Immediate Unknowns
by Ben Nardolilli

Woman 2#

This is what I was told to do since I was a child. I was told to get a real job. Not one down near campus serving coffee and jotting down poetry so I could fancy myself a writer. A real job. One that was steady and was worth the cost of a future tuition. When my parents remembered I was still a child, they told me to always keep the wind to my back. It is hard to do that in Chicago, especially in winter. Everything nearly freezes to death and is only thawed out in March. But I try. Sometimes it works and I get a boost in my walking. If the wind comes directly at me instead, I just tuck my face into a scarf and look down so that the wooly hat absorbs it all.

Now, my grandfather used to tell me to keep the sun on my face. This advice is harder to follow. When it is windy, no matter the direction, I have to look down or else my nose will just break right off. The sun is not in the gutters. The sun is in the sky and I can never see it, though I know it is there. Some of its warmth hits me and I can see my shadow really well. When it’s cloudy I can’t see it at all since everything is pretty dark then.

Always I have lived (and you know this) trying to find things to steady my life. I never could accept the unpredictability of living. There are a few things I like to know before I wake up: where I am going, what I am going to do there, what there is to eat that is healthy and good for me…who is going to hold me at night. I try and get those things settled. If my fate is tired because it has been lived so many times and lonely because it is shared with only one other person who never seems to be around in the morning, so be it. I accept that. Slow and steady, until the grave. You know that will be me.

I worry about him. It’s foolish and I didn’t tell you in the last letter I wrote because everything is so complicated and I know he’s always down there for business and has his excuses, but I think sometimes that he loves you. I have to be honest, and you love my honesty. A long time ago it was true. He loved you and he lost you. Then he loved me and settled for me because he no longer wanted to experience all the darkened empty hours of wondering where you were, and when you were with him what you were thinking. He loved the mystery of you. He kept trying to figure it out but the clues got stale and he picked me up instead, an easy read.

I’m not complaining because I know who I am and what I can do. Slow and steady until the grave. Maybe then I will dance, but right now it’s about doing real work and trying to start a family. Something to come home to other than him because I’m not sure he will always be there, which is a terrible thing to think, I know. But there are times when all I can think of is you and him in a bar and then on the stoop in front of your apartment, and then in your bed, which I shared with you when I visited you and you were desperate for company. If he is sleeping with you, that’s bad, but what bothers me is wondering if he stays around like a cloud of smoke (I know he makes one when I’m not around, I can smell it on his clothes, but maybe it’s to cover up your perfume) and balances your tiny chin on his hand.

Woman 1#

I’m not going to make excuses and I’m not going to lie. But you are never going to ask me and so it isn’t going to be a problem.

Well its spring now. I guess for you then it is a big deal. Real warmth. Snow melting all around you. I just hope the Lake can hold it all. But then if there is a problem, you can go to the Sears Tower and wait it out.

The seasons are one thing I miss. It’s always seventy five degrees here and it only gets hotter. The leaves never fall and there is never any snow. Barely any wind. I guess I wanted it that way. You get to really appreciate the warmth though. It comes and goes in Chicago. Here it is eternal. The sun is always up and the sky is usually clear enough.

You asked me how my love life is and I will tell you this:

I’m seeing a married man. He visits me. He writes me letters and I get them twice a week. It’s old fashioned in a sense but it makes it harder for his wife to discover them. I never write him back or ever call him. I never know when he is coming, in fact. The letters hint at it, but there is no final word. Until he picks up the phone and calls me from the airport, I am in the dark about it.

You know me. That’s what I’ve always wanted, excitement, things happening differently from day to day. The weather can stay the same, but my own life needs to bounce up and down. I want things to be unpredictable. I don’t want to know my whole life and be able to say that in a year, a month, a week, a day, or an hour I will know what is going to happen with any certainty. Except that it will be warm, of course. I want my life to be exciting. I want it to be so exciting it can wake me up and take me out. I want it to mingle with other lives and taste freedom always.

