I’ll never leave you behind
Or treat you unkind
I know you understand
And with a tear in my eye
Give me the sweetest goodbye
That I ever did receive
Sweetest Goodbye, Maroon 5
The next day Jason returned to work and by the time he had gone through all of his phone messages and emails, the morning had passed. He looked at the clock and realized that he hadn’t thought of himself or Sara once all morning. Maybe he was making progress.
For the next few days Jason buried his pain in his work. For the ten to twelve hours each day he was at the office he could pretend that nothing was wrong. The evenings with Kyle were a different matter. Kyle was dismayed by how withdrawn and distant Jason had become. He tried to stand back and let Jason work through his pain, but when he was honest with himself he had to admit he wasn’t seeing much progress.
Jason feared that his relationship with Kyle would not be able to withstand all the added pressure his coming out had placed on it. He knew this was not what Kyle imagined when he asked Jason to move in, but Jason couldn’t help it. He felt so much guilt over all the pain he had caused Sara, so much shame for all the years he lived a lie. It was as though the weight of the world was on his shoulders and he didn’t know how to make things right.
It had been close to a month since Jason had moved out and Sara was adjusting to life on her own. She hadn’t talked to Jason in a couple of weeks, not since she asked him to give her some time. Now, sitting at the kitchen table going over their checkbook and bills, she was wondering what she could do about the mortgage due next week. She hadn’t found a job yet, hadn’t even been called in for an interview. She hated the thought of calling Jason to ask for money. She had rehearsed any number of conversations with him in her head, but calling to ask for money wasn’t one of them. Just as she sighed and reach for the phone it rang, startling her.
“Hey,” Jason spoke so softly she barely heard.
“Hey. How are you?”
“I’m okay,” his voice wasn’t very convincing. “How are you?”
“I’m doing better.”
“You are? I’m glad. Listen, Sara, I just wanted to let you know I deposited my paycheck into your account. I know the mortgage is due soon, and you probably need some groceries. So, anyway, I deposited it yesterday so you should be able to pay some bills now.” He was rambling.
Your account, not our account; she couldn’t help but feel the sting of those words. “Wait, Jason, didn’t you keep some money for yourself?”
“Yeah, I kept a little,” his voice dropped again, as if he were ashamed that he hadn’t given it all to her.
“You need some to live on too.”
“I don’t have much in the way of expenses right now. Besides, you need it, right?”
Sara sighed, “Yeah, I do. I’m looking for a job, but I’m afraid I haven’t had much luck yet.”
“That’s okay. I’ll support you until you do.”
“Are you still living with Kyle?”
“Yeah, why do you ask?” his voice was still soft and quiet.
“I just wondered. I mean, I didn’t think you could afford to give me the money if you weren’t. Is he okay with this? With you giving me your paycheck?”
“Yeah, he’s fine with it.”
Sara decided to press on. “Is he good to you?”
Jason was silent. He wasn’t sure how to talk to Sara about Kyle. It seemed like throwing water in her face. “Yes,” he finally whispered.
“Good, ‘cause I want you to be happy. You deserve to be happy, Jason.”
Jason didn’t answer. How could he agree after what he’d done to her? How could she think it herself?
“But you’re not happy are you?” she continued.
“Not because of Kyle. Don’t blame this on him.”
“Talk to me, Jason. You sound so sad.”
“I’m fine, Sara. Really, I’m just busy with work and all right now. I need to go. You’ll let me know if you need anything, right?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Thanks, Jason.”
“Yeah, okay. Bye, Sara.”
For the next couple of days Sara played their last conversation over and over in her head. This wasn’t how it was suppose to go. Jason was supposed to be relieved. He had finally come out, had finally come to terms with who he was, and had a beautiful guy he might, maybe, be in love with to be there for him. Why was he so sad?
Sara had been seeing a psychologist for the last few weeks, a doctor Kathy had recommended. Dr. Buehler had really helped Kathy when she was going through her divorce. Sara had agreed to give him a try and much to her relief she found him to be very open-minded. He understood Sara’s anger, but also could help her to see what Jason was going through at the same time.
At her next appointment she decided to broach the subject of Jason’s demeanor with Dr. Buehler.
“He just seemed so sad. I thought he would be happier, more relaxed.”
