The sky was overcast with dark grey clouds carrying sheets of recycled rain. It echoed her mood perfectly. She hoped that the youth and vitality on its way to her now would change that. Sitting in her parked cherry red Nissan, she listened to the chattering raindrops amongst the litter and spent pine needles, while memories of happier times threatened to drown.
Looking at her wrist for the twelfth time in five minutes she wondered if he would find out this time? Not that he would care if she cuckolded him. He’d probably be happy about it, it would give him the excuse he craved and it would give him free reign over her misplaced guilt.
Youth and inexperience had convinced her all those years ago that being married to a firefighter would be easy. Foolish love whispered that he would be capable of black and white thinking and his good would triumph over all evil. He would have a deep sense of honor; just the fact that he put on the uniform and faced death everyday meant that didn’t it?
She hadn’t added into the equation the groupies that seemed to come out of the woodwork whenever he was in uniform, or when a new calendar came out. She hadn’t factored in that he would develop a god complex and see the women he took to his bed as befitting trophies of his status in society. He risked his life everyday didn’t he? He saved lives! He wasn’t like other men, he needed—no he deserved more. She had heard it all when she confronted him about his indiscretions. He didn’t even have the audacity to back pedal and apologize for his actions, and it was then that she knew she could never fill the gaping hole within him.
She wanted to rip up every last fairytale that led young girls to believe in fantasy notions of love and romance. Why had her parents read them to her in the first place? She cursed the Grimm Brothers and Disney with their tales that beguiled her childhood naivety. They should have made the witches worse and the trolls more treacherous. They should have been telling the pitfalls of men and lost souls, which would have made the children and the adults’ quake. No, instead they made life with seven miners seem ideal. Damn Barbie and her fashion sense. Damn her career-less life telling young women everywhere that everything would be alright if you found yourself a Ken doll. They never told you that Ken had a mistress in the closet and her name was Skipper.
She switched on the radio looking for anything to take her out of the funk she was spiraling into. The view from the windshield was confused by rivulets of water; it looked like a constantly changing acrylic abstract. The thought produced memories of painting in school, something else she had given up to be the wife of a faithless man. In fact she had lost a whole world of herself trying to please the biggest mistake of her life. She thought about the wasted time, the words and ideas that she had stuffed down into herself because he didn’t see the importance of them. How had she let herself become so pathetic? Exactly when had she lost her backbone? She used to stand up for those without a voice, why hadn’t she noticed the flames of her passions being snuffed out one by one? More importantly could she rekindle them?
She looked at her wrist again and then at her phone. Where was he? That was all she needed, another man taking advantage. This one was different though, this one was barely out of boyhood. Would he know the same tricks?
He was tall and lanky, with a head of brown full curls and a mouth that knew how to pout. It hadn’t gotten physical between them. Not that there wasn’t chemistry. She just didn’t want to be his “Mrs. Robinson”, or a cougar on the prowl. Could she be considered a cougar at thirty-six? The thought made her shudder. Did she really have the energy to get out into the dating scene all over again? This tryst had no future. Knowledge of that fact made it easier to deal with and yet made it more alluring at the same time. She could have it all without strings attached, it all sounded too good to be true. It often was in areas of the heart and of the physical meandering. He was like a present all wrapped up before her, and she was allowed to shake it to see if she could discern what was inside, yet never unwrap; a glorious male conundrum.
It was wonderful to have him listen to her when she shared with him her feelings on various subjects, to actually sit and discuss the great poets and writers of the past and present was so rewarding. If she were honest with herself, she wished for more moments of his experience trumping hers. When he didn’t remember the same music or television shows that she did growing up it reinforced the age gap between them making her question continuing the relationship.
Finally she watched his blue neon pull over on the other side of the road while he waited for an oncoming car, then he pulled a u-turn and parked in front of her car. She watched and waited for him with that all too familiar rush of all things butterfly. She was aware of heat rising through her core, and it rolled down her extremities as it brushed her upper lip with pinpricks of moisture. Her rapid breath fogged the rain pelted glass and she could only make out his shape colors coming closer. A last vain and futile thought screamed through her mind, to start the car and drive off through the rain, before she could she could no longer hold this man outside her embrace.