You go to bed the same time every night and have the same thing for dinner and the same man. I don’t. I won’t go into the details because you roll your eyes and though I can’t see them, I know you will do it if I made a list. So I won’t. No list. Things are crazy out here and I like it. The money is good and there is so much open, it’s like I’ve gone to the frontier.

But I’m not a home wrecker. Let me be clear. He came to me. He came to me of his own free will and even if there isn’t any such thing, I wasn’t the cause. I don’t make him get on the plane and drive to my house. If I sleep with him or make love with him, then that’s my choice, but I’m not raping him or throwing myself on his body.

His wife doesn’t know. Maybe she suspects but she doesn’t know. He tells me little about her. He knows I don’t want to hear and most of the time he’s right. There are times however, when part of me does want to know. Maybe it’s just the competitive part of me and it’s all about studying my “rival” but I don’t think it’s that. I’m not trying to win him over. I don’t want him around all the time. She can have him. She can have him every day it she wants. If he comes out here I will see him. If he stays back home I will not follow.

My greatest worry here is that he might love me. Love. I don’t believe in Love with a capital L. Lower case l love, that’s real. I love chocolate, I love driving, I love my privacy, but the big Love I don’t want. It’s too much for me. You love Love, I know that and I respect that. It’s fine. You have someone you Love. Good for you. I’m serious.

He doesn’t tell me this of course, but he has hinted that he shares that Love with me. And I don’t want it. I don’t want him to take me aside and tell me he loves me. I just don’t. Because then it means he doesn’t love her and that he is going to leave her and will move out to California so he can be with me and I don’t want that. I don’t want him waking up next to me every morning. Because after that it means the beginning of the same old same old.

Woman #2

It was a confusing couple of years, wasn’t it? When I think of those days it was like being on the ocean. How did we avoid getting sick? We were tossed around from apartment to apartment, job to job, neither of us knowing what was going to happen. There were men but luckily none of them came between us, except for him, but he was the exception. We’re into different types. Maybe he’s a split personality, I can see that. Wild with you and tame with me. I can’t image him being the same with both of us and pleasing everyone all the time. He did stop pleasing you, you gave him up so generously to me and you never complained or made things difficult for us.

I thought it was so kind of you then.

There is a ring on my finger. Thin, made of gold, with a diamond sitting on the top. A small diamond. I didn’t want anything large and vulgar, just something beautiful and he gave that to me. He managed to afford it. I don’t know how back then, he worked like a pack animal I guess. Had to pay off two rounds of student debts and worked two jobs to do it. He never asked for anything from me. My money was my money. He wouldn’t touch it. Now things have worked out as you know. You saw our house. Our lovely house with a real backyard and a front porch that come summer, I will be able to see fireflies on. It should be wonderful. It’s a warm place, a place for two people to share and get to know one another, not just a cell locked away in a tall building.

A real home.

It’s going to be a wonderful place for little Liza. If it’s a girl we will call her that. We haven’t figured on a name for a boy. Our fathers both want it to be named after them. We’ll see. I’m not happy with our son having either of their names because I think they’re ugly. Nice people, but ugly names. If I used one or the other he would only change it later on or would go by his middle name or would pull a nickname out of nowhere one day on the schoolyard and demand to be called by it. We tend to have girls in my family, my sister has had three already and my mother had only sisters, same as my father. Of course his side managed to produce a son, but only one.

I’m hoping for a Liza. But whoever comes out, I’m going to love them.

The schools here are good, and there is a park across the street with a playground. And a backyard. So much green stuff everywhere. I forgot it all existed, living in concrete dorms and libraries and then in trashy apartments and cinderblock rooms. I think I might take up gardening if I have the spare time. I’m turning into my mother I guess but it’s okay. In a month or two, fives weeks according to the doctors, I will be a mother. Then the revolution will begin! The stern phrases, the (unfortunate) weight gain, the loss of social circles, the end of bar hopping and clubbing, the end of it just being us two, by ourselves, able to do what we want, and of good night’s rests.

