Three of us were sitting together in the company cafeteria having lunch. Because all three of us are married men the conversations usually were about sports, politics, money or occasionally, sex. If one of our offspring had done something noteworthy we allowed a little time for parental bragging. All three of us were in the age group where our offspring were either out-of-the-house at college or out-of-the-house married and gone.
Wally showed us an article in some magazine about the numbers of married American men who had mistresses. He said it was over thirty-five percent! He read from the article that said that the percentage in Europe was over fifty percent. Then he asked an interesting question. “How do you convince a woman to be a mistress?”
Our conclusion was that most of the time it was done with money. “You rent her an apartment.” Pete said. “You buy her nice gifts, really nice gifts.” Wally said. I said, “All of that and maybe a car.” Then Pete said, “So it’s only rich guys who have mistresses. My wife would sure as hell notice if I spent enough to rent an extra apartment!”
Wally added, “My wife would notice a hundred dollars missing. When we sit down to do the bills we look at everything!”
At the end of lunch we went back to work. I can’t speak to what Pete and Wally did or thought about for the rest of the day. I did my job and thought about what it would be like to have a mistress. When “The Change of Life” arrived at our house it found it was crowded. In order to make room for hot flashes, mood swings and other symptoms of the new arrival something had to go. What went was my wife’s libido.
From an active, enjoyable sex life of two or three times a week we went down to once a month. I mentioned the change and was met with a frosty woman who accused me of being insensitive. Mentioning it also prompted what was left of our sex life to end. As time went on I made a notation in my calendar whenever I made a move toward or issued an invitation for a little bedroom activity. The notation was a “+” sign if the invitation resulted in some activity and a “-” sign if I was turned down. All the things that used to work at getting her “in the mood” no longer worked. I started feeling like she was my roommate who happened to sleep in the same bed. I wasn’t sure if she slept nude with me because she liked being nude or to torment me with what I couldn’t have.
Wally was worried about his wife noticing a hundred dollars missing. I was starting to think Donna would notice the missing money before she noticed or cared that I was having sex somewhere else. Maybe a mistress could be a good thing.
The evening after our lunch conversation I brought roses home with me. She got excited and put them in a vase. I took her out for dinner. Back at home I took the trash out and took a shower before bedtime. When I got in bed she was wearing a night gown. A flannel nightgown. Over the years she had done that, to stay warm until I came to bed, then she took it off and we slept nude together.
“I don’t want to sleep nude any more.” She said. “It makes you think about sex. I’m done. I can go the rest of my life without sex.”
“Is the next step twin beds or is one of us moving into the guest room?” I asked.
“I’m not making you do either, but either would be Ok with me.”
“Sex has been a part of our relationship for all the time we’ve been together. It’s a part of being married. Take the sex out of the relationship and we’re roommates!”
“Fine! You want sex? It’s the fourteenth of May. From now on you can screw me on the fourteenth of every month.” She got out of bed, peeled off the flannel, her panties and got a tube of lube out of her nightstand. Then she stood beside the bed and lubed her pussy. She got back in bed and said, “Ok, husband. I’m ready!”
I was shocked. I was also turned on. It had been two weeks since I’d seen her nude. I’d felt her nude next to me in bed but hadn’t seen her. Seeing her usually got me going. However, her speech and her attitude pissed me off. I hesitated.
Five or ten seconds passed and she said, “Well? I thought this was what you wanted.”
“You were wrong. What I wanted was not a hole to masturbate into. What I wanted was the woman I’ve loved for more than twenty years and shared intimacy with for all those years. I guess she’s gone. So am I.”
I got out of bed and went to the guest room. I wondered if she’d follow. I wondered if she heard me at all. She stayed in the master bedroom.
In the morning I went to the master suite and gathered toiletries and clothes and went to what had been the guest bedroom since our youngest had moved out. I got ready for work and left. Not a word had been spoken between us.
At lunch I called home and left a message. I made it short and to the point. “Hi, it’s me. If you were planning to make dinner for both of us for tonight, it won’t be needed. I’ll eat before I come home.”
My work day ends at four. At three forty-five my phone rang. The ID window showed our home number. I picked up and gave my professional answer. “GBH Industrial, Alan speaking. How may I help you?”
“Alan? Why aren’t you coming home for dinner?”
“Right off the top of my head I can give you two reasons. If I come home for dinner you’ll want to talk and I’m not in the mood for a conversation with you. If I go to a restaurant I can eat in peace and quiet.”
“We need to talk.” I remembered her tone from when she said the same words to each of our kids. They didn’t like that tone either.
“We? Maybe we do need to talk, but we don’t need to talk tonight. If we talk tonight I will probably say things I don’t want to say. I’m too angry to talk to you about last night and about the future. Maybe I’ll be ready before the end of the month.”
“You’re not having dinner at home until then?”
“Can I come home for dinner and not have a discussion? Am I invited for a quiet dinner?”
“We need to talk this through.”
“I don’t see why. You made it very clear. You never want sex with me again. You are willing to grease up and let me masturbate inside you once a month, on the fourteenth. Did I misunderstand?”
“That’s not how I said it.”
“Did I get the message correctly?”
There was a pause as she considered her answer. “Yes.”
“Then, as of your edict, we are roommates. When you spoke the edict it wasn’t up for discussion, it was the Queen telling her subject about the new law. We share the house as roommates. As a good roommate I let you know I won’t be home for dinner. Thanks for calling.” I hung up.
Walking out of the building a little later, I was struck by how long it had been since I hadn’t gone home for dinner. At dinner I was struck by how long it had been since I ate dinner alone. For over twenty years I’d shared my life with Donna. We had a routine, a pattern, for how we lived together. It had been broken.
As I drove home I realized this was the weekend we always did the bills. I got paid on the fifteenth of every month. The weekend after the fifteenth we always sat down at the dining room table and paid the bills. I worked and Donna stayed home… to raise the kids and take care of the home. Only the kids were gone. The bill paying session would be interesting.
When I pulled into the driveway I saw the living room lights go out. When I entered through the back door the light in the kitchen was the only one on. I got a diet Coke from the fridge and carried it to my room. Donna was in the master bedroom with the door closed. As I walked by the door I called out, “I’m home.”
There was no response.
In my new bedroom I noticed the bed was unmade. A Kleenex I had tossed at the trashcan in the morning had missed. It was still on the floor next to the trashcan.
