Breaking: The Other Woman’s Curse

Abby could feel herself sweating, profusely at that. She wasn’t sure if it was the weather; it was hotter today than it had been for months, or the stuffy coffee shop he had picked to meet her. She was overly nervous. She hadn’t seen Ben since the small altercation at her apartment that she had to admit had ended in her favour. He had assured her that his mind was still on one track; leaving his wife. So when he asked to meet her, she could only assume he had done so to finally make good on his promise. It had taken him longer than she’d expected but she wouldn’t dwell on that now; she had waited to pick up where they had left off. Finally, love, their love, would conquer all; his wife, his children, everything would fade away at the sheer sight of their love. Finally, she could show off the perfect man she had earned because Ben would be hers. Finally, she could start a family of her own. Excitement began to boil over inside her, almost overflowing in shrieks of joy and glee. She could hardly calm herself down.

She swung round in her seat to search for someone to take her order. Suddenly, Abby became deeply aware of everything and everyone around her. It had dawned on her that this coffee shop didn’t fit Ben’s idea of romantic. Why did he ask to meet her here? Everything seemed out of place for her grand expectations of this encounter. Despite everything, she ordered coffee and began to calm down. Right in front of her, was a table with a group of women a little older than she was. They gossiped so loudly that Abby took it for entertainment while she drank her coffee. The troubling toddler tales and stubborn husband gags amused her so much that she felt herself being drawn into their conversation, slowly becoming a silent part of these women’s bonding moment. She even found herself giggling along with them. She saw a future her in these women; Her with Ben, her future social circle. She imagined they would be her social cronies when she married into Ben’s status. Then suddenly, as if in a ceremonial remorse, the lady at the head of the table leaned forward on her elbows. All the other ladies mimicked, etching forward on their seats. Even Abby leaned in to listen. In a whisper loud enough for all to hear, she broke ‘the news’

“I have news, Ladies. Ben, Jane’s husband! He has ANOTHER mistress!” The ladies at the table all sighed in surprise. Abby, seated at the table them, panicked, Could they be talking about me? Oh lord, they’re talking about me.

“Mistress number six?” Another lady exclaimed.

Ben has had five other mistresses?

“I can’t wait to see which infant girl he’s hoodwinked into helping him break his vows now”

Hoodwinked? I wasn’t hoodwinked, was I?

“Poor Jane. Jared’s only three and Lord knows she can’t do it on her own.”

He told me his wife was a successful arrogant woman who never gave him any attention or ‘love’. 

“And to think, all the nice things he said up there when they were renewing those vows.”

How nice could these words possibly be? Seeing as Ben loves me so much, he couldn’t possibly love another more, could he? Does he? 

“Do you remember that ring he got her? Shame now it means nothing”

Was he going to get her another ring? That means he didn’t leave her

“Do you think she’ll leave this time?”

SHE?! But Ben’s leaving her. Isn’t he? Has he not left her yet?

“Why doesn’t he leave?” Another lady said as if reading Abby’s mind.

“He never does. He just hurts her and hurts her and hurts her some more then comes back with the shiniest thing he can find to distract her.”

But, No? He told me! He told me! He told me! He’s leaving her!

“And to think, all this for a bimbo, probably with nothing between her ears and the unquenchable urge to spread her legs.” Abby’s face began turning red.

“You know, ladies, I just don’t get those kinds of women.”They all nodded in unison.”Why would you want leftovers, some other lady’s remains when you could get your own man, fresh off the rack, groom him and walk into the sunset with your self-made king?” The ladies all burst into laughter as she gestured violently. “As opposed to laying down for a man looking for a side attraction; already groomed, already made by another woman’s work while he struggles to keep you a secret. But I guess that’s what the cheap ones do. The ones who can’t build a good man or find a good man on their own. They just steal yours.”

Abby was balancing tears on the edges of her eye sockets now. The feelings that had since disappeared when Ben had assured her that he would leave his wife, all came sprinting back. She suddenly felt nauseated. These women barely knew her, let alone their love. How could they judge her this way? How could they judge their love? But while they went on about their loathing of mistresses and their own personal tales of them, Abby began to see herself in their cruel words. She began to see how evil their love, which she was now considering might as well be lust, had turned out to be. She was a home wrecker, one who could be likened only to the arsonist who torches a man and his family’s home right before their eyes.

