One Bold Sister - Rewriting the Happy Ending
by Jacque Turner
When Veronica looked to see if the mail had arrived, she saw a strange letter, addressed to “Resident,” but handwritten. She almost threw it away without opening it, but there was something about that handwriting. Actually, it was hand printed, in a blue ink that had seemed familiar, somehow. She decided to open it. Inside was a folded piece of yellow-lined paper with nothing but a hand-written note that said someone’s wife found out about their affair; then there was some information about how long it lasted, where they were, and when it took place. It listed specifics, like it only happened once; they went to a motel; they used protection. She thought it had to be a mistake; none of those things had happened to her.
An affair? It must have been meant for someone at another address; the mail had been mixed up before, especially since hers wasn’t the only place in this area with this house number. But, wait a minute; someone who was having an affair would know where the address was, and this letter was addressed to her house. Besides, she had been living here for more than five years. It had to be from Isaac, although the information in it didn’t seem familiar to her. Then, she got another note the next day. It said he had told his wife about the affair during an argument. It had a list of things he said he had told her: that they had met because of a class reunion web site; that they had gotten together for lunch a few times, then they had met once at a hotel and made love; and that they had both decided to stop seeing each other after that one time. The note had ended with instructions not to talk to his wife if she tried to contact her.
An affair! She hadn’t even thought about it as an affair until she’d read the letter. She supposed it had been an affair in the end, even though that hadn’t been her purpose when the whole thing had started. She had been so successful at trying to put him and the whole thing out of her mind that she had almost forgotten it had happened at all. Now, there was a letter in today’s mail; it had been typed, and it had the same information as the notes. How long had it been since she had last spoken to him? The letter had said a year and a half, but that wasn’t right, although it had been that long since he had decided not to see her any more. He had continued to call her for eight months after that, until September, and she had been the one to stop that, by not answering the phone any more. He had continued the calls until the end of December, by her caller ID; then, he had stopped.
She guessed he was trying to spice up his marriage, or he had the urge to make this confession because of it. He obviously couldn’t get her out of his mind, she thought. It just took a while for it to sink in. She guessed her instincts about not communicating with him were right. Not that she would talk to anyone about him, anyway. She didn't even answer the phone if she didn't know who was calling. The letter said he had told his wife that Roni lived somewhere in VA Beach, so she wouldn’t be able to track her down if she tried. It was kind of exciting, but if his wife was a kook, it could be dangerous.
Roni didn't think his wife wanted to talk to her as much as she wanted to get a look at her competition. Maybe he and she didn't want each other any more, and one or both of them wanted an excuse to end it. Maybe he was trying to be honest to try and save his marriage because he loved his wife, but didn‘t want to admit it. Maybe his wife was trying to find out why he had changed his treatment of her. Whatever it was, Roni knew she was definitely in the picture at their house, now, for a long time to come. That is, if his wife could find out he had done what he said he had. And she had to find that out by trying to get to Roni, the woman he had named when he had confessed his “indiscretion.” She had never expected that he would admit it. Nothing like a few surprises to make life more enjoyable. Roni wondered what his next move would be. If she was right, this was his excuse for trying to get back in touch with her. It would be a big boost to her ego if it was. She had to think hard to remember how the situation had gotten to this point.
Two years ago, she had been very disappointed with the way her career was going, and she was at the end of her options as to what to do about it. She had gone into $18,500 worth of debt to get her Master’s degree, and she still hadn’t gotten a job. ECPI had put her through the wringer with interviews, presentations, and questions, only to tell her that she hadn‘t been selected. She had run out of resources to borrow money from, and she already had checks going into overdraft. She had $100 that she owed to Gina, and there was no way that she was going to have the rent money by the 5th of July.
Isaac had told her to call him if she needed to. She had avoided it for six months, but now, she had no choice. Whether or not she had caused the situation she was in, she had no living relatives now who were willing to help her. She hated the idea of needing to ask anyone, but she had paid her bills on time for as long as she had been living in this area. Now, she had no more school money because she had graduated, she had a Master’s degree, and she had no job, even though she had been seriously looking at every place she can find. Since ECPI hadn’t come through, she only had Huntington Learning Center to work at, for $9.50 an hour, and it wouldn’t be enough. It was better than nothing, though.
