Clark Kent or Superman? An Endingbyrpsuch©
Responding to the large number of requests I wrote this ending to Clark Kent or Superman? It is one of several possible endings I envisioned, one of the more likely ones to me. I hope it satisfies the readers looking for an extension to the original. If not, imagine your own ending – it's fun.
There is no sex whatsoever in this story.
Barry returned shortly with Linda. Damn! Each one was better looking than the last. How could somebody like Barry attract all these incredible women? Ouch. Stupid question! I had been marginalizing Barry because of our situation. He was actually very good looking, model quality. He was very bright, good job, well read, interesting and pretty amusing if he would give up that damn sarcasm. He was what most women would consider a very good catch. That's why I married him.
I could see now that I had not given this whole thing quite as much thought as it required.
"Welcome to our home, Linda." Rudeness hadn't worked. Politeness couldn't do any worse.
Barry gave me a funny look but he didn't say anything.
"Thank you, Grace," she said. It wasn't quite a question, but there was a mixture of surprise and disbelief.
They ambled up the stairs. She looked back once. Barry looked back several times. At least I had succeeded in throwing him off his game for the moment, whatever that was. It was a start. I needed a good night's sleep.
I got it. They left before I even got up. Oh, yeah, that early meeting.
I wasn't worth much at work. I don't know that anybody noticed, but I was distracted. When I got home, I decided to get some help.
"Grace, it's nice to hear from you. What do you want? I can hear it in your voice."
"Well, I'm having a problem with Barry."
"What did you do?"
"Why do you always assume it's me?"
"I know you and I know Barry. What did you do?"
"He's treating me terribly. He tells me I'm a lousy cook. He says I'm not that interesting. He even took some other woman to the opera because he said she knows more about it than me."
"He what?" I had to hold the phone away from my ear. "That makes no sense. Why would he do something like that?"
Damn. Once again I hadn't thought it out. What the hell kind of reason could I give her? I couldn't think of a thing. I was taking too long to answer.
"What did you do, Grace?" She knew. Not the details, but she knew.
"He caught me cheating on him." This was unflattering enough. I didn't want to confess the whole story.
"He's angry. He has a right to be. Grace, how could you?"
"He's not, he isn't there for me enough, physically. I thought I was entitled to more. And he wouldn't miss it since he's not that interested."
"He's not interested or he doesn't do it as much as you want? Grace, how did you get so selfish?"
"You guys made me selfish. You spoiled me. Anything I wanted I got. How could I turn out any other way?"
"So it's my fault you cheated on Barry? I thought it was his fault. Make up your mind. You know, you've become the American ideal. You have no responsibility for anything you do. It's always somebody else's fault."
Why did everybody have to give me such a hard time? They made me selfish. You'd think she would understand. "You always take his side. Why can't you support me for a change?"
"You come and tell me he cheated on you and I'll tell you he's a rotten bastard. Do you really expect me to condone what you've done? I can't even think of enough adjectives to describe what an awful thing that was to do. At least he hasn't left you."
"He still could."
"It would serve you right."
"Mother! How about some support? I can't talk about this with you. I'm getting off." Shouldn't your own parents take your side once in a while? Why couldn't anybody understand my side? Small wonder I turned out like I did.
The afternoon passed very slowly. Finally, I heard him at the door. He was alone.
"Barry, we have to talk."
"Because that's what you want, Grace?"
"All married couples have problems, Barry."
"So this is just a typical marital problem? You want me to leave the toilet seat down?"
"You know what I mean." I hope. I don't know what I mean, but I wanted to talk. I wanted him to understand.
"I'm afraid I do. The world revolves around what Grace wants."
"Am I that self-centered, Barry?"
"You cheated on me and you plan to keep doing it no matter what I say or do. Where would you put that on the scale of self-centeredness?"
"Maybe I wouldn't be this way if you didn't let me get my way all the time." Oh, God, did I say that?
Barry had a funny look on his face. Was it the "last straw" look? "Am I responsible for the good things you do too? Or is this one of the good things? Is there ever anything at all you do that is your responsibility?" He headed for the stairs.
"Barry. We still have things to talk about."
He turned. "We've talked."
I could hear him rummaging around upstairs. I couldn't tell if he was trying to make noise or if that was what it took for whatever he was doing. He came down carrying an overnight bag.
"Going out to fuck your girlfriend?" I was not in friendly, gracious mode.
"I shouldn't tell you this. I'm following your rules, but I think it's wrong to cheat so I don't think I'm going to do it. I am staying out though. I'll see you tomorrow after work."
"Can't even stay here anymore? Why don't you move out? You're obviously going to dump me." Why can't I keep my fucking mouth shut? I started this whole thing and I keep making it worse. Why do I have to come back at every challenge?
"We're close to that. I need to get away from you if we're even going to have a chance. You think about nobody but yourself. You're toxic right now and I don't want it affecting my thinking."
"You're going to …" Finally I managed to shut my mouth before I said something stupid instead of after. I looked at him, but it wasn't the challenging look I usually have. It was accepting. He didn't even say goodbye.
