We Never Truly Get Away With Anything

Submitted for Contest #28 in response to: Write about someone (or something) you loved that you shouldn’t have.... view prompt

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Submitted on 02/14/2020

Categories: Creative Nonfiction

Someone once told me that you never truly get away with anything. You may not get caught but eventually, in one way or another, you do pay. The price comes in many different forms.

If the course of our lives is measured by receiving our justice, I might just be due for one huge punishment. Nature always has a way of balancing itself out; storms, earthquakes, disease. What’s the balance for wanting to extract a man from his marriage?

He did not come gently. He did not come peacefully. He came into my life like a storm under the guise of a human being that everyone had desired and idealized. He was just an ordinary person who happened to revolutionize my world in a second.

I noticed him the very first day during work orientation. He was already one of the very few men in the room, his singularity highlighted by being the only one that wore a suit actually tailored correctly to his body. His face was expressionless, eyes pensive, fingers folded neatly on the table in front of him. He was attractive. Men nowadays that know how to dress are far and few. With that being said, there was also something about him that stopped me from pursuit. To this day, I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe something in me knew that it wasn’t the right time.

It is only now that I realize; there was never really a right time for us.

It had only been a few days of training for our medium-sized group of twenty. After the embellished formality of onboarding the new members into the company, we all went our separate ways into our respective departments. I never thought I’d see him again.

Imagine my surprise when I looked up one day and saw him standing a few paces away on my floor. Strangely enough, I had thought about him briefly a few days prior, even asking myself, “What was his name again? Troy? I wonder how he’s doing.” It had been a fleeting thought, at best, that had now manifested itself at the luxurious area adjacent to mine.

He looked just as attractive as he did the first day that I laid eyes on him. However, at this very moment, he also looked extremely displaced. He was the only man in a thirty-feet radius in a department overrun by women – hungry women. He was the new piece of meat in a den full of starving lions. By the look of their eyes, they were ready to pounce.

Admittedly, I was no exception. I had no intention of pouncing, but the thought of constant eye candy was enticing. Plus, I had one advantage over everyone; I met him first.

I did what any regular woman of this century did; I took to the internet. My resourcefulness had always come in handy and I never knew whether or not it was something to boast about. From one glance at the new communication sheet that we all received, I found his name. The rest was easy. Within the hour I had found every social media profile, browsed through every photo, unearthed his childhood, discovered his favorite candy, and had found out that his favorite color was purple. I was only a few steps short of running a credit check and blood test.

My search came to a screeching halt when I stumbled upon the picture of him with a woman. She was several inches taller, visibly several years older, and lacking in attractiveness; especially when she stood next to him. My eyes glossed over the word, “wife”.

A normal person would stop their pursuit right then and there. Yes. A person with any modicum of decency and respect for another man’s marriage and emotion would have stopped. Instead, I showed up the next day with a Snicker’s bar and offered it to him, knowing fully well he would accept it.

I know what you’re thinking. How could you? Have you no decency? Karma will get you.

Yeah, well, newsflash, I hope you can take comfort in knowing that karma did, indeed, get me already. We’ll call it even. But to address the other questions, I really don’t have an answer. Nowadays, I like to blame it on my astrological sign. I pursued him because I’m a Sagittarius. We’re gluttons for adventure, haven’t you heard?

Look, I know, okay? It was a bad idea since the beginning, and I went for it anyway when I shouldn’t have. I engaged. I got to know him. The Snickers bar had been the perfect icebreaker. I struck up conversation under the guise of a friend. I never pawed at him the same way the rest of the women in the department did. They used to throw themselves unabashedly at him, openly flirt with him, ask him to join them for lunch. I didn’t.

I greeted him with the same disinterest that I used with other coworkers. I commented on the smaller details of him. His suit was immaculate at all times. I took advantage. Instead I complimented his watch, taking it a step further to note that his wedding ring and his watch match each other with the same brushed metal finish. I praised his tie, simply because I knew from scouring his social media the previous night that it was a recent purchase, he was excited about. The process was slow, but slowly he began to open up to me.

His marriage was loveless. She was 7 years his senior who was a former drug addict that he had accidentally impregnated. She wore his spine like a belt. I know at this point I sound pretty crazy, but she had me beat on every level of crazy there was. She practically invented the word. I listened to his grievances. I saw his vulnerability and I manipulated it to my advantage. I treated it like a game.

And so fast forward two months, I had become his lunch buddy of choice. To everyone else in the café, we were two coworkers having a peaceful Saturday lunch together. To me, it was an hour window allotted for the two of them without the fear of his wife interfering.

I remember that there was never anything mechanic about his movement. They were always deliberate, almost calculated, always purposeful. A phone buzzing against the surface of the scraped mahogany table broke the spell.

