2010-07-18: Yesterday





Date: July 18th, 2010


Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.

"He Said, She Said"

"Why she had to go — I don't know — she wouldn't say. I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday."

Stephen King once said… "only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty."

The woman whose face he cups tenderly with both hands has been both friend and lover and — contrary to a majority of society — she played both parts at the same time rather flawlessly. Or she gave off the impression of doing so which, according to our friend mister King, is essentially the same thing. But Jocelyn's gaze escapes him, turning away against his palms in self-conscious retreat. Her admission gave her no pride or relief, no validation. Instead, her bashfulness seems born of a humiliation that hurts him to see as much as the truth that bore her down was hard to hear. Eventually, his gentle prodding lifts her chin upward, meeting her dark eyes to his. Now she stares and he pores over a face he's long ago memorized a thousand times over. A face that isn't perfect and fantastically so. One he would never, ever want to see as distraught and weakened as she appears now, waiting on him… he could make this so much worse for her. And he briefly does, selfishly he leans in, pressing those foreheads together and breathing in all the comfort he can recall from being close to her many times before. Against that ache that's inside of him, he can still only define a single important answer for what's happening here.

It's always been this: "… I just want you to be happy."

Jocelyn's expression evens out as the words sink he and he studies her every reaction as she lets them slip. First she's calm, but then a slight crack in the shell. The tiniest hint of movement and he knows: she's trying not to smile. More successful at keeping all emotion from his features, he lets her come to this conclusion herself, finally breaking into that joy that might seem foreign to this situation. Physically still, he finds that she's come to support herself a little more now, shoulders rising and her chin no longer needing his grip. She's looking him right in the eye when she admits: "I am." It's so contrary to how she was a moment ago, but he can detect no figment of lie in her. She even seems surprised by her own verdict. On his side, there's a dipping sensation in his stomach as everything begins to sink. There's only one logical conclusion; his heart hates it.

"Without you."

Breathe in, breathe out. There's no outward reaction but this from Laurence as he accepts the weight of this admittance, attempting to file some kind of reaction from the murk it's created in his head. It'll take longer than this moment, but soon it will be filed away with the rest: a memory, never to be forgotten, but processed. In a way — no, in many ways — he isn't surprised. Can't be. And it's difficult to feel angry when the sentiment resounds so clearly with your own. So, lifting his head to press a small, undemanding kiss to her forehead, he only slides his hands away with a quiet but firm, "Okay."

He's touching her hair for the last time as he pulls away, leaving it to sit about her shoulders in a nice unplanned motion. His thumb rubs against her cheek but only in leaving. There's no reason to make this string out longer than it has to. The truth is the truth — and it has, as it always will be, outed. With a decisive turn, he tells himself to walk away.

And then he is. Coat swinging about his ankles, he never hesitates nor looks back. He's devoted himself to this path, and he won't speak.

It will be all be processed by the weekend.

Cool digital numbers above the smooth mahogany of the office desk click away the hours as rhythm to the clicking of keyboard keys inside this room, and all those others lined up and down the hallway identically. Here, though, is the only room in which there is an ergonomic chair bearing the slim weight of a tall, fit blond — in a statement setting white and pink pantsuits. That particular cheeriness is not so much echoed amongst the other offices in which grey and black pinstriped are the order of the day. Despite her state of dress, Jocelyn tackles an array of legalese on the computer screen in front of her with unmatched precision, scrolling effortlessly through the document and occasionally tapping away with edits here and there.

As numbers click by on the clock, however, her gaze begins to drift there. To the window from which the parking lot is visible. To the empty plastic container on the edge of her desk that's been stripped clean of every last trace of dressing. For lunch. Yesterday. Now the time has drifted towards dinner and she stretches her legs out beneath her work station contemplatively. There's more to be done — always, always, more work to be done — and the stress of lost files and pressures from cranky law enforcement departments don't exactly help with the setting of the mood… more evidence doesn't leap out of nowhere, but what does exist also can't become more than what it is. Neither cop nor lawyer has that particular power — unless they're of the shady variety, and that's a whole other problem she doesn't feel like going over. So the workload as she spreads it out before her will not change but has to milked for it anyway. Then again… she also knows: the moment you think about checking out early, your mind already has. The work will be there tomorrow; hopefully, so will her concentration.

