It Was Just A Fantasy Ch. 02byrpsuch©
Chapter 2: But Whose Fantasy Was It?
I strongly urge you to read "It Was Just A Fantasy" before you read this. Otherwise, this will probably make as much sense as if it had been written in Klingon.
I stood in my bedroom, naked, midlife's semen running down my thighs; alone, not only at the moment but perhaps permanently separated from my husband. I had completely misread the situation. Since he did not want me to be with other men, I had cheated on him; cuckolded him. And I had come home proudly to rub it in his face. No, that wasn't my intention. But that was the reality of it.
He had walked out the door after telling me that I had completely misunderstood and that it was not his fantasy that I be with other men. He had said nothing further. He didn't tell me he still loved me. He didn't say he hated me. He didn't say he did not care about me at all. He just left. I had no idea where he was or where he would go.
It was beyond obvious that he was angry. He had a right to be. Despite my good intentions, I had royally screwed up. If he had done that to me, he would have been lucky to find me only angry. I would probably have been in a near murderous rage. I would have visited revenge on him until he wished he had never met me.
How could I have been so stupid? Cheryl had repeatedly warned me to talk to Danny before I did anything that could have such a serious effect on our marriage. I had ignored her warnings to our detriment. I had no idea how I could even begin to make this up to Danny and I had no idea how to even find him to try to talk it over with him.
Yes, I did. I rushed to the phone and dialed his cell number. It rang several times and I got his voicemail. "Danny, I'm so sorry. Please call me. We need to talk. I'll do anything I can to make this right. I love you. Please call me."
I took the phone into the bathroom with me so I could hear it in the unlikely event that he called me back promptly. I had no reasonable expectation that he would call but I was not willing to take the risk that I would miss his call.
I turned on the water in the shower. I made it very hot. I wanted to wash away whatever I could of what I had done today. All I succeeded in doing was ridding myself of any remaining traces of midlife. I washed thoroughly inside to make sure of that as well.
Happy anniversary to us.
It had taken all my strength to try to keep it together to think of what I might do to start making amends, to make plans to start the process. Nothing remained. I sank to the tile floor and started to sob. I didn't slow down until I became aware that the water was now cold.
I exited the shower and toweled off. Instead of sobbing now, I was shivering.
Being alone is not a terrible thing in itself. Many people are alone and get along quite nicely, thank you. But I was alone after being together with Danny, when I should have been with Danny, and that was a terrible thing.
I went back into the bedroom and put on a sweat suit and sat on the bed, my back against the headboard waiting for a phone call that never came.
It felt like Danny had died and I would be without him forever. No, it was more like I had neglected to get the brakes checked and he had died when they failed.
I felt overwhelming self-pity. It paralyzed me. I couldn't act. I couldn't think. I just sat there and waited I don't know how long.
Eventually I became aware of my hunger. Of course. We had missed our anniversary dinner. Had he gone there? Not the way he was dressed when he left.
I went down to the kitchen and made myself a sharp cheese sandwich. I could barely finish half.
Finally, I was able to string together some cogent thoughts. Where was he? Did he go to a friend's house? Should I start calling around for him? No to that one. Absolutely not. If I started calling around looking for him, all his friends would know something was wrong. Eventually the story of what I had done to him would come out and he would be humiliated in their eyes. I would become a pariah to them. That might happen anyway, but I didn't want to do anything to make it more likely.
Would he go to his parents? I couldn't call them either. Everyone knew this was our anniversary and that we had big plans. Anyone I called would instantly know we were having major problems and, knowing how difficult it is to anger Danny, they would probably assume I had cheated on him. Nothing short of that would cause him to be missing on this day. I would take what I had coming, but I wouldn't do anything that would increase the possibility that Danny would suffer further humiliation.
How dismal were my prospects? I had no way to find him, no way to talk to him and no way to make it up to him even if I could. I was falling into such a deep depression that I didn't even have the energy to think about harming myself, although it was a fantasy I held at the time. The only thing I had the energy to do was to go up to bed and fall asleep.
