The sound of the dirt hitting the coffin was dull, which matched the dreary day. I was standing there, watching as the minister said some words meant to ease the suffering of those left behind. I held my daughter's hand, her husband standing just behind us. His hand was on my shoulder, offering comfort. My son was standing next to me, his girlfriend beside him.
At forty-nine years old, I never expected to be standing at graveside, burying my wife. I always believed deep down I would be the first to go. I thought that due to my work and the way I had lived my life, I would surely die before my wife, and that when I did, I'd be an old, old man. Now I felt old. Ancient.
After the funeral there was the reception. Everyone coming up to me, telling me how sorry they were, how great she was, how wonderful we were, how young she was, everything but what I needed to hear. We had been married over twenty years, two kids, both now off on their own. The youngest, our, I mean, my daughter, is married and about to have my first grandchild. The oldest, my son is working in New York City in the financial district. Both are doing well.
With all the people at our house ... I guess it's my house, now ... See? I'm having a hard time adjusting to this being single. Everything for the last twenty years has been ours, not mine. Anyway, there were about forty people around talking and offering their support. I just wanted to be alone at the moment.
Feeling quite fed up, I finally slipped out into the back yard, and worked my way out the back gate, intending to take a short walk. As I closed the gate, someone drove up the alley, and parked their car right next to where I was standing.
"Jeff ... How are you holding up?"
It was Marie, my wife's younger sister. The one person in the world I didn't want to see at the moment. You see it was partially Marie's fault that my loving wife was dead. Okay, maybe that isn't really fair to Marie or my wife, but in my heart I knew that if Marie had kept her damn interests to herself, Brenda would still be here with me.
"I'm just going for a walk Marie. Everyone is inside. You've been mentioned."
I didn't smile nor did I invite her openly. I just stated the facts as I saw them. I now wanted to be away from here for certain, and I was sure Marie would try to invite herself on my walk. I should have known better, as she just brushed past me and went into the back yard. She had always been all about Marie. That's why when Marie had taken a sudden interest in Brenda's personal life that I became suspicious. That was out of character for her younger sister in many ways.
I sighed; glad to be free of her for the moment. There was a cloud hanging between us, and a chasm that to me seemed insurmountable now. Family or no, Marie was persona-non-gratis around me. It's a long story about what happened and how it all mushroomed into the funeral today, and to be quite honest I'm not really up to telling it here and now. Life goes on, just like water in a river or air across a mountaintop. Always moving relentlessly onward. For most people anyway. Then again, maybe telling it will help me to move on.
Okay ... fine. Here is my story. Take it as I lay it out, or not ... it is what has happened in my life.
Brenda and I met after college, at her job. I had been into the insurance company she worked at to renew my policies on the house and car, and she had been the agent assigned to me. I found myself making excuses to go back after our initial meeting, and somewhere along the way finally got the nerve to ask her out.
After several months of dating, we had seen that we were deeply in love with each other, so we got married. Two children and a full and wonderful marriage, right up until two years ago anyway, I had never questioned getting married to Brenda. We were like two peas in a pod, and very compatible. Then Marie had gotten interested in Brenda's life.
I'm sure she was well meaning. I'm sure that Marie thought that Brenda needed to reach out and grow. Everything one could see in a person who was trying to be better and more loving of those around her, you could have seen in Marie. She had been trying hard to help Brenda with what Marie saw as shortcomings.
It started with Wednesday night 'girl's night out'. Soon it grew to Wednesday and Fridays. Then Saturday was added. It seemed that, after a while, Marie was spending more time with Brenda than I was. Of course, that was true only because Marie was capitalizing on Brenda's time when normally I would have been.
At home it soon became 'Marie this' or 'Marie that'. When it got to be a daily thing, I started to withdraw from Brenda. Every time I would try to get some quality time with my wife, Marie seemed to be there. Any time I wanted Brenda to be with me, Marie seemed to be more important. Every time I wanted to take Brenda out for dinner it seemed that it was one of 'those' nights for the girls.