She got up suddenly unable to listen to the banter and gossip anymore. Without looking at anything or anyone else, she walked to her car. She dropped her head on the wheel and began to cry. Here she was, ready to meet Ben and hear him give her all she wanted when suddenly, as if by twist of fate she is reminded of the plight of his soon to be excommunicated wife. She hadn’t bothered herself thinking about Jane since her botched confession with the Father. Instead she had decided to live in a bubble of Ben’s affection. In a bubble where Jane, Jared and all of Ben’s other children did not exist; and she met Ben at party or at the store; and they had since fallen deep in love and encountered no obstacles to their joint happiness. But the Gossip Guild had just popped her Ben Bubble and all the emotional sewage that had been caused by their affair came rushing in, tainting her and their ‘love’. It was impossible for her to let Ben just walk away now, especially if it was for her. How could she? Clearly as the ladies said, Jane could not fend for herself and Jared if Ben were to suddenly check out. But it had begun to occur to her, maybe he wasn’t leaving her at all and he had only said so to keep the affair going for a little longer. Maybe, like the five, obviously naïve, women before her, he had used her and now as his chicken came home to roast, he would discard her and spend a small fortune trying to get his wife to forgive him. The more she thought it through, the more she saw Ben for who he was and their love for what it was, an affair.

With this realization, she raised her head to drive away. She caught a glimpse of Ben walking into the coffee shop looking for her. Her heart began to race instantly. She was now short of breath, panting and sweating; panting and sweating for him. Despite the emotional roller-coaster she had just gone on, Abby still felt herself mindlessly drawn to Ben. She fought the urge to run into his arms furiously and started her car. As she drove away, she couldn’t fight the fact that she still wanted to be with Ben, still wanted him to abandon his wife and children for her; no matter what it did to her character, reputation or karma. If she was confronted by him again, she wouldn’t be able to resist.

***

Jane was engrossed in one of her old photo albums of Jared’s pictures when a loud crude knock at the door startled her. She had been packing up the house when she wandered off onto Memory Lane. She shuffled to the door, trying to avoid boxes and furniture everywhere. When she opened the door, there stood an attractive young lady, well dressed with bloodshot eyes and runny make up from crying, stomping her leg impatiently.

“Jane?” Abby exclaimed so suddenly, almost scaring Jane.

“Yes?” Jane answered inquisitively.

“I’m Abby. You don’t know me…”

“No, I don’t” Jane had to admit that had come off rude

“But… I’ve been sleeping with your husband, for a few months now and….” Abby paused, gauging Jane’s reaction. Her face remained expressionless, “And I apologize.”

“Why?” Jane said cold-hearted, shoving down her primal urge to bash her face in and pull out locks of her hair one by one.

“Why did I sleep with him?” Abby asked embarrassed

“No! I know why you did that. You’re young, naïve and most importantly stupid. You’re just his type. You slept with him because he approached you and that’s what young, naïve and most importantly stupid girls do when a successful man approaches them.” Jane was careful not to let her bitterness show, Abby’s mouth fell open. “I mean, why are you apologizing?”

“Because I feel horrible. Because you did nothing wrong to me and I’m here ruining your family, your life. Because I was selfish to want him all to myself when you had him first. That’s why I’m apologizing.” Jane was a little shocked. She had expected Ben’s new mistress to claim her man more aggressively, not apologize. She had been on the other end of Ben’s cheating for a long time and yet this was the most sincere apology she has ever heard in its regard. This woman had looked at both sides of the affair, unlike most mistresses, and put herself in Jane’s shoes. She had gone the extra mile to consider the pain Jane had gone through with a chronically unfaithful man and the dilemma she faced of deciding whether the pain was enough for her to tear down the family they had built together and start anew. While deep in this thought, Abby startled her screaming out as if she had a sudden bout of verbal diarrhoea,

“I think he wants to marry me.”

