Another Cheating Story

Another Cheating Story

We became inseparable after I cheated and all words I spoke thereafter were breathed directly into her ear.  She said, Tell me what y’all did. she said, I want you to pretend you’re with her when we do it.  We stayed together mostly because we didn’t know how to live apart.  Peas in a pod. Too far in to quit. Buckle up, buddy, ‘Cause its about to get a whole lot worse, my Grandpa said to me at a family dinner party just after everyone found out. Not by my telling them, but it still got out. Passed around person to person like a flu. My schedule at that point was regimented; she became my prison warden.  We went to the grocery store together, to the movies, all the sorts of places that normal couples would go. But understand what you did isn’t normal, understand that, Alex, she said, Normal people don’t do shit like that to each-other.  We went out in public, would hold hands in the park downtown and smile lovingly at each other for what felt like hours.  I knew her parents had heard when they stopped calling me all of a sudden. Before, they would call my phone, call hers, it didn’t matter. She started taking their calls quietly, locking herself in the bathroom and shushing me if I tried to come in or say anything. Her friends, who had never really liked me to begin with, found excuses to avoid us, which I know she resented me for. We spent Fridays and Saturdays alone, or she with them and me at home on the couch.  

Then, I became the pariah of our apartment.  My knuckles were always white from my squeezing them.  In the mornings, after sleepless, sexless nights, I regretted everything. Maybe I just regretted getting caught.  She said that to me one morning as we were both getting ready for work in the bathroom we shared: Alex, I don’t think you’re actually sorry for what you did.  I think you’re just sorry you got caught. Piece of shit. Then turned and left before I could say anything back.

I knew it was over, that I had broken it beyond repair, but I had to keep trying.  At least that’s what my mom kept saying.  My parents, who I had lied to about the whole thing, didn’t really know what to think about it.  I told them that it had been one giant confusing mistake, that it was not nearly as bad as she had described to them on the phone – she had called them right after it happened.  My dad said I was a fucker and that this was what I deserved.  My mom cooed.  When I lied my knuckles got even whiter.  Sullenly, I read Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her in the living room, allowed her to catch me with (crocodile) tears dripping down my eyes, the book opened to the chapter: The Cheater’s Guide to Love.  Shitty.

But the sex was better than ever, and when we did it, it was as if we were repairing the rift between us.  She picked up the habit of scratching my arms during orgasm until blood was drawn, and I let her, even though I would silently wince and clench my face from the pain. She would keep me at a distance to her, embracing my body but rejecting my face, my head, any part of me that connected directly to the decision that I had made.  We would go on long walks in the woods outside of town for hours and hours, her leading us down winding paths until they became jumbled and confused by branches and roots and I would begin to wonder whether she was trying to lose me.  Then gross fellatio out there in the woods, with the mud and chirping bugs and wet dew of the morning.  Things became disjointed.

  She started going out more with friends, and in the back of my mind, I wanted to catch her with a dude, just so I could say that we were even. So that the playing field was leveled and I wouldn’t have to feel so shitty all the time.  I wanted her to feel the same shame that I had felt, to writhe and twist with remorse as I had done.  She could sense these feelings radiate off me.  I came out of the shower one morning in a towel and she grabbed me hard between the legs, squeezing my nuts until I cried out in pain. I know what you’re thinking, she said, staring shivs into me. I know what you think in that sick little fucked mind of yours, Alex. That won’t be me. It won’t be that easy.  Then reaching around to the fold in the towel, snaking her hand towards my shaft and stroking it a few times.  I knew you’d be hard, jackass.

I found absolution in the laundry we did together on Sundays.  In silence I would wring out shirts, wrangle pairs of pants back to their proper orientation.  She would fold.  I won parts of her back this way, in a million or less silent words.  She saw me again as human in the loud, nightly prayers by our bed, in a shameful sort of kindness. There were these tempered, slightly glowing looks of misplaced love flung my way as I left rooms, left for work.  I lost her in panties that were never hers.  In words said not by mistake, but pointed true at her heart with the intention to maim, to wound.  In the end, I began to sink to the ground and though she saw me descend, she said nothing, and allowed me to recede the whole way down until I was a puddle of myself.  Then she was able to step over me, wipe her shoes on the doormat, and leave, never to return.

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