I awoke at noon on Sunday. I had been asleep for 15 hours. I didn't feel the slightest bit refreshed. All I felt was depressed and sad. I lay there for hours drifting between crying and dozing. Self-pity is hypnotic if not particularly satisfying. Toward evening the phone rang. Finally.
"Hi Beth. Is my son there?"
"No mom. He's out right now."
"Is everything okay? You sound like you've been crying."
"No. Just allergies. I'm stuffy."
"So how was your anniversary?"
How to put this without arousing suspicion? "Memorable."
"Oh, I'm glad to hear that. Well, have Danny give me a call when he gets a chance."
"I'll tell him you called." God, I hoped I would get a chance to tell him that she called. He had been gone for nearly 24 hours without a word.
I put on a CD but it just reminded me of him and deepened my sadness. If I was feeling this bad, how must the victim be feeling?
The phone rang again. This time I didn't get my hopes up.
"So did you have a lovely anniversary honey?"
"Memorable." Hopefully other things would become easier as well.
"It sounds like you've been crying. Is anything wrong?"
"No. I just have a little cold and I'm a bit stuffy." My mother knew I didn't have any allergies.
"So, tell me all about it."
"I'm kind of busy right now, mom. Can I call you later?"
"Okay. Your dad sends his love and we both wish you two a happy anniversary. We didn't want to interrupt you love birds yesterday."
"Thanks mom." And thank God there were only two sets of parents to phone us.
Danny hadn't returned or called by Monday morning so I left for work at the appropriate time. I just barely managed to pull myself together for the work environment. It helped that I was largely cried out for the time being. I needed to go to work. I couldn't sit home forever waiting for his call.
I could call him at work, though, and I did at around 10.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Mitchell. He's not in. He called in sick." Her voice sounded suspicious.
"Oh, he must have gotten sick after I left for work. I'll call him at home."
This was getting very difficult for me to handle alone. I couldn't cope. With great trepidation I phoned Cheryl.
"What's wrong? You sound awful."
How to characterize it... I cheated on Danny and he left me? I did something monumentally stupid? I didn't take your advice? "Danny is gone." That was the most important part.
"What do you mean, 'He's gone?'"
"He, he left on Saturday and I haven't heard from him since. He didn't go to work. He's gone."
"What did he say?"
"He didn't say anything. He just left."
"I think it's safe to assume he's upset."
"And probably angry."
"And he didn't say anything?"
"How is that good?"
"Think about the things he might have said. 'Get out.' 'I don't ever want to see you again.' 'I'm leaving and I'm never coming back.' 'I want a divorce.' 'I hate you.' You get the picture. I'm not saying everything will be fine, but when you don't get the worst possible news, it could be because you're not going to get the worst possible news."
I don't know if I already was, after all, I apparently didn't know myself all that well, but I vowed that I would be, as good a friend as Cheryl had been. She didn't say, "I told you so." She didn't castigate me. She was just being my friend; trying to get me to think as positively as was possible. "Thank you. I needed that. What do I do now? How do I find him?"
"If this goes on a few more days, he may be avoiding you. Okay, that sounds really stupid. I mean he may be avoiding you. If that's the case, I'll try to contact him."
"I owe you big, Cheryl."
"You owe me nothing. That's what friends do." She was right. "Friends also give unsolicited advice. Think about your situation and how you got there and why you got there. Understand those things. Then you can understand why you'll never get there again."
"It's just so hard to get together the energy to think about it."
"Yeah, well, tough. That's what you have to do. If you don't, you'll have plenty of time to wallow later."
I sighed. "You're right. I'll let you know if I hear from him. Thanks Cheryl."
As I started thinking about it, I realized there was something I had to do. I picked up the phone and made the call. I left on my lunch hour at noon.
Ten minutes later I was at my gynecologist's office. The panic in my voice had convinced her to fit me in for an emergency appointment during her lunch hour. I told her I'd been very stupid without filling in the details. She did all the tests but told me that for HIV, it could be six months before anything would show up. I think that revelation would have pushed me over the edge had I not remembered something Danny had told me many times before. "Worrying has no value, Beth. Either you can do something or you can't. If there is nothing to do, worrying won't fix it. But if there is something you can do about it, do it."
