tagLoving WivesMaking an Honest Woman Ch. 04: Epilogue

Making an Honest Woman Ch. 04: Epilogue


I know I said the last chapter would be the last, but I realize that I ended it pretty abruptly, and several people wrote to ask me if there was more. To be honest, I had gotten kind of tired of it. But that's no excuse for not closing properly, so, if you wanted one, here it is. As always, thanks for reading.


As separations go, ours was surprisingly amicable. Ellen kept her word, and moved into the campus apartment I'd rented; I helped her move her clothes and things in, and brought away the clothes, books, and files of mine, most of which were still in boxes. She came by to see the girls and have dinner with us every night, and left when it was their bedtime. We were cordial, but not affectionate.

Ellen was right in thinking that her moving out would soften Alyssa towards her; Alyssa's anger, much like mine, turned into sadness and acceptance over time. I was closer to her than I had ever been, which was simultaneously the best thing in my life at that time, and a source of some concern. I had a talk with her therapist, Dr. Carter, about it.

"I'm worried that she's settling into the role of substitute wife and mother," I told her. "But she's great with Sophie, and there's nobody else who understands what we're going through better than we do, so it's natural for us to talk about it together. She needs this, and, to be honest, so do I. But how much is too much? She still needs to be a teenager."

"It's good to know you're aware of this," Dr. Carter said. "Alyssa is coping with the situation by taking on the roles she sees your wife as having vacated; it's a way of exercising control. In the short term, I think, it's therapeutic. How much longer before the divorce is final?"

"About three months," I replied.

"I think you said that the plan then is to move to a shared custody arrangement," she said.

"Yes. I'll keep the house, and Ellen's going to get an apartment, with rooms for the girls, and we'll each keep them half of the week."

"That's a natural transition point, then," she said. "In the meantime, have you talked to her about it?"

"Not as such," I said. "I've let her know that I'm concerned that she doesn't seem to be spending much time with her friends, but that's about all."

"See if you can have a conversation with her without giving her the impression that you disapprove. I'll also begin addressing it in our sessions."

My getting to stay in the house was a consequence of agreeing to leave Ellen's business alone. It turns out they were doing pretty well, and she would probably be able to support herself, although I was giving her $1,000 a month for two years, which was ultimately selfish, since I wanted her to be able to afford a nice place for the girls to stay when they were with her. I was betting that Ellen would remarry soon. She, as she'd said, was betting she'd be remarried to me, although we didn't talk about it. Privately I was still convinced that was never going to happen.

My certainty in that regard was not the result of having found a replacement for her. I knew there was no way I was ready to start a serious relationship with someone new, and I am definitely a serious-relationship kind of guy. The few casual sexual encounters I'd had in college had all left me feeling disoriented and unhappy with myself. Even after the heartbreak of my breakup with my two pre-Ellen long-term relationships--one in high school, one in college--I could still regard them, and my marriage, as good experiences that had just ended badly.

So I was still wearing my wedding ring, and most people I knew, including everyone at work, except for Dave (my divorce mentor) had no idea I was soon to be single. Or so I'd thought.

I was in my campus office working on the acknowledgments page for my book, which I had been able to finish when the dust from the collapse of my marriage had finally settled. I sensed the presence of someone standing in the doorway, and, looking up, I saw Diane Sokolov, with whom, a few years back, I'd co-written a paper on "uptalk"--the rise in voice pitch at the end of a sentence that isn't a question, which is a learned speech behavior among some American girls and young women--and how this was perceived and received by both women and men who were interviewing women for potential jobs. It turned out, as we'd expected, that men tended to view uptalk as a sign of indecisiveness and lower intelligence, while women mostly tended to ignore it. Anyway, we'd gotten along pretty well, but hadn't seen much of one another since the paper had been published. I wondered if she was interested in co-authoring another study.

"Not exactly," she said, "but I do have an idea I'd like to sound you out on. Wanna have lunch and talk about it?"

I agreed to meet her in the faculty dining room, where students are welcome by invitation only, and which has table service and is generally a lot quieter than the main cafeteria. They serve the same food, though.

Diane was always pretty direct, and she got right to the point as soon as we'd ordered. "A little bird tells me that you're recently single," she said.

"Well," I said, "as an anthropologist, my specialty is human language and culture; I can't account for what little birds may say."

"Come on," she insisted.

I sighed. "I'm in the process of getting a divorce. At the moment I'm still legally married."

"But living alone."

"No," I replied. "I live with my daughters. Is there a point to this, or are you just confirming the rumor?"