Pretty soon what had been a very communicative and open relationship became closed off and non-talkative. I couldn't say anything about how I felt without Brenda flaring up and getting mad at me, telling me I was being hard and unfair to her younger sister. If all I was going to do was piss off my wife by just trying to be with her, then why would I bother?
A few months after the growing 'girls night out' invaded my life, I could see that my marriage was in serious trouble. Yet, I couldn't talk to my wife about it without her getting mad and defensive. So I did the worst thing I could have done. I gave up. I spent my time doing what I wanted to do, and Brenda began to do her own thing as well. On our rare nights at home together we were like two strangers living in the same house.
Then, one night ... well rather it was morning, but it started the night before, all hell broke loose. I was at home, working in the garage on a project I had going. It was a Friday night, and Brenda and Marie had gone out on their regular Friday night thing. They left the house about six-thirty, and I found myself making my own supper. Something else I had been doing more and more it seemed.
Eating in the garage seemed to be the simple thing to do, so I got dinner ready and took it out there. Listening to my boom box as I worked and ate soothed me. I worked until eleven and then went in. I half expected Brenda to be in bed already, but I was a bit surprised that she wasn't even home yet. I saw the light flashing on the phone, a message left waiting.
"Jeff, I'm staying at Marie's tonight. We've been out a bit longer and it's too late for me to drive home in the condition I'm in. I'll see you in the morning."
"Why bother" I thought to myself, "I never see you anymore anyway. Just move in with your bitch sister and be happy."
Yeah, I'll admit, I was mad and jealous. I had lost something when Marie took such a special interest in her sister, and now I didn't seem to be able to find a way to get my wife back. I missed being with Brenda; I missed the talks, the laughing, the gentle chatter of a couple who knew each other very well, and most of all, lately it seemed I missed the sex we had once shared with each other.
I replayed the message before deleting it, and that's when I heard men's voices in the background. There were men at Marie's house with my wife. It sounded like a party going on too. I picked up the phone and dialed.
After nine rings, someone picked up. A man's voice.
"Yeah ... it's your dime don't waste it."
"Yeah, let me speak to Brenda please?"
"Is she the one with long hair? She's a bit tied up at the moment. Maybe call back tomorrow like around ... say ... noon?"
"This is her husband; I need to speak to her. Put her on the phone..."
The bastard had hung up on me. Getting mad I redialed the phone. Nobody picked up. I tried three times over the next half-hour, getting madder and madder. Finally I had enough. Grabbing my car keys off the counter I left the house and drove over to Marie's.
There was nobody home at her place. That's when I remembered I had dialed Brenda's cell phone. I had no idea where she was, or who she was with. I didn't know if she was there on her own, or if she had been kidnapped. I knew nothing.
I drove home madder than I'd ever been; mad and scared. I went in and made myself a drink. Making myself a drink I started on the rocks, but finished the bottle neat. Matter of fact, I finished the bottle by chugging right out of it.
At some point I decided that Brenda was doing this of her own free will and that the cops couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it for twenty-four hours anyway. I had gone so far as to even think that Brenda had invited the men to be with them. My mind was playing tricks on me now, and the alcohol wasn't helping me to see things better.
In the morning I woke to a hell of a headache, and dry cottonmouth. I rummaged around and took a shower, then got dressed. Taking a bottle of aspirin in hand I took some and then after a thought, took a few more. It was an eight aspirin headache today. In the mirror I saw a man with that haunted lost look.
I sat around after eating a light breakfast, and waited for either a phone call or Brenda to come home. Around two o'clock she pulled up in the driveway. Walking in, she looked great. Freshly showered and wearing one of my favorite dresses. It was a slinky and tight fitting number that left lots of leg and a bit of chest exposed. In the past Brenda had only worn it when out with me, and even then, only if she wanted to get laid that night.
