Staring into the Fucking Sun

bright sun

Photo by claremarie/CC BY

2009

The first time my ex-husband Seth went to spend the night with his girlfriend, I gave him a hug, told him to have a good time, and closed the apartment door behind him. I spent a minute listening to his footsteps, watching our car drive away, the headlights skimming off puddles in pavement.

I hadn’t spent a night alone in 8 years. I didn’t even remember what it was like to be by myself.

“What the fuck did I just do?” I asked our cat. He started at me mutely, his green eyes reflecting curiosity, perhaps concern, but little else.

I shuffled off to the bathroom and turned on the shower. Showers always made me feel better, I reasoned. The bathroom was tiny and steamed up quickly. As I breathed the air in, I thought of the times my mother would turn on the steam to break up croup. Those were the good times before I developed, my body became a threat, and she and I grew apart.

I stripped down quickly. As I was placing my wedding and engagement rings on the sink, it occurred to me that this jewelry was the manifestation of a foolish dream I’d once had, the idea that I could be his one and only, a love story where happily ever after is as hot and breathless as the climax of first kiss, that limerence could live forever in a vacuum.

“What the fuck is wrong with me?” I asked my cat. “I’m bad at this. I’m bad at poly.”

As the blind panic struck me, I envied his girlfriend. Her husband had been seeing his own lovers for years, and she’d dealt so well with the jealousy and loneliness that none of us had even known they were open. She was stoic and beautiful, a porcelain doll who never twinged with jealousy or struggled with insecurity the way I did. She seemed highly evolved, superhuman even.

I thought of the way her nipples tasted, the way she moaned, the way that our chemistry had faded. We had all been a triad before I became the odd woman out and bowed out. Now I was alone. Just me and the cat and my fears screaming at full volume, drowning in worries that I was in their way, that I’d be replaced, that things with Seth weren’t what I thought they were. It seized me. My vision greyed, and I nearly passed out.

Leaning against the counter, it occurred to me how easy it would be flush my rings down the toilet. “No one would ever know,” I said to my cat.

I’m not sure why I didn’t.

Instead, I sat down in the shower, curled myself in a ball, and sobbed until the hot water ran out.

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