"I want a shot at you," she said. That was a surprise. Diane was an attractive woman, objectively speaking: tall, probably 5'10" or 11", and, from what I'd seen, she was in good shape, with full breasts and curvy hips; she dressed well for an academic, but not provocatively. She had a nice face, with regular features, and short, blonde hair. I guessed she was about my age, somewhere in her middle forties. All said, a pretty package, but not what I considered my type.

"I had no idea," I told her.

"Why would you? I see what you are. You're a one-woman man. When we were working together, I kept it professional." She reached out and put a hand on my arm. "I don't know what the story is, but I'll bet any amount of money that your wife is the one that fucked it up, and that you tried every way you could think of to let her get away with it, and still keep your self-respect. I'm glad to see that self-respect won out, in the end."

I was simultaneously filled with awe at how well she'd read me, and dismay at how transparent I apparently was. "Remind me never to play poker with you," I said.

"You misunderstand," she said. "I'm not underestimating you. Quite the opposite. She might have taken you for granted, but I won't." She took her hand away and sat back in her chair. "The trouble with most divorced one-woman men your age is that they're boring. Their wives get bored, and, suddenly, they find they've been replaced. Is that what happened to you?"


"Easy, sweetie, I'm not insulting you. I know you're not boring. You're about the most interesting man I know. But wifey doesn't know that, does she? How often did you talk with her about your work?"

The truth? Almost never. "Well, you know," I said. "It can be pretty dry sometimes."

"Bullshit," she spat. "It's fucking fascinating. But she didn't have the intellectual candlepower to keep up with you. I'll tell you a little secret, Dan: long before she got bored with you, you got bored with her."

"I never . . ." I said, weakly, as the truth of it sunk in. How Ellen never read anything, except what was on her phone; no books, no magazines, even. How she never liked to argue both sides of a problem; how she was always ready to accept an answer that someone else had come up with.

"It's okay, sweetie." I silently noted the second use of the endearment, which was not one that Ellen had ever used for me; hers for me was "Honey." Funny that both implied sugariness. "You fell in love with a woman who wasn't a match for your intelligence. I'm not saying that you're a genius, or that she's an idiot. You're just too different. The beautiful, sad thing is that, because you loved her, you wouldn't let yourself realize that something was wrong. She did you a favor, Dan."

While I was pondering that, the waitress arrived with our sandwiches. "Great," said Diane. "I'm starving." And she proceeded to devour her turkey club with a gusto I'd never seen Ellen display. I decided to find it charming rather than appalling.

"Whatsa matter?" she asked, about halfway through her meal. "Aren't you hungry?"

"You just gave me a lot to think about," I replied.

"Eat. You'll feel better," she said, and went back to attacking her sandwich.

When we were finished, she said, "I know you're not ready now. I'm not asking you out, or asking you to ask me out. But I am asking you to do what you do best: keep an open mind. I'm different from her, and right now that makes me seem wrong for you. But you've gotta remember, different from her is good, because she was actually wrong for you." She paused to wipe her lips with her napkin. "I also know I'm coming on really strong. But I don't want to run your life; in fact, that's the whole point. I want a man who I won't have to tiptoe around, who's going to carry his share of the load, and who will call me on my bullshit. I saw that man in you, two weeks into our work on that article, and it's been eating me up inside knowing I couldn't have you, as long as you were married. When you're ready, give me a call. What've you got to lose?"

"That I can promise I will do," I said. I signaled the waitress, who came over with the check. "Allow me," I told Diane. "I feel like I owe you. You know, you'd make a pretty good psychotherapist."

"Thank you," she said, coyly. "Next time, you can buy me dinner. If you do, I can promise I'll be very, very grateful." And then she actually winked at me.

In three months, the divorce was final. Ellen leased a 3-bedroom condo, with an option to buy, and took the girls Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, while I got them Sunday through Wednesday. We stopped having dinner together.

A few months after the divorce, as I was dropping off the girls, Ellen asked to talk to me.

"I've met someone," she said. "I think it might be serious, maybe, if I let it. But I told you--"

"Go ahead," I said. "I want you to be happy. I will always love you as the mother of these two incredible girls; I will always be grateful to you for giving them to me. But if you love him," I warned her, "for god's sake, be honest with him. If he lets you down, talk to him. If you feel the walls closing in on you, give him a chance to do something about it. I would have done anything you'd asked, if you'd asked me. If he loves you, so will he."

"I know," she said. "I'm so sorry."

"Don't be sorry," I said. "You and I are square. You don't owe me anything."

"But what about you?" she asked. "I want you to be happy, too."

