With Jim away from home so often, Cillay’s feelings of insecurity began to return. Although she knew that he was working, she couldn’t help but wonder if he was growing discontent with her.
“I can’t blame him for not wanting to be with me. I’m just a boring housewife.”, she thought to herself as she cleaned the bathroom.
One of the candidates had dredged up her relationship with Tony, and for about a week, it was a hot topic of conversation in town.
Cillay could not go anywhere without being barraged with questions. She hated it. “Mrs. Benedict, how did you escape from Mr. Sanders? He denies all the assertions made against him. How do you know that he was the one who stabbed you?”
Jim made the mistake of not spending extra time with her to help her through the humiliation. Although the mayor was correct about the town’s reaction to the story, it forced Cillay to relive the events in her mind. Without Jim there to reassure her, her self esteem became low again.
Cillay’s cell rang. It was Jim’s assistant Vera.
“Hi Cillay. I was calling to see if you could meet me at the Bistro for lunch today. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.”, she said.
“No, thanks, Vera. I can’t today. Thanks for calling.”, Cillay told her and then hung up the phone. She had been drawing away from her friends, and hadn’t seen Dr. Wilson in months. She was sinking further and further into a depressed state. Her only pleasure was the time she spent with Richard and Janel.
One of Jim’s opponents circulated a photo of Jim at a fundraiser laughing with a very pretty political aide. In the photo, she was touching his arm in a very familiar way. He tried to imply that Jim and the aide were having an affair.
Vera brought a copy of the photo into Jim’s office and sat down as he looked at it.
“I don’t understand. What is this?”, he asked.
“That’s in the magazines today. Jenson is implying that you and that aide are having an affair.”, she told him.
“What!”, David cried. He couldn’t even remember the girl’s name. There were so many aides working the campaign . He studied the picture a few moments more. Then he remembered.
“Vera, she was just brushing lint off my jacket before my photo was taken. I thanked her and she made some joke about it being a shame if I lose the election because of a piece of lint on my sleeve. I don’t even remember her name.”, he told her.
“I’ll call Bill and let him know so that he can get the true story out there.”, she told him.
“I’m glad that the election is tomorrow, and then this will all be over . “, he said.
“Jim is Cillay alright?”, Vera asked.
“Yes. I think so.”, Jim said guiltily. He was ashamed to realize that he had been neglecting her lately. “Why do you ask?”
“I called her today and asked her to have lunch with me. She said that she couldn’t. She sounded very unlike herself. She hung up before I could question her. We’ve all been very busy since Janel was born. You and I with the campaign. Kay with her new position at the hospital. Dena is working extra hours at the boutique to earn extra money to get a new place. Is Cillay still seeing Dr. Wilson?”, she asked.
“No. Not for several months. As soon as the election is over, I am going to spend a few days with her, and try to make it up to her.”, he promised.
“Do you think she saw that picture in the magazine today?”, she asked him.
“I don’t know. I don’t think she would believe that I was having an affair. Do you think she would believe it?”, he asked.
“The old Cillay wouldn’t, but the woman on the phone this morning, I don’t know.”, Vera told him.
“I’m going home Vera. Please cancel my next two appointments. If I lose the election because of canceling , so be it. Cillay is more important. I’ve got my priorities straight again.”, he told her and left the office.
When Jim came into the house, Cillay was putting down the magazine that Vera had shown him. She had seen the article about Jim and the aide.
He sat on the sofa beside Cillay and put his arm around her.
“You know that story isn’t true don’t you, Cillay? I would never be unfaithful to you. I haven’t told you this very often lately, but I love you so much. You are my heart.”, he told her.
Tears started falling from Cillay’s eyes, but she didn’t say anything.
“Cillay, please tell me what you’re feeling. What you’re thinking.”, he pleaded with her.
“I don’t matter Jim. Go work on your campaign. I know you should be somewhere else.”, she told him and got up from the sofa and left the room.
Jim sat there stunned. He didn’t know what to do or say. Jim called Dr. Wilson and explained the situation.
“It’s my fault Dr. Wilson. I’ve been so caught up in this campaign that I haven’t spent enough time with her.”, Jim said guiltily.
“I saw all the press coverage about her and Tony. I called several times, but all my calls went to her voice mail and she never called me back. So she has pretty much had to go through all of this alone, without any support?”, she asked him.
“Yes. I really let her down.”, Jim said guiltily.
Dr. Wilson thought for a few moments.
“Since she won’t answer my calls, I am going to come and see her. I haven’t seen the baby yet. I’m sure she won’t leave me standing on the doorstep. I’m on my way now. You go back to work, so that we can talk privately.”, she suggested.