So, tucking a briefcase under her arm and handling her keys as subtly as possible, she lightly steps her way out of her now darkened office and excuses her car out of the parking lot while all the other spaces are still full.

* * *

"Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play. Now I need a place to hide away. Oh, I believe in yesterday."

The entryway is dark but familiar to her as she steps inside the home, bracing a hand against the wall for balance to shuck off overly tall heels. They end up somewhere in the corner to be picked up and reorganized later. Right now, she flexes her toes inside smooth nylons and takes the first steps into the open living space beyond. She's just reaching up to let her hair down when all of the hair on the back of her neck suddenly stands on end. Hands slowly drift towards her sides, her purse, fingers wondering around things inside, their capacity to do damage. But one more hesitant step forward from her and a figure appears around the corner of the archway leading into the kitchen. A sort of shudder escapes Jocelyn — but it's a release of all those nerves and nothing else. That blond man standing there, covered quite distinctly with a cream-colored apron, is not a danger — only a surprise.

He reacts similarly to her appearance, startling in a way that disturbs the mixing bowl in his hands and forces him to set it aside. As they stare, breathless and half laughing, at the other, he swings his hands out to the side and then brushes them on the apron skirt, leaving streaks of flour behind. Almost immediately, strides from both put them together and she uses the advantage of his hands absorbed in the apron to put hands to his cheeks and steal a kiss.

"Mmmm," Laurie hums out pleasantly as they part, "You're home early."

"And you're home," Jocelyn responds, finding a safe, cooking-free zone at his waist to rest her hands as he lays his arms across her shoulders and affects a lightly amused look at her. "What, did they get sick of you already?" Her eyes squint carefully, voice lowering in the measured way one tries to break bad news to a child, "… Are you a terrible agent?"

"Ohhhh!" He takes the fake hit like it really hit him, slamming a hand against his chest over his own heart. "You wound me, madame. You know, I don't think you will even be getting any of this surprise you've ruined for yourself. You can thank yourself for that, too."

"What surprise?" The newly curious Jocelyn inquires, attempting to side-step around him only to find herself further blocked when he follows her movement.

"Nope, you're not getting it." She fakes left and tries again, only to be completely blocked again when he fails to fall for her trickery. Instead, he surges forward with arms around her, lifts her nyloned toes off the ground and swings her all the way around. Giggling in a fashion more befitting the pink color of her suit than its business-like cut, the woman tosses arms around his neck as she's set back down, letting her slide against him when she goes, uncaring of the transfer of cooking mess from one to the other.

Cheek to cheek, she murmurs into his ear between kisses painted along his jaw. "I don't," lips pressing, "think there is," decorating the smoothly shaved skin, "any surprise." At his noise of disbelief and bemusement, Jocelyn pulls away slightly, giving her head a self-important shake that resettles her long blonde hair over her shoulders. "I think," her hands stab at then settle over his chest, "you're just in there baking a big ridiculous cake for yourself and you were never planning on sharing any of it with me because you are a big cake whore."

The insulted face he pulls is brief and tainted afterwards by a bit of rumbling laughter from that chest. Hands coming up, he cups hers, pressing them where they are gently. "That's… not going to work," is decided after a moment. "No. You're stuck in this living room until you're ready to be nice again, woman."

Considering this with a low humming, Jocelyn lets her fingers play with the fabric of the apron her hands are held against. "That might," she suggests with that same, breathier lowered voice, "take a while." His head tilts, as though curious, and his expression echoes the same. Taking the bait, she separates her hands to let one wander towards his neck and then around to where the loose knot keeps the apron there. She begins to fiddle slowly, suggestively with the tie, tugging bits of it looser and looser to make the article slip further away from his grey t-shirt. "It could get pretty boring just standing here that whole time…" is the rather unnecessary but enjoyed commentary as she lifts again to put their mouths very close, "And I know how you get when you're bored…"

He thinks. Then, in a near whisper like hers: "… Cuter?"

