My body stiffened. Heart rate skyrocketed. Suddenly, a headache came on.
I knew that name anywhere.
I looked over to see her walking towards the nurse at the door. Her: the woman who, for six years, I wondered if she was real or some made-up figment of my imagination. He’d been keeping her identity from me since we met. His ability to successfully keep her under lock and key, yet have such a public relationship with her and me at the same time shows exactly the kind of man he is. He’d done it so well, sometimes I forgot she even existed.
One time, a few years ago during a heated argument he let her name slip out. Ava. I didn’t verbally note it then, but that name has been etched in my brain ever since. Marcus—oh, excuse me—Jonathan is one of the few people left on the planet who doesn’t engage in social media, though I encouraged him in the beginning for job opportunities and advancement. Ironically, his woman isn’t either. By chance, I found a piece of mail in the lap drawer of his computer desk with her name on it while I worked on a spreadsheet in his home office. That’s as close as I’ve gotten to her. They seem to live very separate lives despite their life together.
I’ve wondered what she looks like. If she looked like me. What kind of fun did they have together? Did they even have fun, or was he as miserable as he claims to be in his relationship when he’s with me?
After our first date, he’d told me that he admired me for having so much drive. I knew exactly what I wanted out of life, and had a plan in motion to get it. That was no surprise. I’ve been ambitious since my mother pushed me out of her womb. There is a strict way to achieve excellence, and my life reflects that. My home, car, wherever I am most is filled with books because learning is instrumental in the race to the top. My closet only consists of very basic colors because I don’t believe in standing out much. My hair is cut short so you can see my face, but I don’t cover it in pallets of colorful makeup like most women do these days. Sometimes, simple is best. Besides, I can prove myself without the burden of or the dependence on aesthetics. What matters most is the mind.
I may not act like many other women, but still, I am a woman. I watched Ava saunter through the threshold of the door until I could no longer see her shadow on the adjacent wall. Her hair was thick and curly, dark and shiny. Her body was tall and curvy in stature. A pretty face with tight eyes and what looked to be a tattoo on her wrist. I instantly wondered what it was like when they made love. Was he as gentle with her as he was with me, or was he aggressive and carnal? She seemed like she could bring that side of him out.
What was she here for? Is she pregnant? Doesn’t look to be.
Caitlyn, get a hold of yourself. What do you think she’s here for? She’s a woman just like you. It could be for a number of reasons.
Even if she is, I know Jonathan, and he has rigid rules on children. He refuses to be a father even though he was raised in a wonderful home by a loving family. If you want to be a part of his life, children cannot be a part of yours.
“Ms. McMain.” The receptionist was staring at me like I was an alien. Her calling my name wasn’t a question, but a demand as if to insist that I come back to Earth.
“Your appointment has been scheduled for next month, August 13. In the meantime, we’ll text you when we call your prescription in to the pharmacy.”
“Oh okay. Great.” I tried to mask my emotion by wrinkling my nose and shaking my head slightly.”Thanks so much. Have a great day!”
I rushed outside to get some fresh air. Inhale…exhale. The sun was scorching at about 90 degrees, but it was no match for the heat radiating from my heart.
There’s something about seeing someone with your own eyes that makes things so real. You realize that this bubble that you’ve created for yourself to blissfully dwell in—that you’ve decorated with the best and brightest colors– either can no longer exist or never existed in the first place. You’d been in that bubble alone, and now it’s time to come out with the rest of the world.
I jumped in my car and sat there for a moment or two. Instead of turning on my classical music, which helps me think, I picked up my cell and pressed the contact for Diana. I needed to get some thoughts out now.
She picked up on the fifth ring.
“I saw her,” I blurted out.
“….You saw who?” I could hear the cluelessness in her voice.
“Her. I don’t want to even say her name.” It was pointless though, seeing as how her name was a revolving door in my head.
“Ooooh, what her name? Ava?!”
Damn, that stung.
“I told you not to say it! But, yeah—”
“Well, I had to guess, Cait. Where? What does she look like?”
“Nothing like I imagined. Like a free, earthy Amazon.”
“Umph…That’s surprising. So, how do you feel?”
“Unnerved. Almost sick.”
“Okay, bring the dramatics down just a bit. You should definitely feel a way, but take a second to figure out what that feeling is. It’s not like you haven’t known about her.”
Diana was always the voice of reason. She’s been against my dealings with Jonathan since the beginning, but because she’s my friend, she supports me. He’d always told me I wasn’t like other women, but the truth was, I was never different. She was.
“I know, but to see her was a wakeup call,” I sighed. “I don’t understand how a man can be with two totally different women. We’re nothing alike, D. NOTHING.”
“He’s a man. Why would he have two of the same kind of people? There’s no fun in that…So, besides her being “earthy” or whatever, what else stood out?”
“I can’t put it into words, but she seems so…less than. You know?”
“Uh, no. I’d say at this very moment, you two are quite the same. You both love a fucking fool.”
I see where this is going. “Not now, D.”
“I’m just saying. Think about it, and call me later…” She hung up before I could agree to end my vent session.
I looked across the parking lot where an ice cream shop was located to see a cute young couple walking hand-in-hand. The woman was smiling at him, clearly the aftermath of a joke they intimately shared. Jon and I could and would never do that. We’re only seen as colleagues in day hours. When the sky falls we’re secret lovers. I often wonder if we’re really the talented actors we think we are, or if everyone knows and is patiently waiting for the curtain to drop on our ridiculous production.
Get. It. Together. You can do better than this. You are better than this.
“I’m sick of this shit!” I screamed out and banged my leather covered steering wheel, not caring if anyone heard me through my window. I’m a top executive at a technology firm. No one questions my authority nor my intelligence. I’m known in elite circles around the metropolitan area and it’s idiotic for every part of my life to be in balance, except my personal life.
The fact is Jonathan has been a crutch for me. I’ve had no reason to deal with anyone else and their foolishness since he’s come into my life. Yes, everyone has their own version of crazy, but I’ve been content with his because I’m used to it. When I think about things we’ve experienced together, though, it angers me. I’ve shortchanged myself and my life for him and with him. It will hurt, but it all ends today.
I press MK for Marcus Kingsley on my iPhone ‘Favorites’ screen. Surprisingly, he picked up on the first ring.
“Hey babe,” he whispered. “Surprised to hear from you so early.”
“I need to talk to you.”
Here goes nothing.