As per Bill’s request, Sookie asked Desmond to recommend a realtor to sell their marital home. She had thought about buying Bill out, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized she didn’t want to be there anymore. It was the house they had built together; it would forever hold memories of her time with Bill. Sookie knew that one day she might be able to fondly look back at her time with Bill, but that day wasn’t today. She needed to move on, start someplace fresh where she wouldn’t constantly be slapped in the face by reminders of her failed marriage. As it is, the house no longer feels like home. She feels like an interloper, trespassing somewhere she has no business being. The sooner she can get out of there, the better.
Unfortunately, the realtor that Desmond recommended did not have good news.
Like so many other homeowners, Sookie and Bill were upside down on their house. They had bought when the market was high, and the value of the home was nowhere near what they owed on the mortgage. The realtor whom Sookie spoke with offered her three options: sell at a loss, walk away and end up having the bank foreclose on the house, or one of them could buy the other out. In the third option, at least one of them would walk away from the house without a hit to their credit. The flip side of that coin is that the one walking away will not receive any money from the house if it does eventually sell; it will belong solely to the other person.
There was no way in hell Sookie was going to let the house ruin her credit. She’d worked hard to make sure she had a good credit score, not like her father who went through money the way others went through toilet paper. Her father was constantly maxing out his credit cards, not caring about how he was going to pay for the things he was buying. Corbett Stackhouse was all about instant gratification; he wanted something when he wanted it. Sookie’s father refused to wait for anything and he never took no for an answer. Jason also inherited this characteristic from his father, but nowhere near as bad as Corbett. Sookie likes to think that was Gran’s influence on them. Jason wasn’t nearly as materialistic as their father, but when he wanted something, there was no talking him out of it.
It’s what had led to Jason spending a night or two sobering up inside a cell at the Bon Temps Police Department. When Jason saw a pretty girl at the bar, he always flirted with her, thinking that he was irresistible to women. While that may be true, the boyfriends or husbands of the girls Jason was hitting on didn’t find him to be as charming.
Sookie had thought of calling Bill herself to discuss what to do about the house, but she soon realized she couldn’t speak to him rationally. Her emotions would eventually get the best of her, and she’d be damned if she would let Bill see her cry again because of him! She was through giving him the satisfaction of knowing that he hurt her. Of course she is still hurting over everything that has happened, but Bill doesn’t need to know that. When Sookie faces him again, she wants him to see that she is happy in her new life and that she doesn’t need him; that she is perfectly capable of standing on her own two feet and doesn’t need him or anyone else to make her life complete.
Which is true.
Still . . .
As much as Sookie hates to admit it, she misses Bill. It’s not that she misses him in a romantic kind of way. However, he was a part of her life for over a decade; she talked to him every day. To cut off all communication between each other, feels wrong. It’s an ache that sits deep inside her. The only thing Sookie can compare the feeling to an amputee that still feels pain where the missing appendage is.
Bill is her missing appendage.
And it galls her that she misses the slimy toad!
In the end, Sookie had let her lawyer handle telling Bill about the house, and Desmond came back with a surprising resolution. Bill wants to buy her out of the house; in fact, he wants to move back in immediately. There is just one problem.
Sookie has to move out, preferably immediately, but she has to be out of the house no later than August 1. Furthermore, Bill expects her to pay her half of the mortgage until he has completed the refinance of the house in his name only.
How in the hell is she supposed to pay rent on a place to live and pay half a mortgage at the same time? How much money does Bill think she makes?
Sookie’s deadline of August 1 is less than six weeks away. Where is she going to find a new place to live? More importantly, one that is willing to accept a large breed dog. Bill is adamant that he is taking Thor, saying that the yellow Labrador retriever has always been “his” dog and that Loki has always been “her” dog. Bill pointed out to his lawyer that Sookie had even confirmed this statement many times over the years.
It infuriates her more than she can say that something that was always said in jest is being held against Sookie now. For some reason, it had been a running joke throughout their marriage that Loki was “her” dog and Thor was “Bill’s” dog and if they ever divorced, that is how the dogs would be divided. Anyone with half a brain can tell that both of the dogs are Sookie’s! She is the one to feed them, care for them when they are sick, play with them, see to their overall wellbeing, and cuddle with them. Bill only pays attention to the dogs when he wants to; more often than not, he is yelling at them for barking, playing, or doing anything that he doesn’t approve of.
Isn’t the whole purpose of a dog to bark and play? Call her crazy, but Sookie thought that was the expected behavior for a dog. Who knew she’d been wrong all these years?
“So what are you going to do about Asshat moving back in the house this weekend?”
