My father cheated on my mother for christ’s sake. I ought to know better.
I sit patiently waiting for my phone to vibrate. He said he would call, or text me at least. But nothing. Has he changed his mind? Has our sordid secret been revealed? My stomach is in knots- I feel like I am sixteen waiting for my crush to tell me he likes me. Far too innocent, far too naive.
This isn’t innocent though I can’t even claim naivety- I know full well what I am doing, as does he.
How have I reached this low? Sitting and staring at a silent phone- waiting. Torturing myself. He told me he would ring at seven. It’s six minutes past.
Only last night he told me he needed me. That counts for something, right? We have whispered in hushed tones on the phone. Told one another in excruciating detail how we would seduce the other. I have never felt like this before. I hang on every word he says and replay it in my mind…over and over.
Two children; seven and nine. Oh god, I’m evil. What kind of woman breaks up a family unit?
No. It’s not my fault. I am entitled to be happy aren’t I? The baggage is his: not mine.
Nine minutes past- why has he not called me?! My stomach starts to churn. I wish I could ring him but I promised I never would. What if he’s been in an accident? Or something terrible has happened? How would I ever find out?
My hands become clammy at the thought. This isn’t some flippant romance. I love him. We have discussed a mini break away- where we can be a couple. Free to hold hands. Free to walk around together. Free to be in love. Around here it is simply impossible.
Eleven minutes past- silence.
What could he possibly be doing? A simple text to say he’s caught in traffic would do. Anything to put my mind at ease.
I wonder what it’s like to be his wife. 37, a teacher with two children. A friend of a friend knows her- amicable but fairly dull, I hear. It’s no wonder my lover is bored, ready for some new excitement, ready to be freed again, ready to love me.
I wonder if that’s why he seldom mentions her? For there are few interesting things to say? Or maybe, it would be inappropriate to discuss one’s wife with one’s mistress.
Fourteen minutes past- this is torture.
I am not used to this. My past relationships have all been straightforward. I suppose it’s quite romantic really. Maybe love really does “conquer all.” All true love stories involve a couple facing obstacles in their lives. We are Romeo and Juliet, if you will. Well, we would be if only he’d bloody ring as promised.
Then my phone goes. I jump. My heart jumps. I count to five and put on my “I haven’t just been waiting at the phone for 17 minutes” voice.
We discuss a few sweet nothings. “Darling I can’t chat for long” he tells me, “Susan has invited her sister over for dinner so I have to be my most sociable self. But shall we speak tomorrow at 7, as always?” He asks.
I feel hurt. I am hurt.
Sympathetically I agree ofcourse. He hangs up- doesn’t mess around. 1 minute 37 seconds of his time spared for me.
I am angry. Do I have a right to be? Do I have a claim to him? Surely not. His wife and sister-in-law are his priority. For now. When him and I are together, officially it shall be different. It’s mere circumstance.
The following morning I meet my sister for a coffee and tell her about my new man. “Mum and dad?!?” She scowls at me. “Did that whole period of our lives mean NOTHING to you? Did it not affect you, not teach you anything?” She glares at me.
I tell her that it isn’t like that. I tell her that it’s the real deal. She tuts in the same way she used to when we were little- this is her typical bossy big sister act.
“You’re a fool. It never happens, nothing will come of it. He is married he has children. You are some silly girl that he can turn to in his hour of boredom.” She spat at me.
I can feel tears prick my eyes. I won’t even look her in the eye. How could she be so cruel? She doesn’t know what it’s like.
“Look, I can’t tell you how to live your life…but soon you will realise. First he will say he will call and then he won’t, then he will prioritise family obligations before this silly affair and then he will tell you he is leaving his wife but never will. You will put your life on hold for nothing, trust me.”
I give her the greatest look of disgust that I can muster up. I take the last sip of my luke warm coffee and then stand up to leave. As I walk away she shouts over; “what time does he ring you each day?” I reply “seven.” “When you first met him what time did he ring you at?” “Seven” I retort boldly. “And today what time did he ring you at?” I stare her in the eye challengingly “Seven.”
As I walk away, my brain mutters over and over… and 17 minutes past.