It had been a few days since Bill left Sookie and their home. Other than the day after their talk, the separation hasn’t bothered her too much. It honestly feels like Bill is away on an extended business trip. Sookie’s gone about her life as usual; chores around the house, caring for the dogs, and going to work like normal. The problem was the weekend. What was she supposed to do with herself with all that free time? The weekends were when Sookie would spend time with Bill. It used to be they would do things together, but that faded away as Bill became more distant. Weekends ended up being time spent on the couch, mindlessly staring at the television or with their faces buried in some electronic device. Now that Bill isn’t there, Sookie doesn’t know how to fill her free time. Saturday had her doing all her household chores, but those were finished by three. She spent time outside with the dogs, chasing them up and down the yard until they were all panting heavily. Dinner consisted of a sandwich and raw vegetables. Who wants to cook when they’re only feeding one person? The evening ended with Sookie watching a movie marathon, but at least she’d made plans for Sunday. She needed to get out of the house and be around people. If she spent Sunday alone, she’d go stark raving mad!
When her calm feelings had faded away and are replaced by a sense of unease that makes her sick to her stomach. In her desire to not be alone, she’d called her friends to meet her for Sunday supper at Gran’s house. Gran always cooked enough to feed an army. It was also the only day Jason was guaranteed to be at their grandmother’s. He never turned down a free home cooked meal, but he always managed to leave before it was time to do the dishes.
Sookie thought Sunday dinner would be the perfect time to tell her family and closest friends about the demise of her marriage. It had seemed like a good idea at the time; like a band aid, get it over in one swift rip. But as she drives down the winding path leading to her childhood home, she is rethinking her decision. As she puts the car in park and shuts off the engine, she has to take deep breaths to calm down. The two dogs in the back seat, a black lab named Loki and a yellow lab named Thor, whimper to get out. They know where they are and they are vibrating with excitement at the chance to run free or play fetch with Uncle Jason.
Sookie looks through her windshield to see Gran, Tara, and Lafayette standing on the porch looking towards her car with concern. She’d lost track of how much time she’d been sitting in the sweltering car without moving. With a deep sigh, Sookie climbs out of the vehicle, throwing a wan smile in the direction of her grandmother and friends as she hurries to open the door for the impatient, whimpering dogs. The Labradors take off running towards the porch, yelping happily as they bound up the steps to greet the people waiting. The dogs jump, lick, circle, and bark loudly as they run back and forth between Sookie’s family and friends. It seems the canines are settling down after having been petted, scratched, and loved on, but then a shrill whistle sounds and they go bolting towards it. Jason comes walking out of the woods, dropping down to his knees so he can wrestle with his four-legged playmates. As the barking and yipping continues, Sookie wearily trudges towards the porch. The three occupants are standing there, staring at her worriedly. If Sookie had been in a better frame of mind, she’d laugh because the three of them remind her of an Oreo cookie: Gran flanked on either side by Tara and Lafayette.
“What’s the matter Sookie?” Gran’s gentle voice is all it takes for Sookie to tear up. She mumbles, “Bill’s cheated on me,” before breaking down in sobs. Three sets of arms immediately wrap around her. Nothing is said as Sookie cries her heart out. It feels good to finally release all this pent up emotion. Sookie has teared up many times, but she’s never let herself go like she does in their comforting embrace. It’s been a few days overdue, but it feels no less cathartic. Perhaps it’s better she waited a few days to let it all out; it’s given her time to focus on the activities she needed to take care of.
“Uh, did I miss sumthin’? Did Sook hurt herself?” Jason has finally noticed the situation on the porch. Grass, leaves, and twigs cling to his hair and clothes from his roughhousing with the dogs. As for the dogs, all the excitement of the day has caught up to them and they are answering nature’s call.
“Bill’s cheating on her,” Tara retorts angrily.
“That mother fucker! I’ll kill him!” Jason Stackhouse may be a tom cat, but he never promises a woman more than one evening’s pleasure. He doesn’t string women along and he sure as hell doesn’t claim to be faithful. He may be a selfish prick, but you don’t hurt the members of his family.
Surprisingly, Jason’s reaction makes Sookie laugh through her tears. She pulls back from the group hug to look at her brother. Jason stands there with his fists clenched and look of total fury on his face. Her brother and Bill had never gotten along; Jason is a good old country boy while Bill is an uptight stick in the mud. Jason didn’t get what his sister saw in Bill, but he loved her and was good to her, so Jason let it slide that he thought Bill was a bore. To know that Sookie is crying because of her husband’s extracurricular activities between the sheets makes Jason want to march through the woods to the Compton house on the other side of the cemetery and choke the life outta Bill.
It doesn’t matter that Bill hasn’t lived in his family home for years, but that thought doesn’t occur to Jason. If Jason had his way they’d all still be in high school, and he would string Bill Compton up the flag pole using Bill’s tighty whities as the rope.
