Friday afternoon, 3:19PM
I walked into my office, ready to file the last of my papers and jet. I was ready to have a weekend with my wife, alone, something I have done with her since... well, since we got married. With her always working, I was always at home on the weekend, watching SportsCenter like it was going out of style.
But not this weekend.
It was our anniversary weekend. She told me she took off from her residency, she's "accidentally" leaving her BlackBerry and pager in her desk at work, and gonna concentrate on me and her.
Almost twelve months of marriage, and 3 of those, we spent in marriage counseling. We needed it. As a doctor on call, she wasn't home all the time. I filled the lonely space as much as possible, with hobbies, friends, and a lot of Xbox 360. It wasn't always like this, she was home more often, well, until the head doctor at the hospital quit all of a sudden. That was about a month after the honeymoon. Then, it went from cooking dinner for her and eating together to fast food for me, and the vending machine for her. A lot of sleepless nights followed, waiting up for her. That turned into me going to bed at 9PM. She rarely beat the sun home. 18 hour days. Spent the rest of her free time sleeping alone because I was at work.
But all of that was gonna change. I truly believed it.
After filing the last of my papers, I sit at my desk, and check my email for the last time. Two emails. One from Stanley, telling me that he needs someone to come in tomorrow, and if I could do it, it would help him out so much.
The second came from Marisa, my partner here at the office. She was letting me know to relax and have fun this weekend, and that if I need Monday, let her know and she'll cover for me. I laugh and shake my head. She's been my friend since freshman year in college. Marisa knew all about my issues. She caught me once or twice having a moment, and she consoled me. We were friends after all, been so for 12 years and I enjoyed going out with her and her husband Robert when I was invited. Robert met Natalie once when we went to dinner together. They seemed to hit it off well, and I was hoping that we could become friends, all of us.
It'll come when it comes.
I shut my computer down, grab my coat, walked down to Marisa's office and knocked on the door. I cracked it open, peeked my head in and overheard her and her husband having a.... discussion. That's what she called them, anyway.
"Robert, we had reservations tonight at The Real Folk Blues. No, I can't just call them back and get refunds for the tickets. They're booked solid for the next week, you know it's The Roots tour coming, and after that, Erykah Badu will be here. No, I don't want to go by myself, what's the point? No, I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed. You couldn't say no?" She notices me and waves me in. I closed the door behind me. She sighs and says "Ok, fine. I'll call and cancel. No, it's fine, really. No, don't worry, I'll be fine. No. No. Ok. Go. Love you, too. Bye."
She hangs the phone up, shaking her head.
"Well, my plans are shot to hell. You out of here?"
I smile sheepishly. "Yeah, I'm done. Natalie should be at the house getting ready. I'm sorry to hear you won't be there tonight, it would've been fun, the four of us."
"Yeah, I really wanted to see Andre' 3000 tear the house down tonight. At least you and Nat should be getting down and having fun. Looks like it's me, some Ben and Jerry's and Tyler Perry. Are you excited?"
I smile like a kid at a candy store with 20 bucks. "You know it. Haven't been on a real date since... since we all went out last time. Shame I had to think about it, you know?"
She smiles at me too. "Yeah, but all of that will be erased this weekend. Go, get out of here. Go fix your marriage. Call me, let me know how the show goes."
I open the door. "I will, thanks. Have a good weekend."
I go to the parking garage, put my briefcase in the car, and get ready to go home when my phone rings. It's Nat, but it's the hospital number. I knew I shouldn't have answered it, but I did anyway.
"Babe, I'm so sorry."
"How late are you gonna be?"
There was a long pause. "I'm not going to make it tonight."
I snap. "Damn it, Nat, it's our anniversary. Our ANNIVERSARY. And you're gonna work through it, huh? Just like that."
"Hey, don't get mad at me. And stop yelling at me. It's my JOB. I have to be here, and I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you, I promise."
I suck my teeth. "Yeah, ok. Bye." I hang up the phone. I couldn't continue to go through this. I kick the car out of anger. I hear a voice fall out of the sky.
"Hey, calm down. You ok?
It was Marisa. I turn around and let her know what was going on. She comes and hugs me.
I vent. "Why does she think that she has to play SuperWoman and save the hospital? The place won't fall apart if she's not there for 1 damn weekend. I need her. Her husband. Can't they understand that?"
Marisa looks at me, sees how defeated I feel. "Hey, look. No need for these tickets to go to waste, and both of us being at the house isn't gonna cure anything. Let's go. Me and you. We can just kick it, like we did in college."
"I don't know..." I sigh.
"Hey, come on. If you don't go, I'm gonna eat all the snacks in the house. And when I come back to work Monday, I'm gonna look like I gained 50 pounds, and you know I don't like to erase all the exercise I did this week."
For some reason, that struck me as funny. I laugh out loud. She always had that ability to make me laugh. "Ok," I agreed, "We'll go. I'll stop by and pick you up at 6?"
She smiles. "6:15. You know a sister is gonna be late getting ready."
Friday night, 10:37PM
We arrived at The Real Folk Blues at 6:35. The place was already packed, waiting for Andre' to come shut it down. We sat down, ate, stood up, danced, laughed at the people coming in looking as if they came for a school dance. Andre' came over after his set and hung out with a group of us, signed some autographs, and bounced.