A laugh nearly ruins Jocelyn's taunt and tempting posture, but she composes herself swiftly, giving no wordy answer — she barely trusts herself not to giggle again — but instead leaving a taste of a kiss against the edge of his mouth. It isn't until she shifts to plant the same on the other side that she feels his hands leave the space between them, giving her room to press in and also sending his fingers entwining into her loose hair. One palm comes to support the back of her head, encouraging her forward for a tauntingly chaste kiss. Her ministrations continue afterwards, patient but growing ever more needy as he takes his sweet time to react — finally, at last, tipping his head to give her a crushing kiss that meets her own intentions.

Distracted, Jocelyn's fingers have fumbled several times with the apron knot but now she gets a good grip even as she stretches her neck to the side to encourage his attention there. As he works from her shoulder to her ear, there's a mutter that she completely misses until it's quietly but firmly repeated. "Jocelyn." She doesn't respond, only gives the knot a good tug. Almost there. "Jocelyn, darling." Now she sort of makes a noise of attention, even if most of hers is certainly not in talking. "I," mhmm "have to," yes, whatever… With that hand rolling from behind her to her neck, he tilts her face towards him again, initiating the latest and so far greediest kiss. When she has to slip back to breathe excitedly, they stay very close, foreheads near. But even through this haze, she feels as the pressure of his hands vanishes, only to now grasp her hands as they hold the last section of knot before release. "Check the oven."

Uhh… it takes several long seconds for the words to really mean anything to Jocelyn's brain, and she really only registers the intent when Laurie quite easily disentangles himself from her, hands reaffirming the knot of the apron quickly as he turns to stroll back towards the kitchen. Just like… that. Empty hands sort of twitch in the air before she forces them vaguely to her sides while staring at that leaving back. She can't… even…

But then, when unable to resist, Laurie gives a glance behind him to really see the look he knows would be on Jocelyn's face and, in that glimmer of mischief from him, she sparks to life. "Ohhh — you ass!" Running across carpet, she means to tackle him quite sincerely, no matter how doomed a procedure this would be. He's already got an arm coming around to capture her and gain the upper hand when a sharp ringing pauses them both mid-wrestle.

After a few more rings, Laurie glances down at her with her arms halfway around him in that strange frozen position and remarks, "It's the phone." Clearly. But his words more test the air, sticking that truth out there to see if either of them wants to do anything about that. Another ring with neither of them moving and then, slowly, Jocelyn pulls away and gives herself a good pat down to straighten her suit before strolling to the receiver hanging against the nearest wall.

"It's for you." The phone is held out, catching him at his second attempt to return to the kitchen. Giving an idle, uninterested, sniff, Laurie crosses to where Jocelyn stands to accept the phone, spinning as he puts it to his ear in order to get in a good lean against the wall.

"This is Laurence…"

As the voice on the other line — she didn't recognize it — states its business, Jocelyn wanders towards the archway, planning to get a sneak peek around that corner into what state their kitchen is in. To her untrained nose, she thinks she detects a hint of strawberry… but what else could really be anything to her. Thinking to catch him with a tease, she begins to deliberately creep closer and closer in, casting a glance back his way to make sure he sees.

But the shadow that's fallen over her husband's face freezes her immediately. Though unreadable in its specifics, the look is distinctly telling even in its subtlety. Dark. Disturbed. And, though she may not know it now — foreshadowing. A chill runs down Jocelyn's spine and turns into the rock that sinks her stomach.

Click the phone is placed back into its spot.

"Laurence…" Nothing. She reaches out a hand to graze his. Nothing. Just a twitch of muscles along his neck, tensing and tightening his jaw like a clamp. Then, stiffly, he swings his head to look down at her, staring with a seeming lack of comprehension for a moment. She knows; he's thinking about what has to come next. But that doesn't make stop the second chill down her when his voice comes out neutral, analytical.

"It's about my mother…"

"Why she had to go — I don't know — she wouldn't say. I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday."

She's always told him the truth before; this one was just a little harder to get out.

