They both sat staring straight ahead at the TV as Blake Shelton waggled his finger above his head. Neither moving, neither speaking, a stillness washing over the two of them.
Usually Pam would look up at Jim, either from his lap or from the other end of the couch because he was rubbing her feet, and say the same thing that she did every time. That she loved Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert so much. That they were her favourite celebrity couple and she'd be so upset if they ever split up. And Jim would always give her a small smile, an eye roll, and snort a laugh through his nose before replying with a ‘don't worry, I'm sure they won't', followed by a small squeeze or a kiss, depending on which body part was in his lap.
But not tonight. Tonight, neither of them said a word.
Jim wanted to say they would be fine, to reassure her that there was no chance they would split up, that they were still a perfect couple. That they were still Jim and Pam. But he couldn't, because right now he wasn't sure himself. And she was so damn far away. He clenched his jaw and stared at Blake Shelton trying to get some girl who'd just sung ‘Tiny Dancer' to pick him. The song had instantly transported him back to all those years ago when a simple kiss on the lips had made him happier than he'd ever known. A time before being a father, a husband, and having very real responsibilities. Before every goddamn worry that now seemed to occupy his brain weighed him down. When he didn't care what he did for a living, as long as he could just be close to her. To make her smile. And laugh. But now, that wasn't enough. He needed to be more for her, he needed to be more for their family.
He let out a small breath as the next contestant began singing ‘As Long As You Love Me', grabbed the remote control and turned the TV off. He put his elbows on his knees, his hands behind his head and stared down at the cheap cream carpet, before sighing and heading to his bedroom. He walked a few steps when he realised what he was doing, and walked back to where he was sleeping tonight: on the small blue couch.
Pam didn't let her eyes waver from the screen as the next contestant sang about loving somebody like you. She knew if her eyes even so much as saw a glimpse of the wedding photo that sat just to the left of the TV, she'd break. Instead she just kept staring when Blake passed over the contestant, wondering if it was just like how Jim was passing over her in favour of a new life.
She looked to her right at the faded red indentation of the couch where Jim should have been sitting and felt her eyes prick with tears. He should be sitting with her, next to her, holding her. He shouldn't be 125 fucking miles away from her.
The Voice, and all its reality talent show predecessors, had always been their show. And now he was ruining it. He was ruining everything. Jim had faked his interest in these kinds of shows to begin with, keen to have something to talk to his new receptionist friend about. And later on, it was always a guaranteed way to end up on one of their couches making out, as neither really cared who progressed to the next round when there were much more important things right in front of them. Over the years, it had just become habit to put on a talent show and mess around with each other as some hopeful contestant sang their heart out in the background. She tried to think back to the last time they had done that, but couldn't. She couldn't even remember the last time Jim had sat next to her on their couch and held her.
Pam sighed as she watched Blake laughing, wondering if he and Miranda ever felt like this. She wondered how two people who were so perfect together could ever fall apart like her and Jim currently were. She tried to shake the thought out of her head but couldn't, so instead she grabbed the remote to turn the TV off and padded across the parquet flooring to the stairs.
As Jim lay on the small couch with his hands down his pyjama pants as usual, resting somewhere around his hip bone, he wished that he hadn't given his bedroom to Darryl. It made the whole situation just seem even worse than it was. His hands began to wonder as he thought about how every night watching The Voice ended; with Pam moaning his name and panting hard as he pounded into her on their much more comfortable, and much larger, couch. He felt himself stirring at old memories, but couldn't will himself to do anything about it, as it only served as a reminder that he hadn't touched his wife in weeks.
Pam pulled the white comforter up over her shoulders, wincing slightly at the coolness of the sheets. The bed felt too big without Jim in it, too empty, too heartbreaking. She turned onto her side, away from Jim's side of the bed, and stared at her nightstand. She tried not to look at the photo taken years ago of a smiling, happy, in love couple, and instead pulled her focus to her cellphone. She toyed with the idea of calling Jim to say goodnight, but wasn't sure if she had any words in her. They barely made it through conversations these days that weren't about the kids. What would she even say to him? She sighed. She didn't think she could find her voice to speak the words she needed to say to him. With shaking hands, she slowly picked up the small device and quickly typed ‘goodnight' before she could chicken out. She lay waiting for a response that never came.
Jim had passed out with his phone in his hand somewhere between thinking how they used to spend their evenings in front of the TV and about what to say to Pam over a fucking text message. Had it really come to this? They used to be able to communicate without a single word. But now? Now he had no idea what to say to his wife. His best friend. His soulmate. He'd typed out message after message and deleted them all, instead opting to close his eyes and think about the times when they shared the same voice, the same words. He awoke to a flashing light on his cell phone and winced at the single worded text he had received 8 hours earlier. He quickly sent back a ‘good morning' and held his breath waiting for a reply. ‘Sorry, the kids are crazy this morning. I'll call you later' eventually came while Jim was showering. He towelled his dripping body as he read her message, drops of water splashing onto the phone's display, and wondered if they would ever get back to a time before this. Before they couldn't speak to each other. Before they were so out of sync. Before they'd lost their voice.