The Orange Dress: Part 1.5 Purse Strings and Bologna

He wasn’t inside of me for long” she says.  “That’s always been his problem, lasting I mean.  And we were very drunk so he was kind of soft…”  It’s weeks later.  I’m not sure why she thought these would be comforting.  The sex they did have was, not as much as I imagined it to be?  She only cheated for a few minutes, rather than a couple hours, so that somehow makes it better?  He still fucked her.  She’s still cheated.  These are the facts.

I study her lips.  Sometimes when we’re making love, sometimes when she’s passed out after a night of binge drinking.   I had a friend in elementary school who had a nervous habit of tugging on his earlobes whenever he felt anxious or self-conscious.  As an overweight asthmatic in a school full of kids who loved to play dodge ball every recess, this happened often; so much so that by the time we hit the sixth grade his earlobes were angry red waddles, stretched out and flopping against the sides of his face like one of those tribal women in National Geographic photos.

Her lips were like that: an inelegant mismatching of flesh, a medieval purse with the drawstring pulled taught, but the extra material still spills out between her legs.  Or a sandwich with too little bread and too much bologna and melted cheese.  Yep, how’s that for imagery.   Somehow I know His intrusion in there has left an indelible mark beyond the psychological torment that’s been etched into me.  I scour her, like the Salem Witch Trials, for any proof of her heart’s true intentions.  Any Freudian slip, any trace of him.  Each turn of phrase, each sideways glance, each time her phone goes off and she saunters to the bathroom to check it, gets another tick mark added to the indelible chalkboard of my mind entitled “You Fucking Whore”

Call it deep seeded insecurity, call it pathetic… though he is miles away and their encounter was weeks ago, I am convinced he has changed her.  Because I. have. changed.

The corruption spreads through me.  I imagine myself as Peter Parker, being slowly overwhelmed by the black symbiote.  It covers me; it colors me; it seeps into every aspect of my life until it is the only shade left.    I don’t know if I love her or if I want to kill her.  Sometimes I wake from fitful nights of sleep, dreaming that I’ve strangled her to death and I wake white knuckled to the steady rhythmic rise and fall of her chest. I’m grateful that she’s still breathing.  Grateful I didn’t kill her accidentally.

I could never forgive myself if I slept through it.

The question lingers: can I do this for the rest of my life?

I’ll try until I can’t.

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