The Other Woman

Do you remember the time you left her sleeping there, in your
wide queen-size bed? The sheets, you tell me, are green. Maybe there
is magic after all, or simply telepathy, that you could somehow know
that I was lying sleepless in my bed, thinking of you. And us. And
how impossible it all was.

I had decided, that night, that it was over. No more sneaking
into your office under the knowing smirk of your colleagues. No more
telling my friends that I had given up on men. No more terror when we
were necking in your car, shirt over my head and skirt pushed onto the
floor, and the car phone rang. No more.

And then you called from the den, your voice low. I knew it
was you before I picked up the phone…and I almost didn’t. Standing
naked and shivering in my overheated room, I almost had the strength
to ignore you.

When you told me you were coming, I merely assented. Putting
the phone back down, I sat down on the carpeted floor, head against my
knees, arms wrapped around my legs. And shivered. Was this what
geishas, the low-class ones, felt while waiting for their lovers? Did
king’s mistresses tremble so in fear and anticipation? I cannot
compare myself to a common whore…somehow I doubt they are in love
with their johns.

Your key in the lock, and I slowly unfolded myself to your
gaze. You have easy access to this place, this body. My nakedness
has no secrets from you.

Flowers. Somehow, at 3 am in Chicago you had found a vendor
selling roses. As I put them in water, I couldn’t help thinking: You
remember her birthday, your mutual anniversary…but can’t remember
how much I despise roses. The flower of convenience.

And then you were behind me, pants unzipped and fallen around
your ankles, penetrating me in one smooth stroke. The plastic vase
slipped and fell to bounce on the floor, flowers and water everywhere
across the kitchen tile.

I was so ready for you. The scent of you as you came in, the
waiting beforehand. And as we slid to the floor, you whispered
endearments, “beloved, carino, my heart” and I believed them. The
last time I let myself love you.

Leaving, pants securely buttoned, roses replaced, you told me
that you were finally leaving her. That you had called to get the
papers started. That the ashes of your marriage were dry as dust.
And I trembled yet again.

Do you remember that last night you saw me? Have you wondered
over the years why I ran away, leaving that open apartment, those open
arms? I could not remember birthdays for you, love. I will always
prefer lilacs to roses. I think sometimes that I was meant to be a
mistress, a high-class whore.

M.A. Mohanraj