With him gone, she was left with the sound of silence only broken by the tick-tock of her big clock. The air reeked of stale cigarette and sex mixed with the bittersweet smell of his perfume. Sweet because it reminded her of him in his absence, bitter because it reminded her that he had to go. She reached for a half empty pack of cigarette and sparked one on her lips. She didn’t necessarily enjoy the head rush, but there was something in the inhalation and exhalation of smoke she found rather therapeutic. Perhaps it was some kind of coping mechanism she had developed, like a form of meditation.
She thought about his wife. She didn’t owe the woman anything. It was hardly her fault she wasn’t woman enough for her husband or that he wasn’t man enough to be content. After all, if it weren’t her fucking him, it would have been someone else. She wondered if this really were the state of things or if the world had made her numb with the pain of her own reality. At the thought of this, she fingered her wedding ring and thought about her own husband…well, if she could still call him that. It must have been at least six months since she last saw him. She imagined how he was keeping abroad. For all she knew he had a mistress there. She smiled at the thought, and that was when she knew she didn’t love him anymore. It was an easy assumption to make that hate was the opposite of love. Far from it. Indifference was the real opposite. Complete apathy.
Her mind came back to the room briefly and then it jumped to the man she had just been with. She imagined him coming home to his wife and children. There was nothing she could do about it. He was never hers to keep in the first place. She warned herself about thinking like this. The last thing she wanted was to love him possessively. Her current state of detachment was much better. She thought about her children and how they would see her if they ever got to know about her affair. They were both young and impressionable, in love with the idea of love, even if they didn’t know what it meant. As far as they could tell, she was married, and it was for the better or worse. Her happiness was a matter of secondary consideration.
She took a strong drag of smoke to fill her lungs.
She was a mother and hence by default expected to be this perfect entity. It didn’t matter that she too had needs. She needed to be loved, touched, heard and understood. Needs that couldn’t be fulfilled by a man that she saw once a year even if he afforded her the finest of luxuries. Perhaps this was the nature of things and wanting otherwise was just wishful thinking. Marriage for all its glory was just a label. It had no inherent promise of love. It was more or less what we made it, and hers wasn’t a lot. Humans were imperfect as was the life they lived. How could someone tell her what was right or wrong when they had no idea of the things she had seen and the feelings she felt?
With another drag of the cigarette, she dabbed it in the ashtray and left the room.