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Befores and Afters  by foxpamela
I put the pot of water on the stove to boil. And there it sat. Waiting. For years. Maybe he would bring over some jam or a head of lettuce, usually he was empty-handed. But never nothin’ to boil. The pot would sit until it ran dry or until I shut it down. That was just one of the metaphors.

The baby in the crib. That was another. I laid the baby in the crib and pushed the pillow over its face. The baby that was dear and precious to me that brought me a deep and crippling ache. I had no choice but to smother it.

He had been in and out of my life for a long time. In, because I wanted him there, out because there was no place to put him. I don’t know how these things happen. How these feelings happen. It wasn’t the first time, even since I’d been married. There was one other who had evoked this feeling, this infinite feeling, since my seven years in wedlock. But he had crossed the blood-brain barrier. He coursed through my veins. I was systemically infected.

Almost a year ago I’d pushed him out. Driven might be a better word. That night it was the liquor coursing through my veins.

“I hate you……. I love you……… You did this to me…….. **** me like you love me.” He should’ve just put me to bed but he didn’t. He **** me and then he left. And it was not a pretty exit. It took months of firmly applied pressure, but the baby finally stopped breathing.

And then two months ago, like a fool, I pulled him back in.

“Hi. I just have a lot going on and I’m having a hard time and there’s just not too many people who I can talk about it with. I don’t know how you feel about everything now but if you have it in you I would just really like to talk.” That was the message. I tried not to sound like I was whining. And he called back. The “lot going on” part was my husband’s affair with the lady next door, my son’s best friend’s mother, the woman who reported to my husband whenever my son did something “inappropriate”.

It was really good to talk to him. I was scared though. I was afraid of stepping on a landmine. I guess I didn’t because after almost two hours of talking about the band, and his wife and my husband and carefully avoiding everything from last year, he asked if I wanted to get together. I paused and drug out a “yeeeaaahhh.” I meant to sound unsure. Maybe a little disinterested. I didn’t want him to know how much I missed him.

It took forever to coordinate a time. His band was recording and touring a lot. And I had work and the kids and soccer practice and soccer games. But it happened. I was so nervous I don’t know how I didn’t burn dinner. He told me about the beers he was brewing. The people he lived with. About good cheese. He loved food. I didn’t hear any of it. I was way too preoccupied with the landmines.

And after dinner and beers and smokes and a brief interlude on the sofa we ****. We didn’t **** on the sofa because the lady next door would find that “inappropriate” enough to tell my husband and he’s still inclined to jealous rages. So we went upstairs.

It wasn’t like the old times. Well, the one time, really. Because even the old times weren’t like that first time. That first time was mind-blowing. I didn’t see it coming, no pun intended. There was snow on the ground. It was the middle of the night, Patrol cars passed every half hour or so. What’s it called? Tachycardia? I felt like my chest was collapsing and exploding at the same time. There are moments in our lives that split us into befores and afters. Before and after Mom’s depression. Before and after the molestation. Before and after the baby. And before and after the park bench.

It sounds kind of tacky now. Doin’ it on a park bench in the middle of winter in the middle of the night. It wasn’t tacky at the time. It was devastating. I have to explain that I’m a young professional. A mother. A wife. I have to explain that my husband was mentally ill and hated me for it. You need to understand that my spine was so bowed from this marital burden that one firm grip was all I needed to break. This from a man whose palms made grapefruits look like tangerines. Before that night I didn’t think I was capable of that kind of betrayal. Turns out I am.

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  'Befores and Afters' statistics: (click to read)
Date created: Dec. 13, 2007
Date published: Dec. 13, 2007
Comments: 7
Word Count: 924
Times Read: 2811
Story Length: 4
Children Rank: 3.4/5.0 (27 votes)
Descendant Rank: 0.0/5.0 (49 votes)