Elliot never bought clothes, perfume or makeup like Edward and only on occasion flowers or jewelry. Our relationship soon settled into domestic routine, time together no longer needed heavy discourse. We chatted news but didn’t need to learn more about one another. It was comfortable to just be together, like being with your dog, so domestic, I flirted with others for excitement.
Then it happened. It was on the second anniversary of the Governor Hotel window lipstick smear. In the morning, I took hubby to catch a flight out of town, put a small pot roast in the apartment’s little oven, set the temperature at 280 degrees, left and returned with a new apron to complete our anniversary dinner. When Elliot arrived, he brought a special bottle of wine.
He went into the bedroom, came out still holding the wine, fussed about, lifted out the cork, poured us each a glass but was nervous, his anniversary toast strained. He stared askance from me as the glasses clinked together. Something was up.
He's going to dump me. He's figuring how to broach the subject.
He walked about, restless, our conversation stilted, trite things said but odd, not fitting. In the kitchen, he started to slice the pot roast. I lit 2 candles then sauntered to the kitchen to bring the half empty wine bottle to the table. As I passed, he stopped carving, took my hand, led me to the sofa and sat me down.
Don’t plead for the last word or claim to have known as Enrico did when dumped. Just say I understand. Act hurt, give him a tear. Placate his male ego. Let him think he’s being noble; they always want to be noble.
"I sat you down because I have something to say".
He must think I'm going to faint. Perhaps I should swain to enhance my act?
Instead of saying it, he went to the bedroom.
Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s something I’ve done, just a spat.
He came back, something concealed in his right hand.
Perhaps it's something I brought here which upsets him. What’d I bring to the bedroom? What’s in his paw?
He stretched open his hand and revealed a small jewelry box. My suppressed mirth over being so concerned changed to anxiety due to his grave demeanor as he handed it to me. I turned aside, and slowly opened it.
Inside was a diamond engagement ring. A tear welled up. I was stunned, in a quandary of remorse, guilt swept into me. He finally said what he’d suppressed saying.
"Will you marry me?"
Saying nothing, I jumped up and ran to the bathroom, without the ring. On the toilet, I tried to compose myself. After a while he tapped on the door but I could only croak out the word.
Sitting there, I thought about family, husband, children, how much I loved them, how I couldn’t hurt them, how I betrayed them being in this apartment, how much they were my life and how I needed them.
I don’t love Elliot. I only blurted that once due to the excitement of seeing the apartment. I’ve used him, to placate loneliness, for intrigue, to ensure self-esteem, for excitement, for sex but most of all because I enjoyed taming the rooster.
To love someone, you must admire them. Elliot, what’s to admire? What’s he done? Played golf, dissipated his life on a golf course, “professor golf” that sums him up. He’s never accomplished anything other than seducing women yet I turned the tables and seduced him. Now he wants me but I don’t want him, he bores me.
The latter thought summed it up. I re-entered the living room, still wearing my apron, our dinner cold and abandoned. He hadn’t moved, was looking down at the ring in its box. I sat next to him. I prepared for a rejection confrontation but instead he knelt and put his head on my lap. I ran my fingers through his rooster hair, its pomade to hold up his comb greased my fingers.
Not picking up the ring and putting it on said it all. I just needed to let him save face. Tears, honest ones, not the ones I was preparing for his dumping, streamed down my face, tears for my truth.
“I never thought you were serious. I’ll never leave my husband. You need to find a good woman, get married, have children, children you can teach to play golf. I’ve used you, selfishly. I’m not the person you think. I’m no good for you.”
I told him the truth but then lied.
“Yes, I do love you but it’s an impossible love, a forbidden love.”
He got up, looked at our anniversary dinner forgotten and abandoned as a diversion.
Thank God, he swallowed it, believes me.
Just like that it was over. I sat in silence and waited in case he wanted to take me one last time. He made no advance. It was my turn to be awkward. I got up, took off my apron, picked up my purse, kissed him on the forehead, put on my coat and left with only.
I cried as I drove home but again for me, not Elliot. Safely in bed, relief swept me, pleased it was over, my life simplified again. It occurred to me maybe I loved no one, only myself. It didn’t matter. Sleep took me. In the morning, I awoke refreshed to start anew the rest of my life, pleased its first day included picking up hubby at the airport, the man I did admire.
Elliot called only once, to ask if he should bring by my things from the apartment or if I wanted to get them. I told him to give them to the Salvation Army. We kept no contact but once afterwards, at my husband's request, I dined at the golf course cottage restaurant. The hens were happily clucked and cooed while taking our orders. Their rooster was back crowing. Elliot observed us afar during our meal. When the bill came, the waitress handed me an inflated Salvation Army deposit receipt for $1,000. Hubby asked what it was about as he picked up the bill. I told him it was for the golf clubs I’d donated to the Salvation Army when I gave up golf. I never filed it with IRS.
I never went back but my ears perked up whenever others talked about him. Passing the apartment, I always looked up. One day the corner room Venetian blinds and lace curtains were gone replaced by pull down shades. I wondered who pulled them down. I accepted my secret place for people watching was gone.
Is someone eyeing me from there?
I quickly turned around and strode out of window sight.
Years later, my daughter-in-law went to the golf course with a girlfriend. Afterwards they told me about an old guy who wanted to give them golf lessons, a guy who got too close, who told them how to hold the club, a space invader. He never married. He kept his privileged life of professor golf, seducer to the end, his life one of circle laps on a golf course. I’m sure many trophies were added to his upstairs buck pad but mine’s not there.
The couple of times we met by accident. We pretended not to see one another. The last time I saw him, two years ago, I was shocked how old he appeared and expect he was shocked too, seeing me.
Author Notes: An affair ends with wife recommiting with her husband, the only man she admires and loves.