She could only keep trying. She had no more money to pull out of anywhere. She was going to have to get in touch with Isaac, even though she didn't want to have to ask him for a loan. She didn't want to panic, either, but she saw no other alternative if she wanted to get the rent paid on time. God only knew what she could do to get the rest of the bills paid. It just didn't seem fair. She didn't drink, smoke, do drugs, chase men, or even go out. All she wanted was to be able to afford to take care of her daughter. Why was that so hard to do? She had the education that everyone said to get, but where was the money? She might as well have been a teenaged mother with no education at all. They had the jobs, the money, the free houses, the medical assistance, and she had nothing. It just wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. She just didn't understand. She didn't.
She couldn’t just call Isaac and ask him for a loan. He was trying to be a decent guy, and she know enough about men that if she give him enough opportunities, he would give in to temptation. She didn't look as good as she used to when they were young, but he still seemed to be in love with her, and she would feel terrible if she took advantage of that. He was married, and he said he was comfortable with it. Plus, she wanted to set a good example for Felicia. Please, ECPI, give me a chance, she thought. She was supposed to be more employable, now that she had doubled her graduate credentials. She was still not going to have the rent on time, though.
Well, she had gone ahead and swallowed her pride and called Isaac. He was glad to give her some money. All he wanted in return was for her to listen to him when he called. He always did love to talk. He said he was so rich, he didn't know what to spend his money on. He especially didn’t want her to try to pay him back and take a chance on his wife finding out that he had been in contact with her. His wife was very familiar with her name from their mutual high school friends and their talk about the two of them over the years. Back then, everyone had thought they were going to be the ones who would end up married.
What good had it done her to get her degrees? All she got for it was debt. She was too estranged from society now to know how to get through an interview and be hired. She guessed the military had been bad for her in every way. Nobody cared what you said in there, or how you acted, as long as it wasn’t against the law. Now, she said something they didn't want to hear, and she was out. It was always a bunch of white people, too. God knows, she didn't know what they wanted to hear. Even if she did, she wouldn’t lie to them just to get a job. She felt like it was her as she was, or nothing. She would probably end up out in the street because of her attitude, though. She just didn't know what to say to get a job. You would think they would be more interested in her skills as a writer than in how well she answered their prewritten questions.
She guessed she had sabotaged herself again when she had given Eric as a reference. She hadn’t gotten along well at all with the dean at Bryant and Stratton. She suspected it was the color thing--she was light-skinned and petite; the dean was noticeable darker and heavier. She had felt that strange tingling at the back of her neck when they had met for her interview, but she had needed the job , and they had been in a bind for an English instructor, but desperation was not exactly the best ingredient for starting an employment relationship. In any case, it hadn’t worked out. The first opportunity she’d had to get someone else, the dean had found a reason to dismiss Roni from the faculty; she’d seen it coming from day one. Julia had been pressing so hard for another reference, that Eric, the head of the department, had been the only one who came to mind. It hadn’t been the world’s smartest move, but they would have checked her job history sooner or later, anyway, and that had been the last place she had worked up until then. Some things, she still felt, though, were Fate. She did know that when they wanted you, they would do whatever it took to get you; when they didn't, it worked the other way. She was just not a tap dancer; she was what she was, and she couldn’t change that now.
Isaac made it sound so great to be married to him. They had met for lunch that first time, and he had been full of conversation about his life and his marriage. His wife had never had to work. Roni did feel relieved to find out that his wife had three associate’s degrees, and she had never used those for anything. At that first meeting, Isaac had seemed committed to staying married, so Roni’s “charms,” whatever they were, wouldn’t have been enough to entice him to leave what he had for a new relationship with her, even if she‘d wanted him to. But all she’d really wanted was a job she could keep long enough to get her to retirement age. Felicia would be 24 by then, hopefully, and well into her own career and life, so that Roni could bow out gracefully. At this rate, though, she would never make it that far.
She was not astute enough about job interviews to use fancy words and footwork to get hired. What happened to skill and ability? Did references mean that much? She guessed one bad one could sink you. Eric obviously hadn’t thought well of her, or it was something she had messed up when she had tried to talk about Bryant and Stratton. In any case, she had wasted a lot of time and materials on ECPI for nothing, and she was one of the types who were as genteel as she could be to interviewers. She did think she knew too much about what she knew, and not enough about wearing a facade when it came to displaying it. What it amounted to was that she no longer got hired for every job after the interview. Actually, this was the first time she could remember that she wouldn't get the job after the interview, especially considering what they had put her through. That would be very disappointing. Usually, they gave her a chance to mess up before they kicked her out. Oh, well, she had to keep trying. There certainly weren't any more Isaacs out there wanting to take over her bills for her. She had a temporary reprieve, but the rent was still due again in August, along with the car payment. She had gotten some unemployment, but it hadn’t been enough to cover those. He was her last resort. From now on, it would be “Do, or die.”
