After all this time, I still hope he leaves you.
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. We sit across from one another, reaching over the table to touch hands, caressing thumbs with the tenderness of a violin player. We must be touching, always touching. We joke and laugh, we talk, we sit in pure adoration. I know every inch of his face and he knows every inch of mine. I order his food (one Belgium waffle on the soft side, a plate of crispy bacon) and he orders mine (a short stack, no butter, a bowl of fruit, a side of extra crispy bacon). We sit, together in our love, relishing every second.
A car pulls up outside and warrants his cursory glance. The glance holds on a bit too long. The couple in the car comes inside and he follows their every move. They sit two booths behind us. He stares for a moment, then snatches his hands back from the table. The divot in his ring finger catches the light, reminding me of the torture I so often hide when we’re together. He fumbles in his pocket, quick with fear, and slips his platinum wedding band back on his finger. My heart is in shambles. We get the bill and pay for our unfinished food. Outside, he apologises. I say nothing and drive home alone in tears.
But it still stings just as much as the first time we ran into a relative of his and I had to “hide behind the oranges” in the grocery store. In truth, this was an infrequent occurrence. Maybe that made it worse? I’ll never know for sure. I suppose the fault is mine. If I had never let things progress, I wouldn’t feel the hurt tugging on my heartstrings when we needed to disguise our relationship or feel the jealousy when he went home to his wife, as he always did.
So why did I do it? Why does anyone do it? At the start of it all, the perks of the situation swam happily in my mind. Imagine the freedom! Imagine the absence of committed responsibility! I was a secure, confident woman and was not willing to compromise my life for a relationship and everything that came with it. Like most modern women, I felt I only needed a man for one thing, and a coupled lifestyle was not that thing. So I figured, who better than a married man? Moreover, a married man with kids! He had his responsibilities with his wife and family. There would be no awkward morning-afters, no constant phone calls or texts. I could have all the space I wanted and I would hear no complaints from his end. It would be easy and stress-free.
But what started out as a simple, no-strings-attached relationship (or at least the illusion of one) evolved into much more. You can never have your cake and eat it too. Maybe it was the jolt of electricity we both felt when we first met and shook hands or maybe it was our mutual understanding of the other’s troubles. Either way, we grew to rely on one another. We became each other’s go-to when one of us needed support. And the casual friendship-with-benefits morphed into a caring, loving relationship. I could see the aurora dancing in his eyes when he saw me, and he could see the sparkle in mine. We knew each other inside and out, our lives so intertwined we were hard to tell apart.