I didn’t sleep well. In the morning I took care of my ritual and included a new step, making my bed. I tossed my dirty clothes in the bathtub and reminded myself to get a laundry hamper on my way home.
In the kitchen I ate a bowl of cereal and washed my own dish. I didn’t see Donna. I heard her moving around in the house but I didn’t see her. I left a note on the counter that let her know I would be home on Friday evening by six for dinner and our bill paying session. I asked for lasagna for dinner. It was a request, not a demand.
At work, I tapped into our accounts and printed copies of our current status. I called the bank and put new limits on the credit cards. Lower limits. I looked at our spending patterns over the last few months and reacquainted myself with the fact that our expenses had decreased significantly when the kids left. Our youngest still needed fifteen hundred a month, but his scholarship paid for school so the fifteen hundred was for room and board, etc. One of the other expenses that had decreased a lot was the groceries.
As I expected, Donna didn’t call. I ate out again and in a diner I’d never been in before. The food was good, the place noisy and the waitress cute and young. At first I felt bad for looking her over, then I realized it was Ok. Donna wasn’t interested. Donna wasn’t there.
I was home and in bed by ten-thirty. I brought a new hamper into my bathroom and loaded it with my dirty clothes. When I got up in the morning I was all business and soon I was dressed and off to work. Donna was nowhere to be seen. No breakfast was on the table. On my way out I saw a note to me stuck on the fridge.
“Dinner will be at six. Lasagna, as requested. D.”
Work went really slow that day. It was hard to concentrate with the money meeting on my mind. I had so many questions. ‘Was this the end of our marriage? Was I willing to go the rest of my life without sex? Was her cutting me off a ploy to get something? Did most women get to be her age and slam the door on sex?’
I had no answers.
By noon, I wanted some answers. I called the minister of our church. He was two years older than me and his wife two years older than Donna. I asked if he had time for a conversation over the phone and if I could have a conversation with his wife.
His conversation confirmed to me that his sex life was active and enjoyable. When I talked with his wife, Helen, I asked about the commonness of menopause having a wife shut the door on sex, forever. She said she wasn’t sure that it was very common at all, especially at our age. If we were in our seventies or eighties yes, but we weren’t that old.
She gave me the number of a therapist and I called her. I had a fifteen minute conversation with her and learned a lot. What Donna had done wasn’t something she had no control over. I called Donna’s OB/GYN doctor and she called me back at three. She confirmed that the libido does decrease in menopause but seldom is severe enough to require stopping sexual activity.
I went to a park after work and watched a little league game until quarter to six. I drove home and walked in to the smells of lasagna. As I entered the kitchen I noticed a box in the trash. The lasagna was from the freezer section of the market. Donna’s lasagna was the best I’d ever had and I always made a point of making sure she knew how much I loved it.
She made no pretense of dinner being her lasagna. It sat on a trivet in the middle of the table still in the aluminum foil container from Stoffer’s. I washed up in the kitchen sink and sat across from her.
“Thanks for making lasagna.” I said. I said it straight, no sarcasm.
“It’s too much trouble to make my lasagna for just the two of us.”
“I’m sure this will be good. Maybe not as good as yours but edible.” I dished out about a third of the pan onto my plate. I asked, “Would you like me to serve you?” as I held the serving spoon.
She shook her head and reached for the spoon. “No thanks.” She took about half of what was there.
Usually when she made lasagna she made a salad as well. Not that night. I asked for lasagna. I got lasagna. I didn’t ask for salad, so there was no salad. I hadn’t asked for water, wine, juice or diet Coke so those weren’t on the table either. She was making a point. She stayed quiet for the whole meal.
The lasagna was edible, but not very good. I’d describe it as hot and filling but nothing more. I carried my plate to the sink and washed it. I covered the left-overs with foil and put them in the fridge. In our den we kept a box where all the bills lived between the last time we paid bills and the next time. I got it and brought it back to the table. She sat across from me.
I wrote a list of all the bills. Mortgage, utilities, insurance, car payments, and everything else. At the top I put the amount of my last check. We made out the checks, signed them, put them in envelopes and put stamps on the envelopes. Our conversation was minimal. When the bill paying was done I took the stack of envelopes to my car so I could drop them at the post office the next morning.
Donna had put the box away while I was gone. She was sitting on the couch and held the remote in her hand. The TV wasn’t turned on.
I said, “You said we need to talk. You’re right. So, talk.”
She smiled and put the remote down. “You don’t understand. I’m in menopause now. My sex drive has shut down. Women are like that. When our hormones shut down we’re done. It doesn’t mean anything personal. It has nothing to do with you.”
“Really? Who else is involved?”
“Me! Don’t take it personal.”
“You tell me my sex life is over, that the woman I love no longer wants sex with me. So, what do I do with my libido? I want sex and not a place to masturbate into once a month.”
“That’s the best I can do for you. That’s not going to change.”
“What about the rest of our marriage?”
“What are you talking about?”
“We just did the bills, right?”
“I brought the money home. I made out the checks and put them in the envelopes. You put the stamps on. Does that act make you my partner? My wife?”
“No. I am your partner. No single act makes me your partner. Would having sex with you make me your partner? I’m your wife.”
“Sorry, I don’t see it. Here’s what I see. I earn the money that pays for everything here. I take care of the yard work, both cars and anything that breaks in the house. I want to know what you do as my partner.”
“I gave birth to your children. I raised them. I’ve cooked and cleaned this house for over twenty-five years.”
“To quote someone famous, What have you done for me lately? Matt left home last August. The children are now adults. You did a good job, and phases one and two are done. You gave birth to them and you raised them. Done. You announced tonight that making lasagna for two is too much work. What else is too much work to cook for two of us? Are the majority of my meals going to be delivered in aluminum pans from now on?”
“Lasagna takes hours to prepare.”
“And what else did you need to do today? I noticed you didn’t do the laundry. Wait, maybe it was just my laundry you didn’t do. Did you clean the whole house today?”
“I clean the house every day.”
“Yesterday did you clean my room?”
“No. I was angry. You’re being unreasonable. I didn’t clean your room and I didn’t do your laundry.”
“Remember sitting in church two weeks ago? The minister said that marriages are partnerships. Each person does what they can to have life work for the other person. Each part of a partnership has the intention of giving more to their partner than they get from their partner.”