Roni didn't know why, but it had stuck in her mind that Isaac said he wouldn’t leave his marriage commitment for anything, including her. It had nothing to do with love, he had said; it was a matter of making a commitment to a contract, and of keeping his word. He had come from a home where his parents had split up, and his wife had never lived with her father. He had sworn that he would stay with his family. He had married his wife because she had gotten pregnant, and he had wanted to stay in it to be in his child’s life, and he had. Of course, he could have been repeating that out of habit. Roni emailed some old friends who had known them back in high school, but she hadn’t found out anything about his status; even if she had, she had never been good at reading hints. She had always just ended up being the one everybody had claimed to love, but they had all married someone else.
She had been trying to figure out who she did something so terrible to, that it had stopped her from succeeding in getting a job she could keep. Maybe she had chosen the jobs, or she had offended the muse in charge of them. She had always grown to hate nearly every job she’d ever had. But then, she had thought she would have a husband who would be doing the serious working. She had had a life plan. She was going to work only until the kids started coming and return after they had all started in school. It just hadn’t gone anywhere near the way she thought it would. Now, she didn't know how to get it going any differently. She was too old to be hired, and too young to retire, even if she had anything to retire on. There was no way she could predict that her future would hold nothing. God knows, she had tried hard enough to find a career path. She just hadn’t known she would have to look for one for her entire life.
Everyone gets married. She took it as a “given.” Everyone else seemed to do it as a matter of course. How was she to know that her family would be the only one that it wouldn’t happen to? It’s like their reputation for being smart had been a curse that had followed them for their entire lives. She had wanted to just give up for years, now. She had wanted to be able to make it at least until Felicia turned 18, but she had fallen about five years short of her goal, and the consequences seemed to be dire for her. That just wasn’t fair. So who did she complain to, and what could she do about it?
Isaac, for all his so-called love and devotion to her, wouldn't leave his wife, which made no sense, unless he was impotent from his accident and recovery. He said he had been so badly burned in an accident 20 years before that he had been in a coma, then he was nearly totally incapacitated for nearly two years. They had expected him to die, and after he pulled through, he had been told that he would never recover enough to work again. He said he didn’t know how he had made it, and he had managed to treat himself with his own form of physical therapy and skill training to the point that he had gotten to form his own business and make a couple of million dollars as a consequence. But his miraculous success had made his wife become possessive; she had been accusing him of having affairs with other women he had met through his business. Lately, she had been nearly impossible to live with because of her constant accusations. She had been pressuring him to go to marriage counseling, but he had been resistant to get strangers involved with their personal life.
Roni had been listening to him as he had shown the stress that his wife had been causing him. He had been so grateful to have her to talk to about it, and she had begun to sense that he might be leading up to something more intimate than just confiding to her on the phone. His calls had been becoming more frequent, up to two or three a day. She could tell that she was on his mind a lot. He was also spending a lot of time reminiscing about their high school days, when they used to be boyfriend and girlfriend, and how much he had wanted to be with her then. She knew he was still interested. No man she had ever come across would give up free and available sex, if they had half a chance of getting it, especially something they claimed they had been wanting since they were 12. It made no sense that he wouldn‘t try, sooner or later.
In any case, she couldn’t keep asking him to finance her rent and car payment for the next five years or longer, even if he hadn’t been married. She had never been able to use people, nor to string anyone along with her “feminine wiles.” She’d never had the knack. She just wanted to be able to use this damned master’s degree that was going to start costing her over $18,500 in student loans that she was going to have to pay back, starting in September. She was not in favor of asking anyone else to do it; she was taking care of her child, and she was willing to take full responsibility for raising her, but she needed to be able to do that. How could she, if she had no means to do so? And why couldn't she find any?
