Darkness fades as my eyes flutter open and slowly adjust to my surroundings. I wonder where I am. I recognise the seashell curtains, I then know I'm in the bed of the "other man". I feel a twinge of guilt and indulgence as I reflect on The Affair and its progression. How I could feel so at ease with leading this double life?
Leaning over Marcus, I brush up against his tanned body which is lusciously wanton, almost ensnared between the periwinkle blue sheets. He smells so good. My mind languishes briefly over his lusty landscape; so warm and sensual yet so sweet is this forbidden fruit. I strain to make out the evil red glow of the digital clock. Ten pm.
Fuck ! I can't believe it - I'm five hours late !
That's just great , this will be the fourth time this week that I'd be sneaking home later than the original plan or booking that explained my absence. Not that my other life was going anywhere - I could always find the motel room I shared with The Ex. I imagine however that this time there would even more questions . More of the same denials and accusations, which would only make us more determined to lie better next time.
Sighing heavily, I pull on my discarded panties, fishing under the bed for my sundress that I wore especially for my new lover. Fumbling in the darkness for my missing shoe, I soothe his hair back from the slight dampness on his forehead. Sensing me close, he reaches for me in the darkness. I press a warm kiss to his upturned face and again my insides do backflips. I creep out of his unit with the love butterflies still fluttering inside me, for the entire walk home.
The Ex was sitting in almost darkness. Only his scowl was illuminated by the dull glow of Letterman, the tinned laughter doing nothing to detract from the suspense of the situation. I steeled myself for the waves of guilt as I walked in the door, smiling THAT smile. My guilt made my clothes seem invisible, in so many ways I felt naked and dirty. I swore he would smell the slide as I walked past him into the kitchen. The Ex was clever he knew me so well -he says better than I know myself - but that's what I let him think. I'd learnt by having an affair that the less you said - the less you were lying. I went to the pantry, letting my hands skim over the dusty top shelf until I felt the small barrel and the retracted plunger - ready to go. I smiled even though I had done this at least a thousand times before. Heroin would make it all go away.
I flipped the light on as I marched over to The Ex, ready for him to put up a fight about giving me a shot this late at night. I was sick though and I needed it. He had already had his - that was the only way I could get out of the house and not have him panic that I was leaving him.
However, I couldn't hit myself up so it was the one thing I really needed him to do for me - he did it so well. I needed to get high.
Rolling his eyes, he plucked the syringe from my fingers and tapped my vein, jabbing it into my flesh with annoyance. Tonight was different - maybe he had already started to realize that it was over between us, that it was just about the drugs now. I had slept with so many men and he didn't mind - couldn't I do it for me? Couldn't I spread my legs and let a love live between them?
Blood oozed from my arm and I turned my head sharply as he pushed the heroin into the vein, the brown slipping down the needle. Biting on my lip, I felt the heat and warmth flow through my body and I slumped back in total release.
The Ex threw the needle on the floor disgusted so I closed my eyes to our truth. I don't want to talk about it all just yet - I have no more excuses. It's all too hard thesedays - he was my addiction as as much as the dope. I am tired of fighting Junk. I'm tired of fighting him.
I just want to be a normal 23 year old girl. I want something else for my life. I slump further into the seat. I was going to die on this shit.
It had been four years and it wasn't getting prettier.
Ten minutes pass, then five more that seem even longer.
"Are you fucking someone else?"
The Ex speaks to the television, his voice almost murderously light and tense. I raise my eyebrows and exhale deeply, wrenching the shoes from my feet as I lay back on the couch. I take my time to formulate my answer as I light my second cigarette in a row. I look to the ceiling for inspiration as I exhale the smoke.
"No" I say , only mildly suprised.
I wasn't willing to talk about this tonight - besides I didn't know how I felt about Marcus.
I look across to him to show him my lie and make it all smooth again, but he knows my plan and cannot bear to look at my face. The same face that he loved so much but saw so little underneath.
"You're lying - What's his name ? Just tell me please !"
He takes a huge slug from a mug of red wine magically squeezed from the empty cask. I loved how he did that, it was so.. Self-sufficient.
"Not tonight please - I've slaved on my fucking back all day!" I change the channel and wished that the subject would also change but no such luck. Tonight he wanted the truth. Sigh.
Then I had a stupid idea. Heroin only gave me more confidence that I needed to bolster me up and I went with it. I thought maybe the truth would set us free, everything about us needed some cold reality. I had it in bucket loads to give away. I knew I wanted out. Maybe he did too?
I knew what had to be done but I too, was afraid. I was nothing special for loving another man.
I needed to deal with The Ex first.
Even thought I knew how delicate and co-dependent The Ex was , I still loved him very much and wanted to stop treating him like a fool. He was many things; a liar, cheat and manipulator but he never amongst fools.
"I'm not in love with anyone else - if that's what your asking."
I smiled but it fouled in the air between us. None of it seemed real anymore - I'd become a whore even with my own boyfriend. I didn't have a soul to share with him - I had fallen out of love and it hurt to be a fraud.
"You think I'm a fool ? Babe, I know you're seeing someone - I've heard things from other people. I feel it." he said.
"Look at me please" I begged him although I didn't know if I could hide my eyes anymore.