"Sorry for not getting home last night dear. Marie and I had a few too many and then by the time we got to her place I was real tired, too tired to drive, so I crashed at her place."
"Yeah. Slept until just a little bit ago. Took a quick shower and here I am."
"What's wrong Jeff, you seem upset?"
"Well, I called your cell last night, several times after the first call. It seems that the person who picked up said you were tied up. I told him that I was your husband and he hung up on me. Nobody would pick up after that. Now I see the dress you were wearing and I have to ask myself, did you wear it for some other man? I am also wondering where you wore it at since I drove over to Marie's and neither of you was there. Her place was dark."
Brenda sat down. Too bad she missed the chair. She had turned as I was talking; hearing that I had called and a man had picked up her cell phone, going white in the face. I guess she thought that the easy chair was a bit closer to her than it was, but she missed it by a foot or so.
She didn't move from the floor though. Her hands were on her face and she was crying. I couldn't stand it, as it was plain as day that she had done something she was ashamed of. I got up and stormed out to the garage. I locked the door behind me, and cranked up the stereo as loud as I could stand it.
I didn't accomplish much other than to bang things around for a couple of hours and mostly just cuss at Marie, Brenda and the asshole on the phone from last night. By the time I cooled off and shut down the stereo I had begun to think about my marriage and how it was all unraveling around me. All because of Marie as far as I was concerned.
Before Marie, Brenda and I had been happy and loving to each other. Since Marie we had drawn apart, and now it seemed, Brenda was looking for happiness or satisfaction from another man ... or worse ... men. In the hours out in my shop I came to the realization that I had probably lost Brenda for good. We were headed for a divorce.
Going into the house I found myself alone. Brenda was gone off somewhere, and I will admit I was thinking she had run to Marie's for support. I went to our bedroom and got a shock when I saw Brenda's dresser drawers open and empty. Looking in the closet I saw just a few items here and there, things she hardly wore anymore. She had left me.
Being that it was a Saturday, I only had the option of online banking available to me, so I went online and began to work out how to move money around and protect myself in case Brenda decided to leave me permanently. I was not going to lose out financially after having worked so many years to build up a nice savings account and bank account.
After that I called a buddy of mine who had been through a divorce and we made a date to get together and talk about Brenda and me. I called our kids and told them things between their mom and I had gotten strained and she may have moved out. My daughter asked me where and I honestly said I didn't know.
A week went by, with me working every day, hard and busy to keep my mind off my downward spiraling home life. At night I would drink and sleep, getting up just in time to shower before heading back to work. That Saturday, one week to the day since the last time I had seen my wife, I met up with my buddy and we talked. He didn't have much advice for me other than what I already sort of knew. Protect my assets first, then worry about her and what she may do ... or want or try to do.
I never heard from Brenda the whole week. No phone calls, no stopping by work, nothing. By Saturday night I was certain she had given up on us way before last week, and was now shacked up with some other man. I finally called Marie's house that night too. Marie was home, and quite surprised to find out that Brenda wasn't home with me.
"I thought she was still mad at me and sticking close to home. You haven't seen her at all Jeff? That's not right. What happened between you two?"
"YOU HAPPENED ... you ... bitch."
"Jeff, that's awful harsh. You don't mean that."
"Yes I do. We were fine until you started taking Brenda out every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. You and your girl's nights out destroyed us Marie. I hope you achieved whatever it was you were aiming for. She's gone and I am sure we are about to get divorced. If she's not with you she must be with that asshole that answered her phone last Friday night."
"Oh. You know about last Friday night then?"
"I know that Saturday afternoon she showed up at home in her 'wanna get laid dress', all freshly showered and then I told her about some strange guy answering her phone and she just sat on the floor and cried. Later on, when I came in from the garage, she had packed her things and left me. So ... fuck you Marie. You and your bullshit cost me my wife. Don't ever come around me again. Whore."