She would have asked for Felicia’s father to give up his parental rights long ago, if she had just found a job that would have given her the ability to support her. She couldn't figure out why that hadn’t happened. It wasn’t fair to her daughter not to have a parent who could take care of her. Felicia was such a good girl. Roni had tried her best to love her and give her values. She didn't drink, smoke, do drugs, or even date, because she hadn’t wanted men in and out of her child’s life who could possibly end up harming her mentally, if not physically. Nothing she had done had worked. The only reason she even tried to improve herself was so that Felicia could had some kind of a stable influence in her life. But she had failed. And she saw no hope, now. She was nearly 50. Too old. Too Black. Too female. Too clueless. Too educated. Too intimidating. And she was out of ideas. She was finished. Now, what was she going to have? She didn't know where to go from here.
She felt she must be mentally impaired, some kind of way. She couldn't figure out what to say to get a job. She didn't know how to got along with anyone, or to fit in anywhere. She couldn't figure out how to have a relationship with anyone. She must be a misfit. It was costing her a life for her daughter, and she didn’t have a clue about how to change it. The only things she was good at were things she could work on by herself. She was totally lacking in relationship skills. Her own family had never even wanted to be around her. She had spent most of her life thinking about how much she loved them and wanted to be with them, and about how much they didn't even seem to like her.
She could get A’s in courses that she didn't even understand; she had a master’s degree in online teaching and training, something that she didn't even know how to use; and she couldn't even get through an interview, because she didn't know how to say whatever it was that they wanted to hear. They all seemed to be looking for some kind of prearranged answers, and if she didn't know them, she didn't get hired. She didn't know what they were looking for her to say. Even if she knew where to look, and tried to memorize it, she knew she wouldn’t remember it when she got into the interview. She froze up whenever she got evaluated, because they seemed to be looking for something she hadn’t been briefed on, or she didn't know how to fake it when they come around. She guessed her time was up for figuring it out.
Isaac talked about how his wife had never worked. That should had been her life. She probably would had been better off if she had been a teenaged mother, or if she had gotten pregnant “accidentally” and had to get married. She felt as if she were being punished because she wanted to wait to start a family until she got married. And look at what happened when she did--her first husband went overseas and wouldn’t come back because he was “saving so much money”; the other one tried to fight her, screamed and argued, accused her of cheating on him, lied constantly, and gave her a continuous series of STD’s, then sent her divorce papers in the mail as soon as she started back at Howard University. What a great life that had been! Now, her daughter was going to suffer for her failures.
She had tried so hard to take care of her child on her own, without having to beg anyone else for help, especially since everyone had made it so clear that she was not going to get any. She just hadn’t been able to be successful. She was so ashamed of her failures that she couldn’t bring herself to go to Isaac again for another handout. She had no more credit, no more funds, and nowhere else to turn. And there were no family jewels to sell. The unemployment she had been getting was too little to cover the rent and car payment, much less food and expenses. She guessed it was over. She was going to be evicted, and she had nowhere to go. And what was going to happen to her baby? She certainly didn't deserve this. All she had done wrong was end up with a failure as her mother.
Maybe Roni hadn’t been meant to have children. She had been too stubborn to live without trying to be a mother, though. She didn’t know her decision to be a single parent would end up hurting her child. She never would have tried to have her, if she had known it would lead to their having nothing and nowhere to live. Her baby deserved so much better than what she had been able to give her. If she knew what she was doing wrong, she would change it, just so Felicia wouldn't have to suffer for her mistakes. She just didn't know where it was she was messing up. She had never been able to figure out why she couldn't get a good life. She just couldn't. She felt so sorry for her baby. She hadn’t meant for her to ever be affected by her mother’s problems, but she didn't know how to correct it. She didn't know what was wrong with her, or the way she thought, or the way she lived her life. She didn't know how to be any other way than the way she was. She just didn't get it, and she guessed she never would.
She knew her areas of strength. She had always had a passion for all areas of English-grammar, composition, and all forms of literature; this had kept her interested and motivated in any English course she had ever taught. She was secure in the knowledge that she could teach anything, for any competency level, at any time, in any fashion. She also stayed well-prepared for any content area of English that she was responsible for. She made sure that she reviewed the information that she was to cover in class, and she set up and inventoried any materials that she might need before she was scheduled to present them. In addition, she was organized. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, she could just rearrange items according to new priorities or pick up where she left off at a later date.
