From the "Kissing All The Frogs Series"
The alarm went off as the feeble late autumn sun was breaking through the window, illuminating the room, telling her it was time to get up to go to work. She couldn’t. She had woken up from a dream at 4:00 a.m., unable to fall asleep again until 6:00 a.m. She forced herself out of her bed, but couldn’t get very far. She made herself a cup of tea and inched her way over to her computer, where she sent a note to her boss, telling him she wouldn’t be in today. The dreams had become a part of her life over the past few weeks. Each time they visited her, she was useless the next day for she would have spent most of the night recovering from them. Sipping her tea at her computer, she had an idea. What if she wrote him a letter and explained the dreams and her feelings to him? All of a sudden she felt a little burst of energy, desperately needing to write down that which haunted her and ached inside of her. She began typing slowly at first, gaining speed, as tears flew out of her eyes, blurring her vision.
I dreamt about you again last night. I dreamt you and I were riding in a car when you reached over and kissed me, like that first time. I can’t believe it now, but in my dream, I was surprised again like that first time. I responded and kissed you deeply. You were holding me in your arms so tightly, yet so tenderly. Your arms felt so safe and so good around me. I was full of longing for you and I knew you really wanted me, too. The dream was so vivid and so elaborate. You and I got out of that car in a parking lot and walked to our room, wherever it was. You were holding my hand we kept kissing each other, as if the time it took to take those steps toward our room would have been wasted without those kisses.
She wasn’t there again in my dream. It was just you and me, going places, talking, laughing, making sweet, sweet love. Every time I have this dream, she is never there. It was only in reality where her presence was felt all the time, though never in person.
When I met you, you had broken up for several months and I never knew the two of you as a couple. You said it had been a mutual decision, in the making for a year. How was I supposed to know how much you still loved her and that she was still ruling your heart and your life?
I learned, though. Do you remember the day we were playing hooky from work and I came over in the afternoon to hang out? Do you remember we were making love in your apartment and suddenly there was a loud thud from downstairs? Do you remember how you jumped to your feet in a state of panic? I was perplexed at your reaction to the noise which turned out to be the mailman dropping a heavy package in the mailbox. By now I know you thought it was her. You never did get your keys back, did you?
I heard from others about her shortcomings, never from you. You always talked about her as if she had no faults. You even blamed yourself for everything that had gone wrong. I consider that the ultimate sacrifice for someone you love, allowing nothing to tarnish her image, not even the truth.
She was everywhere and it was scary and exhausting taking her along. I heard she is living with another man and you must have, too, and none of that ever made a difference. She still came along. I had to compete with and lose to someone whom you had truly loved and had not begun to un-love. Well, I lost. I couldn’t compete. I couldn’t prove. I didn’t have a chance.
Both of you are gone now. I dream of you and I still miss you. But I don’t miss her. I’m glad she is gone and is out of my life. If loving you and having you in my life also meant having her around, I’m glad you are gone, too, even though I still love you. I don’t know how much longer I will dream of you. I don’t mind the dreams, they make me happy in a sad way, for there in the heart of those dreams is a man I love, unencumbered by the reality that he never could love anyone else.
* * * * * * * * * *
Her hair was disheveled and her clothes looked tired and wrinkled on her as she let herself into her apartment. She was no longer tipsy and she had lost all her earlier cheer and bravado. She left her briefcase and purse at the entrance and went directly into the bathroom, where she took off her clothes and dropped them into a heap on the floor. She pushed herself into the tub and under running hot water, the quickly building fog in the small room obliterating everything but her soul which was raw, sad, and empty. Sobs which had been building inside her finally had a chance to rise to her throat and she let them go to try cleansing her soul to no good result.
I went out with that guy again last night. I told you about him in one of my letters. Of course, since the letters are never sent, you wouldn’t know it where you are right now, but if I had sent them, you would know about the guy I have been seeing and you would know that he is a nice man, a professional photographer, and a very articulate man, just as I like men! He is tall and good-looking and he still has all his hair! I told you he had been saying how much he liked me every time we got together and how when goodbye time came, each time he would make a small gesture, like hold on to my hand a few seconds longer than expected, or would stand closer to me than he should, or look at me with a question in his eyes, signaling his wish for me to let him be more intimate. Each time I would end the meeting with some nonchalant words and go straight home, taking a sigh of relief that I didn’t have to face the possibility of intimacy and sex with him. I don’t know, somehow I just wasn’t ready to become intimate with anyone else after you.