I heard her yelling not to hang up, but I was too mad to listen to her. I just wanted to shut everything out. Her, Brenda, that other man, and life in general. Furious didn't describe my feelings or thoughts.
Just hearing Marie on the phone was enough to set me off. I was angry all over again, angry and lost. My wife was off somewhere, I knew not where, and I had no way of fixing things. After shouting into the phone, I slammed it down so hard I broke the handset. Fuck ... now I had to buy a new phone on top of everything else. That seemed to open a dam inside me and I found myself on the floor, crying. Like a baby.
It was a while before I decided to get up and go to bed. As I got up I noted that I had been sitting right where Brenda had collapsed on me not such a long time ago. Sleep that night was fitful and full of bad dreams and tossing and turning. By morning I figured I had actually lost on the equation, and would have been far better off just staying up all night drinking.
A dreary Sunday morning greeted me and I was not in any kind of mood to deal with anyone. I ate something to keep my stomach from growling at me, and then just sat in the kitchen drinking coffee. About noontime, I heard a car pull up in our front driveway. Looking out the window I saw my son climbing out.
"Dad ... what the heck has gone on around here anyway? Mom came to my place a week ago upset and crying ... won't talk to me about anything but that you are going to leave her. What's going on?"
"I told you we were having problems son. Besides, she left me. She packed her things and ran. This is the first I knew where she was at all this time."
"Yeah, mom came to my place. I ... uh ... well it was kinda embarrassing. I had a friend over and she spent the night ... anyway, mom was on my couch in the morning when my friend went to shower so they sort of met, in the worst possible way."
"Oh damn. Sorry about that. I didn't even known where your mom has been. When did she show up at your place anyway?"
"Sunday. After you called and talked to me. She refused to let me call you and talk to you. She wanted me to leave you alone for fear that you'd hunt her down. What's going on dad? You're not going to hurt her are you?"
I was tired. It had been a week of worry and stress like none I'd ever had before. Now my son had to drive over three hundred miles on a Sunday to ask me what was going on and why his mom was at his place refusing to let him talk to me.
"Look, last week she went out with your Aunt Marie."
"Mom told me about that. She ended up missing your call and somehow you got real angry about it. What got into you? Why would you do that?"
"She missed my call? That's what she told you? That she just missed my call?"
"Yeah. She told me that she missed a call you made that someone else intercepted it before she knew about it. Then she said you got real mad at her. She was afraid so she ran."
"That isn't quite correct. She missed telling you some important details."
"Then why don't you tell me what happened dad?"
"Last Friday night your mom went out with your Aunt Marie like clockwork. I was in the garage working on a few things for a while. I came in about eleven and found your mom wasn't home yet. I saw she had left a message on the phone that I had missed. She told me she had too much to drink and was going to stay at Marie's."
"Okay, she told me that part. About the message I mean."
"Yeah? Well, when she left the message I replayed it to make sure I understood it right."
"I've seen you do that lots of times. You always replay messages like that."
"I replayed it and in the background I heard men's voices. That worried me, so I called your mom's cell phone. It rang nine times, and then some strange guy picked up. I asked to speak to her and he told me she was tied up at the moment, to call back tomorrow afternoon. I told him I was her husband and to put her on now. He hung up on me after telling me to fuck off."
"Oh shit. Mom sort of sugar coated that part. So ... mom cheated on you?"
"To be honest, I'm not sure what happened son. She left before we talked about it, but she was acting guilty as hell about something. I haven't talked to her since Saturday afternoon."
"You two need to talk to each other. Can you come over to my place and talk? I'll be there for either of you, and my new girlfriend will be there too. You need to at least talk about what's going on. You have too many good years together to just toss them away like this dad."
"I'll talk ... but will your mother?"
"If you show up, I'll make sure she is there. Uh ... just come as you are dad ... no guns or weapons or junk okay? I mean, I know you're mad and everything and your talk may ignite more anger between you two ... but you need to work things out, or figure out what you're going to do. You can't stew on this for very long, neither of you."