She was aware of her areas of weaknesses, too. They were her assertiveness, which was closely connected to her memory, and her self esteem, which was closely connected to her ability to adhere to her schedule. In the past, she had not been very assertive in many areas of her life. She had read some studies on middle children, and she had found that they fit her general personality, which was that of a compromiser, peacemaker, or negotiator. She was very flexible in professional situations, but she usually did not speak up when she felt slighted, nor did she tend to "blow her own horn" when she probably should have. She would probably have gotten more attention and recognition from her superiors at evaluation and promotion times if she had reminded them of her accomplishments and accolades when it was appropriate to did so, but she still tended to shy away from this type of self assertion. She now knew it to be typical of many middle children, as well. For these reasons, she knew it would be difficult to break this ingrained habit, but she was working on becoming more assertive about her accomplishments and positive character traits in her professional life.
She had a strict sense of discipline when it came to maintaining her schedule. This worked out well for many daily tasks and activities, but she still tended to become slightly confused and disoriented when she was interrupted. This caused her to lose her focus and train of thought to the point that she could take several seconds to regain them. She also could become short-tempered and irritable whenever this happened. She had tried in the past to alleviate this personality problem, but it remained a strong aspect of her character. The best she could do was to try and prepare for as few interruptions as possible when she had important tasks to accomplish.
Her strengths and weaknesses had remained fairly consistent throughout her life, so she knew what they were, and she was aware of the parts of her personality that she needed to work on to maintain or increase them, and those that she needed to work to alleviate. In the events that they became extreme, she was aware enough of them to seek outside help and counseling for any of them before they become a problem that would affect someone else. In this way, she had made considerable personal progress in her overall physical, mental and emotional development.
She wished she had been one of those women who knew how to use her “feminine wiles” to snare a man. If she had them, she didn't know where they were. In any case, her relationship with Isaac had somehow progressed to the point where she had gotten the only man on Earth who claimed to be in love with her, but had decided that he was not going to leave his marriage because he didn't want to be known as “someone who gets divorced like everyone else.” Crap! He bragged about being so rich that he didn't even count how much money he gave away. Ironically, she was one of the few women on Earth who didn’t care about money; her interest in him was that the love in his eyes when he looked at her; he gave her love and attention that only someone who cared about her would give. She knew that once he decided he didn't want to see her any more, she would be back at Square One, but he claimed it wouldn't happen, although she didn‘t see how he could avoid it, unless he came to a decision about leaving his marriage.
It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one, or so they say. Of course, he was the same person, in this case. She had been too young to know what love was when they had first met in sixth grade, and she didn't know what she knew about it now. All she did know was, whenever she felt that way in the past, or thought she had, it had ended in disaster for her. This time, if she let herself even think about loving him, or having a future with him, he already had his mind made up, and she didn't know how to change it, or even if she wanted to, so she was not going to talk herself into any romantic feelings about the situation.
She hated interviews, and this one on Friday at the school board was freaking her out. She wasn’t expecting to be hired, anyway, since they were probably looking for a teacher, and nothing was going to make her try teaching high school again. Once she told them that, she was sure it would be the end of that interview. She had seen an ad about a curriculum specialist’s position, and that was what she had asked to be interviewed for.
What was she supposed to do about the dreams she kept having? She had started working out again, and the more in shape she got, the more she wanted someone else to feel the changes in her body. She was out of luck there, as usual, she guessed. Isaac assured her in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t going to try anything sexual. Still, one song kept playing somewhere in the back of her mind:
Overjoyed, by Stevie Wonder:
I’ve been building my castle of love
Just for two
Though you never knew you were my reason
I’ve gone much too far
For you now to say
That I’ve got to throw
My castle away
I have picked out a perfect come true
Though you never knew it was of you I’ve been dreaming
The sandman has come
From too far away
For you to say
Come back some other day
And though you don't believe that they do
Dreams do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too if you would believe
You too might be
I have painfully turned every stone
Just to find
I have found what I’ve searched to discover
I’ve gone much too far
For me now to find
The love that I sought
Can never be mine
And though the odds said improbable
What do they knew
For in romance
All true love needs is a chance
And maybe with a chance you will find
You too like I’m
She finally thought she had this connection with Isaac figured out. It was in The Godfather. The Italians call it “struck by the thunderbolt.” It’s what he described that had happened when he had first seen her in 6th grade. It must happen only to men, because she hadn’t felt a thing until they held hands. She saw and felt the look in his eyes back then as undying, unconditional love, but she hadn’t known at the time what it was; she had been too inexperienced with emotions back then. She could feel it this time in his touch; that’s why she had always felt such trust for him--she instinctively knew that he would take care of her. The feeling was so all-encompassing, even at that time. He probably told her his deepest, darkest feelings even then. She didn't remember. She did know that then, like now, he loved to talk--a lot.