His hands cup her face, gently, pushing stray blonde hair out of the way as he leans in, intent on catching her shy gaze. She doesn't want to see how he looks a her right now; she wouldn't really want to look at her if she were in his place. She could blame him, as easily as blame herself, but that doesn't make her feel any less unworthy in this exact second: like she shouldn't be even in this room with him. And why not… they could be strangers these past months… It takes a few moments, but eventually Jocelyn lets her chin be guided upward, her eyes into his blue ones. Now it's like she never wants to look away, even as a sigh from Laurence means closed eyes for a second — an instant where he presses their foreheads together, hands sliding along her cheeks and into her hair, tucking underneath her ears to cradle her. The intimacy shakes Jocelyn at the knees; if it weren't for his strong presence there, she might have to sit down. And yet at the same time having him close makes it infinitely worse. Guilt sits around her shoulders like a coat, warming her for the verdict.

It comes: "… I just want you to be happy."

Warmth in her stomach isn't the nausea Jocelyn was expecting. Calm at first, she then begins to crack. Lips curling strangely upwards, she bashfully tries to fight down the expression several times before realizing that it's exactly right. Maniacally, and for no reason at all, she finds she can keep looking him in the eye and admit: "I am." Happy. With what's happened? The sentiment seems hardly right, hardly fair, but it sits in her gut so much like a truth that she can't ignore it. In puzzling the figures — how actually unhappy she was in a marriage with a changed husband, with sneaking around behind his back, telling lies and excuses — she can only come to one logical conclusion. It heaves out of her with the light surprise and yet, therefore, complete honesty of her own revelation.

"Without you."

Not even a stir from Laurence in front of her rattles her already tense nerves, while flaming an anger that isn't allowed to take seed next to all this inappropriate happiness. How he can stand there, not show a flicker of emotion, not even a hint for her to latch onto — worn complaints. How can there be confidence when one spouse keeps guards up against the other. Distance. She's felt it for a while now, and it culminates in this moment where she can almost hear him filing everything away. Every detail. It'll all be there in his head… forever, she guesses. Jocelyn can't imagine not being driven crazy. But, lifting his head to press a small, undemanding kiss against her forehead, he only slides his hands away quiet but firm, "Okay."

Hands come away from her hair, leaving it hanging loose around her shoulders, brush her cheeks a last time. There's barely a linger of last fingertips… before he's stepped back entirely. A turn, a swish of coat, and she's watching him walk away. Okay?

Now, something's wrong. She can feel it; why did she say that — why isn't he doing anything about it? Anger, resentment, yelling. She'd take it over this, this whatever contentedness they're both conveying. But she's planted to the spot, she can't speak.

She'll have the papers in her mail by the weekend.

A digital clock sits at the edge of the desk, neutrally reporting the time to the tune of the clacking of a keyboard, repeated all down the hallway where other offices hold other workers with their noses to the grindstone. In this one, a woman in a daringly purple shirt, once tempered by the neat grey suit-jacket that fit over, and is currently folded around the back of her expansive chair. Brightness from the floor length windows has faded some, a more natural marker than the clock of how time has gone by. Still, her head tipped just lightly in one direction over the other, Jocelyn maneuvers her way through the document in front of her with uninterrupted precision. She doesn't seem to notice that the position she's sitting in will come back to haunt her later. There's just the tap of a pen against her mouth, occasionally grabbed between her teeth when she needs to type, and a muttered kind of hum every so often.

Pressure from the cop side of things means pressure in here, but with everybody pointing fingers twice as hard. But no amount of wanting can make the array of evidence as she studies it now more than it is — and missing files don't exactly aid things along — but, another but, it's almost surreal to be scrolling through even this much when it seemed, just months ago, that there was next to nothing. And somebody wanted something then, too. So maybe, after all, there's something to the whole wanting bit. This only means that, with the cops able to hold up their end, it falls to the attorney's office to do the same. And she made some promises, gave some words.

Not that she ever got that coffee out of it.

Not that she's bitter

She is, however, eyeing the clock and then the little miniature fridge that sits beyond — that she knows, without looking, to be woefully empty of the energy drinks that have been sustaining her. With a glance to the door, she knows. She's checked out.