I didn't know what I wanted, and I didn't know what to do to get it even if I could figure it out. I wasn't able to figure it out so I wallowed in self-pity. Why not? If everything is about me, then self-pity should be the best kind of suffering I could experience.
Around 4 the next day, the bell rang. I wasn't expecting anyone. The mailman came much earlier in the day. I didn't have a clue. I opened the door and there was Linda. I stared at her with my mouth open in shock.
"Aren't you going to ask me in?"
"Come in," I said almost in a trance.
"I guess you're surprised to see me."
"Surprise doesn't begin to cover it."
"I've come to talk about Barry." She said his name almost with reverence. I took a closer look at her. I could see it in her eyes. She had it bad for him. "I came here because Barry really loves you and you're very close to losing him. That's probably better for him in the long run, but I don't like to see him suffering."
My losing him is probably better for you too in the long run.
"If you don't do something real soon, he's going to leave you. You know, he's done this all for you. I mean, all the girls were happy to help him even though we know he's just trying to hold on to you. He's trying to get you to understand how crazy your behavior has been."
"You can tell him I got the message."
"He, doesn't know I'm here. He would probably be pretty angry with me. I didn't want to meddle, but I don't want to see him hurt anymore. If you want to keep him, you're going to have to give up this crazy idea and make him understand that you understand. I don't know if you have it in you, but that's what it's going to take."
"Why," I knew why. I could see the pain in her eyes. She loved him enough to give him up for his happiness. I wondered if he knew. He would probably be better off with her than me. Did I love him enough to deny him what he wanted, so that he could have what he deserved? Probably not. I think I'm too selfish. I want him for myself.
"That's all I wanted to say. I have to get out of here before he gets home." She stood and offered me her hand. "Good luck." She sighed and tilted her head down. Then she left.
Wow, did this put the situation in perspective! She had decided to sacrifice her opportunity to be with him for his happiness. I had cheated on him and told him I would keep doing it no matter how he felt about it. She was gorgeous, had a great body, shared interests with him and was interesting enough to spend the day with, and he would prefer to stay with me. Wow!
I've been telling Barry that I love him and it's always felt to me like I do. But is that just my selfishness in having what I want? Shouldn't I get some pleasure just from making him happy? I spend all my time thinking about me. Am I capable of thinking about someone else? Does he deserve more than I can give him?
Did I really get this way because my parents spoiled me? Did Barry make me selfish by allowing me to get my way? Is mom right? Is it really my responsibility no matter how I got here? My head was spinning. Finally it hit me.
What I had done? Who had I become? I started to sob and that's how Barry found me when he got home.
He was saying something. He didn't touch me, but he was talking to me. "What's the matter Grace? What is it?" His tone was not comforting; it was more like he was annoyed. I suppose I had earned that.
It was hard to talk. I was having trouble catching my breath. "I'm, I'm sorry Barry." No response. I had to catch my breath before I could continue. "I'm sorry about what I did. I'm sorry I hurt you. I was wrong. I was wrong about everything. I was so self-centered I couldn't even see how selfish I was."
"I thought it was my fault."
"I deserve that. Truth is I blamed everybody but me. I learned something from," would I be betraying Linda's friendship with Barry or giving her credit for my transformation, "all of this. I learned I haven't loved you the right way, the way where I think about what would make you happy, not just me. I've been a terrible wife to you. I haven't even learned to cook."
"I may have overstated that slightly."
"All the same, I had the time. I could have used some of it for something other than thinking about how to make me happy. You took the time to try to make me happy. I could have returned the favor."
"Yes." Very softly. "You could have."
"Barry, I want you back. I know it's going to be difficult for you to trust me. I want you back, but I don't know if I deserve a chance to show you I can change. I've been so selfish for so long that I don't know if I can change that completely. I have to be honest with you, there's a chance I'll mess it up." I anxiously awaited his answer.
He took his time. It wasn't for effect. This was not a trivial matter for him and I had to admit I had brutalized him as a man and a husband.
Even scarier than the thought that he would leave me, was what do I do if he decides to give me another chance. How do I learn to care about his happiness the way he cared for mine? I had no training. I thought about other people, but only in terms of what they meant to me, what they could do for me. I married him for what he could do for my life. I never gave a thought to what I could do for his except to change it so it could make mine better.
I didn't know how to love him fully. If I did, I would have let him go, like Linda was willing to do. But if he stayed, I would get to keep him because I didn't deserve to. What irony.
At last he spoke. "That was a pretty complete acknowledgement and you seem sincere. Anything less and that would have been it. You're on a short leash. Any misstep and it's over. And I'm not just talking about cheating. You say you've been selfish; you have to do something about that because if you don't, you'll eventually cheat. I'm not asking you to live your life for me; I'm just saying you have to start thinking about somebody beside yourself. Those are my terms, Grace. Take them or leave them."
"I'm in." I prayed that I could make him as lucky in his choice as I had been.