“What?” Jane retorted.

“I think he wants to marry me. You’re packing and I was to meet him right this moment but I was too nervous. So that means he really wants to marry me” Jane’s eyes narrowed. She saw through Abby now. Naïve little critter, She wanted him for herself, like all mistresses would. She imagined this mess could all be fixed if she just came up with a way to keep Jane, the wife out of their lives; and Jared too. This girl standing in front of her, did not know what it meant to be married to Ben. She imagined it would be sunflowers, daisies and fresh almond milk every day. She was not completely malicious, just naïve. Craving the things that all girls her age longed for. Craving the things even Jane longed for 12 years ago. And with Ben being so close to her reach and her only obstacle being the jaded bitter ‘soon-to-be ex-wife’ and his child, Abby would have done anything for her happily ever after; even if it meant serving up a well-dramatized apology she didn’t mean or care for. Jane smiled and let Abby in,

“Let’s talk in here, shall we?” Abby was thrown off a bit, she expected a beating, not an invitation. But she owed her ‘co-wife’ that much, a conversation about Ben.

Jane had been the sorrowful heartbroken wife and she had been the hysterical delusional wife too when it came to Ben’s indiscretions. States of mind that had never bred any significant change in Ben or his behavior. Now, she had resolved to be the sober wife, the wise one who bites her tongue until need be. She hadn’t discussed it all with Ben; Abby, the affair, her resolutions, none of them. She figured if she gave him the chance, he’d lie his way into her heart one last time and as always she’d be humiliated as soon as the next affair broke. This time, Jane would go for an Irish goodbye. She would not need to scold him for retribution, her absence and Jared’s too would be his abyss, Abby would be the devil and Jane, she would be in heaven with her baby boy. Abby sat at the dining table, Jane began to brew a hot cup of tea.

“So, you’re getting married!” Jane exclaimed. “I would congratulate you but I see no jubilation in your future because your future is my present.”

“He’s not going to cheat on me. I just know.”  Abby was confident

“Why not?” Abby was quiet, “What makes you the woman he is faithful for, Abby? Come on, tell me!” Abby still did not speak. Jane poured the tea and served Abby a cup, all while letting her maul over the idea. She then sat across from Abby, took her hand and said softly,

“I tell you this because I see that look in your eyes when you talk about him. It’s like you know you’ll win the lottery soon and now you’re just holding your ticket as tight as you can, hoping you don’t lose it. The problem though, is that it has never occurred to you that maybe you don’t have the winning numbers.” Jane paused, took a sip of her tea, letting go of Abby’s hand, “Ben is that lottery ticket. At the beginning, it feels promising like you’re just about to win the lottery but slowly you begin to realize he doesn’t have the winning number, he just appears to. Do you understand me, Abby?” Abby remained quiet. She felt a glow of anger come up from her stomach, she’s trying to sabotage us.

“I know you’re probably trying to convince yourself that I’m sabotaging you and Ben but I’m not. I’ve had Ben. I know what he’s about. He doesn’t look as shiny to me as he does to you. I guess that’s what happens when you stick in it for 12 years. It shines less and less until it doesn’t anymore. Underneath you can finally see the disgusting filth that is rooted at the core, in his very being. But, I don’t need to tell you that, you’ll get to find out soon enough. I shouldn’t spoil it for you.” Abby’s eyes were filled with tears now, realizing that Jane was right and her life now would be Abby’s in a couple of months, or years.

Suddenly, Jane’s door flung open and Ben’s voice bellowed over the ladies.  “Jaaane! Why are all these boxes out?” He said as he walked into the kitchen where the ladies were enjoying their tea. Ben stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Abby and Jane getting chatty over tea.

“Oh! That’s because Abby’s moving in. Thought I’d give her a tour.” Jane said sarcastically, more amused with the situation than she should have been

“What are you doing here?” Ben asked Abby, ignoring his wife’s obvious enjoyment of the predicament. She turned to look at him, making sure he saw her eyes were sore from crying.