"I'll follow you home."
"Why don't you just hop in and ride with me?"
"What if your mom and I can't work things out at your place Mark?"
"I'll make sure you get home okay dad. Trust me."
During the drive to my son's place I realized that I still had some love for Brenda. Even if she had cheated on me, I think that right at that moment I was willing to try to work things out with her. When we got to Mark's place he parked and we went inside. His girlfriend was sitting with Brenda and when I walked in they both got up, looking nervous.
I may still love her but I was still upset with her so I kept my greeting short.
"Uh ... How have you been?"
How had I been? What did she think? I started to boil. Before I could check myself, I started to blow up. I was barely able to curtail my anger in time.
"How do you think I've been you cheating..." I saw her shrinking from me as I yelled. I had to pause and catch myself. "I'm sorry ... Uh ... I've been okay I guess. Drinking a bit too much lately. Confused about things too."
She looked pale and nervous. The woman I loved, the woman I had spent the better part of my life with was afraid of me. That hurt me deep inside. My heart was breaking. I loved her still, and she was afraid of me. Could we patch things up?
The young woman that must have been the 'guest' broke in.
"I'm Jill. You must be Mark's father. I wish we could have met under better circumstances."
I took her proffered hand and shook it gently.
"Me too. I hope that we can get to know each other a bit more though. Mark hadn't told us he was seeing anyone ... yet."
I glanced knowingly at him; he saw the slight reprimand in my eyes I'm sure. Jill kept me on track.
"Look, you two need to talk, so Mark and I will be in the other room. If things get sticky or loud we'll come to the rescue, okay? You guys just sit and talk things over for now. Try to keep your cool though. This is an apartment building and the walls and floors are thin."
Mark and Jill left us to our own devices.
"I guess I need to explain things to you Jeff. First of all, I'm so sorry. I really am."
"So, you have something you need to be sorry about? Did you sleep with some guy?"
"I don't understand. Not exactly? That's kind of like being half pregnant dear."
"It wasn't just one guy, and we didn't sleep."
"More than one guy? YOU?"
Her revelation hit me hard. Frankly I was flat stunned. She had been with more than one man? This was not the person I had married years ago at all. I didn't know who she was.
"You did this openly and freely of your own choice?"
"Not exactly. I was drunk ... I think I had way too much to drink that night. Marie had also been pushing me for weeks to get out and let my hair down. I don't know, maybe I was lonely too. I just don't know how it all came about, but suddenly, there I was on a bed with four men ... actually it started with just one guy, but by the end all of them were ... anyway, Marie was there too, and by the end of the night I had been with all of them. Yes ... Marie too. The guys kind of arranged that. It wasn't rape, really, but they were quite forceful. I was drunk enough that I guess I didn't think about what I was doing and how wrong it was until it was far too late."
Her revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. I had expected to hear she had cheated on me ... I hadn't figured more than one man, nor her and Marie doing things together either. They were sisters for Christ's sake. I sat there, not knowing what to say. Our talk had taken about five minutes so far and we were already into the part about her having been with other men. She wasn't hiding ... or I didn't think she was hiding anything from me. She must have read my mind.
"I will tell you whatever you want to know, Jeff. If I can. Part of all that went on I'm not sure how it came to be. I'm not sure when I became a slut either. I am though. I had sex with four men I didn't know, and I used no protection at all. I even enjoyed part of it ... for a while. I don't know why I did it. I don't know what caused me to forget my wedding vows, or my husband waiting for me at home. All I do know is that at one point I heard myself begging for more. I was such a slut. I'm a terrible person. I don't deserve you ... I don't deserve to live."
Her sobs took over her ability to speak and she just collapsed. I watched her, not knowing who this person in front of me was. I didn't say anything. I was too shocked and stunned to even know where to start. This was all too much for me to handle. I began to feel ill.
