It was a hurried moment, the notice. Frenzied. Because we were always, then, somehow, in a frenzy, of some sorts.
I don’t know when it had become that way… It had seemed exciting and purposeful in the beginning. Or perhaps I just gave it that meaning then. I’d made the doing, mean accomplishment.
Surely because my first husband had been a hesitater. Things had taken ages to get done, even to decide. But not with Ted. Ted was a doer.
So that day, in a usual doing frenzy, again, we crossed paths briskly in the dining room.
He said, “Oh Eva! We can’t forget, we need to sign those notice documents soon if we are going to move into our new place. You told me the building site would be finalized by the end of October… Is that still right?”
Our sleeves swished up against one another. We hadn’t been that intimate in months. I was afraid of him and this was not the first time Ted had asked me about signing those papers. I didn’t know. He was the papers guy in our household. He was the lawyer. I just made things happen. And a construction site is iffy, always, at best. I wasn’t sure of the dates really, but for this switch over, I had to be. They had to be right.
This was not a discussion about us and we and our new home. Ted sounded accusatory. Again.
I stopped short and turned around just as the fabric on our arms brushed…and I looked at him. “I do not know exactly. I hope so. When do we need to send these papers?”
Ted had my attention. He knew how much I loved the new place and how much I wanted to move. “Soon. Three months…” he answered, his voice trailing off.
I didn’t know what day or even what month it was by then. I no longer counted. I’d somehow dissolved myself, absolved myself from Gregorian calendars and real life by that time. I only knew what I typed into my electronic agenda every week, which was the building site planning and my other daily tasks, trying to keep some sense, some record, of what I was doing, because I felt I was going crazy otherwise, constantly avoiding Ted’s anger. Now daily.
“I’ll sign those papers Ted. Do you have them?”
He stepped back because I’d stopped so short, we were just centimeters from each another’s faces. But he didn’t loose eye contact.
“Okay,” he exhaled, backing up to get some blank paper and a pen, fixing my gaze as he feigned a smile in my direction.
I could recognize a micro flinch in the skin between his lower lashes and his cheeks, but he kept my eyes trained on his.
“Well, what shall I write? Dictate something in French to me!”
He did. And I left the letter on the table where we’d met for that split second.
I didn’t know the administrative rules for giving notice. I left those things up to Ted. I had no idea he’d be scamming me. How would I? He was my husband then. I didn’t know that living in a stretched-zone, meant rental property possibilities were so low that notice was legally reduced to make it easier for everyone, to only one month. I didn’t know that I didn’t have to worry or fret. I didn’t know there was no frenzy. But Ted did.
Then after ten more days of drunkenness on fury and fear and angst… I found out that the letter Ted had asked me to write gave him free rein over our apartment, our life and our stuff… or what I thought was our stuff because he proceeded to palp and penetrate and part with precision every single piece… like combing through her child’s scalp with lice. Except unlike with lice, he corruptly and unabashedly claimed every single thing for himself.
Taking it all, right out from under me, he moved my life without mentioning it, during the month of reconciliation we had agreed upon, during the time we were supposed to be deciding together how to move forward, during the time I was trying to meditate and do yoga at our beach house, but during which I couldn’t, because I was spending those long days reading and trying to respond to Ted’s letters, setting me up, accusing me, of ruining him.
The frenzy Ted had created kept me off guard, kept me wondering constantly, kept my attention so off myself, that I hadn’t seen any of it coming.
This frenzy was all his. Just like everything else. I guess.