I was weary, I wanted us back too. I just wasn’t sure if we would still be us or things would ever remain the same. She had tried and failed to control her emotions. I didn’t miss the look of rejection on her face when I had pulled my hand away.
I wanted to know just how much she wanted us back, how far she was willing to go. I needed her to answer the questions that hovered between us. Even though she said she was willing to wait till I healed, till I could trust her, I wondered if she understood that the possibility of ever trusting her was fragile.
So I repeated my question, “what if I don’t want you back Liv?”
She still looked shocked, “I know what I did doesn’t qualify as a mistake, I know I hurt you but I am not giving you up easily, I’m not giving us up. I know things may not be the same, I hope it will be better,” she replied.
“I am sorry Felix, I really am.” She reached out to me but I pulled my hands away again not ready for any form of contact. She seemed broken, tears still raining down her face.
I ignored her tears, “sorry doesn’t cut it Liv. You don’t do something of that gravity and expect me to be okay with it just because you say so or suddenly feel remorseful.”
She nodded as if she understood. Her lips were quivering. I wanted to fuck off from here but oh hell, why not get on with it.
“I assume he is still in the picture.” I handed her my hankie, unable to act indifferent as if her tears didn’t affect me. It was much safer than pulling her into my arms. Her eyes grew wider at my gesture.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
I nodded waiting for her to answer.
“No,” she sniffed.
“She is no longer in the picture.” Liv closed her eyes as she took my hankie first to her nose, breathed it in and wiped her eyes.
It wasn’t a man after all and knowing it was a woman wasn’t any better. I couldn’t believe my ears, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know she was into women. I was stunned.
“Who is she?” I asked weakly.
She hesitated as if making the decision to answer or not, “I don’t think it matters.”
Was she serious? She was going to answer my questions, she owed me that much.
“It’s not about what you think Liv, I decide what matters or not. You fucking owe me answers!-”
“She is the realtor.” She cut me short.
It took me several seconds for her response to sink in.
“What did you say?”
“The realtor. Laurette James.”
What the fuck! The fucking realtor had been screwing my wife! Right under my nose, how had I missed this?
“Yes. Laurette James,” she affirmed.
After several seconds of silence, I asked, “how many times?”
“You heard me.”
“You wanted us to talk, to get past this Liv. You asked for this. You better start answering my damn questions!” I told her. I was hurt and I knew rehashing this wasn’t healthy, yet I couldn’t help but ask. I wanted to know.
“A few times.”
“What the fuck is a few times?”
“I d-don’t know, three,” she replied quietly.
Wow! Son of a gun! Knowing didn’t help. She kept count. I wanted to leave yet I wanted to know more. Once could pass as a mistake but twice… I was overwhelmed.
She was hesitant.
“Don’t back out now Liv. I really want to know” I pressed.
“Two months ago”
I felt myself implode as the pieces began to fall into place.
“It didn’t mean anything. She didn’t mean anything”
She wasn’t fucking trying to justify herself right now. “Yet you screwed her thrice Liv, how does that mean nothing?”
Fresh tears started pouring down her eyes. She swallowed hard.
I was worse than overwhelmed.
“Honey please don’t-”
“Fucking answer me!” I said coolly. I was trying to keep it together.
“Twice at her office and once in her house.” Her eyes were raining tears
“You fucked her in her house?” My mouth went dry and my tongue became heavy. This was too much.
She nodded, “I am so sorry Felix. She didn’t mean anything, please.”
I wished she could stop apologising, I wish she could stop trying to make things lighter as it only made me feel worse. Liv suddenly felt like a stranger to me- like I didn’t know who she was. Had I been married and living with a stranger for the past six years?
“If you could screw her thrice, it means I am clearly not good enough for you. I don’t see how we can work out.”
“No, Liv. You don’t get to call me that.”
“I’m so sorry hon-Felix. Please-”
Her eyes were red and swollen and as much as I wanted to comfort her, I just couldn’t.
I could see the pain he had tried to make blank in his eyes, hear the hurt in his voice. I remembered the first time I met Laurette. She was every man’s wet dream in the flesh and who most women aspired to be, at least I thought so. She had the perfect body and dressed in a way that subtly turned heads as if flirting with your mind. She was smart and ambitious, she was fun, extremely easy to talk to and a great listener.
She had the right answers to everything. I must confess, she was the woman I wanted to be and I guess it wasn’t hard for me to fall in line when she started a conversation with me at the bar where I waited for Felix to show up. We had a small talk where I got to know what she did and where she lived, and we exchanged contacts some minutes before Felix showed up. He politely apologised for being late, acknowledged Laurette’s presence as I introduced them.
When I thought the questions were over, he asked me softly bringing me out of my thought, “why did you do it?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” I sniffed
“Try me,” he responded.
I sniffed again and stared at him. The tears just wouldn’t stop pouring. I wiped my eyes. I wish I could say that he was indifferent towards me; my feelings, but he hadn’t. I wish I could say that I’d felt neglected at some point but he hadn’t. He wasn’t violent and neither had he been contemptuous towards me. He was supportive, very loving, very kind.
“It was not you Felix.”
He looked at me with surprise, wanting me to continue but I didn’t.
“You are saying I had nothing to do with you cheating on me, that our relationship was perfect?” he asked surprised.
“Yes,” I replied quietly.
I didn’t expect him to understand that Laurette had stirred something within me that I felt was dead. She had made me feel alive; made me experience the blissfulness of being free, of letting go, the desire to live and not just existing. I wasn’t sure when or how I lost that part of myself. But it felt great to have it back, the difference being it wasn’t with him, it had been with Laurette and with that, I realised Felix had never stopped me, I had done that to myself but he had not encouraged me as Laurette did.
“There is no way I can say this without hurting you.”
“You suddenly give a damn about my feelings.” He taunted.
“I wanted to feel something different, to experience something new.”
“You couldn’t experience that with me? I couldn’t give you that?” he asked.
I swallowed hard.
His head was bowed and he was silent for a long time. I wasn’t sure if he could understand.
“W-what… What did it mean to you, whatever new thing you wanted to feel that I couldn’t give you, h… how did that make you feel?”
I swallowed, how could I tell him I felt alive, seen and desired, felt important yet heavily burdened with guilt. How do I tell him that at some point, I felt irrelevant to him, like I didn’t matter and I had wanted to feel longed-for, that it took Laurette to make me realise that I had everything I wanted, that I was complete with him and all the while I was sinking in self-loathing, feeling I wasn’t good enough. Each time, Laurette and I were together, I felt good and I felt guilty.
“Why now Liv? Did you think I would find out, did she try to blackmail you?” He watched me closely.
“I love you, Felix. I really do. I know this is hard for you to believe but I value you, I value us. I know I have wronged you but what we have, what we have is better than special. I see that now.”
He started to laugh, startling me. I wondered what he found amusing.
“You say this thing you had with her is over?”
I nodded my head, wiping my eyes. By now, his hankie was soaked. As if detecting my dismay, he handed me another hankie and continued his questions.
“How does that make you feel?”
“I ended it.”
“How did it make you feel?” he repeated.
“Good because I ended it, better because now you know,” I told him, his expression was unreadable as he stared at me. I couldn’t bear to look him in the eyes. I couldn’t read his expression. I was truly sorry. After a long deafening silence, he stood up and left.