* * *

The drive home is a slow one by her own doing; she's starting to re-familiarize herself with the streets, with the construction that's happened while she was away, but there's other reasons for the scenic speed. It's evident as she slips into the gated community of her condo's garage. As she walks several flights to get to the door that clicks coldly as she unlocks it. Everything's dark inside, but she knows enough to swerve around that delivery box she swears she's going to put away tomorrow, the hallway stand where the keys are dropped. She doesn't reach for a light switch until she's in the kitchen, halfway to the fridge and dipping into a stack of fruit flavored yogurts. That's only the appetizer for her to browse the cupboards for something to stick on the stove or in the microwave, the spoon resting forgotten in her mouth just as much as it carries yogurt there.

When some random jar or another's been pried open and set to warm up, she pauses against the island counter between that small one-bedroom sized kitchen and its equally sized dining area that she's turned into a secondary office judging by the spread of papers waiting there already. All around her, the quiet darkness of the rest of the condo: one room here or there. Everything she owns. Insulation between residences means she'll never hear a suggestion of another person in the building unless she goes all peeping tom against their door.

She'll never be disturbed.

Shucking off her shoes a little late, she leaves them in the kitchen where they'll probably remain until she needs them some other morning. Strawberry yogurt in hand, she makes her way over to that table, sliding into the seat and propping her feet up on the front edge of the chair so that her knees come up towards her chin. In this casual pose, she regards all of the spread on the table. She left work, but has she really left work.

Leaning forward, around her own legs, she sets the yogurt aside briefly to shuffle a couple of papers away from another near the bottom. She already knows what it looks like before she sees it — this photograph she's gone over every detail a thousand times — but she feels like she's still missing something. Surveillance. It shouldn't be in her home; it should be on a wall in a station somewhere for detectives to pore over.

But it's not, it's in her home, with her thumb rubbing over the worn paper representation of figures in front of some neon-lit establishment. The back of one. As he glances over his shoulder.

But to see what? All of their faces are blurred.

"Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be. There's a shadow hanging over me."

The first days, there was yelling. A near constant string of swearing, insistence, and threats accompanied by a rapid and unorganized pattern of pacing, the occasional thump of a shoulder thrown against the door or fists pounded into the cement walling.

By the third day, he was completely hoarse and his hands raw to match. Only the pacing was left, now a back and forth, more measured movement with the tense, low hum of being just about to spring. The kind of behavior marked in dangerous animals that have now been caged.

On the fifth day, he did push-ups.

Things got quieter by the end of the weekend. When two wary souls broached that solitary space to bring in slop and a few other excuses for food they'd scrounged together, he was sitting in what a small study of the room might suggest was the exact center. Knees bent somewhat in front of him, and arms slung over these, he seemed to stare straight ahead without seeing them enter. It was as the men set their handfuls down and broke their constant vigilance to share a nervous glance that muscles suddenly bunched and he had launched himself from the floor at the closest body. He got an arm around the doorway for a whole minute before being forced back inside to a slamming door and lock. The nervous men didn't return after that; the next time food appeared, it was at the other end of a gun.

That second week cements the sitting. Now with his legs crossed, he drapes his arms still across his knees, fingers stretched occasionally to tap against the floor, but in otherwise stillness as second by minute by hour by day creeps on. A week. Unheard outside the cell, a quiet rendition only for its maker — the Ode to Joy, hummed. He gets through the entire piece more than once. A week.

On that second Sunday, it's in the air. Change. He stretched tense legs before this, but now seated again, he counts off the hour that he believes to be dawn. Stiffly, he cracks one shoulder and then the other. It's in the air: purpose. He hasn't spoken for a week, but his jaw gives a testing move and he licks lips that are chapped and dusty, broken and irritated in one particular marred spot. Laurie raises his head, lifting blue eyes to the door even though there is no movement there — and hasn't been for a good day. Hazy, faraway — seeing something other than the bland cement that would otherwise seek to become his entire world — those blues begin to clear. Unbidden, a sharpness, a clarity.

It's in the air.


"Oh, yesterday came suddenly…"

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