Indiscretion by Wanda Morrow-Clevenger
They weren’t mistakes. Rather, each encounter, each alcohol fueled lapse in judgment, was forward motion. I won’t apologize for just trying to keep up. I was no guiltier of offense than my fellow cohorts en masse. We were all careening in dizzying fast-forward. The only surety of halting the momentum was thoughtless disregard, or in more instances than not, a well aimed fatal blow to the heart assured sudden death, and by effect, undeniable conclude.
It is impossible to forget past liaisons. Memories persist through the dense fog of forgotten faces and lost embrace. You could attempt to put it behind you. You could assume a new identity. You could pretend your love life began at the words “I do.” But you would be a liar, and you would eventually be found out. The past, along with any indiscretion therein, always breaks free its prison walls.
On an ordinary work day, while secure in absolute anonymity, my past walked through the door of my new job, stuck its face through the window above my desk, and looked me right in the eye. It recognized me immediately and it forced me to do the same.
Hard crush is the only description that does justice. The big, pounding, twenty-something crush that screws with your brain until you betray yourself beyond any semblance of dignity. It is the persistent thought that pings around in your head long after it’s done and dead. Years later, when you have categorically moved on, it’s the last shard of a long ago broken heart that still irritates.
He was the one. In my twenty-something world at least, I thought he was the one. The instant our eyes met and he smiled, I was his. He had a gap between his two front teeth and I thought it singly the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. I fell fast, skinning my shins raw in the process. He was one of those guys who knew what to say and how to say it to get exactly what he wanted. I bowed before his every word. I would have done anything he wanted, a fact eagerly proved. I was in it body and soul for the long haul.
Unfortunately, he was just enjoying a free test-drive of the latest model. My devotion, trailing my heart behind it like a dissipating comet tail, was flung into oblivion the day I found out he was engaged to another woman while still with me. Getting kicked to the curb in favor of a blond set of tits wasn’t just devastating, it was humiliating beyond words.
In the five months that followed I slowly reassembled my trampled pride and dried the last stinging tears. Then I saw him again. I came across him at a local bar, minus the wife. He still had the smile that could melt my intellect into pathetic puddles. I knew it was unequivocally wrong, but I wanted to feel him near me again. And secretly, I wanted to one-up the blond set.
There were no brain cells functioning in either of our heads when we left the bar that night. At the risk of possibly quoting an old love song, it felt like there was one spark left in the smoky embers that hadn’t been successfully ground out. We were both too weak to snuff it and save ourselves the inevitable singe, so stupidly fanned it back into flame; I guess we thought it would be worth the pain. We sank to the lowest innate response, him by taking the first step out of his marriage, and me by choosing to ignore the obvious. It was an indiscretion I was immediately after ashamed of, and still am.
His visits to the office were uncomfortable. Each time he appeared at the window he made an intentional effort to unnerve me. On several occasions he even tried to flirt with me. I resolved not to let him make inroads, but my will faltered; it caved every time I saw his face. It would turn 1975 again and I was back on the dance floor of the Coliseum, his arms wrapped so tight around my waist I couldn’t breathe . . . but not caring, not needing the air, wanting only his body pressed against mine.
The day he met with his lawyer for a closed-door session I knew something was up, and it was. His time was up. His wife had served divorce papers on him. She did her time in solitary and was seeking gratuitous exoneration. Seems he committed a few too many indiscretions--too many to count. I purely enjoyed the thought of them both getting what they deserved. When he left that day and the door closed behind him, I smiled a cruel, malicious smile.
In that moment my guard slipped just enough for me to feel pure respite. And then it all came back in a rush, the whole crap-load of it: the night we had pizza and beer in his parent’s kitchen---how he jumped up, grabbed a rifle, and ran out into the dark, but not before pushing me against a wall and saying to stay still and be quiet---the blast of the gun---being scared to death---waiting for him to come back in---crushing into his arms when he did.
I know now it was a sophomoric ruse to make me believe he was protecting me. The manipulations are now so sadly clear. But I also remember the days spent together sliding in and out of fluid time, and all the crazy nights rolling around on top of each other in his old car. I didn’t want it to, but the whole of it came back at me hard on.
My past wasn’t dead; it was alive and well and waiting for an opportunity to debase. It continued to endure despite avoidance and denial. I’ve always known at some point in time I would forgive my own lack of morality and let all slip quietly into blessed absolution. As for him . . . I knew holding a grudge would never make for good closure.
I found, however, passive revenge was an exceptionally enjoyable vindication. You could call it karma, or even luck. I called it sweet fucking reward. The fates set me up in place and time like none since. For some unforeseen reason I was granted a pardon of sorts. In the end, I got a front row seat to watch the fall of the person who fell me.