Woman #1

You run a shop for antiques downtown. I’ll have to stop by one day and see it. I can’t believe that you would be selling old chairs and mirrors, going to estate sales and thrift stores to try and find old things that people want in their houses for a touch of class. I don’t mean to sound mean. Not at all. You have your own business, you are your own boss and that’s something to be proud of. It really is.

You’re not left out like me, wondering when the next paycheck will come and where its going to come from. You’re going to become a respectable business woman. The kind of thing we laughed at as being too uptight and stuck up when we were studying literature and English and poetry. We fell in love with all sorts of men between the pages, more than we ever had between the sheets, even in my case. Remember how we use to make fun of the business majors, the people studying finance and all that? They had to wear suits, suits, everywhere. We joked that they even had to shower and go swimming wearing ties and heels.

But we were free. All we had to do was read if we felt like it and write what we wanted to, essentially. No math. No charts. No right answers. We could make anything work for us and on top of it all we got to do something we loved. I know I never seemed so serious about it as you did, but looking back on it now I miss the old days. Us. Laughing in our bunk beds and going to bars and dancing. The times we got sick and had to take turns playing mom, or the times we had to play lipstick lesbian to get the men away from us. It was all so much fun.

Of course once we got out (and we couldn’t wait then to get out) what was there waiting for us? A recession. Cutbacks. Layoffs. And nothing for us to do that we could love. Not just small letter love but capital Love. Something for us to throw ourselves into. It was a cold world and we tried to make it, but it crushed me and I had to go away to someplace where at least the surroundings and the scenery were better.

You had to make changes to. You had to set aside that brief period in your life where you thought like me, that it was all about being free and that it was the only thing that made life worth living. It wasn’t you. For a while you had me believing it was. But he fell for you and you fell for him and you learned the joys of security. In a few weeks it was all gone and you wanted to be someone else’s significant other. I never felt betrayed by it. I knew that was who you are. All I care is that you can accept me and not judge me and not try and help me. I’m doing things down here, things you might not agree with. But I’m doing them and you have to respect that.

I hope it’s not because you are feeling insecure or that you think that I have it good. Deep down inside that is, not on the surface, no comparison there. If we took pictures of our lives, you would have it better. Don’t think like that, don’t even be tempted. You have a husband who loves you very much. The two of you are going to become three. He loves you even though once upon a time he used to love me.

Man 1#

This is where I come to think. At home I go to eat and sleep, at work I go to earn it all, and at her house just outside the city limits, I go to live.

Yet she doesn’t feed me, clothe me, bathe me, give me anything other than a few nights every couple of months. But those nights are what I live for. I mark every calendar I can in anticipation of them. I sit in my office and I sit at home watching every clock the day before I leave to see her in California and it really breaks me up inside. I only feel put together when I knock on her door and I see her smiling at me. Sometimes she knows I am coming, other times it is a surprise. Always I’m on business and so I can’t stay any longer. Which is a shame. I wish I could go out there and stay out there warm it is warm outside all the time and warm in her arms.

But I’m married. Yes I have a ring that I feel clinking against this glass every time I reach out to hold it. Good for me. I’m married. To a woman. Well who else? Not to her. She wouldn’t allow it. Too much of a free spirit. Maybe I’m one too. That’s why we get along so well and why it’s so dull at home. My wife, she lives to make everything as clockwork as possible.

She has this weekly rotation of meals, dinners that she cooks. Every day is predictable. So that means that when I have lunch at the office I don’t eat things that I know I am going to have at home. Second Thursday? Ha! No steak for me when I go out with the boss and everyone else. No, I’m going to have the chicken, or the fish. Why? because I’m going to have a steak again when I get home. With peas and mashed potatoes too no less. I can’t eat the same thing twice. No matter how good. It makes things feel like a prison.

I do think that I love her. At night it’s hard to decide. I feel her pressing up against me with that swollen belly of hers and feel my child kicking me, I swear. Everything is stretched and bloated. She has the same face and feet, but everything else has changed. She’s becoming a mother more than a wife, she’s thrown out the lover in her.

Yet she’s always there for me. She loves to be always there. Being there, always. Its her life. My life. Me.