Now, he told her everything he was thinking about, every aspect of his life, really intimate details about his wife and his marriage--things that she would never had been able to listen to so calmly in the past; things that his wife would probably want to kill them both over if she knew; things that she was not sure all men tell, either because he didn't had a sense of discretion when he talked to her, or because he had been so incredibly lonely in this “perfect” marriage, or because he felt comfortable telling her, because of this connection they seemed to have. It had nothing to do with sex, or at least, they hadn’t acted on any sexual attraction they might have had for each other. He had the sex with his wife. But even after over 32 years of marriage and four kids with someone else, he still felt this close connection with Roni. She felt it, too, but only when their senses were in contact.
So, it was some kind of a combined spiritual and a sensual connection. It was a soulful connection. It was there in his eyes whenever he looked at her, and it was so intense that she had to look away. At those times, they had to touch, to connect physically, in some way, and when their hands met, she could felt the love flowing from him into her whole body. It sounded so trite, but she felt it, steadily flowing through her, until she had to pull her hand away and break the connection.
She had tried to get away from that intense feeling back in school, when they were young. It was scary, when it happened then. She hadn’t been ready to feel that way about anyone, on any level, back then. Now, she still couldn't encompass it. He was still married, after all, and she really tried to stay away from complications like that. But what defense did she have to his telling her that she had always held a piece of his heart, especially when she knew she could feel it, herself?
He had found a way to get to see her at least once a month; he had told her he wanted to meet with her and deliver her money to her in person. He had it sealed in an envelope, in cash; he didn’t want to leave a paper trail, he said. She had to go because, no matter how much she tried, she hadn’t been able to find a job. She was getting so desperate that she had to meet him for the lunches. She had no place else to go, and he was so happy to be there. He could certainly afford it, and she couldn't afford to turn down the help.
If there were such a thing as Fate, this was it. He called her every weekday, and her listening to him was what he had said he wanted for repayment. At first, she was annoyed, because the calls became more frequent, and longer, with each day, but that connection was still there. Now, she began to look forward to the calls. They made him feel good, and she had to admit they were getting to her, too. The sound of his voice and the look in his eyes, then the occasional handshakes, as the calls had progressed to more frequent lunch dates, were bringing out feelings she hadn’t known she still had. They weren’t sexual feelings, but they were sensual, and they stirred her attraction for him.
She had thought she wanted him to leave his marriage, but she was not at all sure how she felt about that any more; and sex, to her, would mean having to worry again about STD’s, and about his sneaking around, and feeling guilty--none of which she wanted either of them to do. Those things were what people did when they had cheap affairs, and she wasn’t going to be involved in anything like that. He talked about just wanting to walk, and hold hands, and talk, and she thought about scheming to get to hug him and being able to feel close to him again. If she was right, it was all she would need to do; she just wanted to see if there really was a connection.
He had told her once that he thought they were soul mates. That’s it. They were. Not sexual, or below the belt, but connected soulfully through his eyes and through their touch. The sex part would ruin it. His marriage forced them to keep their feelings in check. Besides, anytime he had been carrying these feelings around for more than 30 years, they weren’t about to go anywhere.
She had tried to stop feeling anything for him a long time ago, when they were in high school. She hadn’t known what it was back then, but she had been confused and scared enough about it to run from it. They were both too young, then. His wife had gotten him when she had because she had been older and more experienced than he had, and she had been looking for a way out of a life that had been going nowhere back then. He said she had been working as a cashier at the five and dime; she was one of those women who cruised the local college campus trying to find a likely candidate to “accidentally” get pregnant by, so she would have an excuse to try to get him to marry her and put her into a livable situation, and an excuse not to work for a living. She had managed to get pregnant by Isaac; she would have a husband to take care of her; one who would work and bring home the money while she stayed at home and raised the kids--a perfect ‘50s scenario. And she had been able to use sex to her benefit, to get him to give up college and go to work after she quit her job.