“I’ve given to you and the boys for over twenty years.”
“What do you think would happen at my job if I quit managing the twenty people who work for me? I’ve managed them for twenty years. I don’t need to do it any more. I’m angry at three of them for being unreasonable. What would happen?”
“You’d lose your job.”
“From where I sit, it looks like you’ve quit your part of our partnership. I get frozen dinner. I need to do my own laundry, clean my room, take care of the yards, maintenance on the house and work sixty hours a week. Oh, and I need to masturbate. What is it you do?”
“I’ve been taking care of you and the house except for this week.”
“So, when are you coming back from vacation?”
“I’m not on vacation!”
“When will I be able to count on you cleaning the whole house? When will I be able to count on a home made dinner every night? When can I count on you doing all the laundry?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ok. That’s unacceptable. I want to be married to you. For twenty-six years I’ve been faithful, a good husband and a good partner. Since I no longer have a partner and no promise of getting her back any time soon, the marriage is over. You want to live here or are you moving?”
“The marriage isn’t over! Jesus! I’m not going anywhere.”
“Yes, you are. You and I are trading rooms. Since I am the majority partner I get the master bedroom. Tomorrow is Saturday. When I get up I will move my things back into the master bedroom. I will clean your bedroom and wash the sheets I slept on. You can move your things into your new room.”
She finally knew I was serious. Tears started down her cheeks. Then her hands went to her face and she openly cried. I got up and went to bed. At seven I was up and in the kitchen. I made a pot of coffee, actually a small pot, just two cups. I had some toast with my coffee. Then I started piling things in the hallway. Before ten everything of mine was out of the bedroom, the sheets were in the drier and fresh ones were on the bed. The door to the master bedroom had not opened. I knocked on it.
“I don’t feel well.” She said.
I opened the door and she was indeed still in bed, surrounded by her blue flannel nightgown. “If you need help getting to your new bedroom I’m willing to help you go. With help or on your own, you are moving today.”
She slowly got out of the bed and said, “I can walk.” She did. She walked down to her new room and closed the door behind her.
It took me the rest of the morning, but I got all her stuff piled in the spare bedroom and all my things into the master bedroom. As I was putting fresh sheets on the bed I realized they were sheets Donna bought. Sheets Donna liked. I folded them back up and put them back in the linen closet.
On my way shopping I stopped at a great little Mexican restaurant and had lunch. Then I went to a store I knew Donna shopped at and looked at sheet sets and a comforter. I bought things that were decidedly masculine. In the checkout line two women from church, friends of Donna’s, saw me and said, “Hello.”
They asked where Donna was. I said she had said she wasn’t feeling well this morning. They joked with me about the things I was buying looking very masculine.
I said, “They are for my bed. I’m masculine. Seems to fit, don’t you think?”
“You don’t sleep with Donna?” Betty asked.
“Not any more. She doesn’t want to be my wife anymore. Life moves on.” It was my turn at the register so they moved on. After I paid I looked for them and saw both of them on their cell phones. I wondered, for a moment, which of them was calling Donna.
I saw a Lazy-Boy store on my way home. I smiled and stopped. Twenty minutes later I was on my way home again. My new chair would be delivered on Monday afternoon. For over twenty years I had thought of the house as Donna’s domain. Decisions about sheets, curtains, rugs and furniture had been mostly her decisions. That was over.
When I walked in carrying the three bags from Bed, Bath & Beyond Donna was sitting on the couch. Right next to her was the phone. She looked at me and the bags and said, “It’s true! You told Betty we are getting a divorce!”
“No, I didn’t. Carole Wright was with her. Call her and ask for exactly what I said. I can tell you what I said. Betty saw what I was buying and asked, quote, You don’t sleep with Donna?” I said, “Not any more. She doesn’t want to be my wife anymore. Life moves on.” “That was the end of our conversation.”
“That means we’re getting a divorce!”
“Other than a legal agreement with the state of California we already have a divorce. We are roommates, not spouses.”
“There’s a thing at church tonight. Carole and Betty will have spread the gossip all over before then. I can’t show my face at church.”
“Have you done something you’re ashamed of? Broken some law?”
“I don’t want a divorce!”
“Then do something to reverse it! I haven’t called a lawyer, yet. I love you. If the marriage is worth fixing you can fix it, but I’m not willing to live like it’s been.” I walked away.
In the master bedroom I put the new sheets on the bed and the new comforter. I thought it looked great. When I stepped back to look it over Donna was standing in the doorway. She said, “Betty was right. They are very masculine.”
“Want to give them a test run?” I smiled as I said it.
“No thanks. They’re too masculine for me.”
“In twenty-six years did you ever buy new sheets and ask if they were too feminine for me? Not once. Little flowers were what you liked, not me. I put up with them because you came with the sheets. You looked good with little flowers all around your naked body. I think you’d look good on Forest Green sheets too.”
“You never said you hated the sheets.”
“Because I knew you liked them and you would be between them with me. Hell, I’d have willingly slept between Barbie sheets if you were going to be there with me. And we both know I’m not fond of Barbie.”
I saw a tear slide down her cheek just before she turned and went back to her room. While she was in her room I rearranged the living room. Donna had the room set up so that if folks dropped by we could sit in sort of a circle and talk. People almost never dropped by. I moved things so the room was less living room and more media room. The TV and stereo were the new focal points.
At six I was dressed and heading out the door when I realized I wasn’t being a good roommate. I knocked on her door and said, “I’m going to the church and dinner. I’ll be back before eleven, I think. Don’t wait up for me.”
“You’re only going to hurt me.” Her voice came through the door.
“I don’t want to hurt you. Would you rather people make up gossip or know the truth?”
“I’d rather they didn’t have their noses in our business!”
“Too late.” I turned and walked to my car.
At the church I had a great dinner. It was a pot luck dinner and I ate well. During dinner I sat at a table by myself for a while. Then Neal Thompson and Brad Willis sat down with me.
Neal asked, “Is it true?”
“I’d need to know what it is to answer the question.”
Brad added, “We heard you’re getting a divorce.”
“No one has filed any legal papers.”
“I’m not married to Betty. To quote exactly what I said to Betty exactly I said, “She doesn’t want to be my wife anymore. Life moves on.”
“So what will you do? Where will you go?” Brad asked.
“I’m not going anywhere. On Monday I’ll be at work. I meant what I said, Life moves on.”
