Paul shook his head vigorously, straining to stay focused. The lack of sleep was getting to him, but it was the conversation he’d had with his wife that was really stealing all of his attention.
“You okay,” Ed shouted, his voice muffled by his mask.
Paul nodded, wordless.
He had about six hours left in his shift, he hadn’t hit the halfway point and already his energy was waning.
Paul shook his head once more and began fusing together metal with his torch. He silently wished he could do the same thing for his marriage–just apply a little heat and pressure and bind them back together. Instead he felt like they were two separate rods on a weather vane, rotating in different directions by a force they couldn’t control.
It wasn’t that they argued now–they had always had a healthy debate because of their differing opinions–but it was the aggravating tone covering Victoria’s words and the hard look in her eyes that scared him.
She accused him of being uncaring and selfish, working long hours, leaving her alone.
Paul disliked the long hours and hated the double shifts. But he just needed to keep things going for a few more months. By the end of the year, he’d have enough money saved to afford the ring he should’ve bought Victoria when they got engaged four years ago. Back then, they had lots of love and no money. They had struggled to make ends meet, avoiding the little luxuries of life, like eating out or going to the movies.
When he’d signed up for extra work seven months ago, he didn’t think this would happen. And now that he was thinking things through, he wasn’t quire sure what he expected other than long days that would get him enough money to show his wife how much he loved her. Only now the opposite was happening. They had spent long hours away from each other when they were dating and she would lucubrate over her thesis each night. But now that they were married it was all different.
It wasn’t worth it.
He’d call her on his break and tell her everything; he’d just explain things, promise to quit the doubles. She would understand and she would forgive him for leaving her alone so often.
The sudden dimming of Ed’s torch brought Paul back into the present.
“Take a break, Paul! Go clear ya head. We’ll get back to to this in 10.”
Paul extinguished his blowtorch and headed for the locker room. He’d left his phone in his jacket pocket. It was a little before midnight, but Victoria was a night owl, she’d still be up. Paul grabbed his phone. A message from his wife illuminated the screen.
“I’m leaving. I’m done.”
Paul’s hands began to shake. He didn’t know what to do or say.
It was over and any response he could have was now too late.