Veronica's Diary [ficlet]

I don’t think his wife knows about me, not yet. Though I have tried to make myself known. Though I have knowingly called him when he is at home, when his happy wife and happy child are all gathered with him at the dinner table with their happy little feast. When my own unhappiness nags at me like a sore. Though I have sent him gifts in the mail, written my name clearly in print at the bottom of the card.

I don’t know how he does it, honestly. This sidestepping of truth and lies, carefully maneuvering himself between both worlds.

He always promises me he will get a divorce as soon as, “Junior is old enough to handle it.” He promises me we will soon announce to the world our own togetherness. He says this time in-between will only make our love stronger. I just have to be a little more patient. And I have come to despise this Junior whom I have not met, though I have searched his wallet and coat pockets when he is not looking, for some scrap, some picture of him. Nothing. Though I have seen his wife.

He keeps a picture of his wife in a frame on the bookshelf in his office at school, and my best friend tries to comfort me by saying this doesn’t mean anything, that it’s just a formality. But I know better.

She is smiling in the photograph, an attractive woman, more attractive than me. And in some small way, I know that his being with me makes this fact a small victory for me.

I met Dave when I was eighteen. He was the professor for my Romantic Poetry course my freshman year. He read us Baudelaire, his wavy black hair hanging over his brow as he stood at the podium. He was in his mid-thirties and the gray flecks in his hair and the fact that he was older than me was almost more irresistable than the fact that he was my teacher. Forbidden fruit I longed to taste. He had a beautiful voice that traveled the length of each word with such ease, such grace, I couldn’t help but imagine him paying me the same attention someday. When he asked to speak to me after class one day, in my head I thought, finally.

-Veronica, I wanted to talk to you about the comments you made in class yesterday. They were very insightful.

-Thank you, Professor Sutter.

-Call me Dave.

And so began our affair.

We would always meet after his last class on Wednesdays. In hushed whispers in his office, we shared histories and kisses. He asked me about my past relationships and was understanding when I complained that I had never felt appreciated before. Seeing the kind look in his gray eyes, almost like a caress, I thought I finally knew what love was.

For three years we continued this. I moved out of the campus apartment I shared with a friend to another apartment, one closer to where he lived. I longed to live with him, I wished he had never gotten married.

And I think all lovers share this in common – the same wish to be each other’s first everything, to never lose that spark, even after the phosphorescence of love and lust starts to wear off from other’s touches, even though the canvas of our bodies may not be lily-white.

He never spoke much of his wife, only said they were having problems communicating. He said Junior was their one and only shared happiness, that their marriage was approaching its end. It was just a matter of time.

And I nourished my hope on whatever spare amount of time he could come and see me. But crumbs, I soon discovered, only leave you hungry for more.

It is Friday and I am waiting with blood-red fingernails and matching heels by the elevator of Dave’s apartment complex. I am supposed to be outside waiting in my car, but I want to surprise him. And secretly, I am hoping for a glimpse of the elusive Junior.

There is a list of tenants posted next to the elevator. I look for Dave’s. Dave and Marisa Sutter it reads. Apartment # 2A. I finger the buzzer lightly, wondering if I should, and before I can decide, I do it anyway. BUZZ . A woman’s voice on the other end, the same voice that sometimes answers when I call and ask for Dave. Always without suspicion, suspiciously cheerful.


The words begin to form in my mouth but stay there. Frozen. I cannot speak, I feel my voice trapped somewhere in my throat. Instead of words, bile rises into my mouth and I feel the uncontrollable urge to retch.

“Hello? Hello? Anybody there?” The same voice and the same nausea filling my stomach. I begin to gag. I run outside and with trembling hands I light a cigarette. Halfway through the cigarette, I feel better. I stay there for about fifteen minutes, just smoking, waiting for I don’t know what. Then I hear the ding! of the elevator from within and quickly avert my face as the people start to come out. All of a sudden, I can hear Dave’s voice.

“Oh come on! The movie wasn’t that bad.”

“Yes, it was! Half the audience was asleep, didn’t you notice?” The woman’s laughing voice answers him, and I know who that voice belongs to. Marisa. I wait and listen for any sounds of a child, some whining whimper from Junior. But all I can hear are their voices playing back and forth, and then the bark of a dog.

They continue to walk down the path leading to a park across the street, and I can see them more clearly from where I am now cravenly hiding, behind a tree.

She wears a red sweater and her dark hair is tied at the nape of her neck. He is wearing a gray cardigan and both of them are smiling. A golden retriever bounds between them joyfully, barking whenever she laughs out loud.

Their voices grow fainter and I cock my ears to try and catch their disappearing words. I watch as the dog streaks across the street running after a squirrel and narrowing missing a gray station wagon that whizzes past, and Dave’s wife shrieks, “Junior, bad dog, come back!” And I start to laugh hysterically in large, wheezing fits, like a mad woman, not caring if they hear me. Not caring at all. And it is as if the world falls to splinters around me, as if everything suddenly uncoils itself and unravels to nothing.

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