I’ll take another one. I can handle it. I can take on another drink. Another job. Another house. Another wife. Another life. I know the place I can go to get it, I know where I can remake myself. The girl I want to do it with, she would never be mine and mine alone. But I love her and I feel dead when I’m away. I can’t be blamed, no. I was almost dead, on my way there, and then I went out there and decided to be brave and call her up and I did and we’ve been magical ever since.

Can’t stop thinking about her and me, what the future holds for us. Funny that I left her for my wife and now went back. Funny to her maybe. My wife, she doesn’t know. If she did. I would deny everything and cut it off.

Can I? Sounds so easy. Then why not do it now? Why do I stay and let her control me? She doesn’t care. No, she thinks of me like a vacation that comes tumbling into her room with luggage. I’m nothing permanent to her. She has no stake in me and would never want to settle down.

Is that what I want? Why can’t we just be wild and young. We’re still young. We don’t have joint pains and skin problems. We’re healthy and we have years in us to run even though maybe it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. This ring weighs you down and stretches your skin and makes wrinkles appear. If I could take it off I would. But then I’d probably loose it. Then I’d be in trouble and my wife would think I was up to mischief and I am but I keep the ring on when I do it.

But we could be wild. Just man and woman. We’d have people on the side and never share a life, just a series of interactions. We’d build a web of them and it would hold us and keep us sane. But still there would be others.

There’s too much to think over now. I’ve got to get home. I have to find a place in the bed where I can crash and feel safe, by myself, without having to touch her. It’ll be hard. But it will help me sleep, feeling only the sheets on my fallen body. Hopefully she’s off on her side. If she’s asleep. She probably is and she could be sleeping in the center of the bed so that I have no place to hide from her arms. When they find me they crawl over my back and grip me like dead vines.

I’m drunk now, no not drunk. Near-Drunk. Pseudo-Drunk. I shouldn’t be driving home. I have to. Not paying for a cab. There are none out at this hour anyways. The bartender’s a friend of mine, he’ll let me through. The exit is near the bathroom so if I can just look like my bladder is heavy I can pretend to be going over to the urinal and when his head his turned, I can dart out the front door.

A perfect plan. You’re better off for leaving this place, dear friend. You’re better off leaving.

Woman 1#

I know I hung up quickly after you called me and I didn’t get the whole story. I don’t need it. I can fill in the blanks and it’s too painful to listen to the rest of what you have to say. I’m not sorry. You won’t take it anyways. The shock of it all has closed your heart for now.

You are a forgiving person. You will make a good mother. Maybe a terrible wife because your husband doesn’t understand what he has in you. I don’t understand why he thinks I’m better. I give him less than you. I don’t cook for him, clean for him, I’m not giving him a child. Yet he comes back to me. I don’t know what to do. I can’t stop him or turn him away. He makes me feel younger, desirable.

There are a lot of things that need sorting out. I can help you. But you of course don’t want me to say anything. Now is the time for accusations, no matter how wild they are. Go ahead. Call me your names, curse me, threaten that you won’t name your daughter after me, fine. Fine. I never meant to hurt you. I can’t say that it means nothing, because I keep doing it. But I’m not trying to be you to get him. I’m not the better you.

I’m just me and for now that’s enough for him. Probably because I’m different and he’s tired. But he’ll grow tired with me. He did it before and he’ll do it again. I know it will involve being called his soul mate before it all just falls apart.

Just don’t do anything rash. It’s late. You’re alone. Your confession. I don’t believe it. Neither do you. You didn’t rush through it all. I’m not going to let you make that excuse. You loved him and you dated for two years before deciding to marry. It wasn’t urgent. There was nobody inside you then, kicking and screaming. I was thrilled about it. I thought you two were meant for each other. Remember that I never doubted anything you told me.

Was your time running out? You were still young and so was he. I don’t think he was preparing to go and move on with his life. Otherwise he wouldn’t have proposed. Unless there is something you’re not telling me here about the night he asked you to marry him, if he was forced into it, then everything changes. But then I’d only feel sorry for him.

