05:05 am. My eyes open. A faint pearly blade of light squeezing past the blind. The distant metallic scrape of a moving tram.
I lie here in the dawn’s dimness, with my dreams still lingering.
“I am a happily married man and I am not looking for any other arrangement. I would ask that you please do not contact me again.”
I reach for my phone. The last words of his last message haunt me. It seems impossible that it is “over”, even if our relationship was only ever a virtual one.
“What time is it?” my husband murmurs beside me. “Early,” I say.
He reaches for my phone. “I’m in the middle of an email!”
He reaches for me instead. With a grunt of frustration, I fling his arm off me and get out of bed.
06:14 am. I am preparing lunch for my three-year-old daughter – marmalade sandwich, sliced banana – when I hear the soft ping of an incoming email. I pick up my phone. Feel the familiar sting when I see that it’s not from him.
I stand, staring out the kitchen window at the long shadow of the neighboring apartment stretching across the river’s waters. I wonder how I let it get so far. How it became all consuming. I think of the hours spent scrolling through his messages, especially the ones where he said he understood me.
“I get you,” he would say. “We’re on the same page.”
He was a marketing executive for an agency I write copy for, or at least I used to, and our contact, at first, was purely professional. But I quickly became drawn to him – and I thought we shared a connection.
My daughter is standing at the kitchen entrance. Tousled blonde hair, unicorn PJs, her stuffed monkey doll dangling from her hand. Swamped in my thoughts I hadn’t heard her coming down the hallway.
07:04 am. My husband is running late. And he has to drop off our daughter to kindergarten on his way to work. I sit down to try and help put on her sandals.
“I’ll do it!” she says defiantly.
She fumbles with the sandal strap. I reach over and raise the prongless buckle. She realises I am trying to help and squeals with rage, yanking her sandal off with both hands.
“For God’s sake!” my husband says impatiently. “Why didn’t you just let her do it?”
I give him the birdie behind her back.
07:10 am. My daughter’s pouting face is the last thing I see as the lift doors seal.
07:11 am. I turn on my laptop. Elsa from Frozen is my user icon – something I set up to make my daughter happy. What would it be like to have Elsa’s power? How long would it take before I turned my husband into ice?