It’s Thursday afternoon at lunch. Pam, deciding she needed to get out of the office before she killed someone, tagged Sookie to come with her. Things had gotten very heated earlier in the morning between Pam and Eric. Sookie doesn’t know what the issue was between the two of them, but there had been definite shouting coming from inside the closed office. Rather than go back to her office to work, Pam marched down the hallway with her purse in hand. “Let’s go,” had been all she said to Sookie before striding down the hallway to the elevator. Sookie scrambled to grab her stuff, knowing that Pam would only turn on her if she kept her boss waiting. Pam drove them to her favorite place, a row of boutique stores and restaurants near their office. She had only calmed down after having bought two new pairs of shoes, a designer handbag and wallet, and a cashmere scarf.
Retail therapy: $1500
Happy Pam: priceless
Sookie sighs as she pushes the food around on her plate. Her appetite is nearly nonexistent thanks to her current anxiety levels over her housing situation. “I don’t really know what to do, Pam. I can’t afford to live somewhere and pay Bill half the mortgage until he refinances it in his name only.”
Before Sookie can say another word, Pam cuts her off. “Excuse me? Why the fuck would you pay that rat bastard anything for a house you can’t live in?”
Sookie sighs and sets her fork down on her plate, having lost any desire for food thanks to their current topic of conversation. “Bill can’t afford the mortgage as it is on his own. Technically, my name will still be on the house, so I will be financially responsible for half of it whether I live there or not. I can’t afford to let Bill mess up my credit.”
“Then the lying asshole needs to find a roommate to help pay his expenses,” Pam declares furiously. “Sookie, so help me God, if you give that bastard a dime after you move out, I’ll never speak to you again. Once you walk out of that house, it’s not your responsibility anymore. He is the one that cheated on you. He is the one that wanted a divorce. He can fucking figure out how to clean up the mess he created! I don’t care if he has to sell his non-existent testicles to science to pay the mortgage, but once you leave that house, it isn’t your responsibility anymore!”
Pam takes a deep breath and then releases it slowly. The angry lines that marred her flawless skin disappear. She gives Sookie a small smile as she places her hand over that of her friend, squeezing in comfort. “I know you think you are doing the right thing; that you are trying to be amicable. Sookie, amicable went out the window the minute Bill put his wee willy inside someone else! I know that sounds harsh; it is, but you have to protect yourself. It’s time you take care of you!”
Sookie squeezes her friend’s hand in return as she blinks rapidly, trying to prevent the tears from falling. “That’s the problem, Pam; I don’t know how to take care of just me. I’ve never been selfish; I’ve always worried about taking care of everyone else before myself. I don’t know what I’m going to do for a place to live. I don’t know how to get back into the world of dating. Hell, I don’t think I was ever really in the world of dating to being with!”
Pam waves her free hand in a carefree gesture. “Dating’s the easy part. Sign up for a dating service. It’s what I do when I want to find new people to fuck.”
Sookie can’t help it, she snorts in response to Pam’s bluntness. Pam’s lips curve in a smile as she watches Sookie giggle and snort uncontrollably. “What? The days of the little black book are long gone my friend. That’s what the Internet’s for. There’s Tinder, Zoosk, Plenty of Fish, Flirt, and if you’re into that ‘true love’ bullshit, there’s eHarmony and Match.”
“But isn’t it scary? I mean, you hear all these stories about people getting raped and killed because of the people they meet from the Internet. I don’t think I can do it,” Sookie admits worriedly.
Pam raises an eyebrow at her, scoffing at Sookie’s concern. “My dear friend, do you think I walk into these situations without protection? And I’m not talking about protection against an STD! I never leave home without my beloved Pearl. Plus, I have a can or two of pepper spray in my car.”
Sookie rolls her eyes, knowing that Pam’s ‘beloved Pearl’ is .45 Colt automatic with a pearl handle. According to Pam, Eric was the one to buy the gun for her, but Sookie doesn’t know the reason. To be honest, she’s always been a little afraid to ask, thinking that maybe something happened to her friend.
Pam leans closer to Sookie, using her free hand to grab Sookie’s chin so she can’t look away from her. “Internet dating is nothing to be ashamed of in this day and age. In fact, it’s a necessity. I don’t have time to go to a bar, a club, or any other place to try to find someone. I’m far too busy for that shit. Dating apps give me the option to search online when I have a free minute from work or when I’m enjoying a glass of wine late at night. It saves me the trouble of having to spend time actually engaging a person to the point they want to have sex. More often than not, I can easily find someone on the app that just wants to fuck without the frills of dating. It’s quite refreshing actually.”
