Some Good Reasons 14
"Kelly?" Joey held up the papers he’d found and glared at the school emblem on them for a moment before continuing, “What's this?" He wasn’t angry, more confused as to why there was a college application with her name on it and he hadn’t heard about it yet. She’d dated it on the top of the page and it had been two days since then.
"That's...” She turned around to look at him starting to answer before she’d seen what he’d been holding up. “Oh God--”
"What is this?" He repeated it angrily.
She wiped her hands then moved across to get some butter for the noodles she’d been cooking. “I don't even know where to begin.”
Joey was persistent about it and came around and shoved the papers into her face. “How about you explain it to me from the beginning?”
Instead of rising to the challenge he'd set forth, she took a deep breath and calmed herself. She shrugged. “I think I'm going to start taking some classes."
"Classes?" he said with confusion. "For what?"
"Accounting. I think. I was planning on finishing my degree."
“Remember Joe when I was in school while you were in Europe?” She turned her back to him so that she could sauté the noodles with the sauce she’d made for dinner. The kids had been put to bed and since Joey had been on a conference call about a movie script he'd been offered she'd fed the kids and put them to bed before starting their dinner. “I got my AA while you were gone. Remember? Chris isn’t the only one in this whole NSYNC family that was in college in the nineties.”
"Really?" He didn’t understand why he was just hearing about this now. He’d known about her and the college classes she’d taken, but since the nineties his life had gone from zero to eight hundred miles an hour and he’d thought that she’d made the decision to give up school a long time before that. "Accounting? You gonna take over for the accountants? What are their names again? Williams and Walsenburg?" He put his hands up in surrender and laughed. “I swear I haven't bought anything lately?"
"Yes REALLY! This has nothing to do with YOU Joe."
"Nothing to do with me?" he stuttered out. "You're MY WIFE. Why the hell wouldn't it be my business?"
"Yes Joey." Kelly's heart rate shot up. "I'm your wife." Her eyes rolled. "Your little tag along. The mother of YOUR children." She paused for a moment when that came out sounding so wrong. "But this is about what I need!"
"Hey.” He frowned. “Hey now. I'm not--” He watched her with wide eyes. "I'm not saying that--" He groaned. "Why the hell are you talking about need? You've never said anything about this before."
"Well maybe I felt like I couldn't! Maybe YOU NEVER ASKED!"
He threw his hands up in defeat. He didn’t understand why she was being so defensive. He wasn’t against this at all. In his mind he was more mad about her not telling him about it sooner more than her wanting to do it in the first place. It seemed that today she was just going to fight with him no matter what. “Well I'm asking NOW!"
He took a seat at the bar when she didn’t say anything to him.
"Kelly. You're always worried about me not being able to be around enough to talk and that I'm so busy well--" He slapped the papers down on the counter. "Now seems like the right time. I'm here and I'm interested and I'm confused." He took a deep breath. "I think there is more that you need to say to me than I need to be asking you."
"You're not asking because you're interested! You're asking because you feel like you have to.” She turned away from him and started to dish up dinner for them. It kept her probably from throwing things at him. Joey remembered how bad her temper could be, not that he’d seen it often, but when she was upset she tried her hardest not to lash out at anyone or anything around her. “I want to be more than just a wife and mother! All of our friends ARE SOMEONE! I'm not anyone! I suppose you're happy with that, but I WANT MORE!"
Joey covered his face. "You aren't anyone?” He was definitely confused now. “So I guess that those three kids up there are really just a part of my imagination?" He motioned towards the ceiling, not that she could see him.
Kelly flipped around with a plate in her hand and almost had the noodles and sauce onto the floor. "I'm my own person Joey! I'm not just YOUR WIFE or their mother! You KNOW I love you and the kids more than anything in the world, but I need SOMETHING, something of my own, something that is about ME!"
“What isn't about you? This is house is yours this kitchen is yours, those pots are yours. What in the hell do you NEED from me?”
"All of the little homemaker shit is MINE? All you want is for me to scrub your toilets and fold your clothes! My life CAN'T be nothing more than scraped knees and runny noses! I NEED for you to want what's best for me, BUT THAT'S ASKING TOO MUCH, ISN'T IT?" She slid the plate in front of him and rubbed her hands furiously on a towel that was on the counter.
“Great,” she said, “Just great. You have nothing to say about that.” She walked past him. “Enjoy dinner. I’ve got other CHORES to get done.”
"Wait. Whoa...wait." He turned in his seat and pulled her back towards him. She was stiff in his arms and wasn’t at all happy about being held by him. "Kelly. I'm sorry. We--” He paused. “We shouldn't be yelling like this. I just am shocked that just when I figured that we were finally getting settled and me not being on the road that we'd just be happy. I didn't know that you'd be this upset with your life here with me that you'd want to change it this much."
"Joe, I feel lost. I feel like Mrs. Fatone.” She started to cry. He could feel her shaking and heard the change to her voice. “I feel like Colton, Brianna and Trey's mother. I don't even remember my life as Kelly. I don't remember the person you fell in love with I feel like she's lost. I LOVE being your wife. I LOVE being a mother to the kids, but somewhere along the way I got lost."
“Hey,” he said and pulled her to him and hugged her. “You’re not lost. You’re right here.”
She leaned into him and cried into his shoulder.
"Do you really want to do this?" he asked.
"I don't want you to think I'm unhappy Joe—" She looked up at him and he saw true fear in her eyes. He knew she wasn’t scared of him, but of the situation. “--But yeah, I really want to do this."
"Then do it," he said with a shrug. "I mean there are some things we'll have to figure out about what's gonna happen with the kids and stuff, but really I don't see that this is gonna be that complicated."
"Yeah," he said with a calm tone. "You've stood by me too many times when I was going crazy with job stuff. I mean I remember the way you totally freaked out when I told you I was going to Switzerland and Germany with the group--I can't really tell you not to go off and do whatever."
"But what about before?"
"The yelling?" he sighed. "I'm just pissed at myself and the situation for getting to this extreme. I just don't understand how we've gone this far and lived this long without talking about something like this and just when I thought I'd get to be home with you and the kids you seem to suddenly not want that." He sighed. "It scares me that you'd want to change what we have."
"I don't want to change what we have,” She sighed. "I want to make it better. I want to feel...important somehow."
“If you want to do this, I'm with you all the way, but I don't ever want to hear you say that again.” He framed her face with his hands and made sure that she was looking into his eyes when he spoke, “There is no one more important than you."
Tears fell from her eyes and she sniffed a few times. “Really?"
Tears filled his eyes now too. Partly they were from seeing her cry, but partly because he was angry at himself for not telling her his feelings for her more often. "God Kelly! If you don't know ANYTHING else, you HAVE to know THAT!” He smiled a little. “I may not have done it right, this whole relationship...but one thing has never and will NEVER change. I love you with everything. You are SO important. You have given me EVERYTHING important to me. You have saved my life more times than I can count.” He leaned and kissed her lips softly. “I love you."
"I love you too," she said and started to hiccup.