The thing about the past is, it does not always stay there. Things have a way of showing their ugly face no matter how much you may want to move on.
‘Honey, are you okay,’ my husband asks me,’ you look like you have seen a ghost.’
‘Oh… I’m good, ‘I answer back almost in a whisper. My body is still in shock.
‘Okay. As I was saying, this is Henry. I met him as I was wrapping up the building project at my old firm last month.”
There is no response from my side. My eyes are fixated on Henry and the lady standing next to him.
‘It was such a coincidence that he is also looking into starting his new construction company just as I am, ‘my husband continues completely oblivious to my silent nature, ‘we had discussed going into business together.’
Wait, what? My brain feels like it is spinning and my stomach has this gnawing feeling to empty out everything it had for lunch.
‘Well, it was nice meeting you. Richard, we should definitely meet up and talk more about working together. If you will excuse me and my wife, we will take our seats before the show starts.’ Henry finally speaks up.
‘Sure sure, do not let us stop you,’ my husband replies.
Henry and his wife walk away and take their seats at the corner of the left side of the room right next to us.
‘Are you sure you are okay?’ Richard asks holding my hand.
‘Yeah, I just need to rush to the ladies’ room,’ I answer, almost whispering.
‘Okay. Do not stay too long. The show is just about to start.’
I pick up my purse and hurriedly rush to the ladies’ room, find an unoccupied loo, lay the toilet seat down and just sit there. I am a germaphobe but I could care less at this point. It feels like I am having a panic attack. I have never had one but I’m pretty sure this is what one feels like.
How can he look so calm? Does he not remember me? As I struggle to catch my breath and calm myself, my mind flashes back 7 years ago. We had just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary with Richard. Stuck in that honeymoon phase of marriage. Half of your friends envy you, the rest cannot stand your puppy-dog love. However, things were not as they seemed. I cared for Richard, I really did. But there was something amiss – I was not in love with him.
As a young teenager, I was the rowdy kind; parties, booze and the like. However, as I grew up, I become a little bit more grounded; reeling in my crazy so to speak. When I met Richard, I had just come from a very nasty breakup. The kind that makes you loathe any XY chromosomes walking around. But after a period of patient pursuit, I gave in. I mean how could I not? He was an amazing guy. He loved me and I fell in love with his love for me. In my head that was enough to marry the guy and for a while it actually was. Fast forward two years later, and the truth started dawning on me.
The Monday after we celebrated our anniversary, I decided to drop by the bar located on the ground floor of the building I worked in. That day was my breaking point. I was not happy with Richard anymore so I was definitely in no hurry to go home. I took a seat at a secluded corner of the bar and ordered a glass of white wine – I did not want to be bothered. As I sipped on my wine slowly engrossed in my thoughts, a guy dressed in blue khaki pants and a white polo shirt walked up to me. I remember how he was dressed because it was freezing cold and he was out here braving the weather like a champ.
‘Hi, I am Henry. Can I join you?’ He asked.
‘I’m married,’ I replied gesturing at my ring.
‘Wow hold up. I am not asking for your hand in marriage. I just want to chat.’ he said laughing.
‘Just to chat my foot,’ I murmured to myself. All these people in the bar and he chose me ‘just to have a chat’ with. I, however, was having way too much of a bad day to care so I just scoffed and he must have taken it as me signalling him to have a seat. For the next couple of minutes, we just stared at each other in silence. I was just about ready to chug down my remaining wine and head home when he asked me a question.
‘Are you happy?’ Henry asked.
It was a peculiar question to ask a stranger. However, when you are in a state of doubt like I was, such questions really make you wonder. If it was any other day, I would have walked away and thought this man was just psycho. But on that day, I just needed someone to talk to.
‘Funny thing is, I do not know if I am,’ I replied.
What followed was a night-long conversation which I really enjoyed. Henry was smart, a great listener with a dint of mystery. I was probably on my third glass of wine when I noticed my phone ringing. Richard was calling.
‘Hey babe, where are you? It is getting a little late.’ a worried Richard asked.
‘I am hanging out with Rose. We were planning her birthday party. Remember I told you about it,’ I do not know why I lied. It was not like I was doing something wrong. But it was out now, I could not take it back.
‘You did not tell me. Probably slipped your mind. Okay, just be safe. I love you,’ he said and hang up the phone.
The guilt was definitely not going to take it easy on me. I felt like a fraud. I hated that I had lied to him. Henry who had been silent during the whole phone conversation finally spoke up.
‘We all tell tiny white lies,’ he said in an effort to make a joke, ‘just have another drink.’
For some stupid reason, I agreed. I figured I could drown my guilt with another glass of wine and then quickly rush home. That glass of wine turned into 2 more. It was relaxing to hang out with Henry. Realizing I was buzzed, I told him that I needed to get home after going to the ladies’ room. He offered to walk me to my car. As I was getting out of the washroom, Henry bashed in the door and pushed me to the wall.
‘What are you do….’ before I could finish my sentence, he kissed me. I could have pushed him away. I should have, but I didn’t. We then walked into one of the washroom cubicles and then and there I committed the worst mistake of my life. I cheated on Richard. The events after were a bit hazy. I just remember rushing to my car, driving home and luckily I found Richard asleep. My guilt then should have probably led me to come clean. I got into my pyjamas and forced myself to sleep.
The next morning, I worriedly called Rose, my best friend and spilt my guts. Her only words ‘Do not say a word to Richard until we talk.’
So we met after work. We had one of those long conversations that only best friends can have. Her advice was as simple as this.
‘Do you really want to lose Richard because of a stupid mistake? I do not think so. So just forgive yourself, move on and love that amazing man God has given you,’ It was weird that she would mention God in such a situation.
I did not want to lose Richard so that is exactly what I did. I decided to focus on being the best wife I could be. So much so that for a while, I convinced myself that my ‘little slip up’ was just a bad dream. It was not until one month later when I found out that I was pregnant that I realized things were not going to be that easy.