Sookie climbs down a porch step so she’s eye level with her brother. She kisses him on the cheek whispering her thanks for Jason’s sentiment. Gran nods sagely before looking at everyone. “Well come on y’all. There’s some pecan pie and ice cream with our names on it.” She turns and carefully walks back to the kitchen screen door as her arthritis is flaring up more and more lately.
“But Miz Stackhouse, what abouts dinner?” Lafayette holds the door for the elderly woman and she smiles her thanks. She pats his arm as she passes by and stands in the door to answer his question.
“Lafayette, in this family, when we have a problem, we discuss it over pie and coffee. Though maybe in this case we can switch the coffee for brandy,” Adele adds with a wink.
“I likes the way yous’ think Ma’am,” Lafayette comments as he follows her in the house.
“So outta the blue, Bill tells you he’s cheatin’ and wants a divorce? I knew I never liked that asshole!” Tara swipes her beer up off the table, taking a long drink as she tries to calm down. She’d known for a while that Sookie wasn’t herself, but she’d been so wrapped up in her own life she hadn’t given it much thought. Maybe if she’d been around more, she’d have noticed something was going on with Bill.
“Amen to that,” Jason exclaims while leaning forward to clink to his beer bottle against Tara’s before she sets it down. “He ain’t still at the house is he? Cause if he is, I’m throwin’ his ass out so fast he leaves skid marks!”
“No, Jason, he isn’t there. I don’t know where he went when he left. I haven’t heard from him since he took off,” Sookie sighs wearily. It hurt to tell them everything, but it also felt like a huge relief.
“So what you gonna do now hookah?” Lafayette sips his drink while watching his friend with concern. Like Tara, he blames himself for letting life get in the way of his friendship with the only person outside of Tara that had accepted him exactly as he was when he came out as gay. The other people at Bon Temps High School had treated him like a freak, often bullying him. It was Sookie that had saved him when some of the football players had cornered him underneath the bleachers. They thought nothing of beating him to a bloody pulp and then wanted to see if he liked being on the bottom. Sookie had been a freshman walking out of the gym with Jason’s baseball bats since he was grabbing the rest of his equipment after baseball practice. She’d swung for the first guy’s knees then the back of the second. Her battle cry had been so loud that other students had come running out of the building. Jason, seeing his sister in the middle of the fray, had thought the football players were attacking her. He’d charged the group, knocking two of the attackers out cold. No one ever messed with Lafayette after that since he had the protection of the Stackhouse family. Sookie had pushed for Lafayette to press charges against his would be rapists, but he didn’t. In their small town, he knew that the bigoted small-minded homophobic residents would side with his four white attackers and not him. Sookie took Lafayette home and Adele Stackhouse had bandaged him up. From that day on, he had become another grandchild for Adele. She defended the boy just as much as her grandchildren had, so eventually the people of Bon Temps turned a blind eye to the flamboyant gay black man. Lafayette flourished having people support him and he took great pleasure in rubbing it in the faces of the townsfolk because he knew they would do nothing to him.
“I don’t know,” Sookie states forlornly. Her eyes are awash with fresh unshed tears. “I never thought I’d get divorced. When I said my wedding vows, I meant them. I know divorce is common, but I never thought it would happen to me.” Sookie stares at her half-eaten slice of pie. She has no appetite. Jason, who has already finished two slices of pie with heaping scoops of ice cream, stares hungrily at Sookie’s slice of pie. With a roll of her eyes, Sookie pushes her plate across the table towards her brother. He takes it eagerly, mumbling “Thanks Sook,” around his first bite.
Gran gets up from the table, smacking Jason in the back of his head, reminding him of his manners. She stacks the empty plates and silverware before taking them to the sink. Adele is the only one that hasn’t said anything since Sookie began her story. Her grandmother’s opinion is the only one Sookie cares about. It’s not like her father can say anything about her getting divorced. Tara and Lafayette won’t judge her. The ones that will gossip behind her back can go take a flying leap! It is only the opinion of the woman who raised her that worries her.
“Gran? Are you disappointed?” Sookie stares with worry at her grandmother who shuffles back to the table.
“Oh honey,” Gran cries softly as she moves around the table. She embraces her granddaughter, wrapping her arms around Sookie’s head. Sookie burrows closer; it reminds her of being a child and seeking comfort in her Gran’s embrace. The familiar scents of lemon and sugar surround Sookie and she feels safe; those scents have always reminded her of Adele Stackhouse.
“Sookie, I’m not disappointed in you. I’m disappointed for you,” Gran stresses as she resumes sitting in her chair. The elderly woman keeps her granddaughter’s hand in hers, squeezing and patting it as she continues on. “It’s heartbreaking to see you like this. You and Bill have been together a long time. He was your first everything. I’d be more worried about you if you weren’t upset about this. Are you sure there’s no way the two of you can work things out? Think about your lovely home, the dogs; what’s gonna happen to everything if you two divorce?”