You’re changing your story now. It used to be he just got down on one knee while you were doing the dishes and he held up a ring for you to wear on your finger. The kind that says you’re taken for life. He said he loved you then and I can’t see why he would have been lying to you. What did he have to gain then? You were already doing his laundry by that point.

Just don’t do something you’re going to regret. I hope that you’re only being angry when you talk about hurting him. Yes. He has hurt you, but he is the father of your child and you want him in the picture. He’s flawed. I’m flawed. Nobody is perfect. I think it’s one last stab at freedom and manhood and all that bullshit for him. That’s all I am for him. One last vacation from you.

If you’re going to keep reading acres into this, then there is nothing I can do. Take a rest. Eat something, go back to bed. There is nothing either of us can do. The past is past, isn’t it?

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for what has happened and that I wasn’t strong enough. I should have known better. Everyone thinks they won’t get caught you know? Well here I am. You know everything. Well, everything important. The details don’t matter when there is the fact that I slept with your husband, your man. I can’t get rid of that. I can only hope you have the patience to let time start to mend things.

I don’t love him. I don’t know why I did it. But know at least that I don’t love him and maybe I am just a bitch who’s a happy home wrecker, in which case you don’t have to ever forgive me. But I don’t love him. We’re not in love. I can’t speak for him. I worry what he might be thinking about all this, all I know is me and how I feel. It’s just a vacation for me too I guess.

Christ. What is there to do now? He’s going to come home and you’re going to confront him aren’t you? Not with anything blunt or sharp but just with shouting, I hope. Please confront him about it. Don’t let it sit in you and think that it’s all over. If I was not in the picture, somebody might move in and take my spot in his heart.

You love him. You really do. Even after all this, you still can’t wit for him to crawl into bed beside you and to feel his hard body against yours. It sucks for you. It sucks that you had to get stuck with him, that he is your soul mate and the one you love so much in return even though now it hurts you. But what can you do? Once the baby comes, no one else will want you. You’re getting too old. With a kid behind you, you might as well be fifty even if you’re barely thirty. You’re old to whomever wants to take a chance on you.

But don’t think of yourself as trapped. You wanted all this. You wanted this baby and if the whole world turned against you or was destroyed one night and you woke up in ashes, still, you would have this baby. You are going to do everything you can for it even if he’s not around. You will not be angry, you will never curse it. Only you can make yourself fat, ugly, bitchy, gray haired and dull. The baby does nothing, it just becomes everything.

You gave him a baby when the ring was no longer strong enough to hold him to you, to make him stay. He gave me a gold necklace, to make me come. We’re in this together I guess. Both of us are fools for wanting to do anything with him. We should have signed a pact. Back in college we should have said no. No more. We bare you no enmity, but when you date one of us, the other is off limits forever. You either take one or the other. We thought of ourselves as sisters then. It would’ve worked.

Woman 2#

For a while I felt complete. Everything was coming together and turning bright. Things were happening, things that I really could only describe as being beautiful. The new house was beautiful, so full of light and ready to be painted and filed with anything I wanted. I threw away all the old furniture, I wanted to have no memories of small cramped living and the days of smoking and drinking. The house would be where I would actually live, something I could put myself into and call mine. I was so lucky to be young and to be able to afford it. Dad helped a bit but I promised to pay him back every dollar he gave me. Without interest, but I’m family. Family shouldn’t pay interest.

I had a husband. A man. A man with a job and in good health who never beat me and was always home in time for dinner. I had a baby. I still do, but it was different then because it was before morning sickness and back pain set in and before I learned about him and her all the way in California, trying to hide themselves from me and treating me like an idiot the whole time. I had my little store that made me my own boss and so I thought I was in control. Now I think it’s all unraveling, except for this house. Even then I worry that something bad is going to top it all off and I will see the roof ripped up by a tornado or the walls eaten away by fire.