“He will in time, but right now I imagine he is experiencing a lot of guilt and shame. He was raised believing his sexuality was wrong, those beliefs are very ingrained; they don’t change over night. Not to mention his feelings for you, at the very least you two had a close friendship. I am sure he has a tremendous amount of guilt over what he has done to you, your life.”
Sara nodded, “What can I do?”
“Is he in therapy?”
“I don’t know, I doubt it.”
“He probably should be.”
That afternoon Sara stood pacing back and forth in her kitchen. She held the cordless receiver in her hand. She kept going over what she wanted to say, but she was sure once she got him on the phone, none of it would come out the way she had rehearsed. Finally she started punching in the numbers. “Here goes nothing,” she whispered.
“Hi, Kyle. It’s Sara.”
Kyle froze, his mouth suddenly dry and the color draining from his face. “Um, hi, um, Sara. How are you?”
“I’m okay, Kyle. I am just wondering… “ She paused, no, she couldn’t do this over the phone. “Um, would you meet me for coffee somewhere?”
“Um, coffee? Sure. When?”
“The sooner the better.” Sara was afraid she would lose her nerve.
“Okay, I have some time in about an hour. I could meet you at the diner down on the corner.”
“Great. Thanks, Kyle.”
“I take it, you don’t want Jason there?”
“Would that be okay? I would like to talk to you alone, if you don’t mind?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever you want, Sara, but I’m not comfortable doing this behind his back.”
“I’m not asking you to sneak around. Tell him I want to talk to you, I’m fine with that.”
“Okay, I’ll see you in an hour.”
Kyle hung up the phone, staring at it while wondering just what on earth Sara wanted to say to him. Did she want to bitch him out, tell him this was his fault? Did she want to draw a line in the sand? Maybe she wanted a truce. Shaking his head Kyle walked down the hall to Jason’s office.
Jason looked up. “Hey. What’s up?”
“Your wife just called me,” Kyle stated as he sat down in one of the plush chairs in Jason’s office.
“Sara? What did she want?”
“I don’t know yet, I am to meet her in an hour at the diner.”
Jason stopped. “Wow. She asked to meet you?”
“So either she doesn’t want me to hear what she has to say, or she wants to discuss me.”
Kyle shrugged, “I guess I will find out soon enough. Are you okay with this?”
Jason chuckled, “Better you than me.”
Sara walked into the diner to see Kyle sitting in a booth toward the back.
“Thanks for meeting me.” They both ordered coffee from the waitress.
Kyle rolled his lips into his month. “How are you doing?”
She smiled at Kyle, “I am doing good. I am. How are you?”
Kyle looked up in surprise, “Me? I’m fine. I figured you were here to talk about Jason.”
“I am. But first tell me, do you love him, Kyle?” She looked him straight in the eyes as she asked.
“Cause he deserves to be happy. I want to know that he is with someone who truly loves him.”
Kyle nodded, “I do, Sara.”
She nodded back as if she were relieved. “Is he in therapy? I mean, I think it might help him deal with… everything right now.”
Kyle shook his head, “I have tried to suggest it, but he won’t hear of it.”
Sara frowned, that sounded like Jason. “I’m not mad at him you know. I’m not even mad at you. I tried to be, mad at you that is, but-... well, there’s no point. Jason has been my best friend since I was fifteen. That doesn’t change, I still love him, even if he no longer loves me.”
“But he does, Sara. Jason’s feelings for you haven’t changed.”
She frowned again, “Yeah, they were just never what I thought they were to begin with.”
Kyle looked down, that had not come out like he meant it. “… That may be, but he still cares for you. He always will and we all know that. If you don’t believe anything else, you know you can take that to the bank.”
“I just want him to be happy, and I want for he and I to be friends again. At least in some semblance of what we had. Can you handle that?”
“You and Jason being friends? Yes, absolutely.”
“So will you please tell him that I don’t blame him, and ask him to see this guy? To do it for me.” Sara pulled out Dr. Buehler’s business card and slid it across the table toward Kyle.
“Who’s this?” Kyle picked up the card, reading the name.
“He is my shrink. He really has helped me a lot and when I asked if he would be willing to take on Jason as a patient, he said he would. Please, try to get Jason to go.”
Kyle shook his head and slid the card back to Sara. “He needs to hear all this from you, not me. I’ve already told him all of this. He won’t believe it until it comes from you.”