Sookie looks aghast at her grandmother. “Gran you can’t be serious! Bill cheated on me! He slept with another woman! How can you expect me to stay with him knowing he’s broken our marriage vows? I can’t trust him; I can’t even stand to look at him! As for the house, I guess we’ll have to sell it. And the dogs . . . he’s not getting my babies. They are mine!” Sookie’s lips and chin tremble thinking about everything she will be losing as she moves forward, but the idea of losing her boys . . . that will destroy her. She’s had them since they were puppies. Sookie raised them, trained them, fretted over every illness, and played with them for hours on end. They have been her constant companions every time Bill went away. She cannot lose them, she refuses to!
Gran smiles placatingly at Sookie and pats her hand again. “I didn’t say it would be easy, but I don’t want you to make any rash decisions. Look at your father,” Gran says with a roll of her eyes. “He is in and out of marriage before the ink has a chance to dry on any of the paperwork. I’d hate for you to come to regret your decision.”
“The only thing I regret right now Gran is coming over here for dinner,” Sookie declares angrily as she jumps up from her chair. Sookie stalks towards the screen door, but whirls around angrily to face her grandmother. “I can’t believe you want me to stay married to him! Am I supposed to turn a blind eye to the fact he’s fucking another woman? Shit, I don’t even know if it’s one woman; it could be dozens for all I know! I’m sorry Gran but I refuse to be like Momma, ignoring my cheating ass of a husband by drowning my sorrows in a bottle!”
Sookie storms out of the house, letting the screen door bang against the house. Her violent exit rouses the dogs from their slumbers on the porch. When they see Sookie, they approach her cautiously. Animals are highly intuitive beings. They have always known when something is bothering Sookie and have tried to comfort her any way they can. Sookie drops to her knees and both dogs immediately push as close to her as possible. With an arm around each dog, Sookie buries her face in the side of the dogs, trying to control the urge to cry again. It’s so goddamn frustrating being a woman! Whenever she is angry, like so angry that she cannot formulate words, her response is to cry. It is frustrating to not be able to unleash her fury without sobbing like she is weak.
The screen door squeaks open but closes quietly. “You alright hookah?” Sookie turns her head to see Tara and Lafayette standing behind her, both with concern. Sookie scratches both dogs, letting them know she is alright. The black lab, Loki, burrows closer to her while the yellow lab, Thor, licks her face. She rises from her squatting position, brushing away the dog fur from her hands.
“No, but that’s nothing new,” she replies shakily. “I think I’m gonna go home; I’ve lost my appetite.”
“We’ll come with ya,” Tara says as she steps forward. Sookie opens her mouth to argue, but Tara pushes on so she doesn’t get the chance. “Sook, you need your friends now more than ever. We ain’t gonna let you wallow in pity. ‘Sides, what you need tonight is to get drunk! And we’re gonna be there with ya every step of the way.”
“Alright, but you’re gonna have to stop and get stuff to mix with the alcohol. I’ve got tequila and rum,” Sookie says with a genuine smile.
“Consider it done hookah! We’ll be there in about an hour,” Lafayette replies while giving Sookie a hug.
Tara helps Sookie corral the dogs in her car and then the two women hug. Sookie thinks about saying good-bye to Gran and Jason, but she’s still a little too raw to speak with her grandmother.
The drive home is uneventful. Sookie arrives home, parking in the driveway like normal. She leaves the dogs in the car so she can unlock and open the front door. It’s easier to unlock the door when she doesn’t have her hands filled with leashes and dogs twisting around her legs to trip her up. Once both locks are open, Sookie pushes the door open and runs back to the car to get the dogs. The dogs eagerly jump out of her sedan, running towards the front door. When both dogs are securely inside, Sookie pushes the door closed and begins the process of removing the harnesses from the dogs, easier said than done when they are trying to push you down, running around you, licking your face. Sookie laughs at their antics as they run towards the back door when they are finally free, waiting for Sookie to let them outside. Shaking her head, Sookie walks down the short hallway into the living room and stops in shock. The furniture is missing from her living room and dining room. Some of the paintings are also missing as well as books from the bookshelves. She rushes into the kitchen to see if anything else is missing, but everything looks to be in place. Rushing upstairs, she looks in all the bedrooms and bathrooms. Everything belonging to Bill is gone as well as the furniture that he picked out for his office. With a sinking feeling, Sookie goes into what was their bedroom and checks her jewelry cabinet. Everything that Bill had given her as either a birthday present or Christmas present is missing, including the Tiffany diamond earrings he had given her as a wedding present.
“That son of a bitch! Amicable my ass!”