This is my featured post from last month at Studio Thirty Plus, The Confusion of Betrayal. It's short and not sweet.
Her voice was strained and remarkably unpleasant at first, something in her current situation made her angry at everyone, even people completely unrelated to it. I gulped her words down and let the anger roll over me and behind me, felt it’s heat retreating away like a winding trail into the distance.
Angel sighed and over the miles and miles of electronic waves I felt her pain and sadness.
“I’m so sorry.” She began to weep in thick snotty gurgles, the sick kind that get stuck in your throat and make you feel like a child, looking to wipe your face on anything and anyone near you. I imagined her blonde hair sticking in thick swathes to her face, weaving knots in her already unmanageable mane.
“Angel you have nothing to apologize for, none of this is your fault.” I felt the words pouring like waste out of my mouth, how pointless to parrot the cliche words meant to comfort in times like these. Couldn’t I think of something more original, more beneficial?
The sobbing continued and I could think of nothing to say. My flight instinct made me want to just hang up the phone, walk away from her and her situation, pretend like it never happened. Because the one thing about situations like Angel’s that would really get to you; once you examined them you realized that it could happen to you just as easily. I hung on and gave small sentences of encouragement, I tried to be as forthright and strong as she was weak and cowardly.
“Listen to me. I will come to you, just let me finish up my work here and I’ll just pack everything else up and come to you.” I had made a decision, that was a start.
“No! Oh God. What if he comes back?” The sobbing turned into deep and sharp intakes of breath, caught in Angel’s chest like heaving hurricanes of hysteria. She hung up the phone.
I called her back immediately and there was no answer.
I called her husband’s cell phone and there was no answer. The anger that I had dealt with so very well just a few short minutes ago now welled up in me like a surge of bitter bile.
“You fucking worthless piece of shit. You mother fucking dumb ass idiot. I wish your drunk ass didn’t have the excuse of your disease to fall back on. You knew what you were doing and I wish you would have killed the bitch you did it with, in the car that you fucked her in, while you were supposedly blacked out. I wish you were dead too.”
How very sad I was, how low I felt at this moment. I meant the words I said, I did wish he were dead for a minute, but I also wished that Angel and I were dead too. And that had nothing to do with a drunken child cheating on his lovely and perfect wife. It was about the sadness in the world and the strength and possession it takes to live with the bleakness of existing.
I called into work, rescheduling all of my clients and appointments. I felt a chill and an ache like the phantom impending flu I knew I did not have creeping up my spine and laying itself down in the base of my skull. The tears came as I packed up my stuff and continued to the car, in the car, on the drive and up Angel’s driveway. They were dried up by the time I parked the car, took notice of her husband’s car and crept around the house to the back deck, up the stairs and to the outside door to Angel’s bedroom.
I listened guiltily, almost afraid that I was in the midst of some sordid crime TV show, about to become the second victim of a husband’s rage. Instead of fear or panic I heard soft moans and sighs, something I knew from sharing a room with Angel for four years of college meant that she was being screwed by her husband, the only man she’s ever been with.
Instead of hearing her delicate pleas for more of his dick and more of his mouth from across an attic dorm room, her sighs and pants bouncing off wooden rafters in our ancient space, I was now hearing them from outside her grown up home, her house with her husband who had just betrayed her as horrifically as one could betray another. I fled their home and flew back out of the driveway and on to the road.
The tears came once more but this time they were for me alone.