"I can't baby - I know some guy has his dick in you and that you like it. It's all over your guilty fucking face !" gleaming tears budded from his blue eyes, melting like sapphire down his face.
"I still love you" I whispered, closing my eyes in pain. It was a confession not a revelation and it wounded him deep. I lowered my eyes and started to cry out my skeletons.
"All I asked for is the truth - you've stolen my heart forever and I'm falling fast" He held out his hand and we grip hands so tight that our knuckles went white. I stared into those eyes of pain and my heart broke in time with his.
"How long?" He looked at me for the first time and I saw no hate only Pain.
"Three months." I knew he wanted to know everything - but he also didn't.
"It's just sex though - right?"
He searched my eyes frantically, when his hope met no reflection he made a strangling sound, gazing steadfastly at the floor as tears splashed into his wine.
"I don't know...maybe more ...I just don't know"
I realized that this was not the right answer as soon as I said it.
The room started to cramp around me as our faces deformed in the cruel light that tension brings.
"Does he know about the Junk? Does he fucking know about me? Does he know what you fucking do for a living - Wake up to yourself ?!" "Fuck!!"
He slammed the wardrobe door and grabbed his jacket.
"No ! He doesn't - it all just happened and I have been feeling so tortured - " I pleaded
He snorted with derision, stalking around the loungeroom now, gathering momentum.
"Do you want to be with him ?? So you want to throw all of this away - Our hopes, our dreams our life" he screamed as his hands swiped the counter of photographs and knick knacks. I watched in silence as they danced in mid-air and then shattered on the tiles.
Then he was gone. Of course I followed him.
It's raining cats and dogs outside so I have no idea where he is. I just know he is going to kill himself for real this time. I just know how it is with him. I've pushed him too far and now he has nothing to live for. Should I just let him go ? Save myself and wash my hands of this man? Go back to being a teenager and having fun with my friends and my old life I loved ?? Leave him to the fate of a heroin addict - turn my back on him and run for my life ? Could I do that?
No. It couldn't end like that - I'm a loyal fool.
Therefore, I'm pounding barefoot alongside the busy road, screaming into the wet, my eyes aching from peering into the darkness. Cars beep and swerve as I scamper up the highway ignoring the wolf-whistles as I bolt down towards the main road. First I see lights and then I feel chaos. Where is he ? That's all I can think and I don't think of Marcus anymore. I feel one half of me is bloody and raw and I have to stem the bleeding. He is my best friend, the one who knows me. He won't be hurt and he won't die because he can't - that's the end of it.
I have to stem this hurt I made - I must find him!
Screeching tires and horns startle me as I spin around breathless, my dress slick to my body and my hair laced onto my face from the cold rain.
I gasp when I see him, standing in the middle of the road, lurching drunk in front of cars. Oh my god. My legs are wobbling as I run but I must reach him in time.
I'm screaming so loud and not one single person cares they just keep driving through the midnight rain. Cars whiz around his sagging silhouette, hopeless tears getting lost in the raindrops.
He walks into the oncoming path of a car and the whole world...Stops.
I close my eyes and touch god with deep hope. My breath floats in my throat and the horns and the lights fade ..Beat passes and beat resumes as my eyes fly open. He is still there.
I vomit into the gutter and the world starts spinning faster, rocking under my feet. Regardless, I start to negotiate the traffic to rescue him, I want bring him back to our home alive.
I say his name , over and over but it's not working. It's not fucking reaching him at all.
"Baby ! I love you - Please it's not worth it baby - It's over ok??? OK????"
I approach him slowly, I see his nose is bleeding and so is his left hand. I'm trembling but it's not from the cold. I'm frightened but not as much as him.
"Do you want to die?" It was not a dramatic question. He was that lost.
"Why not" He shrugged to the heavens like it hurt to mention them, stars like daggers that only made it harder to pass.
I offer my hand but he refuses to take it. I beg him take it but he seems only cold and vacant.
A truck hurtles past him and he wobbles in the wind, drunk and upset.
"No-one loves me anymore. You were the last one. The Last One ! Imagine that ! So now, I just want to die bubby" He ages a thousand years in the orange glow of the streetlights yet to me he can only be my little boy lost.
"NO! You can't leave me baby! Please listen to me, we'll work this out - please just come off the road!" It's still not getting through and he seems only more certain.
"It's over. Look at me! Look at me!!!" I plead at him, ready to put myself in front of the speeding traffic. I challenge him -
"If you go - I GO !" I grit my teeth and step out into the road. I surprise even myself at my passion.
Is this love or obsession? "Don't think I won't - Don't you fucking dare !" Tears and more tears.
The Ex doesn't look directly at me yet he yanks me back from the bus that whizzes by, mere inches from where I was standing. He then takes my outstretched hand and in that moment I am totally for him. I'm totally for "us". I don't know how I will move on from this - or escape this hold but maybe time will tell. The planet of regret will keep on spinning for one more day and many more nights.
"You look like a drowned rat baby."
He smiles and leans in to kiss me, as the traffic whirrs and buzzes around us, and the rain seals the deal like confetti, when everything has a chance to be clean and pure again.
"I want to know everything - no more lies ok?."
"No more lies" I agreed.
That was my biggest lie yet