“But I’m not like that, Pam. I don’t think I could ever have sex with someone without liking them.” It’s not that Sookie is horrified by the idea of casual sex; lord knows enough of her friends and especially her brother engage in it. However, she doesn’t think she’s that type of girl.
Pam shrugs. “You might not be, but there are plenty of people out there that are looking to date, settle down, you know that whole nightmare. All I’m saying is, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”
When Sookie arrives home that evening, Bill’s Mercedes SUV is parked in the driveway. Sookie’s hands grip the steering wheel tightly as she parks her car, taking deep breaths trying to calm down. She knew Bill wanted to move back in, but she didn’t think he meant today! Why the hell is he suddenly so insistent on coming back when he’d left weeks ago without a second glance? Perhaps his new life isn’t working out the way he wanted it to.
Serves the asshole right!
Squaring her shoulders, Sookie climbs out of her vehicle with her bags in tow. She pauses by the gate of the white picket fence, because her two dogs are there. Bill must have let them out. She’d thought about changing the locks, but knew it would only cause problems with Bill if she denied him access to the house. Thor and Loki are vibrating with energy, their tails wagging excitedly as they bark letting Sookie know they are happy to see her. Thor keeps trying to jump up on the fence to get to her. Sookie smiles despite the uneasiness she feels about going in the house. No matter how bad a day she is having, seeing Thor and Loki always makes her feel better. They love her unconditionally.
It’s a good feeling to have when everything else is going to shit.
“Alright boys, I’m going inside. Are you hungry?” The dogs know what hungry means, and they take off running for the back door of the house, waiting impatiently for someone to let them inside so they can scarf down their food.
Sookie, however, doesn’t share their enthusiasm for going inside. She doesn’t want to deal with Bill, but at the same time, she knows she has no choice. Well, that isn’t exactly true. She could go live with Gran until she finds a place to stay, but that isn’t an option Sookie is comfortable with given the behavior her grandmother exhibited the last time they were together. Adele has called several times, but Sookie has let all of her messages go to voicemail. It hurt more than Sookie can ever explain to know that her grandmother isn’t supporting her while her marriage falls apart.
Feeling as if her feet and legs are made of lead, Sookie trudges up the steps leading to her front door. She sees the faces of her dogs smashed against the panes of glass in the door, so Bill must have let them back inside. With a deep breath, Sookie puts her key in the lock and opens the door. The dogs greet her with their usual brand of excitement; jumping, barking, and tails wagging.
“Boys! Calm down!” Bill’s deep Southern twang resonates down the hallway. Sookie looks towards the kitchen with dread and sees her husband, the lying snake in the grass, standing in the doorway wearing his signature khakis and button down shirt. Of course, Sookie notices dispassionately that it’s the shirt she bought him for his birthday.
“Hello, Sookeh.” Bill greets her calmly, as if they are old friends that haven’t seen each other in years. It irritates her to no end how calm and collected he is. How can this not bother him? Doesn’t he find any of this awkward and uncomfortable?
“Bill,” she replies coolly as she walks down the hall towards the kitchen. Bill quickly steps out of her way so that she can pass by him. Clenching her jaw, Sookie sets her things down on the breakfast bar, intending to make her way over to where the dog food is kept so she can feed the animals.
“I’ve already fed the boys,” Bill says affably. “I took care of it before I let them out. We played for a bit when I got in. It was good to spend time with them.”
“Oh.” Sookie spins around, not exactly sure what to do since Bill has already done what she intended to use as a conversation staller. Would it be too rude to walk out of the kitchen and pretend he isn’t there?
“Sookeh, I wanted to talk to you about everythin’,” Bill begins in a congenial tone that makes Sookie want to scratch his eyes out.
“Talk about what, Bill? I think you made everything pretty clear when you left me,” she retorts angrily.
“Sookeh, I never meant to hurt you, but we’re different people now. I can’t help it that we drifted apart. Life got in the way and it took us down two different paths.”
Yeah, apparently yours led you to between another woman’s legs, Sookie thinks angrily as Bill continues to talk. He drones on and on about what his expectations are going to be moving forward as they are both stuck living together in the house until she moves out. Bill keeps stating that she’ll need to continue to pay her half of the mortgage until he is able to refinance in his name only, and it finally makes Sookie blow a gasket.
“Bill, there is no way in hell I’m paying you for a house you aren’t going to let me live in! As long as we are living here as roommates, I’ll continue to pay my part of everything, but the day I walk out that door for good is the day I stop paying you anything for this house. I can’t afford to pay rent and a mortgage. I suggest you get the ball rolling on that refinancing paperwork.”