Even after Isaac told Roni he had only married because his wife had gotten pregnant, Roni had been skeptical that he was avoiding the real reason for it. He had fallen in love with a woman who, he had told her once at a chance meeting, “was just as poor as he was.” Somehow, it was the idea that he was going to be the sole wage earner, the one who “put the meat on the table,” that had been the impetus for him to want to get married when he had. Somehow, Roni had known, even in high school, that he had been intimidated by her ability to take care of herself. He had married the woman he had because he had wanted to be forced into the decision. His wife had made all of the arrangements, gotten the marriage license, set up the date, gathered his and her parents, and the preacher. He had done nothing but show up when she set it up; and they had gotten married four months before their daughter had been born. Roni hadn’t been willing, or knowledgeable, or conniving enough to purposely get pregnant when she was in college, even if she had wanted to seduce anyone into it. His wife got pregnant, got the marriage and the house and the husband, but he said that his soul still belonged to Roni. Whatever it is that transcends marital sex, and married life itself, was what he still felt for her. And she could feel it from him, whenever she was around him. They always felt they needed to touch when they were together.
Typically of what Roni had heard of married men, Isaac had told her his wife didn't like to be touched by him. She would rather get her touching from a masseuse. She had told him years ago, somewhere in between the birth of four kids, only one of which he said had been planned, not to be “licking and lapping” on her. So, he had been typically obedient, and he had stopped. Actually, Roni hated to be touched, herself, usually; it made her cringe. But she felt now as if was dying to be able to hold Isaac. The thought of it made her stammer her words and left her tongue-tied. It wasn’t sex. She hadn’t bothered with sex for years, since her daughter had been conceived, really. Just holding hands, and hugging, were satisfying to her right now. And she would give anything just to be able to dance with him. Then, she could tell if the feeling was that magnetic bond that she thought it was. They still didn’t touch or hold hands in public, though, but anyone who saw them would have known how they felt about each other.
Everyone who saw them now commented on how happy they looked together; everyone around them had known it back then, too, when they were high-school sweethearts. Everyone but Roni, that is. She would have run from feelings like this back then, anyway. She hadn’t wanted anything so restrictive at that time. She had wanted to graduate from college before she got so involved that she would get to the point that she would want to get married and have a family. Her college degree would have been her dowry, so that she would have something to fall back on in case her husband wouldn’t have been able to provide for them at some time in their relationship. She had to go on her “quest,” to accomplish something with her life, before she could contribute something to someone else’s life; before she could make new lives that she would be responsible for, in order to got her mind to where it was today.
They had finally kissed, and it had set off a powerful explosion of feelings between them. Now, she wanted more affection and more feelings, immediately. Okay, the kiss hadn’t been exactly the way she had remembered. Come to think of it, she didn’t remember kissing him at all, before. She would have remembered such a wet, sloppy encounter. He must have meant it when he said his wife didn’t kiss him. No matter. In nearly 14 years, her every waking moment had been dedicated to Felicia. Now, talking to Isaac on the phone, she was thinking of begging him to leave his marriage for her, and she had the nerve to get her feelings hurt when she thought he wouldn’t agree right then and there. Surprisingly, amazingly, he had suggested it before she had said a word! She nearly completely forgot she was somebody’s mother for about an hour every day when he called. That was some strong connection! That would scare the hell out of anyone, an attraction like that!
Now, though, she knew that they had gone too far. She knew it was time for her to leave Isaac alone. She had already started trying to tune him out of her thoughts. She had to unplug, and let him go back to his life to reassess. Otherwise, things would go too far. She could feel it. She thought he could, too. Besides, he was talking about how he felt guilty and worried when he thought about breaking his marriage vows. She knew it was time to step back; she had given them a shot at rekindling their past relationship, and either this had started an effect in her favor, or it hadn’t. At least she had gotten to feel how amazing it could be to love someone who loved her at the same time. The feeling had been worth it. It had been amazing.
She had finally landed a promising interview as an English instructor at a local aviation school. Isaac had called her first thing that morning to wish her luck, and to tell her that his circumstances were about to change. What did he mean by that? She hadn’t had time to try and analyze it then. He called her back later to tell her his wife was mad at him. She had told him that she had called him first to say she was depressed, then to say she had been hit by an 18-wheeler, but she hadn‘t been able to get through to him because his phone had been tied up for over an hour. He said he knew it was a play for attention.