Sara looked down at her coffee. “Okay, invite me to dinner,” she looked up at him. “I think it would be better at your place. To show him I’m okay with this.”
Kyle grinned; this was some kind of weird; sitting in a diner with his lover’s soon to be ex wife. “When?”
“Tonight? Before I lose my nerve.”
”Well? What did she want?” Jason was in Kyle’s face as soon as he was back at the office.
“An invitation to dinner.”
“Tonight. She wants to come over for dinner tonight.”
“Why?” Jason was suddenly very skeptical.
Kyle shrugged, “She’s worried about you.”
“So why did she have to talk with you first?”
“To make sure I was okay with it,” he stated as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“That you were okay with it? What the fuck is that about?”
“Listen, Jason, she is the ex. She doesn’t want to do anything to cause us problems, she just wants to know that you are okay; that we’re okay.”
Jason stood looking at Kyle, not believing a word of it.
When Sara arrived at their apartment that evening, Kyle was in the kitchen finishing up the stir-fry. Jason opened the door.
“Hi, Jason,” she answered warming while pulling him into a hug. “How are you?”
“I’m okay. Come in and sit down. Want something to drink? Kyle has some wine chilling.”
“That’s sounds great.” She sat down in the living room, hoping to get a chance to talk with Jason alone.
Jason came back in carrying two glasses of wine. “Kyle said you are worried about me.”
He handed her a glass and then sat down across from her.
She took in a deep breath, “Jason, I don’t blame you for any of this. I am not mad at you, or upset with you or anything. I was hurting for a while, still am to some degree, but I don’t blame you for that pain. I want you to be happy. I want us to be happy; all three of us. You have been in my life, hell, the center of my life for the last fifteen years. I can’t imagine my life without you in it in some way. I just want us to be friends, to try to repair our relationship so that we can be together without it being so awkward.”
“Sara, I’m still gay.”
“I know that, I’m not asking you to come home. I know our marriage is over, but does our friendship have to end too?”
Jason looked down at his lap, then back up at Sara with tears in his eyes, “No, the friendship doesn’t have to end.” Suddenly he knew why she had talked to Kyle first. She wanted him to know where she was coming from, that she wasn’t a threat; she just wanted to still be in Jason’s life.
Jason stood up and went over to where Sara was sitting. He pulled her up to her feet and into an embrace. “Of course the friendship doesn’t have to end.”
When Sara finally pulled back from the hug they both had tears in their eyes. “One more thing,” she reached into her pocket handing him the business card. “Please, make an appointment to see this doctor. He has helped me so much, please, Jason. Do it for me?”
Jason took the card from her. “A shrink?”
“Yes, please, give him a chance.”
Jason frowned, “Did Kyle put you up to this?”
“No, this is coming from me. One appointment, if you don’t like what he says you don’t have to go back.”
Finally, knowing it would make her happy, Jason nodded, “Okay, I’ll go.”
"Oh, and please call your parents and at least let them know you moved out."
"Why? Have they called you?"
"No, they have called to talk to you. Twice. I don't feel I should be the one to tell them that we are separated. Please call them."
"Yeah, okay. Did they say what they wanted?" He spoke with his family a few times a year.
"No, they asked for you and I told them you were out of town the first time the called, and that you were working late the second time. I said I would have you call them back. You know how they feel about me, if you're not here the conversation is pretty much over." Jason's parents had never been too fond of Sara, for more reasons that she could count, but probably more than anything, they seemed to feel she was of a lower class.
"What have you told your folks?"
Sara was close to both her mother and father. She usually spoke to them on the phone three of four times a month. "I have told Mom everything, I presume she has told Daddy, but I did ask them to keep it to themselves until you had a chance to talk with your family."
Jason rubbed his hand over his face. "What did your mom say?"
"Actually she made a lot of sense. She said you are who you are and trying to be something else was only asking for trouble."
"Some how I don't see my mother being so understanding."
"Listen, Jason, if you aren’t ready to come out to them, then don't, but please at least let them know where you are living now."
"Yeah, okay, I'll call them."
"Yeah, I promise." He looked forward to that conversation. His parents my not like Sara, but he knew they would be upset to hear his marriage had failed. He couldn't even begin to imagine their reaction as to why his marriage had failed.
It was then that Kyle stuck his head in the doorway. “Dinner is ready.”