Marisa wore a sexy, ankle length A-Line dress with some 2 inch heels. She was looking very nice. Standing model-like, she was almost as tall as me. Without the shoes, she was 5'8", light skinned. Half Black, half Spanish, she was a natural mix, and while you had no problem noticing that she was Black, guessing what she was mixed with was an exercise in futility. People guessed everything from Puerto Rican to Dominican to Mexican, and she loved when people said Mexican, because she liked to correct them and let them know her father was from SPAIN, not Mexico.
"I feel under dressed with you tonight. If I had know you were gonna go all out, I would've done more than throw on some slacks and a button up."
She laughed. "Hey this was for Andre'. If I wasn't married.... whew. All types of sexy, that man is. ¡Muy caliente!"
I shake my head, smiling all the while. "You are crazy. Well, it's cleared out some now, they getting ready for the live set, you ready to go?"
She frowned playfully. "You not going to dance with me? What if I don't want to go home right now?"
"Hey, I don't want to go either. But we aren't night owls, and I know you can fall asleep at the drop of a dime."
She nods her head. "You're right. Come on, let's go." We start walking to the parking lot, talking along the way.
"Marisa, I wanted to thank you for dragging me out tonight. I really appreciate it. It got my mind off my marriage for a minute, and I guess I needed that, so, thanks."
"Hey, it's not a problem. Besides, you saved me from a night of gaining pounds and crying my eyes out at Daddy's Little Girls. So, really, I should thank you." She reaches for my hand, and we hold hands on our way to the car.
"Where did we go wrong in our marriages?" she wondered. "I mean, I think I'm a pretty good wife, and I know you're an excellent husband. But it's like our spouses don't even want to be around us. I don't get it. Did I do something wrong?"
I shake my head. "No, don't blame yourself. We're just married to two workaholics. There's nothing wrong with that, yet, there's everything wrong with that. It's almost like I'm in a long distance relationship with my wife, yet we live in the same house."
"Why didn't we get together?"
I was completely taken aback by her question. "Huh?"
She kept going. "You would've expected us to get together and at least date. I mean, look, we've known each other since freshman year in college. You haven't even made so much as an awkward pass at me. At first, I thought it was because I wasn't your type, you know, and then I realized that it was because you saw me as a true friend. But I wondered if you ever thought about us... at least once...."
I sighed. Swallowed the pool of saliva that had formed in my mouth. "I would be lying if I said I didn't think about being with you. But, I mean.... I don't know..."
"I'm lonely. I haven't slept beside my husband for months. Can't remember the last time I felt his touch. You know, the UPS guy touched my hand the other day, and I felt... wow. And he's not even all that cute. I can't even believe I'm even thinking about this... but I need to feel wanted. Tonight, you made me feel good. Wanted. And I just want to know.... I mean, I need to know.... am I still desirable? If no one else wants me... does my best friend want me?"
She interrupts me. "And I'm not asking for you to start an affair. Well, maybe I am. I'm actually thinking about stepping out on my husband, but I need something, I need this, you need this. Don't you want to feel wanted too?"
"I love her, Marisa. I don't think this would be fair-"
"Fuck fair. It's not fair I can't even be a wife to my husband. And it's definitely not fair that your wife can't even take off on your anniversary, to try and let her husband act like he is her husband."
I sigh. "I can't remember the last time we were intimate. It's like I'm living by myself, or with a roommate that's never there, just shows up to pay rent and leave. Every time I try to get something started, she claims she's tired. I tried going to the counselor by myself, ask what I could do, and she doesn't help."
She grabs my hand. "Come home with me. Please. Between friends. I need you." And with that, she kisses me. Slowly at first, as if to test the waters. I pause, unsure if I want to take it there. Our first kiss was an unsure one.
Our second kiss was way more passionate. I kiss her, she kisses me, tongues moving back and forth. She wraps her arms around my neck, and I hear a soft moan come out of her mouth. I stop her, look into her eyes.
"I've always wanted you. I just thought I ended up in the friend zone with you, that we could never have an opportunity together. I had dreams about being with you, want to touch your skin, kiss your lips..."
"Then take me home. And let's enjoy each other's company. I want you," she states.
I've never driven so fast in my life.
Friday night, 11:12PM
We arrive in front of her house. I get out of the car, she's already standing outside of her door. We start kissing again, and while kissing me, she fumbles for the keys. Opening her lock, we push our way inside. She closes the door with her left foot, then places her left leg on my hip.
We kiss more and more, moving our way to the couch. She hikes her dress up and takes off her thong. I take my coat off and she unzips my pants. I can't believe that we're going here, after 12 years of friendship. She pushes me on the couch, and straddles me. I'm deep inside of her. I can hear that initial moan, I can feel that first shudder. She kisses me, and starts to ride me. Slowly, moving very deliberately, wanting to control the situation and the speed and the depth.
Her face is glowing, her eyes locked onto mine. My vision is getting blurry, she's swimming in and out of focus. She smiles. I close my eyes, feeling that first climax coming from deep inside me. I hear her say "I love you." But that wasn't Marisa's voice.
It was Natalie's.
My eyes shoot open, and Marisa has stopped completely. She starts breathing heavily, more than she was, almost hyperventilating. Then we hear the second voice say "I love you, too."
That was Robert's voice. And it came from the kitchen.
We both look over towards the kitchen and see Robert and Natalie, naked, kissing, holding hands. A sharp breath escapes from Marisa. I feel my face getting hot.
Robert sees us first. His smile melts away slowly. Natalie notices this, and her face shows concern, until she looks at us.
And the four of us, looking back and forth at each other, each one not believing what just transpired, each one finding answers to questions they had, and having a million more taking their place, has just realized what was going on the whole time.
I don't think that the marriage counselor will be ready for this.