“Alright. Thank you Dr. Wilson.”
He went and found Cillay. He took her in his arms and kissed her. She did not resist, but she didn’t respond either. Jim was afraid for her.
“I love you, Cillay; and I’m sorry I have let you down. The election will be over tomorrow, and I promise I will make it up to you. I have to get back to the office tonight, but I’ll be back to have dinner with you.”, he promised her.
Right after Jim left, Dr. Wilson arrived. Cillay let her in. She grabbed Cillay and hugged her.
“Oh, it’s so nice to see you Cillay. You’ve already lost the baby weight. May I see her?”, she asked.
“Of course.”, Cillay said, and lead the way to the nursery.
Dr. Wilson was alarmed to see the light and joy was gone from Cillay’s eyes, and the listless way that she moved. She recognized that Cillay was in a deep depression.
“I did for the first month, but I don’t now.”, Cillay answered.
“Well she looks nice and plump and adorable.”, Dr.Wilson said taking Janel out of her crib.
Dr. Wilson decided to tell Jim that Cillay needed intensive inpatient therapy. Since she was no longer breast feeding Janel, that would make it easier. He could bring Janel to see her at the clinic each day.
Three weeks later, Jim was on his way to pick Cillay up and bring her home. She had been undergoing treatment at the Mesa Valley mental health clinic for the past three weeks. She was being released this evening. Even though he had been allowed to visit her everyday, he still had missed her.
“Cillay, Dr. Wilson has suggested that you be admitted for inpatient therapy at the mental health clinic. I think you need to go. You’re not yourself and I know that is my fault. I’m so sorry I let you down, Baby. I promise I will never do it again. I will always be here to support you. Please go and let them help you get well again. The children need their happy, joyful mother back.”, he had told her.
“Jim, it’s not your fault. I’m just a mess. Please don’t send me away. I’ll try and be better.”, Cillay had begged him, sobbing. Jim started crying too.
“Cillay, I love you with all my heart, and I want what is best for you. You have to go. I will come and see you everyday and bring the children to see you. I have packed a suitcase for you, and they are downstairs waiting to take you.”, Jim told her. He embraced her and they went downstairs. She did not even look back at him when the nurse and the orderly escorted her out the door.
He had visited her everyday and slowly she had begun to acknowledge his presence and interact with him again. By the end of the three weeks she was giving him that special smile that was only for him again. He had his Cillay back, and he would never let her slip away again.
When Jim walked into the clinic, Cillay was waiting for him. She ran up to him and leaped into his arms.
“I am so glad to see you, Jim!”, she said. Jim held her to him tightly for a few moments and then released her.
“Let’s get you home!”, he said.
Jim had taken the children to Kay’s for the night, so that he and Cillay could have some private time to reconnect. They headed straight for the master bedroom. Jim held Cillay close.
“Cillay, I have missed you so much!”, he told her.
“I missed you too!”, she said.
“Jim, I don’t want you to blame yourself for what happened to me. I should not have shut everyone out, but I thought that I could handle the pressure on my own. I was wrong. I felt like I was in a deep, dark pit; and I couldn’t climb out.”, she told Jim.
“If you ever start to feel like that again, please tell me. Cillay, you are a part of me. If you are not happy. I am not happy. I should have noticed. I got my priorities mixed up and that’s never going to happen again.”, he told her.”
“Okay then Jim, if you insist on taking part of the blame, then it was both of our faults.”, she said with a smile. “Let’s not talk about it anymore right now.”, she told him.
Cillay kissed him. They made love hungrily and passionately. It had been a long time since they had been together. Afterwards they cuddled on the bed and talked about their deepest feelings and thoughts. They felt more connected and closer to each other than ever before.
The next morning, Jim went to work; and Cillay went to Kay’s to pick up the children.
“Cillay, it’s so good to see you!”, Kay said when she opened the door. She gave Cillay a nice warm hug. “You look wonderful.”, she told Cillay.
“Thank you Kay. I am so happy to be back home. How are my babies?”, she asked her.
“They’re fine! I can tell they miss you though.” Kay said.
They went into the nursery. Richard was sitting on the floor playing with a toy horse. When he saw Cillay, he cried “Mah ma”, and ran over to her. Cillay picked him up with tears in her eyes. That was the first time that he had ever called her Mama.
“Hi, Richard. Mama missed you so much!”, she told him snuggling him close. She put him back down so that he could continue playing. Then she went to pick up Janel.
“I can’t believe how fast they are both growing!”, she said holding Janel. “I guess I better get them home.”
“Today is my day off. Why don’t you stay and talk awhile?”, Kay asked Cillay.
