Better the devil she knows…
The ride back home was long; 45 minutes of uninterrupted silence and a heavy atmosphere. His hands on the steering wheel and his eyes fixated on the road. His physical presence brings her no emotional fulfilment and when he’s around, she retrieves into her own space and shuts down parts of her consciousness, the parts where memories of feeling happy are stored. They must be numbed and muted.
She need not wonder where his thoughts are at the moment; Back in the supermarket, she ceased to exist when somewhere in the coffee section, he spotted a blonde in shorts; He hastened his pace to get a closer look and managed to exchange glances followed by a smile intently reciprocated!
She’s tired of reliving this nightmare repeatedly. She moved to this foreign land because he pledged his love and promised her a “happy ever after”. He was supposed to be her rock, but she had the toughest time connecting with him on many levels. When he’s away, they hardly communicate; He’s too busy recovering from a long workday, in a bar flirting with a tattooed bartender or chatting up women looking for casual sex, or both simultaneously.
And when he’s at “home”, he’s distant and sour. He’s either in his office “working” or on his phone getting an earful from the ex-wife who can’t keep a handle on their troubled teenage daughter sometimes referred to as a “kid” and others as a young adult, depending on the kind of trouble she’s in.
Her options are limited, either wait for her “time-share” to connect or take the risk of expressing her feelings and concerns about the status-quo; the latter is almost always met with hostility and anger.
“We have good news, it’s not a heart attack, but you’re obviously under a great deal of stress”, that’s what the doctors told her when she got herself checked to the emergency room the last time she experienced shortness of breath, dizziness and numbness in her left arm. It was right after a nasty fight but now she knows better how to manage such episodes, so she summons her strengths to act “normal” and takes deep slow breaths. She’s grown accustomed to his wandering eyes no matter how old or young they are. Like any predator, his neck stiffens and his head springs up as soon as a woman with a hint of cuteness is walking by.
But all pales in comparison to the affairs with women he meets on hookup apps, in bars and airline lounges. She need not be elegant nor classy cause he’d go for the kill provided she’s got a half decent body, an appetite for promiscuity, and shows signs of desperation.
He parks the car in its usual spot and steps out with a nonchalance she’s too familiar with. He reaches for the grocery bags stashed in the trunk and walks away. She wants to help but her heart is heavy, and her soul is crushed. She opens the door, puts one leg out, sticks her head out and looks at the grey skies; the wind is picking up messing with her beautiful long thick hair, but it doesn’t matter since he’ll never notice her hair, her gorgeous figure nor her tears because he doesn’t see her, and she knows.
Her mind takes her to that happy place where she used to feel beautiful. She thinks of the love she’s missing, and she aches as she reminisces how it felt being desired and adored.
She finally gets out of the car and heads to the hallway; he calls her name and asks her to grab that last bag he forgot in the trunk. She makes her way back to the car, dries her tears and wonders if she’ll ever feel alive again, if the grass is going to be greener on the other side when it’s time to leave; until then, better the devil she knows…