“I was gonna say I was sorry to hear about the divorce…”
“Me too. This isn’t my idea. But, it’s her choice what she does with her life. I’m not the boss and never have been.”
They wandered off. The minister stopped by and asked if I needed to meet with him. I said I was doing Ok but that didn’t mean the same as fine. He gave me a hug. When I was done eating and clean up began, I stayed and helped. We threw away lots of paper plates and plastic forks. I got the floor sweeper and started on the floor when the minister’s wife found me.
“I’d like to talk to you, if that’s Ok.”
“Now, or after I finish the floor?”
“After.” She walked away and I finished the floor. The crew was down to three of us at that point. We both gave Kevin a hug and he went home. We sat outside on the patio and the minister’s wife said, “Can I ask what happened after we talked?”
I told her the whole story and invited her to talk to Donna if she wanted both sides of the story. She asked, “What next?”
“We are roommates. I sleep in the master bedroom. She sleeps in the room that used to be Matt’s room. She quit cooking for us. She stopped cleaning my room. She quit doing my laundry and you already know she shut her body away. She has no income. I have no idea what she’s going to do. I do know what I’m going to do.”
“No. I’m going to find someone to take care of my home, cook for me, clean my house and do my laundry. I’ve got a big house and I can’t take care of it by myself. I also can’t count on Donna to do it.”
“You’ll hire someone as a housekeeper?”
She was quiet for a long time. She was thinking about something.
“We have a friend… she could do the job. She needs a job. Right now she has a job but it doesn’t even pay her rent! And, she’s living in an old trailer. Shall I call her?”
I handed her my cell phone. She smiled and dialed.
“Sharon? This is Helen. Have you got a minute?”
“Would you consider a live in position as a housekeeper. I know the man you’ll be working for and I’d trust him with my own daughter. The house is a four bedroom house with two adults living in it. You’d do the cooking, keep the house clean, do the grocery shopping, the laundry and have your own bedroom and bathroom.”
“You two can talk about money when you meet. I just want to know if you’re interested.”
“When can you talk to him?” She mouthed “Now?” to me and I nodded.
“I’ll give him your address and he’ll be right over.” She folded my phone and handed it back to me.
“Her name is Sharon. She’s thirty-something, divorced and the last three years have been hell for her. The man she was married to was a complete bastard.” I’d never heard her use a word that strong before. “She’s a little gun shy, if you know what I’m saying.”
“I’ll tred softly.” I thanked her, took the address and left. Ten minutes later I was parking in front of a broken down, rusted out trailer. Sharon was sitting in a lawn chair beside her trailer. She was wearing threadbare jeans, an old Grateful Dead T-shirt and cheap flip-flops. I got out and approached her. She stood.
“Alan. We need to talk about the job. Can we go somewhere else to talk?”
“Maybe, a diner? I’d like some dessert and maybe you’d like dinner.”
“Ok. Helen trusts you, so will I.”
We drove to nice place and went inside. She studied the menu a long time. I leaned forward and said, “Order whatever you want. Please.”
The waitress came and we ordered. I got a piece of lemon meringue pie.”
I told her the whole story and what I wanted. She asked some good questions and I created some good answers. Then she asked the key question, “How much will you pay?”
She had already shared with me that she worked at Wal-Mart. That let me know she wasn’t making much.
“You get to live in the house, with your own bedroom and bath. You eat what we eat. I buy all the supplies for the house and for you. And the first Friday after the fifteenth of each month you get a thousand dollars.”
“That’s less than I get now.”
“Does what you get now include rent, food, utilities, incidentals?”
“Come take a look at the house. See how much work you think it will be. If you don’t think I’m being fair, we can talk some more. See where you’ll live.”
Her dinner and my pie were gone. I left a nice tip and we were back in my car. She said, “I don’t have a car.”
“Can you drive?”
“Yes. My license expires next year.”
“We have two cars. I need this one all the time for work. The other one is used by my roommate, but I can have it be your car and she can use it sometimes.”
I parked in the driveway and we got out. It was almost ten. When the car doors closed the living room light went out. We went inside through the door into the kitchen. A plate and a pan were dirty and in the sink. I turned on the lights and said, “If you take the job this room is your domain. Move things around to make them work for you.”
She looked. She opened cupboards and the fridge. When she’d seen enough she looked at me and nodded. I gave her the rest of the tour. We didn’t open the door to Donna’s room. As we passed it I said, “Your responsibilities will not include anything in that room or bathroom. Donna can take care of that.” Sharon nodded.
I opened the two spare bedroom doors and showed her both rooms. All of Donna’s things were still in the one room. I said, “If you want the one we’re using as storage I’ll move everything out of there tomorrow.”
“Why are you being so nice?”
“When people are happy they do better work and more of it.”
“Ok.” We walked back to the front room and sat down. As soon as we sat she said, “When do you want me to start?”
“Tomorrow, after church. I’ll pick you up for church and after we’ll go back to your trailer and get your things. From then on, you live here. You can give your Mom your new address and phone number.
“No, I can’t. She’s gone.”
“I believe you. Ok. I accept the job. On the way home from church can we stop and buy groceries, too?”
“Sure. Let’s get you home.” We got in my car and drove. It was obvious she was deep in thought.
“When we get to the trailer could you wait fifteen minutes?”
“Sure! What’s up?”
“I can be packed and back in your car in fifteen minutes.”
“Want me to carry things for you?”
“I don’t have that much.”
She was right. Ten minutes after she got out of the car she came out again with one suitcase. She locked the trailer and dropped the key in the manager’s mail slot.
When we got home I got her fresh towels and carried her suitcase into the bedroom. I said, “I’m getting up at eight to leave for church by nine. You want me to wake you then?”
She looked and saw my other son’s alarm clock beside the bed. “No. If you get up at eight, what time do you want breakfast?”
“How about eight thirty?”
“Done. I hope you like my cooking.”
“I guarantee it’s better than mine.” I closed her door and went to my room. When I opened the door I was surprised. Donna and her flannel burkha were sitting on my bed.
“Who is in the house?”
“My housekeeper. She moved in tonight. She starts work tomorrow. Since I pay her, she works for me, not us. Her name is Sharon. Please stay out of her way. If you dirty something in the kitchen, clean up your own mess. We will be going to church in the morning. If you want a ride, please be ready to go at nine o’clock.” I took off my shirt.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m in my bedroom and I’m going to bed. What does it look like I’m doing?”
