Friday, May 9, 2008


This Week’s Theme: Using first person narration, logically describe something that is crazy.

The blonde behind the counter at Kingsford Smith International smiles at me as I hand over my tickets and passport.
“To Paris today sir.”
I nod. I’m afraid if I verbalise my exact destination, agree with her that this is where I am headed, my resolve will fail. I’ve made it this far but it would still be too easy to turn back, get the AirRail and go home – I’m not courageous, just crazy if I believe what others are saying.

As I lift my backpack onto the conveyor I can still hear my wife screaming at me – her eyes wild with loathing and fear.
“Why Paris? What's going on with you? Why the bloody hell do you need to go all the way to France?”
“I need to get away. I need time ….. I need space. It’s just for two weeks.”

I had wanted to tell her the truth, that had been my intention all along, but I’d taken too long to tell her, always trying to find the right time – but there never is a right time. I was just trying to avoid the fight that I knew would ensue and in the end I waited too long and all I could offer was a half hearted lie when she caught me leaving.

“What am I meant to tell the children?” she hurled at me next.

I wanted to yell back, really yell for the first time, that I didn’t care. But I do care, always have done - too much perhaps, and especially about the kids. This wasn’t about them after all. How could I explain it all to them – I wanted to protect them for all of this. I wanted them to still look at me with the pure innocence of a child’s love for their father - I wanted to continue to be a hero in my sons' eyes. How could I make them understand it wasn’t them … it was me. So I left while they were out with mates.

“Come back,” she screamed, as the taxi tooted from the front. I swung my old backpack over my shoulder and closed the front door behind me, blanking our her sobbing.

My bags are tagged and disappear and I feel as though my heart is being torn in two directions … the love of my children and the love of her. The deceit that I swore that I would not play, I’m drowning in. The excitement that courses through me, the thoughts of finally touching her, looking into her eyes, laughing with her, holding her to me is over shadowed at this moment knowing I’m bastard. I’ve let everyone down. I tried to hard to keep everyone happy, to be nice, but I'm ended up just being a coward.

I tell myself that I could have done it better – been honest and said that I was in love with another woman … a woman on the other side of the world. A woman who understood me, made my heart sing … looked into my soul, made me ‘me’ again. A woman who sat on the other end of yahoo messenger – patient and without judgement. But there hadn’t been time. There would have been days of fighting instead of the few minutes when she’d come home earlier than planned from dropping the boys off. I’d left a letter telling her I’d gone away – I never intended to just disappeared. I hadn't sent an SMS from the airport to tell her where I was, or told the answering machine. I'd made the effort to hand write a letter.

I remind myself that I was never looking to fall in love, to be unfaithful to my wife, to walk out on my kids. It was serendipity that bought us together - a chat room that I went to for the first time, surfing during my lunch break. And she was there, talking to me of London. I’d given her my email address just to learn a little more about England – curious as I was, with relatives living there. And she’d written the next day – a short email about going out in the snow to watch kids from her school play soccer – on a Saturday morning. She didn’t have to be there but she was and we began to trade stories from opposite sides of the world.

Love was the furthest thing from my mind that day. It was the thrill of meeting and getting to know someone new, seeing a part of the world I had never been to through the eyes of an intelligent and articulate woman … the love came later.

We were both dying in our relationships. I didn’t realise that until she showed me another way of being. I came to understand that I was going through the motions with my wife, partly because of the kids but moreso because I didn’t know anything else. I’d forgotten that I wanted to be loved – to be adored and cherished by another. She made me remember … and I couldn’t shut the door once I’d walked through.

She’d been traumatised leaving London. She had told her live in boyfriend about me, that she was in love with me and not him. He'd found my number in her mobile, threatened to ring and tell my wife what had been going on. Later he’d threatened to kill her and them himself when she refused to continue on with him. But she’d got out – made it home to France, to safety. I’d been there, on the other end of the internet connection, loving and encouraging her, feeling the impotence of the intercontinental distance. Sending her cards when she got a new flat, a new job and then ringing with news that we'd both been waiting for.

I had to go and see her - I had booked my ticket. I was coming to Paris.

Entering Customs there is no turning back and I hum ‘All you need is love’, try to look relaxed and stop rationalising to myself what others think it crazy. This is what I want – what I need. Otherwise I will start to die the slow death of ambivalence in suburbia again. It’s no longer selfish to want to be with the woman who is my soul mate, my life line … the details I will work out later.

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Paul said...

This is really powerful - you should get out of your comfort zone more often!

Annie said...

Powerful story, leaving you on the edge the whole time. I doubt there is a person who is either in a relationship or been in one - who has at least been tempted by this sort of situation - where a third person has come by - totally unexpected - and you have had to deal with these thoughts. .. andyes - I think that there are times that you can't plan.. you have to let your heart go and work the details out later.

Daily Panic said...

Being an impulsive person I completely understand him. You described it well. Nothing logical about someone leaving their wife and kids for a fling, but if he had told his wife the truth, he would have lost them anyway. Maybe he will find what he is seeking.


I love your less sinister take on the prompt. Leaving your wife for an online romance is madness too, but at least a romantic madness.

Your sentence, "Otherwise I will start to die the slow death of ambivalence in suburbia again, " is particularly powerful.

Smiler said...

All rings very true to me. Especially since I've done both the online and the long-distance romance things (although never the cheating/leaving a partner thing). I guess anytime you do something out of the ordinary it feels a bit crazy at first. Leaving wife and kids on top of it... yeah, it's a form of madness for sure. Better that then death in suburbia.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Thanks for all the encouraging comments ... as I wrote this in a cafe Friday (in between sips of coffe) I wasn't sure if it was working ... last week's FF was such a dismal failure that my confidence was a little shaky.

Reminds me that to write humbly is to write badly sometimes.

Dave is now complaining that my writing is too autobiographical. I assured him that I'm not off to Paris to meet somegirl!

Paul said...

Trust me, this one is definitely working!

I have to give constant reassurances that my writing isn't too autobiographical. Slightly easier to do when you write about mayhem and madness!