She begged him to come back.
I hear my husband Dave in the kitchen. There’s a clink of ice, a slosh of something liquid, and I look over to see him with a glass in his hand. Scotch on the rocks. It’s not his habit to have a drink alone. In fact, we don’t usually have alcohol in the house.
He sets the drink down carefully on the dining room table. I turn back to the TV.
“Is your show almost done?” Dave asks. “Can you come sit at the table?”
“Why?” I say.
He doesn’t answer. I get up, flip off the TV, and move to join him at the table. As I sit I see that he has his drink and a pad of paper in front of him.
“I have to tell you something and I want you to let me get through it without interrupting me because it will be hard for me.”
My mouth goes dry, but I nod. He’s been fired! But in that nano-second way thoughts have of firing, that one is instantly rejected. Dave was a freelance writer for many years and would not be worried to be back on his own.
“Number one,” he says, looking down at his paper, “About 10 years ago, when we’d been married a couple of years, I had an affair. It was someone in radio, someone I knew from being in the band, and I ended it pretty quickly.”
My heart thuds. Not Dave! He’s not the type! I cling to the words 10 years ago, and I ended it. Okay, a youthful mistake. I can take it! Plenty of couples get through this. But Dave goes on.
“Number two: I’ve been using escorts on my business trips.” A sound rises in me, a roar that sounds like no, no, no. Flashes of soulless, transactional sex assault me but I refuse to look at them. I stare straight ahead, not blinking, not breathing.
“You know what escorts are, don’t you?” he adds, and here a rabbit hole opens and swallows me. I feel myself sinking to the floor, reaching for the hardwood, but it seems to slide away from me. The surreality of his confession combined with the absurdity of the question short circuit something in my brain. Do I know what escorts are?!
Waves of heat and nausea wash over me. “I’m going to be sick.” I begin peeling off my sweatshirt. Dave doesn’t move and I know there’s more.
“Say it! Just say it!” I cry, not meaning it. I have to get away! I consider crawling under the table but feel too dizzy to move. I stay on my knees, gripping my thighs.
“Three weeks ago,” he says, “when I was away, I met someone…”
But I’m undone. Unloosed. Unhinged. Have you ever felt the sky fall? It’s unbearably heavy when it breaks. You feel the weight of the air, every molecule of it, pressing down. I scramble on the floor in a sort of stunned crab-crawl. I can’t get up. I’m being crushed, suffocated. White-hot, blinding terror envelops me like a blanket and I’m sure I’m going to die. Dave does nothing to help me and that’s when I know I’m already gone, that I must never have existed.