"I-I-uh ... oh ... shit..."
I started to throw up. I ran to the kitchen sink and let loose. After a while, I turned on the water and flushed it down the drain, then headed to the bathroom for a bit. I stayed in the bathroom for about fifteen minutes. I mostly leaned on the counter and threw up from time to time. I calmed down and was able to settle the stomach with a glass of water. Wiping my face off, I returned to the kitchen table.
Brenda was in tears, crying softly. I wanted to go to her and hold her. Hug her to me and tell her it would be okay. The problem was I didn't know if it would be okay ever again. I sat down heavily, wanting to be able to know what to say or ask without getting sick again.
"So ... you and Marie's nights out were for scouting for men then?"
"NO. That never happened before. We had gone to a new club. I told you that I had been drinking too much. Anyway, these guys were buying us drinks and dancing with us. They complimented us and made me feel beautiful and sexy. Lately you haven't been paying attention to me, so I guess it went to my head ... Marie's too. Then, the next thing I know I called you and left the message that I was too drunk ... and then we went to their place."
"Lately I hadn't been paying attention to you? I hadn't been paying attention to you? Are you hearing yourself Brenda? You're the reason, you and your sister. You haven't been letting me even try. I've tried to get you to go out with me but you've been crying that you and Marie needed to be together. Not only that, but you told me in the message that you were at Marie's, Brenda. You lied to me."
"No ... at the time I thought we were going to Marie's. The men wanted to take us to their place first though, it was just to be for a minute so one of them could pick up something, so we never thought it would be a problem. We ended up becoming sluts there though. If only I hadn't thought you should have paid more attention to me, I might have been better prepared to fend off what happened."
I couldn't help my voice raising as she mentioned again that she thought it was my fault somehow.
"I haven't been paying enough attention to you lately? Again with that? God Damnit! Need I remind you that you've been the one ignoring me? You're the one that has been going out with Marie every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. Always Marie this and Marie that. You've blown me off more and more while taking up her cause to me. You're the one who has been pushing me out of your life."
I saw from the way her eyes changed that she suddenly realized she wouldn't be able to blame me all that much for what she'd done. It was like a veil had lifted when that thought hit her. She slumped in her chair and finally gathered enough will power to continue.
"I-I know Jeff. I mean, I didn't realize it was me until ... now. You're right about that part. You hadn't been paying attention to me because I had been with Marie so much and cutting you off from me. That, and it pissed you off so much too."
"You like being a slut then? You've mentioned it several times. I've never called you a slut nor have I treated you like one either, you know."
"I hate it Jeff. Hate it. Something inside me snapped that night and I found out I liked what I did with those men. It was the tastes, textures, sizes, and combinations I guess. It was all so different and new to me. Deep down I loved the different things we were doing and some of them I'd always wanted to try with you, but couldn't bring myself to ask you to. I lost myself in the whole mess and now I've lost you. I hate it because I found myself with other men doing things that I should only have been doing with you, and for you. I know that I've driven you away for good now too."
Hope shown in her eyes and her whole posture changed. She saw that maybe there was a chance that I'd be able to forgive her and we could get past this nasty bit of time.
"I'd do anything Jeff. I want to be with you. I want to stay married to you. I won't go out anymore ever unless you are with me. I'll be a stay-at-home wife and do anything you want me to do. I'll do anything Jeff ... anything."
"So ... now you're suddenly willing to talk to me and work with me? What about when you were going out with Marie? Are you going to start that again later on when things cool off? You know that she drove a wedge between us don't you? She was taking up all the time that you used to spend with me doing things."
"Oh Jeff ... I'm sorry about that too. I never really realized how much I'd been ignoring you and avoiding you. I don't know why I let myself do that either."
"Well, it isn't going to be all that simple now Brenda. You've cheated on me ... us really. You have been with other men ... several of them. How do you think that makes me feel? Do you have any idea of what that makes me feel like? Any idea? Then, you were going to try to pass it all off to me saying you stayed with Marie. Would you have kept up the lie after that if I hadn't found out? Are you going to be lying to me from now on too?"