“The night that you went into the clinic Jim was a mess. I have never seen him like that. He totally blames himself for your breakdown, but he was not the only one to blame. We all let you down at a time when you really needed us, Cillay, and I am truly sorry.”, Kay told her.
“Let me finish.”, she said when Cillay started to interrupt. “You have experienced more in your life than any one person should ever have to bear, and yet each time you come back from it more loving and giving. You are a very strong person, and I hope you realize that, Cillay. Being strong doesn’t mean that you can’t lean on other people. I want you to know that I will always be here for you whenever you need me. You’re my sister, and I love you.”, Kay said.
Cillay was in tears. Kay hugged her.
“Now that’s enough of that! I just baked some cookies. Let’s go have some with a cup of coffee.”, she said.
“Thank you Kay.”, Cillay told her.
“Cillay.”, Kay said after they were seated at the table, “Have you ever thought of taking a self defense class?”
“I think it would be a good idea. You need to be able to protect yourself. We could take the course together. Why don’t you discuss it with Jim, and see what he thinks?”, she suggested.
Jim’s day at work had been very stressful. He had had to referee a power struggle between various departments and committees. By the time he went home, he was in a very bad mood.
When Jim walked into the great room, he saw that the table was set with candles and his favorite meal, turkey and potatoes was waiting on the stove. Cillay walked into the room and smiled when she saw him. Jim thought that she looked beautiful. Some of the stress he was feeling drained away.
“How did it go today?”, she asked him. Jim took her into his arms.
“It went okay. I guess. I had to delegate different responsibilities to each department. Tomorrow should be better now that everyone knows what is expected of them.”, he told her. “You feel so good!”, he said holding her tighter. Cillay gave him an amorous kiss.
“Are you hungry?”, she asked. “Dinner is ready.”
“I’m starving. Everything looks great!, he said.
“How was your day?”, he asked her.
“It was great. Kay was off today, and so we spent most of the day together. We went out to lunch and we took the kids to the park. It was Janel’s first time at the park. She really seemed to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. She laughed a lot. Richard loved chasing the butterflies. He looked so adorable. I took a picture of him with my cellphone. I’ll show it to you later.”, she told him.
“I’m sorry I missed it.”, Jim said. More and more lately, he wondered if he had chosen the right career. If he were single, then it would be perfect, but his hours were now so irregular. He missed being with his family.
“Kay made a suggestion. She said that I should take a self defense course. I think it’s a great idea.”, she told him.
Jim’s reaction surprised both him and Cillay. He exploded in anger, taking all his stress of the day out on her.
“I think it’s a lousy idea! You need to be here with the children. You’ve already been gone for three weeks! When are we going to have time together?”, he shouted at her.
Cillay looked at him in shock. Then tears began to slide down her cheeks, and she ran from the room.
Jim continued to sit at the table stunned by his behavior. He couldn’t believe that he had spoken to Cillay in such a way, and on her first day home from the clinic. He was completely ashamed of his behavior. He wouldn’t blame her if she never forgave him.
Cillay was in the bedroom crying her heart out. Jim had never spoken to her in such an unkind way! She did not know what to think. Jim entered the bedroom. His heart broke knowing that he was the cause of her tears.
“Cillay”, he said climbing onto the bed beside her. “I am deeply sorry for the way I spoke to you and the things that I said. I didn’t mean them. I had a very stressful day at work today and I had no right to take it out on you. Please say you can forgive me?”, Jim pleaded.
Cillay laid her head back against Jim’s chest.
“Of course I forgive you.”, she told him. “What happened at work today?”, she asked him. Jim told her.
“No wonder you’re stressed!”, she told him. “Stand up and let me give you a massage. All this stress isn’t good for you.”
After the massage, Jim pulled Cillay to him and gave her a long passionate kiss.
Then he whispered in her ear, “You know what would really make me feel relaxed? Making love to you!”
One month later, Cillay and Kay were in their final self defense class. They were not the best students in class, but they were not the worst either. They both felt better about their ability to defend themselves.
“Alright Cillay and Kay, let’s see how you do.”, the instructor said. Cillay and Kay went to the training mat and showed the moves they had been taught. The instructor issued them a certificate showing completion of the course. It was a great boost to Cillay’s self confidence.
After Cillay returned home, she proudly showed Jim the certificate.
“That’s great Cillay!”, Jim told her. The skills she had learned might help her defend herself against someone like Devon, but he didn’t thing it would help with Antonio. Antonio was a professional football player used to pain.
If she had taken a martial arts course then that would be different. Still it would take years of training for that to be effective. Of course he did not tell Cillay that.