“Actually Jane,” Abby turned to Jane now, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think I like your ‘roommate’ that much anymore.” She gathered herself, shook Jane’s hand with a genuine smile of gratitude and left. She did not look back at Ben. His eyes followed her out of the room, not wanting to set his wife off by actually chasing after his mistress.

“You can follow her if you like.” Ben looked confused. “I’m packing because I’m leaving Ben. If you want to beg and whine, I suggest you follow her. I’ve heard the repentance speech before” Like a dog released by his master’s whistle, Ben ran out the door and did not look back either; hoping to catch Abby and try one more sweet lie. Jane giggled hysterically as she watched him sprint after the girl who didn’t want him anyway. And in that moment, the emotional burden she had been carrying lifted marvelously as she realized that she had indeed already broken the other woman’s curse.

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Photo Credits: Maureen ‘Moe’ Ndereba of DIYbyMoe
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The Curse of Other Woman

It was the darkest day of the season. The clouds hang grey and heavy begging to burst onto the earth while the winds blew cold and strong as if telling a sad story to the plains over the hills. Every one stayed indoors. The park was calm today, devoid of its usual cheer and flare. No children ran around, no parents sat and chatted happily while they watched their children play. Not a soul, save for Jane and her son sitting on the oldest park bench under the dark shade of the largest oak tree in the park. Another icy cold breeze blew past them. The child held himself closer, shivering.

“Ma!” Jane startled from her stare, “I’m cold. Aren’t you cold?” The child said moving closer to her, burying his head in her side. Unusually Jane did not shiver or shudder at the weather, even if she was barely dressed for it. She shook her head without looking at the boy. The weather didn’t seem to faze her or penetrate her thoughts. Sitting there, just the two of them, all alone in the cold, that’s what she had to look forward to. She looked up at the clouds, the perfect metaphor for her life at the moment. She could see the grey in the clouds; hear the sound of thunder from a far, smell the wet earth preparing for the rain. She sat there and took it all in because this was the calm before the storm. The calmest she could hope for. In a few hours, there would be a downpour like no other she had seen, one she was not sure she could survive.

She had always imagined herself a stronger woman, a woman worthy of so much more but time had proved her to be something else. Something she didn’t want to define, someone she was ashamed of. She travelled through her memories to 12 years ago, exactly 12 years ago. Everything was so different, less opaque, and less bleak. She had much more to look forward to then. She was young and so beautiful that she would joke and say she had to beat off her suitors with a stick. She knew a simple man would never been enough for her. She had to have the perfect man, she had to have Ben. Lucky for a younger Jane, Ben wanted to have her too. They met on the 5th, got engaged on the 10th and were married by the first of the next month. It was sheer madness, back then it felt like sweet madness, it intrigued and excited her at the same time. Now it felt like a case of simple stupidity, a symbol of her naivety and foolishness. She thought back. Oh how naïve she must have been to imagine a man could be perfect and remain perfect rather than just appear perfect. Oh how foolish had she been to imagine that he would reserve his love and affections for her always, especially after 12 whole years had gone by.

She loosened her fists and let out a sigh. The child looked up at her worriedly. She didn’t look down at him. She just caressed her wedding ring with her thumb. It was one of his upgrades, not her original ring, not the one that was blessed at their wedding. It was just another one of his guilt gifts. “Ring number 4.” She mumbled under her breath. The more wrong Ben did to her, the bigger and better that ring got. Their vows had been renewed twice and he was now planning their third honeymoon. But she was smarter now than she was 12 years ago, she saw through him and the façade that was their marriage. The first wedding ring upgrade was after Angela, his ‘fitness instructor’ for a year before Jane found out the truth. She tried to meet him at the gym for a couple’s workout. She never returned to a gym again.  Their second honeymoon was after that girl Deedee showed up her door. She was a bit younger than Jane, prettier eyes, smaller frame, and all cried out, voice sore. Even Jane felt a pang of sympathy when she first saw her. She thought she was in danger or something. But she sat across from Jane behind a coffee mug Jane had served her and said they were having a child. Her Ben and this Deedee. Jane winced at the memory. She remembered she didn’t speak for a week after that, not to family, not to friends especially not to Ben. But he had returned two weeks later with tickets for a month on the Caribbean Islands. She caved again, bought into his love and forgave him.

