I could leave. But I could also stay.
I get the cup, I pour the coffee into the cup, making sure to fill it to the brim, I add milk and a generous amount of sugar. Bite me.
I go to her, she’s still seated at the dining table. I extend the cup of coffee to her. She stands up. She brings her hands around the cup. I do it. I don’t know why I do it, but I do. I give her coffee, and a slice of love. Her eyes hung onto mine, holding them even after my hands let go of the cup. There is a storm raging in her eyes. I find myself pulled to the heart of it. Tears burst down her cheeks in torrents. They get me wet.
When I finally pull my eyes from hers, I notice that her hands are shaking. She is holding onto the sides of the cup. The coffee is steaming hot. She is burning. She doesn’t flinch. She doesn’t wipe her tears just as she doesn’t take her hands off the hot cup. She stares at my soul as she uses the cup of coffee to scald her palms.
“Thank you.” She whispers.
I touch her arm to bring her back. She finally blinks, sending more torrents down her cheeks. She sits back down and takes her first sip of the coffee, hands refusing to stop burning. She winces as the coffee burns her lips and tongue. I know she hates how sweet it tastes. I also know that she hates pain. This should make me feel better.
I leave her to it and go upstairs.
I was a different man yesterday, and this room, our bedroom, saw me undergo a transition not too long ago. Yesterday evening, I was here, seated at my desk by the window, trying to put in the daily word count for my manuscript. I saw her through the window as she carefully parked her car next to our gate, making sure not to block our neighbour’s driveway. I saw her put down a grocery bag and ruffle through her handbag for the gate keys. Locking myself in always helped to unlock my mind when I was writing. Some people walk, others clean, I lock the world out. She was the only person with the capacity to interrupt my solitude.
I heard her unlock the main door downstairs. I heard her go to the kitchen. I expected to see her, handbag in hand, standing by the bedroom door in a few minutes. She would toss the bag on the floor and collapse on top of the bed. I would go to the bathroom, fetch a towel, soak it in warm water, wring it, sit on the bed, put both her feet on my laps, and knead her legs from the toes all the way up to her knees. I would massage her feet, her shoulders, her back. I would proceed to her thighs, her inner thighs, her inner inner thighs and I’d take my time there. Hell, I’d stay there. Soon enough, I’d have my head buried between her thighs and she’d have her eyes shut, her teeth biting her lower lip, her hips arched and her hand touching the back of my head. This woman whose every curve I adored! Soon enough, she’d be on top of me and she’d allow me to enjoy her suppleness. Soon enough, we’d be blissed out and she’d rest her head on my chest. Time would fly and natural light with it. She’d get up to close the windows and curtains, oblivious of her perfect nudity, only lamenting about mosquitos getting in. I’d switch on the lights and find slacks to cover my nakedness. I’d throw a t-shirt her way, which she’d pull over her head and we’d both go downstairs to fix dinner.
We’d cook and she’d tell me about her day at the studio. Sometimes she’d sing as she washed the dirty dishes from breakfast, most times she swayed her hips as I chopped the onions, sometimes she would hop on top of the kitchen counter and as the stew simmered or the Ugali cooked, she would pull me to her and wrap her legs around me. It was difficult to not keep falling in love with her every minute. We’d finish dinner and we’d watch the 9 pm news, or not. She’d spend the whole time shaking her head at politicians’ remarks. And we’d go to bed. Sometimes, she’d play the piano for a bit. Sometimes I’d read for a bit. Sometimes I’d just sit and watch her fingers make music. Then she’d join me in bed. And we’d go to sleep. If we were up to it, she’d wrap her legs around me again, and I’d give my heart to her all over again. Slowly, like a sweet lullaby this time. And we’d fall asleep when our hearts managed to beat normally again.
Save for a few variations here and there, that is how our day should have gone yesterday. But it didn’t.
She was coming out of the kitchen when I heard her phone ring. I heard her rummage through her purse for the phone and then she answered the call. I heard her voice travel through the house to kiss every room and furniture. She was walking up the stairs. Her voice was getting clearer. Coming closer. Turning me on by the second.
She paused at a stair for a moment.
“What do you mean– what do you want Dan?”
She was walking up the stairs again.
“Not a word I hear every day.”
“It was just sex, Dan, not a marriage proposal. ”
She giggled. It was a sound I’d heard before. A sound that these rooms had heard numerous times. She giggled this heartfully only when I deliciously whispered the most filthy and the most beautiful words into her ears. It was my giggle. Mine.
I felt my heart leave its warm cage and fall on the cold concrete floor.
She was standing in the doorway, looking at me and listening to Dan on the phone. She still had her ear to his mouth, giving audience to his words, when our eyes met. Until that minute, I had used the word many times but had no idea what humiliated felt like.
Yesterday, I got to see light turn to darkness, trust to betrayal, love to hate, and I got to see my wife’s beaming face quickly turn into terrifying shock in seconds.
It changed me.
I look at my image in the mirror now. Who am I? I take off my pyjamas and my boxers. Who have I become? I head to the bathroom, turn on the water, and stand under the shower. My head is bowed. My eyes are closed. My chest is heaving. My shoulders are shaking.
There is a raging storm in my eyes.
And the droplets falling on my chest are not just from the shower.
To be continued…