As they were sitting down to the table Sara couldn’t hold it back any longer. “I have a job interview Monday. I got the call when I got back home this afternoon. If I get it I will be working with the learning disabled kids at the elementary school just a few blocks from my apartment.”
“Wow, Sara, that’s great,” Kyle smiled at her. “You’ll get it. They would be fools to not hire you.” Things were looking up.
Monday evening Sara was sitting at her favorite restaurant. Her interview had gone well and she felt she deserved a little celebration. She resisted calling Jason, telling herself to wait until she actually got the job.
As the waitress was walking away from taking her order, Sara looked up to see a familiar face walking across the room. As he walked by her table he looked over at her.
“David. Hi. How are you?” She had met him at one of the schools where she had subbed. They had struck up a conversation in the teacher’s lounge her first day there, and she had learned he taught fourth grade. By the end of her week of substitute teaching, she had come to think of him as a friend.
“I’m good. Are you here alone?”
“Yes, just me.”
“Would you care to eat with me?”
“That sounds great, why don’t you join me? Have you been seated yet?”
“He pulled up a chair at her table. I have now.” He waved to the maître d', who brought over a menu for him.
“So how have you been?” Sara was truly glad to see him again.
“I’ve been good. How about you?”
Sara frowned, “Well, let’s see, where should I begin? Jason and I are separated. And I had my first job interview today, I think it went well.” She had always found him so easy to talk to, but she wasn’t ready yet to tell him just why she and Jason split.
“Oh, Sara, I’m sorry to hear that, I mean, about your marriage.”
Sara looked up at him. “Thanks, but it was for the best, really. So enough of me, tell me about you?”
They spent the rest of the evening catching up on each other’s lives. It had been a few months since the last time Sara had subbed at the school, so they had plenty to talk about, especially Sara.
By the time dinner was over David had her laughing over another silly joke he had told. “Sara, I would love to do this again some time. Would you like to go out to dinner with me?”
Sara’s eyes grew serious, “Oh. David, I don’t know if I am ready for that.”
“Ready for what? Dinner with a friend? I had a nice time tonight. I thought you did too.”
“Yeah, I did. Well, okay, yes. I would love to go to dinner with you again,” she smiled at him. “I really would.”
It was another week before Sara got the word telling her the teaching position was hers if she wanted it. The first call she made was to David. After they made plans to go out that night to celebrate she dialed Jason’s office.
“Oh, hi. Sara, you sound happy. So, what? Good news?”
“I got the teaching job.”
“You did? That’s fantastic. I am so happy for you.”
“Yeah, I am so excited about it, I think I will really like working there.”
“That is terrific, Sara.”
“So how are you doing? Have you seen Dr. Buehler yet?”
“Yes, I have and I like him. I’m feeling much better about everything, thanks.”
She smiled. “Wonderful, I’m glad to hear that.”
“So we need to celebrate this new job of yours. Want to get together tonight?”
“Um, I can’t tonight. Tomorrow?”
“What do you have tonight, a hot date?” Jason teased; he thought that maybe she was getting together with Kathy.
“Um, yes. As a matter of fact I do have a date.”
“A date? Really?”
“Yes, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibilities, you know.”
He chuckled, “No, it’s not. A date, huh? That’s great. Anyone I know?”
“Nope. Some one I know from subbing.”
“So when do I get to meet him?”
Sara giggled, “I don’t know. I’m not sure he is ready to deal with the ex yet. We’ve only seen each other a few times.”
“Well, he better get ready. You know I’ll have to check him out for you,” Jason teased. “So where is he taking you?”
“Oh that Chinese place you love.”
“Yeah, I haven’t eaten there in ages.”
“Well, you have a great time, and call me tomorrow to tell me all about it. I want all the details.”
“Bye, Sara, Love you.”
“Love you too, Jason.”
Kyle looked up from his desk to see Jason standing in the doorway. “What’s up?”
“Sara got the position.”
“Great. Did you invite her over to celebrate?”
“Yes, but she already had plans. She has a date tonight.”
Kyle smiled broadly. “Really? Wow. That is great.”
“Yeah, so I’m thinking, we should go out to eat tonight. Maybe Chinese?”
Kyle eyed him, “Why? You don’t even like Chinese that much.” Then the light came on in his head. “Is that where Sara is going tonight?”
Jason only grinned.
“Oh you are bad. So bad.”