by Irving Kenneth Zola

It was after one and she still wasn't home. We discussed open relationships for so long that I should be used to it by now but I'm not. It didn't seem to matter whether I was out with someone else, though it did help.

So I lie here festering--that's what it feels like. A car goes by. Is it her? No it doesn't have the familiar rumble.

I wonder where she went tonight. I know she's with him again though I pretend to her I don't. What a stupid-ass game I'm playing.

Lights are reflecting off the window but somehow I know she won't be coming from that direction.

She loves to dance. Maybe that's what they did. If I could really dance, would it make a difference? There's a part of me that would like to think so. Then I could blame all this -- what she needs, what I need -- on my physical limitations. Strange that that would make me feel better. Maybe its because I then wouldn't have to examine the us, or the me that's making me feel so lousy.

I think I heard a door slam. So I push myself out of bed and limp slowly to the window and wait..and wait..and wait. Maybe the fifth car will be hers. Let's see, if the first one is black and the second green then,...Now I'm into magical thinking. I feel like a child. I want her home right this moment. I laugh to myself. I think of my mother. When I used to trek in at 3 a.m. she would ask, "What could you be doing till 3 a.m.?" I don't have to ask that here. I know what she was doing. Funny I can't, really won't picture it. I won't let myself think of her in bed with someone else. Sometimes I think that if I could just purge myself I'd feel better. But I won't. I feel like crying but I won't. I just moan inwardly.

Another car door. I think this is it.

I hear a click, the back door is being unlatched.

I climb back in bed.

I hug my pillow tighter. I'll pretend I'm asleep. Now I hear her on the stairs. But she's stopped. She's going to the bathroom. Why does she take so long? What is she doing in there?

She's in the room. I hear her but my own breathing comes evenly. The message to her is that I'm sleeping restfully, unbothered by her new freedom.

The closet door creaks as she hangs up her dress. She's beside the bed almost immediately. Why didn't it take that long? Does that mean that some of her clothes were already off? I've got to stop this obsessing.

She's getting into bed. I can feel her weight. If she reaches over and touches me then I'll know she still loves me.

Her lips brush my shoulder. And I pretending to have wakened, roll over. Now we face each other. No words yet pass between us. We come closer and we kiss, gently but warmly....but I can smell him.

"I love you," she whispers.

"I know," I answer, but the words are a lie.

"I really do," she says again. And as she does I pull her tighter, repeating to myself her words like a mantra. I'm trying to hear it. I am. I am. But it just hurts too much.


copyright Irving Kenneth Zola