He decided that they would renew their vows just after she found out about Joan. She was older, less attractive but she came with wealth that Jane had never even dreamed of. At first, he said they were ‘business partners’. She believed him only because she knew her life was expensive and so was his and furthermore she didn’t like to challenge Ben when it came to money. She met Joan in the back of a clothes store; Joan had followed Jane to the changing rooms. As soon as Jane stepped out to see herself in a new outfit she was trying on, Joan pounced on her screaming. “You whore! You stole my Ben and my money.” It took a while, a few security guards and a plain clothed policeman with a Taser to calm her down. Jane finally found out his ‘business partner’ was doing more than just business and Ben liked her so much he even told her that Jane was just one of his girlfriends. Jane left this time, a month at her parents’. But sure as rain, Ben came back with a wedding dress and a bigger wedding ring. She remembered him crying, on his knees. He looked so helpless and pathetic like he had made the worst mistake in his life. It felt different from the other times. So again she gave in, threw on the white gown and her biggest smile and invited everyone she knew to watch Ben recommit after all he had done. She felt like the prophet of forgiveness and new beginnings. A few months after, they were blessed with Jared, their baby boy. Jane loved that boy like she could love no other. Jared changed everything; not enough of everything however. Some things were still somewhat the same.

There came Katie and Charlie who were all so kind to reveal themselves to her as twin mistresses at a friend’s wedding. They were not really twin sisters. Jane assumed they enjoyed taking other women’s husbands, twice and together.  Jane could still remember that night, clear as day. She had totally lost her grip on herself. It was the end; rather it felt like the end. She wasn’t going to take it anymore, she repeated to herself in a whisper. The man had no respect for her and now absolutely none for their son. She left Katie babbling about something she didn’t need to hear while Charlie agreed with her as vocally as she could. She walked straight towards him. Ben was standing in a crowd of people who seemed thoroughly entertained with his tales as he gestured and narrated. She shoved away two ladies who were obviously swooning over him. “One wasn’t enough! You had to have two mistresses, Ben??” She said as she flung her hands at him every which way just trying to hit him, hurt him, finally pay him back. The real police, uniform and all had to pull her away from him; at which point she was hysterical screaming, “I’ll kill you Ben, I swear!!” and brandishing a dinner fork. That time, she convinced herself she was staying with Ben for young Jared. So the vows were renewed again, bigger and better and the wedding ring had to big enough that it blinded all those women who tried to remind her of her crumbling marriage.

That was a long time ago too. Exactly three years ago. Jared was older now and the signs were more than clear. There was a new girl or new girls, you never knew with Ben. Ben said less, was seen less but certainly gave more; more money, a new car, talk of a new estate. Something seemed odd; No, not odd. Something rang all too familiar for Jane. So she sat there beside Jared, waiting for it to rain; in her life and on the ground. She looked down at Jared who had cuddled up to her side and fallen asleep. He was a rather peaceful boy but not a foolish one however. He would definitely notice if something changed. Jane thought of all the love that Jared had, despite all the animosity brought upon her by Ben and all the tension that still lingered. Jared didn’t appear to pick sides; and she didn’t want to make him choose. But did that mean she was doomed to fight mistresses all her life? Did it mean she would have to survive in that lonely, loveless marriage? She felt the burden of those 12 years on her shoulders. Her skin was now wrinkled and sagged a little under her eyes, her eyes sunk back into her sockets as if she was ailing. She was no longer full and round body, her curves had shed over the years. She was old now. She couldn’t compete. She didn’t want to compete. 12 years is a long time to fight for love, alone. She was tired and ready to give up. She was conflicted. She knew she had a duty to herself to walk away from the things that hurt her, use her and abuse her but she also knew that Jared needed his father. Evil man or not, adulterer or not, that man was his father.

One thing, however, rang clear in Jane’s mind; Ben was a cheater, an all-round fully fletched cheater. And he wouldn’t change; not for Jared, their son and certainly not for her. She had to admit it and accept it. She had married a cheater and she was now plagued with the curse of the other woman!