It was all going so well. You knew that there were problems in the old days. The lonely nights, the diet of sodium and noodles, cheap tea, burritos and pizza, over conversations with you about your latest heartbreak and my latest academic triumph that was not noticed by anyone but you in a room filled with posters for movies we saw once and loved and bands that our parents hated, it all spent itself out. We lost the energy that we gained from simply living away from home and being together. By the end of it we could barely get out of bed and we never dressed for anything nice.

Graduation gave us a new breath of air. Now we had to work and earn the cheap empty calories and the high rise shack that we called home. For a while we called it freedom and we were happy again. It was all so new to us. Our parents were completely out of our lives and we were on our own financially. There were disagreements about who had to buy what and when it was time to clean something, but we lived together and got along.

But then it became like college, but darker. The only thing I can call it is shadow living. We were barely alive, and now we had lost that campus community we had grown so fond of. The city was smothering us but we refused to leave it. We felt we had some right to live there, that we were owed a favor and everyone was supposed to treat us as highly as possible. Of course it didn’t happen. Everyone got meaner and meaner. It was hard making friends or meeting people who weren’t just interested in networking or a one night stand. Every time we went out there was the fear that someone would take advantage of us, that there were frauds and rapists everywhere. Being back home wasn’t any better. There were always rats and roaches crawling behind the walls.

I admire us for sticking out as long as we did. But you knew it all had to change. You left. I got married. Then things started to get better. Life took on a pattern and my routines started to have light in them. I was outside, in parks, or at least next to windows. There was brightness everywhere. Even the places I went with him were lighter, not simply stuck in the basements of buildings or buried under thick cement and brick walls, lit by Christmas lights without an ounce of cheer in them.

You were gone, but you were happy to. Happy to be away from everything. You had to move yourself. I had to move everything around me. In the end we both found some sort of happiness.

I should have known that it wouldn’t last forever. Nothing does. I thought maybe it would all stay the same until at least the baby came out and then I would let everything change because it would make sense then. If he was going to start feeling trapped and I was going to start feeling lonely, then it would be fine. The baby was going to change everything no matter how hard we tried. So I wanted him to start drifting away then.

It made me dread the baby a bit, but I knew it was going to make things different, change our whole lives that we were living together. I had no choice there. So I did everything I could to keep doing the things that had made him happy. I cooked for him and cleaned for him though it started to hurt because of my back. I did it anyway. I pushed the pain out of my mind and told myself it was all for love.

Maybe it wasn’t worth trying, but if I had given into the sickness and the problems from being pregnant, he would have done what he did and done it earlier. Things between you and him would be stronger today and then he would have more or less probably left me for you. Not just in heart and mind, but in body also.

Yet he was caught and he confessed. Now he decided not to hide anything from me. Suddenly he was going to be a man and stop lying. If only he came to such a realization before and without my yelling and crying . I suppose though I was blessed that he wasn’t all that serious about you, because then he decided to stay. He only slept one night away from me, on the couch in the living room, before coming over later to take up a place next to me. I let him remain there and to sleep with me every night after that. We started to slowly come back together and I was amazed at how quickly it all happened. One day he was happily cheating on me with you and the next I found him crying in my hands and willing to come crawling back to me.

Still things didn’t improve as much as they could have. There was still a hesitation within him to touch me. He didn’t mind if I touched him, yet I would wake up from wanting him to just reach out and rub my shoulders and squeeze my hips. He would remain motionless in his sleep. I could sense that still, I disgusted him, all bloated and stretched out. We shared a bed and a house, yet little else it seemed. Part of me was willing to accept it and wait for the baby to come and win him back. He would look into the infant’s eyes and fall in love with me through them. So none of the current distance mattered. He was within my sight, my touch, and he was away from you.

But I have to keep an eye on him. I worry about what he is doing on the computer and on phone every time it rings. No matter if I am expecting a call or if he sounds businesslike on the telephone, I think somehow that it is you on the other end. The two of you may have crafted a clever way of trying to trick me but I am not falling for it. I pick up the phone too in my room and listen in like a member of the secret police, determined to make sure that it isn’t you, or anyone else who might be trying to tempt him of come out of the house.