You remember my friend Homayra, right? She has been telling me to move on after you, so when this guy came along, her advice to me was “It takes one to forget one,” meaning that in order to get over a lost man, another man must be found to take his place. That is why I have been dating again, I guess, but somehow every date has felt so empty, so void of joy and excitement, so sad, even while we are talking and laughing.
Last night I went to see him. We were going to see each other at a restaurant, but he called at 4:00 to say that he had gone home early and was proposing we got together at his place, so he could cook for me. You know better than anyone else that I’m not naive, Majid. I knew what he was thinking and proposing, and after three months of seeing him, and remembering Homayra’s advice, I thought why not? Maybe if I let us get more intimate, I would develop deeper feelings about the relationship and become able to reciprocate his warmth and affection. Without further contemplation I agreed and went to his house after work. He had made a perfect dinner, and had dimmed the lights and lit candles everywhere. I felt really tense and unprepared all of a sudden, deciding to myself that I would not sleep with him.
We drank wine and ate food and drank some more wine. I was tipsy and as you know so well, I came a little more alive, a little more daring, and a little more compulsive. When we took the plates into the kitchen and I turned to put mine in the sink, I felt him right behind me, reaching my waist and resting his hands there without a word. I stood there for a moment. It would be so convenient for me to tell you that I was too drunk to know what was happening, but you know I would never lie to you. Part of me wanted to run and would you believe it, “save” myself for you?!! I mean how ridiculous and pathetic is that? You left me five months ago and we haven’t been in touch, and here I wanted to save myself for you? I am so pathetic. Another part of me so wanted to know that I am desirable, that even if you didn’t want me, another man would and as things are right at this moment, he wouldn’t leave me. He wouldn’t want to, for he is smitten with me. He thinks I’m beautiful and sexy. He thinks I’m smart and funny and sweet. He wants to see me and go places with me. I know if you were here, you would tell me, “but you are beautiful and sexy and interesting.” And I would say to you, “if I were desirable and beautiful and sexy and interesting, then why did you leave me?”
So I pushed my back into his chest and let him know that it was OK for him to hold me like that. We made love on the carpet by the fireplace. The wine had numbed me and I was really relaxed and quiet, not how I was with you, when just your touch made me go crazy. Would it hurt your feelings to know that he was very very good in bed? A kind and giving and patient lover, sweet and generous? All the while he was looking at me, Majid, with kind eyes, unable to cover up his happiness at the fact that we were together. He said the sweetest things and did all the things which made it perfect to have sex with him. I could see his face in the glow from the fireplace, he was searching my eyes but even in the state that I was, I couldn’t connect with those eyes and I couldn’t reciprocate those looks. I made all the right physical moves, but there was a hollowness in the pit of my stomach as the climax was building up in me. Even when I came, even when he came. My elbows and knees hurt from the carpet burn, and I was feeling cold, even though he had wrapped his arms around me and his large frame had more or less covered me.
I picked up my clothes and tiptoed to the bathroom. As I closed the bathroom door behind me, I let them go, the tears that had been lurking in the back of my eyes and my throat. I felt so helpless, not wanting him to know that I was in the bathroom crying. I flushed the toilette and let the faucet run. I stood there and waited for my eyes to dry up again before I left the bathroom, dressed with my feeble attempt at freshening up.
He was so sweet. He made me some coffee, and let me smoke inside the house as it was too cold outside. He brought me a small throw and put it around me as we sat on the couch and talked some more, sounding somehow closer because of our intimacy, but more subdued all of a sudden also because of it.
He walked me to my car, holding me in his arms and kissing my hair and my face and my hands. I got in the car and he called twice while I was still on the freeway to check my whereabouts and safe arrival. I called him just as I pulled into the garage and he asked if I could call him again when I was ready for bed and I said I was heading straight for bed, so I’d talk to him tomorrow.
Standing under the shower, wishing the water to wash and take away my sorrow, sobbing bitterly, I had to come face to face with the ugly and unforgivable reality of what had happened tonight. I had taken you to dinner with another man, Majid, and all the while, as he and I made love, you were there, too, and all I had wanted was for him to leave and to let me be with you. I am a monster just like you.
* Names, places, and other identifying attributes of this series' characters are made-up and a work of fiction. The relationship and the dilemma at the heart of each story is true and that's all that is true.
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