The light was what woke me. It was that keen, all white, late morning, through the blinds light that signals sleeping too late, drinking too much, wasting another morning that would not be appreciated. I surveyed the bed first. I was alone and I was fairly certain there had been a small child beside me at some point. That would make sense since there were stuffed animals at the foot of the bed and cartoon characters on the sheets. This was her bed. My younger daughter’s. And I was in it. That made sense too since I had slept in this bed almost exclusively for over a year. I surveyed myself next. Pajamas. Yes. Face washed. No. Hair a serious mess. Head only slightly aching. A good sign since I was also pretty sure I had been seriously drunk the night before. What else? The ache tinged a bit as I tried to recall the evening prior. Drinks. Dinner with husband and girls. More drinks. Drive home. Getting upset. A bath maybe. That’s it. How I got into pajamas and in bed were gone. Not just blurry, but gone.
I rolled over in the bed just as he entered the doorway of the room. His face said it all. Whatever had disappeared into that blur, then oblivion, was bad. Serious talk bad. That’s when I noticed how quiet it was in the house. No TV blaring Disney channel. No high pitched voices singing or laughing or bickering or crying. The lack of this last noise rattled me to movement and I sat up slowly as he moved over to the bed and began to speak. I cut him off asking where the girls were. They are with your sister. Why? He was calm and spoke slowly. After some soothing words to open he stated simply he knew. He knew everything. He didn’t stop talking, but something inside me stopped all other functions and jolt of fear pierced me, but only for the split of a split second. What followed was a cool wash of relief. It was done. Over. And I was finally happy.
Then I was furious. He’d had me followed. He had photos. He was divorcing me and taking the girls and selling the house. He had a checklist and was rattling off bullet points of what had been months of planning. I was told just two minutes ago that my life of 10 years was over and the future of familial, social and economic ruin would begin immediately. Well, maybe after I brush my teeth. I stopped him. No. That is not how this would go. Divorce yes. But everything else he said was dead wrong. No one was taking my children. No one was taking my house. True – I didn’t have a job. True – I was a dirty whore who cheated on my husband. Twice. True – I had a drinking problem. But no one was going to take control of my life. The conversation was over. The rest of my life now had to begin.
Step one. Get up out of bed. Step two. Walk across house while avoiding him. Step three. Take shower. Step four. Get dressed. This was a tough one. What does one wear for the first day of the rest of her life? I chose a Moroccan patterned sun dress. It was a little snug but I could wear it without a bra and simple sandals. I also skipped makeup, something I rarely if ever did outside of trips to the doctor or to have babies. I put my hair up into a messy bun and looked at myself. My eyes were dark ringed and red. My skin was tan but sallow. I looked persecuted. Pitiful. Pathetic. Perfect. I walked into the open great room and began to gather my purse, phone and keys. He came in and asked me to keep in touch, even if not with him then with my parents. Let someone know where you are he said, with this sympathetic look of good bye and satisfaction on his face. I glared back at him as if he was speaking a foreign language. Was he insane? What did he think was happening? Where did he think I was going? His look turned to confusion when he saw the anger explode across my face.
I’m going to pick up my children and take them to their dentist appointment.
He couldn’t hide his disappointment. It was apparent he thought I was leaving, possibly for good. It was plausible wasn’t it? If I was capable of cheating, surely I was capable of walking out of my life, my children, everything? Even now, I believe this was the cumulation of a dozen years spent with someone who never, ever really knew anything about me. He knew what I had done and who I had done it with. He knew where we’d been and how often we met. He knew how he was going to tell me and how he was going to pick up the pieces of his life and move on. He knew all these things for months and knew exactly how this scenario was going to play out. The look on his face now proved he didn’t know shit. Nothing would go like he planned. And for the second time that morning, I knew what real happiness was.