Jimi was procrastinating in the bedroom with Lizi; his performance anxiety had become unbearable.
He could tell she was trying to “******” him tonight. She didn’t wear a bra under her ratty t-shirt and
snuggled up against him when she climbed into bed, this was his queue to come after her. Hmmm,
does she think he’s so simple? At least Pavlov’s dog had the respect of his owner. So he lay on his stomach,
pretending he was asleep like he had done so many times before. After what seemed like an eternity, Lizi
sighed with disappointment and rolled over. When Jimi dared open his eyes he glanced at the clock,
2:17 am. His stomach felt hard as he choked back tears, there has to be more to life than this…
when could he stop pretending?
“Shhh it’s ok. You don’t need to talk about it.” He said, pressing her head against his chest.
That angered her. She did need to talk about it, and he was treating her like a child. She glanced
at the clock, he had already overstayed his available time.
“You need to go. It’s past 3.”
He sighed, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry.”
“No problem. Can’t keep the wife waiting.”
“Please don’t be mad.”
“Hey, it’s my own ****** fault for getting involved with you.”
Jimi didn’t say anything. He never did when things got uncomfortable. Instead, he reached for
his coat and put on his shoes. “I’ll call you tomorrow morning, ok?”
Mango sat silently, staring out the window. No you won’t, she thought, and you’ll get busy
and forget to even ask me, because you don’t ******* really care.
He walked over and kissed her softly. “Bye honey.”
“Bye” she answered, not returning the kiss, or looking at his face. How could he bring up
this ****, and then leave her alone with all of her emotions?
There was really only one friend from college that Jimi trusted enough to talk about anything
of substance. But even so, he didn’t dare talk about Mango. He’d been telling her that he was
going to move out, but no one in his life knew there were even problems in the marriage. Lizi
didn’t know there were problems in the marriage. This was much bigger and more complicated
than he had imagined, and how long could Mango hold on? He didn’t mean to **** her around,
but she cried more than she laughed these days….he really missed her laugh. When he and
Mango were together, his feelings for her were powerful, literally full of power. He had fallen in love with
her, more than he had ever loved anyone, or even knew he was capable of loving anyone. But the
pathway to her was terrifying and treacherous, and once on that path, there was no turning back.
“At this point music doesn’t comfort, poetry doesn’t comfort, my work does not comfort and you
do not comfort. I don’t remember the last time I felt so empty and out of control of my life.”
The other end of the phone remained silent, every passing second bunching the muscles in her
back and neck as if her whole self was shriveling into a contorted form of a human being. “Jimi,
just face it—you lost me. You thought I’d be a cure for your boredom and dissatisfaction, but
you didn’t expect to fall in love with me. Okay, you love me. So what? So ******* what? You
aren’t going to leave your wife and I’m tired of being treated like your concubine.”
“Don’t give up, please don’t give up. Don’t you love me anymore?”
“Right now, I hate you. If I leave now, maybe the hate will fade and we can be some sort of friends.”
Nothing was heard but the faint sound of breathing for the next ten minutes.
“You know what Jimi? **** this whole **** game that you think is love and ******* too.”
and she hung up.
“I know who you are.”
“You are the woman who has been having an affair with my husband.”
Mango looked up from her register. Large round hazel eyes bore through her, burning with anger
and refusing to cry. An enormous scarlet letter “A” seemed to be melting into her skin. They stood
there, sizing each other up, Mango could feel her lip begin to quiver.
“I can see why he wanted you, you look nothing like me.”
Side by side it was true. One woman refined, statuesque, well bred. The other thrift store coordinated,
pierced lip and pigtails.
Mango tried to think of what to say “I’m sorry. It’s over, I ended it over a year ago.” was all she
could come up with. How do you say I’m sorry for intruding on the bond between a husband and wife?
How do you say I’m sorry for something that can never be undone and has forever seared pain
onto the heart of another woman?
They stared at each other for a full minute, neither willing to break the gaze. Finally, Lizi sighed and
began to walk away.
“Lizi…” She turned back to look at Mango one last time, “He didn’t make me happy either.”