“Getting undressed in front of me.”
“I’ve slept naked for thirty-nine years. Twenty-six of those years with you. I am getting undressed, not in front of you. You came in here. You sat on my bed. If seeing me naked one more time will offend you I recommend you get out of my bedroom and don’t come back until you want to see me naked and share yourself with me.”
“It’s my house, too!” she said as she walked out and closed the door behind herself.
At eight I woke up, shut off the alarm and got up. The door to my bedroom, that Donna had closed last night, was open about half an inch. I left it alone and got ready for church. At eight-thirty I entered the kitchen and found Sharon dressed for church and at the stove. I said “Good Morning” and was met with a smile and a cup of coffee. She watched my face for my reaction. I sipped the Joe and said, “Good. I like it black.”
I sat and she served both of us plates of scrambled eggs with chunks of cheese and salsa in them, toast and a small glass of apple juice. They were good. We did the dishes together after breakfast. The little bit of egg mix that was left I tossed down the disposal.
Sharon was dressed in a shirtwaist dress and flats. We got into the car and headed for church. “Alan, people are going to ask about your wife.”
“Nosey people. The minister and his wife, Helen, know everything. The answers the others get will be the truth but won’t help their gossip much.”
“What will you say?”
“Donna doesn’t want to be married to me. Changing her mind is up to her, not me.”
“Sharon came to church with you this morning.”
“Sharon is my housekeeper. She is my employee. Since she doesn’t yet have a car, I brought her to church.”
“I like the way you tell it. You don’t bad mouth Donna and you don’t put me down either.”
She sat next to me in church. Close but not too close. The few times I looked over at her during the service I noticed things about her. I noticed the dress she had on was clean and very threadbare, much like her jeans had been the night before. When she bent to pick up a piece of paper from the floor I noticed her bra was equally threadbare and worn. I also noticed her shoes were quite worn.
As we headed for the car after service was over, I caught the eye of Helen, the minister’s wife. I gave her a thumb’s up. She smiled and then greeted someone else.
Betty, who had bumped into me at Bed, Bath & Beyond, caught us at the door to my car. “Where is Donna this morning?” She asked.
“When I left for church I hadn’t seen her this morning. Perhaps it would be a good Christian thing for you to call her and check on her health and well-being?”
“I don’t want to bother her.”
“She’s been mostly in her bedroom for a week. How could your call be anything that would interrupt or bother her?”
“Ok, I’ll call her. Are you going to introduce me to your…”
“Employee. Betty this is Sharon, my housekeeper.”
“How nice. You got Donna a housekeeper.”
“No, I didn’t. Sharon is not our housekeeper. Sharon works for me.” I opened the door and Sharon got in. She looked up at Betty and said, “It was nice to meet you. Have a blessed day.”
Any further conversation wasn’t possible. I closed the car door and went around and got in the other side.
As we turned right onto the street Sharon said, “I think every congregation has women like her.”
“You don’t like her?”
“No. She can’t wait to gossip.”
“It would be different if she relayed the things she heard. She doesn’t. She’ll tell people what she makes what she heard mean.”
“That’s a big part of why I left New Jersey. Gossips!”
She started paying attention to where we were and asked, “Where are we going?”
“Westside Pavillion. They have nice things there.”
“I thought we were getting food.”
“After. There are some other things we need more.”
We walked in and I headed for Nordies. “What do you want to get?”
When we were inside Nordies I headed for ladies clothes. Sharon stopped me. She said, “What are you doing?”
“You work for me. When you are in public you represent me. People would look at you today, dressed for church and say, “He’s cheap. She’s doing the best she can but he obviously is not paying her enough for a decent dress.” I won’t have it. You will dress appropriately or you won’t work for me.”
“Oh. I hadn’t thought about that. Did I embarrass you in church?”
“No. Even the gossips know you haven’t worked for me long enough to have earned or bought new clothes. If you show up next week in the same dress or one very much like it, then tongues will wag.”
“Nordies is expensive. I’ve never bought anything here. Ever.”
“I think you’ll like what you see. Please don’t look at the tags. I headed for tops and pants. We picked out some tops and some cotton pants. Three new pair of jeans. Then we headed for dresses.
“Pick out three you can wear to church and feel good.”
She picked four. We gave it all to a sales girl and said before we went to the dressing rooms Sharon needed some things from intimate apparel. Sharon hesitated. I understood. I looked at the sales girl and Sharon and said, “See that couch over there? I’ll be on it when you’re ready. Bag all the items from here and bring them to the register. We’ll have Sharon try on the new clothes wearing new underthings.”
They smiled and fifteen minutes later they were back, with one bag. I said, “What’s the total so far?”
The sales girl said, “One hundred twelve ninety-two.”
I looked at Sharon and said, “You must have at least a dozen bras. At least twenty pair of panties, a few camisoles, two or three nightgowns, some nylons. You can’t possibly have all that in that bag. Go back. You were looking at the tags. Get good stuff.” I waved my hands and they went back into bra-land. Half an hour passed and they were back with two more big bags.
The sales girl said, “Eight hundred sixteen and change.”
I stood and said, Please take them to the register and we’ll meet you at the dressing rooms.” When the girl was gone Sharon said, “You’re spending a lot of money.”
I stopped and faced her. “Close your eyes.” She did. “Feel how the new things feel on you. How do you feel with them on?”
“I feel good.” Her voice was a whisper.
“I want you to feel like that every day. When you run the vacuum I want you to feel good in your clothes. The better you feel the better job you’ll do for me. Now, let’s go see how you look in new clothes.”
I sat in a chair for an hour. I saw every pair of pants, every shirt, and the four dresses. Very few things went back. The things that went back were red. I don’t like women in red. My grandmother thought she was a beautiful, sexy woman and she always wore red. Red shoes, blouses, pants, toenail polish, finger nail polish. I don’t like red. Donna didn’t own anything red from the day we got engaged.
I paid the bill and two people from Nordies helped us carry everything to the car. They were so nice they let us stop in the shoe department and get two pair of shoes to go with the dresses.
On the way to the market we stopped at a shoe store and got two pair of good shoes for work and around home. Then we stopped at the market. As we prowled the aisles she asked questions. “Do you like pasta? Do you like vegetables? Which ones? Do you eat meat, fish, chicken, turkey, pork?” And she asked how I liked each yes cooked. The cart was pretty full when we were done.
