“We’re just dating,” Anna said. “Nothing more, nothing less.”
“I wanted to get married,” Nate muttered.
Anna glared at him. “Well I told you I’m not ready.”
“Why not?” Apollo asked.
“I’m just… not,” Anna replied, rubbing her shoulder. “Why do we have to get married, anyway? All that’s different is that you have a wedding ring and some paperwork.”
“It’s more than that,” Nate argued. “It’s a sign that you want to be with that person forever, that you’ll always love them.”
“And I can’t love you without us getting married?”
Johann and Jove exchanged looks.
“I didn’t say that,” Nate replied.
“God, why can’t we just keep everything the way it is now? What we have now is fine. Why change it?”
“Because I want to be able to say, ‘this is my beautiful wife’. What’s so wrong about that?”
“Nothing!” Anna shouted. “If we’re gonna play that game, what’s so wrong with not wanting to get married? I love introducing you to people. ‘This is Nate. He’s the best boyfriend I’ve ever had’. It’s super sweet.”
“Well I’d appreciate it if we could both say that we’re each other’s favorite spouse.”
Anna’s hands were shaking. “Well if being married’s so great, why didn’t it work out for Jove and Thalassa!”
What. The. Hell.
The whole room went silent as Anna realized what she had just said. “Holy shit, Jove, I’m sorry-”
“C’mon, Apollo, let’s go home.”
“Jove-” Anna reached out to grab Jove’s arm, but he shrugged it away.
Jove grabbed his keys and slammed the door to the studio shut.
“Jove! I’m sorry!” Anna had run out after Apollo and his father. Jove closed the car door and cranked the ignition. Once him and Apollo were out of the parking lot, he let out a deep sigh.
“Are we gonna see Anna again?” Apollo asked.
“Probably. Just not right now.”
“When are we gonna see her?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is it gonna be soon?”
“I said I don’t know,” Jove snapped.
Apollo’s eyes went wide and he sunk into his seat. “Oh.”
Jove looked into his rear view mirror to see Apollo staring down at his hands. Jove knew he should have apologized for snapping at his son, but he was still furious at Anna. Did she really have to bring up his failed marriage as a reason to not get married? She knew how much all of this had hurt him and yet she just brings it up so easily.
“What did Anna mean when she said it didn’t work out for you and Mommy?” Apollo asked after a few minutes of silence.
“She was talking about when I was married to your mother.”
“Oh,” he continued looking down at his hands. “That wasn’t very nice…”
“No, it wasn’t.”
Apollo looked up from his hands. “Are you still gonna be friends with Anna?”
“Yeah, I’m just a little mad at her at the moment.”
“Good, ’cause I wanna keep learning trumpet.”
Jove couldn’t help but smile, but then he remembered that he had just snapped at Apollo a few moments before. “Hey, I’m sorry I yelled at you. I was upset and shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
“It’s okay…” Apollo had gone back to looking at his hands.
“Are you gonna be okay?”
Jove wanted to say more, but knew that Apollo wasn’t going to say much more than he already had. He clams up when he’s done talking about something.
When Jove and Apollo returned home, there was a message from Anna on Jove’s phone. He debated listening to it, and decided he’d wait until after he had made Apollo dinner and sent him to bed.
And so Jove made some spaghetti, watched the new episode of the Steel Samurai, and sent Apollo off to bed with a kiss on the head.
The message from Anna stared back at him, just daring him to open it. He pressed the listen button.
“Hey, Jove, it’s Anna. I just wanted to apologize again for how I acted. I felt really backed into a corner, but that didn’t give me any right to bring up your relationship. If you’re not still rightfully pissed at me, could you maybe let me come over and we can talk it out? Bye.”
Do I wanna talk to Anna tonight?
Jove looked at the clock. It was only 9 at night. He could spare the time. Besides, his rage had subsided into merely a less severe feeling of just being upset. He could probably handle a face-to-face conversation. He pressed the call button and waited for Anna to pick up.
“Oh, you actually called me back,” she said. Her words suggested surprise, but her tone made her sound more relieved. “I’m really sorry about that. I overstepped my boundaries way too far…”
“You wanted to come over, right?” Jove said.
“C’mon. I want an explanation, and I want one now,” he joked.
Anna let out a small laugh, then said, “alright, alright, you’ll get one. Just give me a little bit. I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
There was a knock on Jove’s apartment door, and he let Anna in.
“Alright, so first thing first, what the hell was that shit.”
Anna took a deep breath. “So… I have this thing. I think it’s commitment issues or something, but I have a really hard time committing to things. I guess that’s the textbook definition of commitment issues,” Anna let out a short laugh, “I think my dad sorta got it in my head to not stick to much of anything. He was always trying to be in a stable relationship after my mom divorced him, but everyone he dated rejected him.” Anna shrugged. “I guess it rubbed off on me, and now the idea of being with someone for so long scares me. What if Nate decides I’m not good enough and wants to dump me? I mean, Nate and I are the weird ones in our friend group for actually being in a relationship. We’ve been dating for years, but what if it doesn’t last much longer than our honeymoon? What if we get married and I realize what a huge mistake I’ve made? That thought alone terrifies me. What if we have kids and we get divorced, and there’s a lengthy custody battle. It’ll really mess with the kids if they’re caught up in this lengthy, bitter custody battle. I just… it’s too much.”
Jove took a moment to absorb what Anna had told him. “So the moment that you brought up my relationship…?”
“I felt overwhelmed, y’know? I just said the first thing that came to mind to get Nate to stop talking. It was really dumb, and I shouldn’t have said it, but I guess it got him off my back…” She laughed, attempting to lighten the mood. “That was a bad joke.”
“Do you want to know what I think about everything?” Jove asked.
“Yeah, that’s part of the reason I wanted to come over.”
“I think that if you really love Nate, and if he really loves you, you should at least try to get married. If you keep things the way they are, I can guarantee you that Nate will break up with you, and I know you don’t want that. Marriage isn’t much different from dating. Nothing is going to change except for your last name, and the jewelry you wear.”
Anna rubbed the back of her neck. “Y-you’re right… But I think I need to think about this.”
“That’s perfectly fine.”
“So you think I should get married. But what if we get divorced?”
“Just take everything one day at a time. Whatever happens will happen, and the sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll be.”
Anna nodded. “I think I can do that.” She stood up to leave. “Thank you, Jove.” I stood up to show her out and she wrapped her arms around my torso. “You’re a pretty cool dude, you know that?”
“Well thanks. I’m glad you think so.”
. . .
“Apollo’s being released today…” Thalassa gripped my hand in hers. “I’m really nervous.”
“Me too,” I replied.