Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Did You Wear A Condom?--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

     Tuesday, November 27

     JB left the house this morning and sent me this text.

     “You were right to say yesterday that I haven't earned your trust. I need to clear the decks with you of all the stupid things I've done. The stress of it all is taking a toll. I want to be a better husband, father and man. I've got a ways to go...”

     I read JB’s text several times. I felt dizzier with each read. I put my phone away. I’d deal with this in person. I sat for what felt like a long time feeling ill. Then I mentally shelved what was going on. I began working on the novel I was writing then left to teach a yoga client. When I got home from yoga, JB was making spaghetti for dinner. Tom, twelve and in sixth grade, hopped in the shower after dinner and I walked over to JB who, as usual, was sitting at a computer.
     “What do you need to come clean about?” I asked.
     JB swiveled in his chair. He nervously glanced at me then stared at the floor.
     “I fooled around when I was in Thailand,” he said. JB’d been in Thailand a few weeks ago. “I don’t know why I did it but I did it. She was from Australia. She was there for the same conference. We were drinking in the bar. She invited me back to her room and I went. I don’t know why I went but I did.”
     “You had sex with her?”
     “Did you wear a condom?”
     “Yes. But she gave me a blow job.”
     That was weird. Everything he said felt odd and prefabricated.
     “Did you have sex with anyone else?” I asked.
     “No. That was the only time.”
     “What about debt? We were talking about money before you said I was right not to trust you. Is there debt you need to tell me about?”
     “No debt?”
     I walked away. It felt like I was gliding. I slid into our bedroom and stopped in the middle of the floor. I smiled. I walked into my closet. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t want JB seeing I was happy. I pressed my palms together, looked at the ceiling, and whispered, “Thank-you.” I started giggling. I put on my serious face and walked out.
     “I’m going for a drive,” I said. “I need to process this.”
     I pulled away from the house not knowing where I was going. I wanted to talk to someone but didn’t know who. Paul. I’d call Paul then buy myself a present. I pulled into a shopping mall parking lot. I turned off my car and froze. I was paralyzed. Eventually I pulled out my phone and dialed Paul.
     Paul and I have known each other thirty years. He and I’d gone out to dinner after my father died of cancer and I told him, “Not once did JB ask about my dad. He never asked how I was either. Hospice put my dad’s hospital bed in his living room. I was sitting on it feeding him cherry Jell-O and he asked, ‘Is JB ever going to come see me?’ I couldn’t breathe. I made up some excuse and changed the subject. When JB walked through the door that night I screamed, ‘Are you planning on seeing my father? He's fucking dying! He’s been so good to you and you don’t give a shit!’ JB stood there like a mannequin then said, ‘Oh, well, I was planning to go this weekend.’ I don’t like him Paul. I don’t like JB at all.”
     Paul’s phone rang. “What’s happening?” he answered.
     “JB cheated on me.”
     “No. No fucking way.”
     “Yes fucking way.”
     “How do you know?”
     “He told me.”
     “He told you?”
     “He told me.” I started laughing.
     “Well, it’s good you’re laughing, I guess.”
     “I can leave him,” I said. “Seven months ago I hit my knees, told God I couldn't take my miserable marriage anymore, and said, ‘Give me a sign and make it perfectly clear if I should stay or if I should go.’ I get to go now. If I’d gone to Thailand with JB instead of Spain, he wouldn’t have done whatever the fuck he did. I’d still be stuck. JB wanted me to ditch his business trip to Spain and go to Thailand instead. Thank God I didn’t.”
     “Well, congratulations.” Paul laughed. “Hey JB, thanks. I get to hang out with your wife more.” 
     I walked into the store. The world felt surreal. I glided around and picked out a grey merino wool sweater with tiny white buttons running up the sleeves. A sales woman began ringing me up and my text alert went off.

     “I'll stay in Tom’s room tonight,” JB texted.

     Tom had moved into Blake’s room after Blake went to college. I crawled into the middle of my bed and stretched out. It felt weird, but good weird.

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