“I can’t say that I ever saw things turning out this way.” Abby began, as she nervously played with the rings on her fingers.
“Things?” The priest asked in a soft inquisitive tone
“Well, you know, my life, my career…”
“Well, tell me what happened?” He urged her on, lowering his thick glasses just a little to look into her eyes. He did this as if to assure her of comfort and confidentiality. Abby, instead, shifted in her seat and began to straighten her skirt. She seemed even more uncomfortable. She looked up, “My mother was a God fearing woman. My father too… he was a staunch Christian. We prayed a lot and read the bible every night. I was raised well, Father. I just don’t know how..” She stopped and dropped her head to her skirt again. The Father sat up and leaned in. he placed his elbows on his mahogany desk, crossed his fingers and rested his chin on his knuckles. She did not look up. He tilted his head towards her and said,
“Speak my Child. I want to help. God wants to help.” Abby lifted her head slowly, so that the Father could now see that she was crying. Hers was a silent cry, one that reddened her cheeks and eyes, stole her voice but gave her no willing tears rather held deep the fountain of emotion. She parted her lips to speak, no sound came out. She dropped her head again. The Father walked over to a small table at the side of his desk. He poured her a glass of water, gave it to her and returned to his seat. He continued to stare at her for a few awkward minutes while she sipped the water and found her voice.
“Go on, My Child” Without lifting her head she said, “I have lost my way, Father.” She paused and looked at him. “ Too many times. Too many sins.” The priest cracked a smile, stretched his arms towards her and said “My Child. Worry not because He forgives all, Our Lord. He loves you just as you are and when you come to him for forgiveness and make your ways right, He will forgive you and accept you back into His kingdom.” His sudden optimism and welcoming tone did not change her expression as he expected it would. She withdrew further into herself as if rejecting his open arms. She now had one tear rolling down her left cheek.
“The problem is..” She took a tissue out of her tiny diamond covered purse. Just one of the many gifts he got her. Maybe to compensate for not being able to give her things she truly wanted, the things she truly needed. Or maybe as penance for all of her wasted time and for time he was yet to waste. She suspected the gifts were to buy her consideration and afterthought, to buy her love and loyalty. She shouldn’t have carried that purse today. However, she knew if it wasn’t the purse, it would have been some other extravagant trinket he got her. It always seemed like she couldn’t walk around without a piece of him, without a symbol of his ‘love’. Was it to comfort her in his absence? or to remind her of the guilt he had driven her to carry? She couldn’t be sure, all she knew is that without some part of him with her she felt sick, unable to go on, like a bird,grounded. She stared at the purse for a while running her fingers over the little perfectly shaped, perfectly placed diamonds. She looked up; “The problem is, I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. This all seems very unfair to me, Father. For The Lord to…” She became hysterical now tears rolling down her cheeks profusely. She choked on her tears. The Father reached out to touch her. She quickly stood “I shouldn’t have come.” And abruptly began to leave.
She clutched her purse tight and began walking as fast as she could, head down. The Father ran after her, calling out frantically “My Child, you can still be saved.” She did not turn or stop however. She was lost. All she heard was the violent rushing of air by her ears and the throbbing of her thoughts. She urged on, the sound of her expensive shoes echoing in the church as they collided with the marble floor. The father did not follow her further. She got into her car and locked the doors. For a few minutes she sat there sobbing violently in her hopelessness. She felt powerless to her circumstance yet guilty for her continued crimes.
Done with complete knowledge or without, her actions still constituted one of the gravest sins she believed. She knew of his wife now. Hearing that from the new found love of her life set her sprawling into a dark abyss of confusion. And the children? The thought made her weep more and bang her steering wheel continuously in frustration The three most probably adorable children suffering without their father almost every night as he wined and dined her, took her on far away trips and bought her expensive things. Did his marriage and children negate their love? She worried because even in the middle of one of the greatest whirlwind of emotions, one distinct feeling stood out. It lingered in her heart, her mind and and in her throat. She still felt the intense need for him, the extreme thought towards him and the irresistible yearning for his love and doting.It made her sick to think of what sort of person she was. A husband stealing spinster, that’s what they would call her now. Yesterday she was willing to take this man’s name, today he had no name to give.
She was interrupted by her cell phone’s violent vibration in her coat pocket. She answered it without looking at it. “Where are you! I’m so worried!” the voice on the other side bellowed. She sat still, saying nothing, doing nothing but thinking everything. “Abby!!” She startled. “Talk to me”
“You’re married, Ben! Married!!” her sobs were now so evident as they hoarsened her voice “Meet me at the apartment. I’m already on my way. I’ll explain.”