I looked up at him with raised eyebrows, giving him a knowing look. It was time for the traditional chat with his wife. He picked up the phone, took an exaggerated deep breath, slid the ‘answer’ button on the phone, and answered with an unaffectionate, “Yo.”

I couldn’t help but find the greeting a little too crass for a husband and a wife. I picked up my own phone and opened up my own social media apps. I began to scroll mindlessly. The photos were all too similar to each other nowadays. Everyone seemed to be living the same curated life. My ears opened and closed to the phone conversation beside me. I heard the struggle in his voice to maintain interest in his current dialogue. His fingers tapped impatiently on the corner of the table. He rolled his yes slightly as he ended the conversation with the driest, “I love you too” I had ever heard in my life. I would know. I was a pro at them.

“I don’t know why I have to call every lunch break when I’m only twenty minutes away from home” he grumbled.

I remember giving him a delicate shrug. “You made your bed.”

He dignified my response with a bite of his salad. He knew I was right. He had decided to make an honest woman out of her and married her. He shackled himself further after his son was born. He was the definition of every red flag known in the dating world. He was the type of man I would never allow my friends to date. Yet, I was so drawn to him.

In comparison to every other woman in the department, I had already won. His attention was purely on me. He voluntarily chose me to take lunches with him. He confided all of his secrets with me. I should have been satisfied. So, what else does one do when they’re up in a card game? They push for more, of course. My chess game was working and I wanted a sweeping victory. I wanted him to fall for me.

Your questions at this point might have turned into something along the lines of, “You couldn’t have just stopped there?”

I should have, yes. But truthfully, I had played the game so well that I had even convinced myself that I was acting platonically and that I had no other intention but to be his friend and for him to confide in when he’s having a rough day. The poor man was short on friends because his wife was so controlling. Deep down, though, in the back of my mind, I knew what I was doing. Broken wings and damaged goods were my specialty.

The lunch hours would soon become too short of a time for us. He needed to speak to me more. At first it was a few text messages while his wife was at the gym on Mondays. The text messages then turned into a weekly, one-hour phone calls. Those weekly phone calls turned into nightly ones in the darkness of his garage during his cigar time. They began as twenty-minute phone calls. They then stretched to thirty, then forty, then an hour.

Every person has a weakness, a susceptibility. A man of his circumstance had very many weaknesses. I exploited every single one of them for my benefit. I molded myself into becoming what he didn’t even know he needed. He was in desperate need of a confidant, someone with his same with, same sense of dry humor, same level of intelligence, same appreciation for music. I was all of the above. I became his “best friend”. At that point, however, I already knew what was happening. He was falling for me. What I hadn’t expected, was for me to fall for him as well.

The commentary now is probably, “Well of course. What were you expecting?

Every romantic comedy I’ve seen up until this point should have equipped me for what was to come. I thought I would be immune to these results. I truly thought I had a better grip on my emotions than that. Afterall, it was just a game. Right?

As right as I was for him, he was just as right for me. At least, it felt that way. Like I said, we had the same sense of humor, level of intelligence, appreciation for music. He and I often times shared one brain cell.

The moment I realized I had fallen for him was the moment I should have recalled my troops and pulled back. Of course, living up to the expectations of a greedy human being, I continued pushing the envelope. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed, until it tore.

Things had ended suddenly. Our affair blossomed within a span of three months and then abruptly ended one night. We exchanged “I love you”. We spoke about a future together. Promises were made. Expectations were set. We had been on an upward trend. Of course, since things were going well, I needed a reality check. It was a gift the universe had been all too happy to give.

The last conversation we had was about his wife throwing a fit about a rash that she had in her pubic region. As much as I would have loved to take the credit for it, I couldn’t. The truth was, even in our throes of budding romance, he and I had never had the chance to spend any intimate time with each other. Everything had been purely emotional.

Remember the comment I made earlier about her redefining the meaning of the word “crazy”? Well. She accused him of being responsible for her rash, her reasoning being that he was currently cheating on her…with another man. Specifically, she had turned her attention to another good friend of his that happened to be male.

The last he explained to me, she was in a fit of rage. She was cursing. She was throwing around belongings in his house. She was seeing red. He was nervous to go home to a crime scene but he needed to come home for damage control. Afterall, his son was still in the house. He and I exchanged goodbyes for the night.

He never showed up to work again. His social media had since been deactivated. Every single one. His phone number alternates from working to being out of order. I stopped hearing from him.

The last message I received was a sad face emoji two weeks after he disappeared. I never responded.

 

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1 comment

Paige Leppanen
00:54 Mar 14, 2020

Love how this story is written. Couple of awkward wording spots, but as a whole it really drew me in. :)

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