While on the outside everything was falling into place, in my mind, everything was falling apart. I wanted so badly to just be thrilled for him—a part of me was. I just couldn’t separate that part from my own sadness and fear.
While we used those final days wisely, spending time together with Bea, things were extremely tense between us. Right after he’d made the decision to go on the tour, I explained to Justin during coffee one morning that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to take things any further physically before he left. I told him it would only make his leaving more difficult for me. I used that as a big excuse. Even though he claimed to understand, I knew deep down he saw it for what it was: a lack of faith in his loyalty to me. I retreated to my own room every night, and he didn’t try to stop me.
Two days before his scheduled departure, I had to go to Providence to grab my stuff out of storage. I could no longer afford to keep it there, since I wasn’t working. I planned to donate as much of it as I could and have a yard sale in Newport for some of the smaller items. Most of it was stuff I no longer needed anyway. My friend Tracy’s husband met me with his truck and helped me load most of the belongings before he transported the majority to a Salvation Army store.
Justin had stayed behind in Newport with Bea while I made the trek to Providence.
The entire ride back home to the island, I was filled with emotion over Justin’s impending departure. I could almost hear the clock ticking in my brain. The past several months played in my head like a movie that was nearing its end. There was no doubt in my mind that this exposure would give Justin unprecedented fame. He was about to be swallowed up whole, and I really didn’t think he knew what was coming. Having witnessed it firsthand on a smaller scale, I knew how women reacted to him. That was about to be multiplied by a thousand. His life would never be the same again. Neither would mine.
When I returned to the beach house, things were unusually quiet. Something that smelled like tomato sauce was baking in the oven. With a click of the stove light, I could see it was lasagna.
“Hello?” I yelled.
“We’re upstairs!” I heard Justin call out.
It sounded like it was raining inside of Justin’s room. The sound was mixed with tranquil music. When I opened the door, my heart nearly stopped.
Justin’s bed was gone. In its place was Bea’s white crib. A fluffy butter-yellow area rug had been placed on the floor. Illuminated stars were projected onto the ceiling as they slowly moved. The sounds of nature were coming from a machine on the bureau. A framed Anne Geddes picture was mounted onto the wall. It depicted a sleeping baby dressed as a bumblebee.
I covered my mouth. “How…when…did you…”
He was holding Bea. “She needed her own room. Bumblebee’s getting big, can’t sleep in there with you forever. It’s time. Your being in Providence today was the perfect opportunity to surprise you before I left.”
Bea’s eyes were transfixed upon the floating stars on the ceiling as she moved her little head, stretching her neck to follow their path.
I smiled. “She really loves those, huh?”
“I knew she would. Sometimes when she’s up at night with me, I take her up on the deck. We look up at the stars together. Maybe she’ll look at these and think of me while I’m away.” His words squeezed at my heart.
“I never knew you did that with her.” I walked around the room, admiring the transformation. “Where is all your stuff?”
“I broke down my bed, threw it in the corner of my office for now.”
Something about his vacating the bedroom and turning it over to Bea suddenly seemed so final and didn’t sit right with me. I started to read into the meaning and overreacted.
My heart started to pound in panic. “You’re not coming back.” I hadn’t meant to say it out loud.
“You gave up your room because you know you’re not coming back here. You’ll go away, become a big star. You’ll visit, but deep down, you know you won’t be living here anymore.”
It was like all of my insecurities suddenly had a voice. I really hadn’t meant to lay everything out on the line like that. It all just came out after a long, stressful day.
Justin was speechless at first. When he finally spoke, his tone bordered on angry. “That’s what you think?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m just thinking out loud.”
“I made this nursery because she shouldn’t be sleeping in your fucking room. She deserves a nice space of her own. I was planning this long before I ever knew about the tour. I gradually collected this stuff over the past month, hid everything in my closet.” He reached into the bureau drawer for a pile of receipts, took them out and roughly threw them up in the air. The white slips rained down onto the floor. “Look at the dates on these. They’re from weeks ago.”
I felt really stupid. “I’m sorry. I’ve just been stressed over your leaving. I was trying not to let it show, and I guess it finally caught up with me.”
“You think I’m trying to separate myself from you? You’re the one who put up a gigantic wall the second I told you about the tour. If I had my way, I would want nothing more than to sleep in your fucking bed tonight—inside of you—because I’m leaving in less than two days. Two days, Amelia! Instead of enjoying each other, you’ve been shutting me out. I’m respecting your wishes and not pushing anything because I know my leaving is hard enough for you, but fuck!”
Feeling ashamed, I said, “I’m sorry for overreacting. I made this about more than the nursery. The room is beautiful. Really.”
“I’m gonna go check on the food.” Justin placed Bea in her crib and abruptly left the room, slamming the door behind him. I looked up at the stars on the ceiling, deeply regretting my loss of composure. The sound machine had switched to a medley of thunder and lightning. It was a fitting representation of the mood.
Dinner was a quiet one that night.
With no permanent bedroom anymore, Justin slept on the couch.
I didn’t sleep at all.
Justin would be gone tomorrow.
I needed to fix things before he left, or I would regret it. Bea was quietly napping in her new nursery, so I figured I would take the opportunity to talk to him.
Justin’s mountain of black luggage was piled together in the corner of his office. The sight of that alone gave me anxiety.
As I made my way down the hall, the sound of him beating the punching bag could be heard coming from the exercise room.
Standing in the doorway, I watched as he hit the bag with more force than I’d ever seen him exhibit before. Justin was completely in a zone and either hadn’t noticed me or pretended not to.
He didn’t stop. It was unclear whether he could hear me, since he was wearing earbuds. I could hear the music blasting through them.
“Justin,” I repeated louder.
He continued to ignore me as he hit the bag even harder.
“Justin!” I screamed.
This time he looked over at me briefly, but he didn’t stop punching. That confirmed that he was definitely ignoring me.
Determined not to run away from this situation no matter how painful, I stayed in the doorway watching him for several minutes until he finally stopped. Leaning against the punching bag and gripping it, he looked down at the floor while gasping for air but said nothing. After a long moment of silence, he finally spoke.