Bill has a sour look on his face and looks to argue, but Sookie steamrolls on, intent on finally saying her piece. “As long as we’re both in this house, we are sleeping in separate rooms. We’re roommates. I’m not cooking for you, I’m not cleaning up after you, and I’m certainly not doing your laundry. At some point we need to talk about how we’re going to divide everything up since I see you brought everything back, but not tonight. I don’t feel like talking anymore.”
Sookie walks quickly to the stairs that will take her to the upper level. If she has to look at Bill’s face any longer she might actually punch him. Once upstairs, Sookie has no idea what to do with herself. She does notice that Bill’s things are back in the master bedroom. As much as she hates seeing them there, it makes sense if he is keeping the house that he sleeps in the master bedroom. Sookie begins going through her closet, pulling out her belongings so that she can move them to one of the spare rooms. As she pulls out items, she realizes that many of the items in the closet are ones she no longer needs. For instance, why the hell does she need fifteen designer handbags when she’s been using the same Kate Spade black and white polka dot for the last two years? Sookie separates her belongings in different piles; things she is keeping and things she is getting rid of. When everything is finished, the pile of things she no longer wishes to keep is far larger than the items she is getting rid of. In addition to the designer purses are clothes and shoes of various sizes, things she hasn’t worn in years.
However, why stop at the items in her closet? If Sookie moves in a new place, it certainly isn’t going to be a house as large as this one. She’ll have to downsize. Why not start now?
Sookie sorts through everything in the bedrooms and upstairs bathrooms, only taking those items that she purchased with her money throughout the course of her life with Bill. It seems that when he came back, Bill brought all the items back that he took; including those items he had given as gifts to her.
Looks like the cease and desist order from Mr. Cataliades worked.
Sookie has everything stacked on the bed that belongs to her except for the items that had hung on the walls, which she had leaning against the wall. It’s amazing to see how much stuff she’s accumulated in her time with Bill. In fact, she’s somewhat ashamed to see how materialistic she has become. She grew up having to work for everything she wanted. Even though her father lived extravagantly, he never passed any of that luxury on to his mother or his children. Sookie remembers scrimping and saving to get her first car, her first computer. She shopped at Wal-Mart and consignment shops for her clothes, and of course Gran made her many of the dresses she used to wear.
Sookie cannot remember the last time she stepped foot in a Wal-Mart. Bill hates the store, thinking it is beneath them. Bill firmly believes in having the best of everything, often insisting on designer labels or shopping in higher end stores though the same item might be available cheaper elsewhere. Somewhere along the way, Sookie had fallen in line with Bill’s way of thinking. Somewhere along the way, she’d let her life become defined by the material things she owns instead of the things that are really important: friends, family, and the shared experiences among them.
But no more. For years, she’s been blind to Bill’s behavior and how it has changed her. Not anymore! It’s time she gets back to being Sookie.
The only question is how does she do that?
By the time Sookie finishes, nearly all the contents of the two guest rooms have been regulated into piles of items she wants to keep and those to get rid of. The designer bags she knows she can take to a consignment shop near work and they’ll give her money for them, but the consignment shop always lowballs people with what they offer. The consignment shop is her last resort. Maybe some of her friends and family on Facebook want to buy the bags from her.
Staging each bag with its coordinating wallet, Sookie takes pictures of all the bags she wants to sell; eleven in all. The bags are from Coach, Dooney and Bourke, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and even a Louis Vuitton. Once she is satisfied with all her pictures, she creates the post as a status update titled ‘Out with the Old’. Each comment is a picture of the bag she is selling and a description of the item as well as what she is asking for. Sookie’s a bit nervous posting all the bags on Facebook; not all of her friends know what is going on between her and Bill, and she doesn’t want this to be the catalyst for a lot of unwanted questions.
Soon, several of her friends have claimed the bags she posted. One friend, Arlene of all people, actually suggested that if she had items she no longer wanted and was looking to sell, she should look into the Facebook Yard Sale communities in the area. Arlene told her that’s where she unloaded a lot of the kids stuff when Lisa and Coby had outgrown things or where she found ‘new’ things for them at cheaper prices.
Of course, Sookie knows that Arlene’s act of charity is going to come with a price. She’ll probably gossip to anyone and everyone that Sookie is selling her life away one piece at a time. Never mind that Arlene uses the same sites to sell and buy stuff; it’s OK for her to do it, but if Sookie does it, then it’s some deep, dark secret.