When we got home I volunteered to get the groceries into the kitchen. She took all the Nordies bags and her shoes to her room. Donna was sitting in the living room and watched Sharon carry seven big Nordies bags past her. She didn’t say anything.
Sharon didn’t put everything away in her room. She came back to the kitchen and as we put things away she asked what I wanted for dinner. “What is something you like to make?”
“I like making Italian food, especially with a good salad.”
“That sounds great. Just a minute, please.” I walked to the doorway to the living room. “Donna, Sharon is making Italian food and a salad for dinner. Would you like to join us?”
“NO, thank you.” There was an iceberg in her throat. I needed a jacket if I was crazy enough to continue the conversation. I wasn’t that crazy. I turned back to Sharon and said, “Just enough for the two of us, please.” She nodded and went to work.
I went to my bedroom and fired up the computer. Donna had been using it. She left tell-tale signs of her being on the computer. I looked and found emails she had sent to someone named, “Ihearu.” She told “Ihearu” all about what was happening here. Ihearu was sympathetic and said I was doing everything to get her to go to bed with me again. She was assured that I would cave in and give her everything she wanted and she’d never need to have sex with me again. From all I read Donna had made up her mind that she could have a great life as a roommate without working any more and not having sex.
I felt a little better knowing she wasn’t having sex somewhere else. But, not much better.
I hid all the things I had done on the computer and shut it down. Sharon came to the door and knocked then said, “Dinner’s ready.”
I opened the door and followed her to the dining room. Italian food and a salad turned out to be a salad and lasagna. It was not in an aluminum pan from Stoffer’s. It was great! As I ate I said, in a whisper, “This is great. Lasagna has always been one of my favorite meals.”
Sharon got up, got a pad and wrote, “UR whispering because Donna makes a really great lasagna?”
I nodded and wrote: “I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”
Sharon wrote, “U love her?” I nodded.
“When she comes to her senses where will I go?” She wrote.
“I’m thinking she won’t. Even if she does, you stay.”
She said, “Thank you.” Out loud.
We finished the salad and the lasagna. We did the dishes together and left the kitchen clean. All the groceries were put away. We went into the living room and sat. Sharon still had a pad and pencil with her.
“What do you want for breakfast tomorrow?” She asked, out loud.
“Something easy. It’ll be your first day cleaning the house, finding things and getting things organized. I can do coffee and toast.”
Donna spoke up, “He’ll have a muffin at work with the boys.”
“Will you come home for lunch?”
“What would you like for dinner?”
“Chicken. We bought some.”
“How many breasts will you eat, with veggies and a small salad?”
Donna got up and walked back to her bedroom. I heard the door open and I said, “Donna, we need to talk. Could you come back to the living room, please?”
“We need to talk? What’s left to say?”
“Come back please and find out.”
She came back. Sharon was still sitting on the love seat. Donna said, “I don’t want to have a conversation with her here.”
“Ok. Sharon would you please be somewhere else for a while? Donna and I need to talk.” She got up and went to her room. We heard the door to her room close before Donna said anything.
“I don’t like her here.” Tone and body language told me she was looking for a fight.
“I can understand that. You thought you had a job for life, that you couldn’t be replaced. You were almost right. Almost.”
“The only thing you haven’t replaced is me in bed with you!”
“Wrong. Sharon works here. I like her. I don’t love her. I love you. You didn’t give me many options. I could do everything and get old faster than I’m already getting old or I could hire someone to do most of what you quit doing.”
“She didn’t need to be young and cute.”
“Yes, you’re right. But the person who showed up needing the job most was Sharon. I didn’t hire her because she’s cute. I hired her because she was living in a rusted out trailer, working at Wal-Mart and wearing clothes that were threadbare because that was all she had. I hired her because I couldn’t leave her in the cesspool she was in. I don’t know how hard she works. I only know she knows how to make a salad and one kind if Italian food. And, since you brought it up, the other side of my bed has been empty since you made the new law. You’re welcome there any time, as long as you’re there for both reasons.”
“Both reasons? I thought you wanted me there to have sex with, but you turned that down. What two reasons?”
“To sleep with me, nude, and to express your love for me physically.”
“Those days are gone.”
“Then, it’s time for the second part of the discussion. So far, since we became roommates you’ve made no contribution to the household. You have eaten food, used electricity, water, a bedroom and a bathroom. When are you going to pay your portion?”
“I don’t have a job.”
“Then you need to get one. We became roommates on the fourteenth. It is now the twenty-third. You’ve lived here ten days for free. I’ll give you free rent until the fourteenth of next month.” I paused, got up and said, “Wait right here.”
I walked back to Sharon’s door and knocked. A few seconds passed and she opened the door.
“How much rent did you pay for the trailer?”
“Five-fifty, utilities included.” I thanked her and closed the door. Back in the living room I said, “Sharon’s trailer rented for five-fifty including utilities. I will give you this for the same price. Rent is due on the fifteenth.”
“I have no job skills. I can’t get a job.”
“Then you have until the fourteenth to find somewhere to live for free. Maybe one of your children needs a housekeeper.”
“They don’t want their mother living with them!”
“I think you’re about to discover no one wants a freeloader. Up until the fourteenth of this month I thought things were Ok between us. I wasn’t a hundred percent happy, but I still felt we were partners. You were unhappy and you decided how you wanted life to be. We didn’t talk about it. You were angry and rude when the subject came up.”
“I was not!”
“You stood next to the bed and lubed up, dropped on the bed, spread your legs and said, “”Ok, husband. I’m ready!” I hadn’t seen you nude in three weeks. We hadn’t had sex in over a month. I call that behavior rude and I’d go so far as to call it slutty. You can call it anything you want, but I doubt even you would call it the behavior of a loving wife.”
She sat stunned. Tears welled up in her eyes and she opened her mouth a couple times, but didn’t speak. I waited. She didn’t say anything.
“I love you, but love isn’t enough. Remember when you went on that diet a year ago? You were very strict about what you would eat and what you would allow in the house.”
“I didn’t want the temptation!”
“What if I put a chocolate cake on the counter? A chocolate cake with the raspberry filling between the layers. How long could you go without a taste?”
“I wouldn’t have made it a whole day.”
