By Joel A. Hess –
“It will never be the same again!” She banged her head against the steering wheel. She wanted to smash her car into the underpass wall. She never felt so alone. She couldn’t face him. She wanted to die. It’s all over!
She betrayed her husband for two years, maybe more. She couldn’t remember when it started. She made him breakfast and kissed him goodbye as he went out to the plant. Then, she quickly got herself ready. She perfumed herself more than usual. She put on her favorite dress that revealed just enough. She drove off to the hotel in Lumberton to meet a man.
It started out with cute jokes at work, then small presents, and finally a lunch date, though she denied it was a date at the time. She just wanted to see him more. She never thought it would go too far. She both did and did not want it to. She hated herself. Eventually they made plans. He told her that he would leave his wife. They would get married. They would finally be happy. He brought her red roses every time they met, which she then had to throw out as she returned home. She took showers all the time, removing the smells of flesh and perfumes. Dark rooms, dark corners, hiding, running. It was thrilling and wild; she was exhausted. Everyone knew but pretend not to.
She thought she could keep it secret by loving her husband more. She showered him with compliments, though she meant them less and less. She kissed him and bought him presents. “Go ahead honey, buy that” she encouraged him. All the while, it ate her up inside. Soon, loving her husband became work. It was like another job. She actually began to despise him. She pointed out his faults to herself. She couldn’t stand his smell, his voice, his laugh. She felt cold at home. Numb. Distant. She hated him. In the mirror, she saw a caged dog.
He seemed suspicious one day when she came home late. She even caught him smelling her white silk blouse. He asked her why she would wear it to work. She made him his favorite meal and told him over and over how much she loved him. It worked, she thought.
She kissed him on the cheek the morning before it all fell apart.
Outside the motel, they hugged for a moment. They had become blatant and careless. She had fallen into an illusion that nobody felt like she felt, that this was destiny, that the two of them had some sort of secret against the world. They were gods when they were together.
As they embraced, out of the corner of her eye, she saw her husband’s red Malibu whiz by. She knew it was him. She didn’t even need to see the car. She knew. Everything burst open. The dark place where desire could run free was lit up only to reveal gross flesh and a perverted foolish game. She felt stupid. She felt dead.
Her husband knew. She knew that he knew before, but now he really knows. The man fled from her, leaving her by herself. Of course! She was awake. She felt trapped. She had no excuse. She felt disgusting, dirty, damaged. She didn’t know where to go. She just drove away.
It will never be the same. All the excuses will never remove that picture from his brain. This isn’t something that can just be talked out. He will never look at me the same. He will never hug me the same. He will never kiss me the same.
A dog barked.
I deserve it. And for what? It was all an illusion. It was going nowhere! He was never going to leave his wife. She felt used. Normally, she would be taking a shower right now—afterwards. But she didn’t want to touch water ever again.
She got in her black corolla and drove out of town. Fast. Driving by the Ice Mountain spring water production facility where her husband worked, she started to cry. She stopped the car and screamed. There was a pad of paper in the passenger seat from the hotel room. She began her confession. She ripped it up. She wrote another one. She couldn’t find the words to make it all right, to explain, to convey her death-like sorrow. Finally she just wrote, “I’m so sorry. I hate myself. I don’t deserve you.”
She drove back to the spring water facility and found his car. As she opened the door to put her note on his seat, he appeared.
His eyes were bloodshot from his tears. She fell on the ground. He picked her up. Wiping the gravel from her clothes and face, he kissed her and hugged her. She mumbled repeatedly something like, “I’m so sorry. You don’t have to trust me. I’ll earn your trust. I’m sorry. I’m an idiot. Please leave me.”
“I forgive you. I love you.” he said over and over.
Her voice was hoarse and dry from all the crying. He gave her a drink from the bottle of water in his car door.
“It will never be the same,” she whimpered against his jacket.
“No,” he said,
“It will be better.”
Across the street, people were crowding outside the doors of St. John’s Lutheran church. It seemed like quite a fuss. The woman asked her husband, “What’s going on over there? I can’t tell if it’s a wedding or a funeral. Who died?”
“It’s a Good Friday service,” He replied.