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Sentenced to Guilt

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Both had come to the conclusion that they wouldn’t be getting much sleep that night. The fireplace roared as the thunder followed suit. Diane sat on the couch, clad in Kurt’s Brown University t-shirt and a pair of yoga pants. Her ringlets had become damp, wavy strands as she nursed a cup of hot tea.

“Yes, I’ll pick up the antibiotic in the morning...alright...thank you.” Kurt hung up the phone and stood from his desk. His hair was still wet from the rain that continued to pour outside their front door.

Diane craned her neck to look over the back of the couch at her husband. His eyes were dark and he hadn’t shaved for the past two weeks. Beneath his exhaustion, Diane could make out a sliver of his smile. He was simply relieved to have her back home where she was safe. Although home hadn’t proved to be much of a haven from recent events.

He stood in the middle of the room, not really knowing whether to sit with her or give her space. Not having to ponder for very long, Diane spoke up, “Come sit with me.”

He sat gingerly on the other end of the couch as if she were a sleeping puppy that he couldn’t bare to disturb. Her feet were stretched across the cushions, but he scooped them up and placed them on his lap once he was settled. A chill of normalcy ran down Diane’s spine. How could she feel so comfortable when their lives were in a state of disarray?

“That was your doctor. She’s starting you on another antibiotic, low dose, just to be safe.” He ran his hand up and down her calf. She nodded, sipping her tea.

The cracking of the firewood encompassed the room and they sat like this for some time. Figuring that if they didn’t talk now, they never would, Diane let a weight off her chest.

“Do you think we are special?”

Kurt took a deep breath, “What do you mean?”

Diane chuckled at her own musings. She knew they never had a fairytale romance. But it’s not like she would trade this life to have one. The law had taught her that no case is special; underneath, each case comes down to one of a few fundamental factors. It felt naive to think her marriage was above that. Dr. Marsee may have seen a lot of couples, but so had Diane. Things like this tear relationships to shreds.

“Never mind, it’s silly.” She returned to the steaming liquid between her palms.

“No, what do you mean?” He pressed her. He truly wanted to hear what she had to say. Hopping it might lead to her emotional recovery, or at the very least, a good night’s sleep.

“Jill just said something,” she felt ridiculous already, “While she was putting in new stitches.”

He waited for her to find her strength. He always would.

“I didn’t think you’d follow me.” She looked up into his eyes.

Holding her gaze he spoke, “Why?”

She shrugged, not sure of the answer. “This is a lot to deal with. I’m a  lot to deal with.” She gestured to her bandaged shoulder.

“You keep saying that, but have I once said that I can’t handle it? That I don’t want to help you heal? That I don’t want to see you laugh again?” Fresh tears hit her cheeks. She was use to them by now and barely noticed their presence.

She bit her lip, “No.”

His hand resumed it’s pattern on her leg.

“I’m right here, Diane.”

“I know that and it’s your patience that floors me.” She paused, “I was so horrid to you.”

“None of that matters.” Kurt spoke softly, sincerely.

Love doesn’t care about that . Diane heard Jill’s words ringing in her ears and suddenly she couldn’t cry anymore. She looked at this man in front of her. A man she never knew she needed. A soulmate. Their life may not be anywhere close to perfect, but they had each other. Wasn’t that the whole point?

“She was right.” Diane reached for Kurt’s hand, “We are special.”

He was her love that didn’t care. Her love that would never judge, never scrutinize.

Kurt sighed and smiled, “So where do we go from here?”

“I think we go to bed.” They laughed lightly and the room fell into the hands of the hissing fire once more. But this time all was calm. The emotion in the air had thinned.

“We can figure things out tomorrow,” Diane continued her prior thought, “Let’s just try to sleep.”

Kurt took her now cold tea to the kitchen as Diane moved to brush her teeth. When she returned from the bathroom, she stood in the doorway, looking at her surroundings. Wounds were still fresh and they would take a great deal of time to completely heal. But they wouldn’t heal at all if she didn’t move forward. Wallowing in grief for the life they had, would hinder building a new one. A better one.

Lying down had never felt so good. Diane made herself comfortable under the silk sheets, turning on her left shoulder facing Kurt’s side of the bed. A couple of minutes later, Kurt took his place at her side, kissing her hairline. Diane raised her head and gave him a proper kiss before he rolled to turn off the lamp.

“One thing that would help us move forward with normalcy,” she began, not sure how’d he react, “Would be you going to Seattle for that thing you mentioned.”

“I already told them I couldn’t go.”

“Then I’m sure they’ll be happy to know you’ve changed your mind.” Diane sensed his hesitation.

“Please, Kurt. For me. I don’t want to keep you from your job that you obviously enjoy. I’ll be just fine here.” She linked her fingers with his.

He pulled her hand up and placed a kiss on her fingers.

“If you’re sure.” He spoke, knowing she was slipping into sleep. “I’ll call them in the morning.”

Diane nodded, content for the moment that they had made a step toward recovery.