You brought home a girl for Thanksgiving and she’s beautiful. Just like I thought she’d be; just the opposite of me. A petite angelic blonde.
I was expecting it, honestly. I was ready for it to sting.
The news came with a call from my mother, late the other night. She found the pictures by accident and sent them to me; you were there in the frame with the blonde, posed sweetly in your childhood home. The home I grew up in with you, the home we lived the first weeks we were married, the home with our high school ghosts and long kisses and late nights and wine and dinners and the love of your family. This alone feels like a betrayal—how dare they love someone in my place, let her into walls they’d shared with me, tell her she’s beautiful, surround her with grace, forget to punish you for the love you withheld from me.
But then it got worse. It was a punch straight to the bruise I thought I had healed. A dagger pushed slowly into the softest part of my heart.
It’s poetic, really. How else could this have gone? The man I left when he swore he never wanted children now has a girlfriend with a child. This ending makes the least sense, so I suppose it is the way it must be. The writer in me appreciates it. The human in me is stunned.
You looked at me dead-eyed as I wept; you were certain. Never mind the house we’d bought with rooms for children or the timeline we’d sketched out. Children were not for you. Ever.
That’s what happened, you remember, even if the only thing you tell her now is that I was crazy. I have to keep convincing myself that I wasn’t—which I suspect is a symptom of your pathology rather than mine, but I can’t seem to stop. I hope she doesn’t fall for it. I hope she’s level-headed. I hope she knows what she’s signed up for. As we all know, love should be entire, a knowledgeable yes to the good and the bad, though I suspect you are still burying me in half-truths. I can’t stand the thought of that, where my version of reality exists no where but in my head.
I wonder what she knows. I hate to think of her with you, wandering through my house, touching my things, trying on my shower, my closets, my bed. Doing the things I never could do without even saying my name.
Did you tell her when you took her camping that I’d bought you that gear the winter you moved into the guest room? How I thought we could reconnect somewhere quiet, somewhere far away from the bars and friends who’d been keeping you out every night? When you walked through our house with her child in tow, when you picked up our dog and the tent and stored it all in your car, did you tell them I spent extra on the orange one because you took up so much room when you slept? Did you tell her you never found time to take me?
Did you tell her, when you brought her to Temecula, that I’d tried to book us a weekend there? That you’d been distant when you got back from Vegas, that I’d been desperate to draw you back, but that you told me no?
Do you tell her that the shirt you were wearing was a gift from my dad? That the blue hat was a gift from me? That your brunch-and-football dates aren’t special, that they were our dates first?
And does she know about the pregnancy tests? The ones I hid in the bathroom trash? The ones I took in grocery store stalls, too scared to bring them home? How afraid I was of how you’d treat me if you even sensed a breath of life?
Why did I have to live like that? Was the pain you inflicted meant only for me?
And why, how, do you get to keep living while I am still suffering? Do you feel nothing at all?
If she keeps you around does that finally, actually, make me the crazy one? Did I make you up?
Whatever it is, I hope you talk about consent. I hope she never has to tell you no more than once, that she never feels discarded, that you never handle her too roughly or make her feel forgotten.
I hope you talk about the hole in our bedroom wall. I hope she asks about it on a Sunday, on the way to her church, and you tell her it was because I refused to worship you. I hope you let her practice her faith with the respect you could never find for me.
I hope you don’t make fun of her. No jokes about her size, her style, her feminine brain being less than a man’s. I hope you don’t groan, do I have to, when she puts on lingerie.
I hope you’re never unfaithful. I hope you never lie.
I hope she never hurts. I’m gone, I’m glad I’m gone, but I still do.
I’ll always love the sliver of hope that existed deep inside you, and now she has that sliver. Part of me is jealous, part of me is broken, part of me wonders, distantly, why wasn’t it mine, until the better part of me peeks out and just hopes you treat her well. It tastes like injustice, for you to hand over to her what you denied me, but women were not made to be played with. Do better, if you’re capable of it. Godspeed.