On the slim possibility that Danny would take me back, I did something. I stopped at a Rite Aid on the way back to the office and got a package of condoms. Yes, they would be a reminder of what I had done if I got lucky enough to use them. But I would rather suffer that minor humiliation than put Danny at even the slightest risk.
The rest of the day passed very slowly. I did some work. I did some thinking. I waited for the phone call. I went home.
Tuesday passed in much the same way but I couldn't even attempt to call him at his office. How obvious would it have been if I didn't know he had called in sick a second day in a row. I trudged home in a fog.
I didn't much feel like making an elaborate, or even functional, dinner for one. I threw together a tuna sandwich. I wasn't especially hungry but, whatever happened with Danny, there would be a rest of my life.
I was reluctant to go up to the bedroom because it would be a reminder that I wasn't sharing it with Danny. Instead, I chose to spend some time in the den. I put on Norah Jones because the album had a laid back, blue feel and that suited my mood.
Some time into the album I heard the front door close. I hadn't heard it open. I felt a surge of excitement and of fear. Nobody else had a key to our place. It had to be Danny. I felt the urge to rush him and consume him. Instead I remained seated out of fear that he would reject me.
Danny appeared at the door. He looked tired and sad. I didn't want to, I had vowed I wouldn't, but I started to cry. I took deep breaths to push it back and, at least for the moment, I succeeded.
There was so much I wanted to say but I didn't think I had the right. I wanted to stay together with Danny. I would do anything to make that happen. He would have questions, issues. I waited for him to start.
"I suppose you wonder where I've been and why I stayed away."
"I stayed at a motel. This wasn't something I really wanted to share with anybody. It wasn't any kind of punishment or anything. I was angry, too angry to talk. When I was a kid, my father had this saying he read in the paper and it stuck with me. 'Speak when you are angry and you'll make the finest speech you'll ever regret.' I didn't want to regret what I would have said so I waited until I wasn't too angry to talk to you."
I wanted him to have complete control of how this went but I couldn't help myself. "Are you going to leave me, Danny?"
"Do you want me to leave?"
"Of course not. How could --" I guess I knew how he could think that.
"I'll ask you that question again, later, after we've talked. It's not a knee jerk question. It's serious. I've put a lot of thought into this."
"Okay." But I already knew the answer.
"Why did you do it?"
"I thought you wanted it. I didn't want to do it at first no matter what you wanted. But I thought about it and decided that if it would really make you happy, I would go through with it."
"Go through with it. You poor thing. Did you enjoy it, Beth?"
"Well. It wasn't like with you."
"Did you enjoy it?"
We both knew the answer, but I hated to hear myself admit it. "Well, I decided that if I was going to do it, you would appreciate it more if I enjoyed myself."
He seemed ready to say something but I guess he thought better of it. He took a deep breath. "So you did?"
"If I told you that the idea that excited me the most was to see you sexually molest an eight year old girl, that I craved seeing that, would you do it for me?"
"No! That's disgusting. It's sick. I could never do anything like that. How could you even ask?"
"So you're saying that you wouldn't fulfill a fantasy for me if it's something you didn't want to do?"
I was not so quick to answer. That wasn't really the question he was asking me. "I didn't know." Quietly. "I'm so embarrassed. If I'd thought about this better the whole thing could have been avoided."
"Could have been avoided?"
"All right. I wanted to do it for myself. God, this is humiliating to realize."
"Why didn't you talk to me, find out what I was thinking? Don't you trust me?"
"I trust you completely. I was embarrassed about snooping through your computer." I couldn't even sell that bullshit to myself. "No. That's not the truth. I think I was excited at the prospect, even though I wouldn't admit it to myself. If I talked to you, you might tell me it wasn't what you wanted and then I couldn't have deluded myself into thinking it was okay."
"Why did you have to snoop? You could have asked me why things seemed to be going so much better; why the pick up in our sex life."
"I know. I know. I guess maybe even at that stage I thought it might prevent me from doing something exciting if I knew what you were actually thinking. I didn't understand why I didn't just ask you. I had no idea. Really, I didn't."
"Do you have any curiosity about what I was thinking, about what I told you?"