“You are my chocolate cake. For twenty-six years I’ve lived with the best chocolate cake I could imagine. In the beginning I got to taste it almost every night. We slowed down to two or three tastes a week and then, once a week. Then once a month, but I could smell the cake every night, and touch you and hold you. I got kisses almost every day.” I waited. Donna had been looking at the floor while I spoke. I slapped my hands together hard! “Bam! You said, the cake stays right here where you see it, smell it as it walks by, and you cannot ever have any again!”
She looked up when I slapped my hands together and then back down at the floor.
“I’m not throwing you out.” I said. “But, if you’re going to be my roommate you’re damn sure going to act like a roommate! Ask any one what they would pay to live in a nice home like this. I’m being more than fair, especially since seeing you and knowing you don’t want anything to do with me is so damn painful! If you want to be kind to me, get out!”
I had worked hard at keeping my emotions under control. I failed. I spoke what I felt. She looked at me like she didn’t even know me. I got off the couch and went towards my bedroom. As I turned the corner I saw Sharon’s door slowly closing. She had been listening. I was fine with that. She lived here. She needed to know what the dynamic was she was living inside.
I closed the door to the master bedroom, stripped and climbed into bed. I remembered when I was in sixth grade there were boring days at school and in my classroom there were ceiling tiles with hundreds of holes in them. When I was bored I tried to count them. I made it all the way through sixth grade before I figured out there were twenty-four holes to a side and twenty-four times twenty-four equals five hundred seventy six. I never had counted them. I wished for a ceiling tile with all those holes so I could think of something else.
When I got up, dressed and ready for work I found Sharon in the kitchen. She handed me a mug of coffee. I took a sip and it was great. I said so. She blushed. I remembered that Lazy Boy would be delivering in the afternoon. I told her about it and told her to sign for the chair. It was all paid for. She asked what she should give the delivery guys. I gave her ten one-dollar bills and said, “Give them what you think appropriate.” I showed her where I wanted the chair.
It was time for me to go. I caught myself starting to lean towards Sharon for the Good-Bye kiss I’d shared with Donna for so many years. I stopped and met her eyes. She knew what had just happened.
I turned and went out the back door. At about ten I called home. The machine picked up. I said, “Sharon, please answer.” She did.
“I forgot to give you my number at work. If you need me, call me. If Donna needs me, call me.” She wrote down the number and said, “She’s just sitting on the couch.”
“Just do your job. She probably will be out within a month.”
“I hate to ask…” She almost whispered.
“Can we go to a park and eat tonight? I’ll make food but eating here is painful.”
“We’ll go out. You don’t need to cook. It’s a good idea. By the way, are you in new clothes?”
“Yes. I’m wearing all new things. I’m almost afraid to work hard and get them dirty.” I could hear the smile in her voice. New clothes have that effect on some people.
“What did you do with your old clothes?”
“Nothing. They’re still in my room.”
“Bag them for me please. Put the bag beside my bed. Ok?”
“Ok, but why?”
“Because you’ll never wear them again. It’s sad that you ever had to wear them.”
“I’ll do as you ask.” We ended the call and I went back to work.
I called again as almost everyone at work was leaving and let Sharon know I’d be home by seven-thirty. She thanked me for letting her know.
At seven twenty-five I stopped my car in the driveway. I went inside and as soon as I opened the door I saw Donna get up and leave the living room. I walked into the living room and saw my new chair right where it belonged. Sharon had moved an end table beside the chair and put a coaster and the TV Guide on top.
She came in and said, “Did you sit in it?” She was excited.
“No. I was just admiring it. I wondered if I got a good color.” I looked at her face for the answer and she mouthed the words, “We both like it.”
I sat in the chair and it was very comfortable. Sharon said, “My Daddy had a chair like that. Sometimes he slept in it. Please don’t sleep in it all night.”
“I can’t promise never, but I will intend to go to bed every night.”
I got out of the chair and we left. As I backed down the driveway Sharon said, “We talked today.”
“How was it?”
“Donna doesn’t want to like me. She doesn’t want to leave. It’s been her home for over half her life. She said she cried all night. She sat on the couch all day in a sort of daze.” She paused and took a big breath.
“When the chair came she watched the men bring it in. She said, “I didn’t know he wanted one.” When they left, it was her idea to put the end table beside it. Alan, I think she’s lost. Her nest is empty and she doesn’t know what to do.”
“I can’t fix her! I studied a lot of things in college and the psychology of middle aged women wasn’t on the list.”
“She doesn’t want to be fixed. She wants to be important. She was important, to you and to the kids. Now, they’re gone and cooking and cleaning around here isn’t much of a job any more. It got to the place in her thinking that her only value…”
“Her only value was for sex! Her hormones messed with more than her temperature regulators! She’s thinking like she’s crazy.”
“I’m no where near where she is and I thought I was worthless too. When I think about the past at all, I still think the world would be better off if I jumped off a bridge. I have a long, unpleasant story that all points to me being just as important as my threadbare clothes. I’m thirty-seven years old. I gave birth to three children and none of them are still alive. I was married and he’s doing life in prison in New Jersey now. I brought him home and introduced him to my sister and my parents. He killed them and my kids. In the trial he said I asked him to do it, all of it.”
“I had no idea. I’m sorry.”
“I feel just like Donna! My life is crap. I worked hard to have a good life and so did she. We lost everything. Did you ever see an old movie they sometimes show in schools about Eskimos? When they get old and aren’t helping the family or the tribe they just wander away and get eaten by a polar bear. For the last three years I’ve thought of doing that, but there aren’t any polar bears in California.”
“What do I do? What can I do for either or both of you?”
“First, you can park the car and we can have dinner.” That I could do. Over dinner she filled in more of the details for both of them that had somehow slipped by me completely. As we walked out of the restaurant I said, “Rather than help, I’ve made it worse. When she did what she did in our bed that night I proved to her she was right. The only value she had was between her legs.”
“Then I compounded the message by bringing you home.” I opened her door and she got in. She looked up at me from the seat and said, “She loves you and she’s lost.”
I drove home in silence. When I stopped the car and shut off the engine I asked, “What do I do? I’m lost too.”
“I have an idea, but it probably isn’t any good.”
“It’s an idea. I don’t even have one.”
“My idea could make it worse.”
“It’s already worse. Let’s do it!”
