The coffee maker purrs. The aroma of coffee fills the house.
I have the day’s newspaper open in front of me on the dining table. My eyes are on the page, but I cannot see a word. My wife is pacing up and down the living room. She shuffles her feet between the living room and the dining room, no door exists between these two rooms but one seems to exist now between me and her. I can’t seem to unlock it. I wish she would sit down either here or there. Somewhere.
She is still in her nightgown. I’m still in my pyjamas. She eventually makes her way to the dining room, stands undecidedly by the arc that separates the living room from the dining room. She then chooses to sit at the opposite end of the table. My eyes remain glued to the morning paper. She folds her arms and leans forward to cushion her chin with her intertwined arms.
I stand up; it’s my turn to pace the room. I want to say things. She looks at me. I look away. I look at her. She looks away. She looks at the table, then her eyes choose to settle on her fingernails. I look at the window above her head, at the blue sky outside the window. I look at the bird flying in the horizon. It’s going wherever it feels like going. Owing nobody an explanation. Not giving or waiting for apologies from the spouse. Not obligated to face their wives this early in the morning. Why did we have to choose this hour? To ensure that we messed up the next 24 hours? Couldn’t we have agreed to do this in the evening? No. “Morning comes with clarity. Evenings are adulterated. That’s why we need sleep, not to rest, but to cleanse our spirit.” She had said. I thought she made a lot of sense then. Now, I don’t know.
The bird is gone. One second and it never existed. Just like my marriage. One second and I’m standing in our dining room wondering whether it exists. Whether it existed. If it did, which part did exist really? The sun is still struggling with wakefulness. At least I’m not the only one struggling with this day. My mind comes back from wandering and reenters my body. My eyes are on her. Again. I stop pacing.
Her hair is staticky. Her eyes are puffy and red. She licks her lips. She looks at the table mat before her. She looks at the door leading to the kitchen. She stares at the brewing coffee at the kitchen counter.
Her eyes water.
I follow her eyes. This is hard. It was supposed to be hard. We talked about this. About the hate that I’m now finding out is not even hate. About the shame and the humiliation that is not even shame nor humiliation. It’s something bigger. Cruder. Something unbearable that has no name. It burns, but it doesn’t just burn. It boils. Burning comes and goes. Boiling, it stays. It purrs like the coffee. It hums. And it stays put.
She gets up. My mind reenters my body again. I close my eyes. Why can’t I find words? Where did they go? Why can’t I even talk about the weather? Why can’t I say something like, “This weather is shitty now, but who knows about tomorrow? It could get better.” or “This weather sucks. We deserve a different kind of weather. A better kind of weather.” or “This weather is very disrespectful, thinking of nobody else but itself.” or “We should learn to forgive weathers that act like this because we don’t know what it’s going through or what it has to put up with.” Why can’t I say anything? Why, when anything is better than this silence?
She heads the direction of the kitchen. My mind is back again. We can both tell that the coffee is ready. The strong aroma has already mixed with the air that we’re breathing.
Her back is facing me as she fills a glass with water. Her throat must be dry. It’s the tears that she’s cried all night, or the words that won’t form on the lips.
It kills you when you find out about an affair. What is killing us now is that one of us wants to yell and punch things, while the other wants to use words to wipe clean a betrayal. As if anything, let alone words, has the capacity of wiping the mess made by a betrayal.
She comes back to where she sat before. More finger twiddling is what I get. Her nails look perfect as always. Long and perfect. Her hair is still a mess. She takes a sip from the glass. Her lips are still sensual. More so now that she’s been crying. She keeps licking them and biting them. Why am I even thinking about all these now?
I want to speak. I want to end the pact we made here and now. Who can blame me, I didn’t know it would be this hard when I agreed to this stupid ritual. I could just go upstairs, pack a bag and leave everything behind.
I could do that. But I could also walk into the kitchen, fetch a cup from the tray of clean cups next to the coffee maker. Who knows what will happen when that cup ends up in my hands, I could smash it against the formica for all I know. Or I could manage to place it gently on the kitchen counter, fill it to the brim with coffee, because she hates it when her cup is filled to the brim, add a good amount of sugar and milk because she prefers no sugar nor milk in her coffee.
I could do that. I could take a deep breath. Walk back to where she sits at the dining table and try not to pour the steaming coffee all over her beauteous face. I could steady my shaking hands, swallow the tears that threaten to expose my hurt and hand her one brilliant cup of coffee. Coffee and a slice of love. Scratch that. It’s coffee and a fucking slice of love.
I could walk out the door with my packed bag and leave it all behind; the pain, the choking tears, my burning chest.
And her cheating ass.
To be continued…