My voice had risen. My teeth clenched. I could feel the hot anger bubbling up and I was fighting to keep it in check. I was losing that battle though. Brenda could see it in my eyes too. I saw her look of fear as my voice began climbing in volume.
Mark and Jill slipped into the kitchen at that moment.
"Hey dad ... mom? So ... how's about we take a short break now. Maybe dad and I can take a walk ... or maybe dad and Jill?"
Jill grabbed my arm and dragged me out of my chair. I had half risen up, so it wasn't much of a tug for her, but I had the distinct feeling that she had some strength there, of that there was no doubt.
"Come on Jeff. You and I can take a walk. You can bounce some stuff off of me, while Mark and Brenda have a chat. Okay?"
"Yeah ... fine."
It was probably the best thing they could have done at that moment. My anger had been running wild in those last few seconds and it had gotten close to where I would not have been able to control it. I'm not sure what I would have done had I not been sidetracked like I was, and that thought will haunt me for a long time.
We walked for about a block before Jill started talking to me.
"Jeff, I know you're angry and you have every right to be. Brenda and I talked about what she did while Mark went to get you. She is really repentant you know? She is so sorry she did something like that and possibly ruined her marriage. She really is feeling guilty about it all. I believe her and I think the alcohol played a large part in this whole mess too."
"And so she should feel guilty. She messed up big time. First her bitch ... sorry ... her sister Marie takes up most of her free time, time that she used to spend with me. Then they both end up in a drunken gangbang. I want to beat them both senseless. I hate her for that so much right now I just don't know it I'll ever get over it."
"You know, my mom and dad went through this very same thing a few years ago. Mom went out with her girlfriends a couple times a month. One night they all had too much to drink and mom got involved with some guy. I thought at first that dad was going to die of a heart attack, then I thought he was going to kill mom. They worked it all out in the end though. You and Brenda will too."
"Your parents are still married then?"
"I said they worked it out, not that they stayed married. Look Jeff, what Brenda did was wrong in so many ways and on so many levels ... but that doesn't mean that she doesn't love you still. I know it seems that she has tossed you aside, but she hasn't. She messed up and got caught up in a situation that went too far, too fast. It happens. Alcohol and drugs are the two things that cause things like this to happen most often. Lowered inhibitions coupled with peer pressure and having 'fun' can do that to anyone."
"Well, it doesn't really matter now does it? I mean, the dirty deed is done and she strayed. I on the other hand never strayed. Of course I didn't have a sister or brother coming over dragging me away from my wife all the damn time either."
We were walking and talking and I found my anger subsiding. Jill had a way of talking softly and soothingly that helped a lot that was for sure. I wasn't sure where Brenda and I were headed now, if we'd stay together or if we'd divorce, but I was willing to try to work through it all.
"I think I can go back and talk a bit ... quieter now."
"Let's walk a bit more okay? I have a question or two for you."
"Okay then ... ask away."
I was trying to cheer up and sound like it too. Inside I was all messed up still, and not in any mood to be happy at all. Maybe that was part of my problem. I was trying to figure out why Brenda would get into such a situation, and then when she had and I found out, it had hurt me to the core. I was trying to hold the anger in, to keep myself better than her. Righteous indignation perhaps?
"Jeff, before Marie began coming over and taking Brenda away all the time ... how were things between you guys?"
"Uh ... fine I think. I thought anyway. I mean, we have been together for twenty years and all, so some of the magic in our relationship has worn off, naturally, but I thought we were fine. Far better than most married couples with the time we had together."
"Did you take Brenda out much before?"
