably misses you.”
When he bent his head to look down at his hand, he felt and heard rather than saw the woman move and when he looked up again, the woman was close. Too close. Before he knew it, her lips were on his.
The door slammed.
“I'm home.” Mark said as he entered the apartment even though he didn't expect a reply. Heading into the bedroom for a change of clothes, he saw Chelsie asleep. Her hair was a mess and she was half in and half out the covers, lying on her stomach. Changing into some more comfortable clothes, Mark watched Chelsie sleep for some moments before he reached over and gently tucked the blankets back around her properly. Kneeling at the bedside, he looked at her face and slowly leaned in until he was so close he could feel her soft breathing against his cheek. Then he pulled back. Standing up he picked up the briefcase he'd left by their bedroom door and padded into his office.
He still had those reports to finish.