I haven’t been the same since March; the coldness, dampness and darkness. The promise of an early spring now faded and replaced by a winter that won’t let go.
I remember the moment she left. Her crimson hair sparkling in the light and her skirt flowing behind her as she made her way to the car that was loaded with boxes and our child. The sun hasn’t shone since and the birds have forgotten their song. And me, I’m on auto-pilot. I wake up, shave, shower, go to work, come home, sit in front of the TV, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day.
She begged me to talk to her about my inner struggles but I couldn’t face revealing my secrets. I was ashamed, broken, and afraid of reality. I didn’t want to endure staring into her emerald eyes and seeing them pool up upon the revelation.
I buried the truth. I worked later and longer, hoping my success would balance the mess in my personal life. The others, they were anonymous women and men. No expectations; mutual gratification with no ties, apologies, or explanations.
It began innocently enough: random social networking requests, instant message pop-ups, and pictures that tantalized and teased. Soon pictures of unknowns turned into agreed-upon locations. I had an urge and an unquenchable ache that I needed to fulfill.
The first time I broke my vow I got into my metal cage and drove off, fighting the tears that threatened exposure. I showered at my office to deaden the smell of deceit. My beauty called to see how late I would work and I couldn’t speak to her directly. I let it go to voicemail.
When I finally went home that night, the house was quiet. I checked in on Bobby. He held onto Elmo in his sleep. Approaching our room, I began to sweat. I cracked open the door. Her long hair covered her face. Her breathing rhythmic and peaceful. The bed rocked as I climbed in under the covers and she rolled over and said, “Did you finish your work?”
I wrapped my arms tight around her and said, “Ya, honey, it’s taken care of.” I had gotten away with it and this scared me more. I promised myself and silently promised my bride it would never happen again.
Another week passed and I again became tormented. A different meet-up and location. The urge could not be sated.
More questions from the one I promised to be with for eternity. No admission of guilt.
Weeks and months passed with many conquests. My lady expressed her theories and insecurities, but she never got the story quite right. I knew both worlds would collide. Yet, I couldn’t stop.
One evening I emerged from a hotel. Down the street a man watched me from his black car. The position of the car and the derision on his face told me this was not any randomly parked vehicle. His glare sent chills up my spine. Still, I lit up my usual after-sex cigarette and drove away.
Silence overtook the breakfast table. Bobby traced Cheerios around in his cereal bowl. My love waited for her toast to pop-up. The smell of coffee filled the air. I had no reason to think my wife knew about my alternate reality.
Upstairs, steam poured out of the bathroom after my shower. My skin itched and flaked from so much washing.
She stood waiting. Pictures of anonymous hook-ups littered the floor around her.
Pamela Scott works for an agency that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She writes short stories, dabbles in memoir and poetry, and has begun a novel. Pamela proudly owns the title “Crazy Cat Lady,” and, when home, can be found curled up with her eighteen pound cat, Hendrix. Her blog is currently dormant, but her twitter is rather active and can be followed at https://twitter.com/MsMcDonald2.