Roni thought that he let his wife lead him around by the nose. They would never got a divorce. She would never get rid of him, and he was too passive to divorce her on his own, even though he said he never loved her, and he realized that he “only loved” Roni. She asked him why he was still calling her if he wanted to be married to the woman he was with. Shouldn’t he be trying to talk to his wife? Roni decided that she would listen to his whining until she got a job; then, she wouldn’t need his financial help any more, and she wouldn’t feel obligated to put up with his phone calls and his attestations of his “love” for her, and she would quit accepting his attention.
Roni felt that she was at an impasse. She thought part of the reason why he couldn't move on in his life when he was young was because he blamed his wife for “accidentally” getting herself pregnant and forcing him to marry her the way she had. Roni had forgiven him back then because men never could resist “free milk,” and Isaac was so inexperienced back then that he fell for anything when a woman offered it to him for free. It would never had occurred to him that a woman could had been lying, or that she was setting him up to get her pregnant, even though that still hadn’t explained how one child turned into four, or why he felt “obligated” to stay married for more than 30 years if he only felt his commitment was to his children, especially since the youngest one was still living at home and was now 25 years old. It had literally caused them to pay for it for the rest of their lives--especially in her case.
He told Roni that she had his eternal love, his heart, and soul, but he had made a commitment for his wife to get everything else. Roni got daily phone calls, meager help with her bills, and occasional material gifts that showed how much he “loved” her, as long as they were given in cash and in secret. His wife got to sleep beside him every night, to live in the houses he built by hand, to go anywhere she wanted, and to buy anything she wanted to, without ever having to lift a finger to work for it, and with him alongside to carry it all, in public, and at any time she wanted. And, God forbid, if something should happen to him, Roni got to attend the funeral, if she happened to hear or read about it. Yet, he said his wife wasn’t the one he loved, or had ever loved.
He said he hadn’t even known how the last two kids got there, because they had decided to only have two, but they had somehow ended up with four in eight years, and he had been the only one working. Then, one year after the last one was born, he had been seriously burned in that accident. He had never explained any more about it. That had been 25 years ago, though; now, he was supposedly making too much money to try to get a divorce; he was afraid she would get half of it if he tried. Was that what his marriage had become--a property assessment? No matter how you looked at it, Roni would be a fool to keep talking to him. He had made his choices long ago to be without her. But to hear him tell it, he had “always loved her,” even to the point that he had fantasized that his wife was her when they had sex. Now, that was bordering on sick, by her standards. Why was she still listening to him? Why was she still allowing him into her life? Oh, Boy, wasn’t love grand!
They finally made love, on Tuesday, and again, because he was so anxious, on Friday. Tuesday, it hurt, like her skin was being was being scraped from the inside. She had even seen some blood. It had taken a couple of days to recover, and she had found it hard to urinate later that day because of the swelling, which she cured by drinking lots of fluids. First, she had made him use condoms, because she didn’t trust that his wife was as devoted to him as he maintained, but it had reduced the thrust effect, and he didn‘t want that. He had pleaded his case in his ensuing phone calls, and he had assured her that he had never had any kind of infections. Still she knew he couldn’t be sure his wife hadn’t had any STDs, and Roni knew to be sure that she was free and clear of anything after 14 years of celibacy; however, he was so insistent, and she was so captivated by him at the time that she decided she wouldn't ask him to use protection again. It would be his funereal, though, if her DNA and his wife’s combined or something and he ended up giving her an STD. He would definitely have some explaining to do to both women, then.
If he didn't go anywhere, this was it for her. She had told him that he would have to really think about what he was doing, and about what the possible consequences could be before he decided to take this step, and he assured her that he had. Now, she would take his phone calls as long as he wanted to give them. She was tired of trying to find a match. He must be it. My God, they got along on everything they said or did, except his marriage. What was he thinking? It still made no sense to her; but then, he had five more years with Felicia before she went off to college. Until then, it would be daytime encounters while she was in school. After a year, Roni would just have to see if he was still with her. She couldn't believe he would be. She didn’t know if she wanted him to be. Long term relationships just didn’t seem to be compatible with her.
Isaac sneaked over one afternoon, unannounced, for a couple of hours. It just proved that he wasn’t having sex with his wife. He was too horny, and too wound up. He was huge! They had climbed all over each other so fast that they hadn't even bothered to kiss first! Usually, before they got to this stage, they would spend hours just kissing and touching until they were literally clawing at each other’s clothes.
One Bold Sister” - Rewriting the Happy Ending by Jacque Turner
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