"Not often enough I guess. Maybe I was taking her for granted a bit too much. But Marie really drove the wedge between us though. I mean, after they started going out, if I tried to get some time in with Brenda she'd either refuse because of Marie, or she'd get mad at me for trying to take her away from her sister ... the bitch. Sorry ... Marie isn't one of my favorite people right at the moment. Anyway, with Marie competing for Brenda's attentions with me, it was bound to happen eventually I suppose. Drifting apart I mean."
"Did you bring Brenda flowers or compliment her for no reason at all? You know ... did you make love to her often?"
"I don't think our sex life has..."
"You don't get it Jeff. I said 'Make Love' not have sex. There is a difference and making love doesn't necessarily mean having sex you know. Women love to made love to. That means endearments, caresses, flowers and candy, romance ... you know ... were you romancing her?"
"Oh. Well ... not really. I mean, we've been together so long I guess I just assumed..."
"That the hard work and effort needed to keep her was a thing of the past?"
"No. I mean ... damn ... you have a hard way of putting things don't you? I know one thing though, I shouldn't have to keep fighting to keep her faithful to me, that's something that placing the ring on her finger should have stopped totally."
"Okay, I can see your point there. I also know that a couple need to keep each other close to each other's heart. Small things, here and there, add up to the big thing ... know what I mean?"
"Okay, I guess I could have and should have been working harder at letting her know what I thought and how I felt. I suppose I could have tried being more romantic too."
"Bingo." Jill was working hard to make me think clearly, something I needed to do.
"But ... she wouldn't give me a chance after I realized I may be losing her. I mean ... I tried to take her out, I tried to do things for her, and I even complimented her more trying to let her know that we needed equal time together. Marie had already taken that time away though. Some of the biggest fights of our marriage have been in the last few months over her and Marie's girl's night's out. She was all about her sister and far less about us."
"I hate to say this Jeff ... but you two drifted apart. You should have noticed things a bit before the nights out right? I mean, what she did was flat out wrong, yes, but do you think that this would have happened if you two had been getting along better in the first place? Look, I know it's not all or even mostly your fault Jeff, but I do believe she needed something at that time she wasn't getting from you. If only she'd said something or you'd noticed it somehow, it would have prevented all of this I'd bet."
"Maybe. You're taking her side now though. I mean, it's more than just me that caused this. It's not my fault. I may have not helped my case much, but she is the one that refused to try after she knew I was trying. She locked me out, not the other way around. Besides that, SHE cheated on us ... even though I was angry about her time spent with Marie, I never even thought about doing anything with some other woman, ever. I love Brenda too much to do that to her."
"You're right about that too. Let's go back and see if you can ask her about that. Be direct, but keep calm. I know that Mark thinks the world of you two, and getting divorced over what happened won't fix things really ... for either of you. Talk it out ... maybe love will bloom again and you can put this behind you. I say that because I heard you say 'you love Brenda too much to have cheated on her'."
I wish I could be as confident as this young woman was. Jill seemed to know things. I guess she had been old enough when her parents had their problem, she must have picked up some things along the way. Back at Mark's, I found Brenda clear eyed and waiting for us.
"So Brenda, where are we?"
"I don't know Jeff. I know where I want to be, but I don't know if you will accept that or not."
"I cheated on you. It was a one time thing that will never happen again, as long as I live. All I can say is that I'm so sorry, but that doesn't make it go away. We will have to deal and cope with my cheating on you, and you will obviously have a hard time believing me from now on, since I destroyed any trust you had in me. Can you accept that I realize what I've done was wrong, that I'm sincerely sorry, will never do anything like that again ... and can we move on from here?"
"I don't really know Brenda. It's not so much that you cheated, it's how you cheated on us in a one night drunken ... group thing. I mean ... I'm not sure I could even accept one man, let alone four ... and your sister too. That hurts. Actually, what hurts worse is I was trying to figure out how to win you back and you wouldn't give me a chance. Now, you are asking me to give you a chance after you've been with four other men and a woman. I never cheated on you. I never strayed. Maybe I am guilty of not working on us enough, but I know it takes two to tango. I don't know."