“No, Ben. I can’t do this. You have a wife and children. A life a fam…” He cut her off. “Just meet me, Abby. I love you” She hang up. Those words rang endlessly in her mind, conquering her doubts one by one. She wanted so badly to let those words fix all her problems. After all, if he loved her, would he not leave his wife and be with her? If he really did love her, wouldn’t he want her to raise his children as well? If he loved her, wouldn’t it be a simple swap situation with the wife he didn’t love any more? She decided to cling to the optimism that his love for her would fix all. She started her car and drove home. Partially relieved.
When she arrived, she parked right next to his car in the driveway. As usual, he had let himself in already. She took a deep breath, walked in and found him seated anxiously in the corner of her living room. His hands wrapped tightly around one of her mugs, his legs shaking constantly. On the table right in front of him, a tiny beautifully wrapped box. When she saw him, a wave of happiness came over her as it always did. She dropped her bag, his bag and ran towards him. He seemed surprised at first. He had expected something very different. He had expected that she would be frantic and disillusioned, the true definition of another woman scorned but she seemed calm, even though it was clear, she had been crying. He rose to embrace her and begin his atonement. First, he handed her the tiny box on the table. “This is for you, my love. Open it.”
Her face lit up as she tore away the layers of paper. She opened it slowly to reveal a pair of diamond earrings, expensive no doubt. Abby stared at the earrings for a while as her calm expression faded and her eyes began to glow in anger now rather than previous delight. She took a breathe, stood angrily and shouted,” More earrings?” He rose seeming not yet fully aware of her change in mood and of heart. “Yes, I thought you would like them. Can I help you put them on?” She pushed him away violently as he stretched his arms to help her.
“I mean, you already got me a pair like these.” She said looking him sharply in his eyes, ” Or we’re these meant for your wife!” He moved closer to hold her now, she pushed him away again.
“Abby, I promise you they were meant for you. Let’s not talk about my wife.”
“I will talk about whomever I want, Ben! How dare you say you love me while you sit there raising offspring with another.” He inched just a bit closer, pleading with her, “But I do, love you. It’s all just very complicated.”
“Then uncomplicate it for me. Help me understand. ” He hesitated, she flew off the handle “Do you love her, Ben?” He didn’t speak again. She grew frantic now, “Answer me, Ben. I will not play understudy and I will not share! So do you love her or do you love me?” He walked towards her and looked really deep into her eyes such that she shifted uncomfortably. “I love you, Abby. Only you. It’s just complicated.”
“Then why are there earrings in that box, not a ring, Ben?” She fell to the ground, acknowledging now how weak she felt around him. How weak he made her. He confused her and she believed she was smarter than this. He began to pace the room, she watched him, back and forth back and forth until he stopped at her window. She stared down at the white fluffy carpet underneath her, the one he bought her. Then the sofa, luxurious scarlet red, expensive, limited edition; he bought that too, even had it shipped for a pretty penny. His carpet, his sofa, his table and his chairs, his bed and his bread, his house, his property. For the next five minutes, she slowly began to conclude that Jared owned her. Every part of her and everything she holds dear. She had lost herself in the deceit and flattery of this man and even though she knew that essentially it was over, she found herself in a hole too deep to get herself out of. It felt more like one she did not want to climb out of.
“Leave your wife…. and the children,” She retorted suddenly, “or bring them! I don’t care.” he turned just as sudden. “I can’t.” He replied blankly. She began to cry again, not frantic sobbing this time, but a more resigned cry; one that expressed the hopelessness of her situation and the dilemma that the solution brought about.
“Then I’ll leave you, Ben. I swear I’ll leave you and you’ll….” He cut her off suddenly. “Don’t.” From his face, she could tell the possibility of losing her drove him mad. That look pained her deeply. She hated it, the thought of leaving him lonely and twisting in the wind. “Don’t, please.” He begged again, coming closer to her and kneeling right next to her. ” I can’t bear life without you. My wife can’t love me like you do, I know that. Only you can.” He ran her fingers under her eyes, wiping her tears then held her face so close to his; that his vision pierced through her eyes and her heart straight to her soul. She could feel him tearing her apart inside, blurring lines and burning bridges; slowly rewiring her morality. “I regret every morning of my life after I met you, that I met her first. That I had ever thought that what I had shared with her was love, while all that while you were here waiting for me, to show me things that all my life I didn’t think I even deserved. That she has my children and not you. ”
“Then leave her,” She whispered weakly.
“I will.” He said embracing her tightly.