"Of course. But, I really haven't thought much about it. All I could think of was that I'd lost you and how stupid I'd been and how hurt you must be."
"Well, there is still that to deal with after my confession. Like I told you, in my fantasy, I'm the evil heartless prick who seduces married women, gets them to betray their husbands, humiliates them and their husbands, destroys their marriages and walks away without the slightest regret. I guess that sounds kind of strange coming from me. Hell, I guess it sounds strange coming from anyone. I spend a lot of time being nice; it's who I am. Sometimes it isn't easy. It can take a real effort to be nice to someone who has earned just the opposite with his behavior. It takes a toll, and sometimes I wish I could just be a bastard. But, it's not who I am. I would feel terrible acting that way. So I get a kind of catharsis from imagining myself as the evil character in a story.
"Why these kinds of stories? Because it's hard for me to make up a situation in which I'm so wicked. There are a bunch of these stories already out there so that I don't have to create the evil scenarios, I just have to imagine myself as the bad guy. And these scenarios are vile. When I get done reading a story and expressing my dark side, I feel refreshed. And when I'm relaxed and refreshed, I think of you upstairs. And I want to share my refreshed joie de vivre with you. Maybe I should have said something.
"You know, of course, I would never want to live out any of these fantasies. Just imagining myself in that role accomplishes what I need from them. Fantasizing about it makes me feel powerfully evil. Thinking about the reality of it makes me feel nauseous. I could never treat real people that way."
"But I could." I didn't know whether I was asking a question or answering one.
"No. It's different. My fantasy character fully realizes what he is doing. That's why he does it. It wouldn't be evil unless he intended to cause harm. You didn't knowingly intend to cause any harm."
"Not knowingly? How much harm have I caused? I don't mean are you going to leave me. How are you? Will you be okay?"
"I'm hurt. And I'm sad and I don't know." He sighed. "It's still pretty painful. But it is only three days. If I'd gotten a burn on Saturday, I'd still be feeling a lot of pain." There was nothing accusatory in his demeanor. He said it as if he had told me that the chicken was defrosted.
I got up and walked toward him. He didn't move away or even flinch. I put my arms around him and buried my cheek in his chest. "I'm so sorry I did this to you. I'd give anything if I could take it back." I rocked with him in my arms and cried. It wasn't long before he put his arms around me. "What can I do?" I asked.
I could feel him shrug his shoulders. "Nothing. It's over, in the past." He took his arms from around me, grasped my shoulders and moved me away from him. "I know how you feel about it. The question is, what does it mean for the future?"
"I love you. I never want to hurt you again. I want to be with you for the rest of my life."
"Not so fast."
My heart sank. This would be where he told me I made him sick and he didn't want to be with me anymore.
"We've established that the reason you cheated with another man is that you wanted to do it; you wanted to enjoy it." Why was he rubbing this in? I guess he was entitled. "If that is what you want, why would you want to come back to me and have to give that up forever?"
Pretty good question. "Because I love you."
"Didn't you love me on Saturday?"
"So what's different now? You loved me and you cheated because you wanted to on Saturday. Now you still love me. If you still want to cheat, why wouldn't you? What's different?"
Another good question. Does anybody have a good answer for me?
"You don't have to answer now. It doesn't have to be resolved tonight. It's not unreasonable that this might take some time."
"I don't have a good answer. I'm going to have to think about it. Right now I just want to hold you."
"In a minute. There's something else that's bothering me about it. Given that the real reason you did it was because you wanted to, I'm wondering about the timing. You couldn't have picked a more hurtful day than our anniversary. Since your, uh, motivation was subconscious, was there something about your choice of the date? Did you pick it so it would be worse? I mean it just doesn't seem like it could be an accident."
"Oh, God." My legs gave way. I sank to my knees and started to cry. The thoughts had come so quickly after his statement, and I realized the other motivation behind this and I couldn't stand it. He knelt and reached for me. I put my hands out as a signal to stop. "No! Don't touch me!" He backed away. "I don't deserve it. I don't deserve you."
He sat in a chair, his hands folded in front of him and let me finish crying. Then he asked, "Do you want to tell me?"