My fears are well founded you know, and they were confirmed too, when I came home early and he was on the phone with you. I don’t care who started it. I heard it on my own line and his pleading and your listening broke my heart all over again.

Man 1#

Please pick up. Please. If she thinks that maybe it’s my wife calling to patch things up or to let a whole new set of accusations flood my lover’s ears, then so be it. I just want her to pick up the phone and answer and hear her voice…

Yes. It’s me baby. Yes. I’m alone. She’s not here. We have thirty minutes maybe before she shows up. I want to use every one of them. Please baby, please. Be good to me. I’ve been so good to you. I put up with those bad days you had last winter and I stayed up all night talking to you then so that you could get your head on right and try and live nice and near as normal as possible. I was the one who hid all the blades in your house from you when you wanted to turn them against your own wrists and neck. I did that for you, remember?

Recall the time afterward when I had all those knives in my luggage and they wouldn’t let me in on my flight? We made the best use of the time though, when I stayed an extra night and you visited me at my hotel. You told me you felt so clean then.

So just stay on the line. Ten minutes. Give me ten minutes. I just want to hear your voice. Talk to me. I love you. Tell me, I want to hear the words from your lips move across the continent in a silicon line. Don’t be afraid. We have to stop being afraid. The fear is killing us. We have to hold onto each other and go crazy or else we’re both going to end up dead. Bit by bit our dreams and the fire inside us is going to become slowly smothered until we’re constantly smiling, afraid of drowning.

I am ready for you. Don’t be afraid. I know you have been hurt in the past. Partially by me, and by others too. I am here to let you know that it’s okay now. We can be together, we can start a life between us. I love you. I will say it again and I will keep saying it baby until you say it back because I know deep down inside that it is there, that feeling, and it just wants to come out. Let it out, cry if it hurts, and let it out baby, let it out.

Baby I love you, be silent if you want, but I now the truth. I love you and I’ll leave her forever and be prepared, because I’m coming out to California, ready to squeeze you in my arms.

Woman 1#

I’ve been practicing with the door. I’ve been holding the handle and then closing the thing quickly, making a nice slamming sound. The neighbors probably mind but right now I don’t care what they think. I have to train. I have to make myself strong enough to shut that door in his face if he comes near me and to make it loud enough for you to hear over in Chicago.

For a moment I was taken in. For a moment. There such smooth honesty in his words over the phone and I panicked. I said something that I shouldn’t have said. In pity. I told him that I loved him. You heard it. I said it only once. But still it was what he wanted to hear.

It is one of the hardest things to do, to tell somebody that you don’t love them when they have just told you that they cannot live without you. He’s told you that he loved you and it let him back into your life. We hear the phrase said to us and we mirror it and send it back across space to the source so often that we forget that it is within our power to stop the chain. We can say no. We can tell that person, no, I don’t love you. Go away and leave me alone. I don’t care if you care. But it’s hard and I made the mistake of picking up the phone and listening to him. Oh he’s delusional, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. For me or you. He is a cornered animal and he’s looking for one last way out.

For him it leads to me, in California. You woke up this morning and found him gone. He was not simply staying to his side of the bed in order to avoid contact with you, no, he was gone from the whole room and house. He was gone from the city and he was gone from the state. By the time you realized it, he was setting his watch so that he had nothing in common with you except that person growing up bunched in your belly.

Let him have this final moment, this last escape attempt before reality hits him in the face. Let him sit in the airplane and look down at America and think himself a soaring eagle, a cowboy, or a pioneer. Let him pack him things into a big suitcase and think that he is a world traveler. Let him sip a bottle of wine from the stewardess and call himself a sophisticated man. Let him go through the gates and metal detectors, hail and grab a cab, and call himself free.

Let him think that we’re in love and that I am his salvation.

Leave it to me my dearest and deepest friend. Trust me this one last time and cry yourself to sleep if you must in order to forget about it all. You forget so easily. He will leave you for me but he will come back to you for I will never be anyone’s girlfriend, mistress, wife, or mother. In a day or so you will wake up and he will be reaching out and eagerly touching the body that used to repulse him.