When my boyfriend and I first fell in love, he was not in an open marriage in any way, shape, or form. After a couple of weekends of falling asleep next to each other, sneaking guilty kisses, and finding any excuse to be alone together even just to talk, we finally decided it was necessary for him to tell his wife what was going on before he did something that would ruin his marriage. Shockingly, she told him he could keep seeing me and a year later we're the poster children for happy, poly families. But we didn't always know it was going to turn out that way. This entry was written during the tense times.
"Ask me again and I'll do it."
I lie on the bed next to him and know that I should. I've already said it twice already. How hard would it be to say it once more? Yet each of the other times I said it wanting him to talk me out of it. If I say it now, he won't. He'll leave having failed to convince me. As I stare into his eyes I can feel the words pounding in my head, but I can't bring myself to say them. It took all the strength I had to force them out the first time. A third is beyond my grasp.
"I should. I should tell you. But I won't." Tears slide down my face forcing me to break eye contact.
"Why should you?" he asks.
"Because it's the right thing to do."
"The right thing for you?" he asks sounding distinctly skeptical, "Or the right thing for me?" That has been his argument this whole time. That his sins are his to bear, and that it's not my responsibility to make him avoid situations where he will be overcome by temptation. But in this moment that argument provides no comfort; irritation and frustration flare as a mask for guilt and I find myself snapping at him as I force myself away.
"It's the right thing for a woman I've never met." I find myself with a desperate need to escape the tension and conflict that has built up in that room. I push myself from the bed and out the door, pulling it closed behind me. I get as far as the stairs before my thoughts catch up to me. Thoughts of how much he means to me, of how I don't want him to think I'm upset at him, of how much I want him. I am stopped in my tracks by a need to reassure him. I turn and walk back into the room where he hasn't moved. I crawl across the bed to lean over him. What I intended as a brief and gentle kiss ends up far more passionate than expected. I pull away and look at him. Once again I feel the words pounding in my head. They're so potent I can feel the shape of them on my tongue. I stare at him, almost shocked that he can't hear them. It would be so simple to just let them escape. So simple to tell him to never come back again.
"I can't. I should, but I can't."
I don't know if I'm talking to him or myself. In truth, it doesn't matter. I pull away and am once again back outside the room with the door closed behind me. In a matter of moments he will be coming upstairs to get ready to get on the road and return to his home. I want to be out of the house by then, and far from all this tension and temptation. I glance towards my room with thoughts of grabbing shoes and a jacket. But there are people sleeping in my room who may ask questions about where I slept, or questions about my evening in general that I am simply not in a state to answer. I look around my living room, but only my heavy coat is in the coat closet; everything else was put away when we cleaned up in anticipation of guests. I am turning back in the direction of my room, trying to think of anywhere else I might have stray shoes, when I hear the door at the top of the stairs open. Unwilling to see him, much less walk past him, I turn and escape out the front door as quickly as I can.
Outside the sky is grey with a slight sprinkling of rain. As the cold droplets hit my bare shoulders I wish I'd grabbed anything to put on over the light sundress I was wearing. Yet even as I think this I notice that my feet are still moving and I am quickly progressing away from the house. As I round the corner the wind picks up and I wrap my hands around my cold shoulders. A hear the sound of a truck pulling up behind me and remind myself that there is no way he would be ready to leave the house already. As the truck passes I wonder about the people who drive past a girl wandering down the street shivering and shoeless, yet don't offer to help. As I reach the next corner I find myself turning to follow the normal route that leads from our residential area to commercial civilization. I have always known that The Village is with in walking distance, but I have never actually made that journey before.
I find myself wondering if I can make it with out shoes. And then I find myself wondering if I can make it back. I have brought nothing with me in terms of a phone or money. But these concerns drift aside as I find myself focusing on the idea that, as long as I can get there, I can probably find someone to give me a jacket. The chill that surrounds me is a far more pressing concern than how I will get back to a house I am actively avoiding. Besides, I find myself thinking, he will pass me when he leaves. It will take me longer to walk to The Village than it will take for him to get ready and drive towards the highway. He will stop and offer me a ride home. I'm not certain if I will accept the ride, but at the least I will be able to ask him for a t-shirt or coat.
I continue walking, pleased to be on a road with a sidewalk now, instead of wandering down the street. My thoughts drift from one trivial topic to another, continually awed by the number of cars that never think to slow or inquire. My gaze momentarily strays from the ground in front of me and I am startled by the sharp pain that it produced by my foot coming down on top of an upturned twig. But the pain fades quickly into the haze and I continue my steady pace forward. As I pass Ormewood Ave across the street, I find myself surprised by how far I've come with out any notable physical protests. I begin to suspect that I might not only be able to make it to The Village, but perhaps even farther should no one offer me a way home.
As I focus on the ground in front of me, I notice a sound that is discordant with the presence of my own unshod feet. From behind me comes the sound of boots taking long strides across cement. At first I resist the urge to turn and look, assuming that who ever is approaching will simply catch up and ultimately pass me with no consequence. But as the sound gets closer I find myself giving in to curiosity and sparing a quick glance over my shoulder.
I cannot describe what I feel when I see him there. The fact that I was prepared for him to stop when he saw me on the side of the road does nothing when I find myself facing him on the sidewalk. Here, there will not be the distancing factor of machinery when he catches up to me. But more than that is the shocking knowledge that he has not simply encountered me by chance while leaving town, but has walked all this distance for me. My mind, which had frozen when it first saw him, now finds itself caught between the conflicting urge to simply stop and wait for him to catch up or to find someway to avoid him. Stumbling with indecision, my feet slow of their own accord and his footsteps level with mine in only a few strides.
Covered by his shadow, my whole body tenses, bracing me for what he might say or accuse me of. The idea that he might intentionally come after me had never even occurred to me, so my mind can come up with no possibilities for what is about to happen next.
"Do you know the first thing people think when they see a girl wandering down the street with no shoes on and a glazed look in her eyes?" he asks somberly. A few possibilities occur to me, some of which are genuinely concerning. "Zombie," he concludes. I am stunned into stillness by his observation. I replay the scene from a third person perspective in my mind and realize that it does, in fact, play out just like the intro to a zombie movie. The absurdity startles me into laughter. I can feel him smile beside me as the tension drains from the moment. "You don't want that," he says, his somber tone broken by the smile. "Come back to the house and put some shoes on." I simply smile up at him and he wraps an arm around my shoulders to lead me across the street. The other side has no sidewalk, and my toes curl into the wild grass that lines the road. I slip my arm around his waist as we continue back the way we came while refusing to retrace our steps.