"Don't worry about me," I told her. "Right now, all of my desire and ambition is invested in Alyssa and Sophie."

"Alyssa is going to be just like you."

"I hope not," I said. "I want so much more for her."

"Oh, please," she said. "You and I both know she's got your brains, and she won't be happy until she's become an egghead, just like you." She took a breath, then started again. "You think I don't know or care about your work, and, I guess it's true, I don't really understand it. But I do admire you for it. I just never could follow it."

"It doesn't matter now," I said.

"No," she agreed. "But Alyssa can, and, if you help her, she could really set the world on fire. I'd like that: my baby setting the world on fire, someday."

That was the last time we really talked. Ellen and her guy got married about a year later; Alyssa and Sophie were both bridesmaids (I didn't attend). They like him, and say he's good for Ellen. He's a part-owner of an Olive Garden, so they have the food service industry in common.

Did I call Diane? I did. I took her to a romantic little restaurant, where the menus are printed in French. Fortunately, I'm something of a linguist, and Diane let me order for her. I think she was pleased with what she got. She was much more ladylike than she'd been at lunch, but hiding her appetite is not her style. That's something I've come to appreciate about her.

The girls were with Ellen, and I took Diane back to her house, a tidy little Craftsman style bungalow in a neighborhood near the campus. She wasn't shy, but, unlike at our lunch a few months earlier, she let me take the lead.

In heels she was my height, and kissing her was a new sensation; I didn't have to lean down, or pull her up toward me. When I said, "Take me to your bedroom," she grasped my hand and led me down a hall to a large room with a king-sized bed against one wall. Reaching behind her, I unzipped her dress from neck to waist, and let the material fall in a puddle at her feet. She wore nothing underneath it; her large breasts sagged a bit, but the nipples pointed upward, and she had a full, but neatly trimmed blonde bush, beneath a rounded but firm and very attractive tummy.

We stared at one another for a moment before attacking my clothing together. I tore at the buttons of my shirt, while she tugged off my belt, and opened my pants. I was glad then that I'd been keeping up my workouts at the gym; I didn't have a six-pack, but my gut no longer protruded over my underwear.

I was desperate to have her--it had been a year since I'd had sex with anyone, at this point--but I was planning to take it slow, when she grabbed my hard cock and gasped, "Just put it in me!" I did, and lasted maybe two minutes.

"I'm sorry," I said. "It's been a long time."

"Shut up," she said. "You think you can go again?"

"Give me some time," I said, "and a little help, and maybe. It's been a while since I even tried."

She smiled. "Challenge accepted."

She got me up again,and we took our time for the second round.

Afterward we lay together. "That was worth the wait," she said.

"For me, too," I told her. "Of course, you know what this means; I am, after all, a one-woman man."

She smiled. "I'm counting on it."

We've been married for about four years. Alyssa's in college now; she's a biology major, and is talking about going for an M.D.-Ph.D. after graduation. She and Diane get along really well: they're both strong, smart women, and it's good for Alyssa to have someone to talk to about the problems that strong, smart women encounter in academia, and elsewhere. Sophie was pretty intimidated by Diane, at first, but they bonded, of all things, over soccer. It turns out Diane got through college on a scholarship, at UNC-Chapel Hill, as a striker on the women's soccer team; they were NCAA champions all four years she was there. Now the three of us go to the gym together, with Diane as our unofficial trainer.

It's not perfect, but it's pretty damned good. We argue a lot; one consequence of living with a fundamentally honest woman is that the potential for conflict lies around every corner. But, when I say we argue, I don't mean that we fight, and it's pretty rare that either one of us gets really angry. It's taken some getting used to, but I can sincerely say I got what I wanted, and it turned out to be what I needed, as well. That's a happy ending, as far as I'm concerned.

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by Anonymous

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by Anonymous11/18/18

Wonderful first effort

I was very impressed! Good to great dialogue, excellent storyline.

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by sdc9723011/15/18

Something's definitely missing

The story sets up a possible "mental illness" path with hints of "multiple personality" and "compulson," then just never goes there and ultimately her only "issue" is getting bored with her supportivemore...

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by meganann1011/14/18

Disappointed story didn't have anything to do with the title very decieving

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by matuateneira09/25/18

A brilliant story

I can not remember any other story capturing so well the dilemma of two married people who are not soul mates but care for each other. The character depth and the description of the concern for the childrenmore...

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by OhRhett07/04/18

I love this

Well-written, lucid, never plays the reader for a fool. Bravo! And thanks for the enjoyable free read.

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