“Sookeh, what are you doin’?” Bill’s nasally whine interrupts her thoughts. He’s looking around the room in horror, seeing items strewn all over the place. It does look chaotic, but the order of things makes sense to Sookie, and really, she’s the only one that needs to understand what is going on. “I’d think it’s obvious, Bill. I’m starting to gather up the stuff I’m taking with me.”
“But surely you don’t need all this stuff where you’re going!” Bill’s eyes widen as he takes inventory of everything in the room. He glances in the other bedrooms and sees how bare everything is since Sookie took the items that she paid for. She’s taken everything; wall decorations, towels, sheets, knick-knacks, clothes, and electronics.
“Probably not,” Sookie agrees. “However, I still paid for all these items; I am taking them with me.”
“But,” Bill gapes at her astounded. “Sookeh, that’s unreasonable! What are you going to do with everything?”
“I don’t know,” Sookie admits with a shrug. “Why do you care?”
“Well, I thought you’d leave a lot of the things here that you don’t need,” Bill admits.
Sookie blinks owlishly at him as she considers his words. It’s like she is seeing him for the first time. She can’t believe how selfish he is! He honestly expects her to leave everything so he can continue to have his nice, comfortable life with the items she had paid for!
Well, he can have them…
For a price!
“Let me get this straight,” Sookie begins quietly. “You expected me to leave the items here I didn’t need for you to use in your new life? The items that I’ve paid for over the years with my money? The furniture, the towels, sheets, decorations, and everything else I’ve bought to make this a home for us. Are you crazy? If you want anything Bill, you’re gonna have to pay for it. Nothing is free. The items we bought together, we’ll split equally, but if I bought it, I’m taking it. If you bought it, you can keep it. Unless the items were gifts, then they belong to the person who received the items as a gift. Got it?” Sookie dares him to argue with her.
“But, but,” Bill sputters indignantly.
“What, Bill? What?” Sookie stands with her hands on her hips, glaring at her spouse.
“Nothing,” Bill finally admits with defeat. “So what are you doing with the furniture?”
“Well, I was gonna leave you the sectional in the basement. I have no need for it. The king size bed and your dresser you bought. I have no need for the other pieces that match the dresser, so you can have them…if I can have the laptop I’ve used of yours.”
“That’s fair,” Bill acknowledges after doing some mental calculations. “What about the living room? You bought the couch and ottoman, but I bought the chair. And the dining room?”
“I’ll sell them to you. Say four hundred?” The items are nearly six years old. When she bought them, she paid around fifteen hundred dollars. “It seems a fair deal to me. You aren’t going to be able to buy anything new for that price.”
Bill considers her words for a few moments. “That’s true,” he finally admits. “What about the other two bedrooms?”
“I’m taking both of those and I’m taking the bookcase in the living room. Everything else in the basement is yours, but we need to divide up the DVD collection.”
“I’ll go through it, most of them are mine anyway,” Bill hurries to interrupt her. Sookie rolls her eyes. His precious DVD collection covers the entire back wall of the basement. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of dollars on those bookshelves thanks to all the damn movies and TV series Bill has bought over the years. Sookie especially can’t understand the fascination with buying DVDs or Blu-Rays since you can get movies now through Amazon Prime, Netflix, and that doesn’t even include all the pirated websites where you can get digital downloads of movies.
“So that leaves the kitchen,” Bill declares.
Sookie sighs knowing this room will be the hardest to divide. Initially, everything in the kitchen had been hers. She started a trousseau while still in high school, accumulating things she would need when she moved out on her own. However, Bill had replaced nearly everything over the years, upgrading things she had bought at Wal-Mart with brand name products from Kitchen Aid, Calphalon, or other high-end kitchen brands.
“Well, we can talk about that later,” Bill says hurriedly as his phone rings. Sookie raises an eyebrow because it isn’t his usual ringtone. Bill dashes out of the room, running down the stairs to the basement. However, Sookie heard him answer the phone with “Hello, Sweetheart,” before the door shut leading to the basement.
“Oh fuck him!” Sookie sits down angrily on the bed, knowing he’s talking to his skank. She refuses to cry, refuses to be hurt by his callous behavior. Instead, Sookie decides to start moving on with her life.
Sookie opens the App Store on her iPhone, and searches for dating apps. She scrolls through her options once the search is complete, reading reviews and descriptions for each app. Some people agonize over produce or shoes; Sookie agonizes over a dating app. It’s a very important decision. Finally, she downloads one.
“Here goes nothing,” Sookie shrugs her shoulders as the app downloads. What’s the worst that could happen? She starts going on dates again.
That’s a scary prospect, entering the dating world for the first time in her thirties.