We went in the house and she led me to Donna’s door. She knocked. Donna said, “Come in.” We did. Donna was sitting on her bed wearing the green flannel. She looked up and no emotion showed on her face at all.
Sharon and I sat on the two chairs facing Donna. Donna asked, “What do you want?”
Sharon said, “I want to learn. I want you to help me. But, I will only do this if you both promise to tell the truth, no matter what.”
“I always tell the truth.” Donna said. I nodded my head.
“Ok. Alan why did you marry Donna?”
“I married her so I could be with her every day. I wanted to share my life with her.”
“Donna, why did you marry Alan?”
“I love him. I knew he’d be a good husband and a good father.”
“What did you want to be?”
“A good mother and wife.”
“Were you a good mother?”
“Yes! Our kids are grown and they’re doing fine.” I finally heard the pain in her voice as she said those words.
“Alan, has Donna been a good wife?”
“Yes! We’ve had our good times and tough times, but I could always count on her standing by me. We held on through the tough times and we’ve partied together.”
“Did you ever feel ignored?”
“Sometimes, but I understood. If one of the kids was sick or hurt or something, they came first.”
“Is that true, Donna?”
“Yeah, sometimes. They were my job.”
“What happened last August?”
“Matt went away to college.” Donna said. The sadness dripped from her words.
“Alan, what happened last August?”
“Matt went away to college.” I heard my own joy in saying it.
“Donna did you hear him? He was and is happy that Matt left home! Why are you happy about him leaving?”
I answered, “After twenty-three years of being parents first, we can get back to being a couple first.”
Sharon said, “All you saw was that your job was over. Twenty-three years ago you took on a project as parents and that project became your life. Alan kept looking ahead to last August so he could get back to living with the woman he loves and sharing life with just her.”
I added, “Donna said she got married to be a mother and a wife. I didn’t get married to be a Dad. When it happened I loved it, but I’ve been really waiting all these years to get back to sharing my life with the woman I love.”
“So, you wanted to be able to get back into bedding her five times a week and leaving the bedroom door open?”
“No. Well, maybe that’s what I’d like, but the frequency isn’t going to be possible. What I’ve been looking forward to is traveling without kids, diapers, The Cat in the Hat, and having to be quiet so we don’t wake the kids. I want to stand beside Donna as we do the dishes and take her in my arms and kiss her for as long as we want without some kid saying, Ewwww, gross! Get a room!” I wanted to get back to her being my lover and best friend. I want to watch a sunset in Hawaii without wondering if one of the kids is lost, sick or borrowing my car.”
“You never said that.”
“And you never said you wanted to keep raising kids forever so you could feel important. If you had, I would have told you, you already are the most important person in my universe. Having and raising our children to become adults was a priority for me, not The priority. My life has been focused on you all these years. Because the kids were so important to you, they were important to me. This house was important to you. The SUV to haul the kids around in was what you wanted. If we had gotten married and found out you couldn’t have children, I would not have been devastated. I still would have had what I wanted most, you.”
“You never said all that.”
“I didn’t say anything about the flowered sheets either. Having flowered sheets made you happy. I’m for you being happy. Having children made you happy. I’m for you being happy. I can diaper a kid and attend ballet recitals, little league games and all the school plays on the planet, if you come with all of it. Having a four bedroom house makes you happy. I’m for you being happy. Without you, I’m not interested.”
Somehow, without me noticing, Sharon had left the room. The door was closed with Donna and I inside. She smiled and said, “The kids aren’t here.”
“You’re right. I’ve just told you how I’ve felt for nearly thirty years. Day after day I made it Ok that the kids came first. I knew that I was still there and when they were gone, I’d be back in first place. All of it was Ok, because of that. What isn’t Ok is what you said a few days ago. You said, “I’m done. I can go the rest of my life without sex.” Then over the next few days you backed out of my life completely. All I’ve seen of you since the fourteenth is you inside a flannel burkha. Look at it from over here for a moment. Half my life waiting for the kids to grow up and be adults. They do and you divorce me. You’re right, the kids aren’t home. I’ve been used and tossed aside.”
I stood up and opened the bedroom door. As I stepped out into the hallway I said, “If you see my wife, my partner, my lover, tell her I’d love to talk to her.” I closed the door and said, “Soon.”
I went into the living room and sat in my new chair. I turned on the TV and watched something. I have no idea what it was. By the first commercials I had kicked off my shoes and leaned the chair back. It was quite comfortable. My mind wasn’t on the chair. I was focused on the rest of my life. I had a picture in my mind of how I wanted the rest of my life to look. I wondered if Donna could or would have the same picture. Some time later I fell asleep.
When my eyes opened the TV was off. There was light from the pre-dawn coming in through the windows. I was covered with a blanket and I wasn’t alone in the chair. I didn’t move. She was covered completely by the blanket and she felt really good to me, even without me moving at all. Was it Donna? It had to be. Sharon had helped us, worked with us, to get back together. It wouldn’t be her.
I moved an inch and whispered, “Hi. New here in town?”
She moved a little and said, “I think I’d like to stay, if I can find a nice guy to love me.”
“What kind of guy do you want? Maybe I can help you find one.”
“He should be a little older than me, a little grayer, and a good kisser, for starters.”
“I’m two years older than you. I have gray hair on my chest and hopefully you don’t.”
“Not yet anyway. What about the kisses?”
“I don’t know. It’s been a long time since someone wanted my kisses. Maybe they’re no good.”
“We could test our lips together and see how we do together.”
“If you want to take the risk.”
She uncovered her face and wiggled enough to get close to my face. As we started to lean together she said, “Just lips, right? We’re just seeing if we kiss Ok?”
“Just lips.” They touched. I loved our kisses when we tested them many years before. They were better. Her lips were quite soft and very warm. My eyes were closed and inside I was fighting. What was she doing? One last fling and then she would freeze over again? Was this really my Donna back from the dead? Could I relax and surrender?
Her tongue touched my lips, ever so gently. An electrical current ran from the tip of her tongue to the pump inside my hips that started pumping human hydraulic fluid into my penis. When the kiss ended she said, “Something is happening. I feel it.”
“One kiss isn’t enough.” I said.
“It never is, is it?” Our lips touched again and her mouth opened wider, her tongue exploring a bit more willingly. All my resolve about finding out what she was up to, about being cautious, dissolved. I surrendered. My arms moved and embraced her, discovering she was nude. Her hands moved my hands to her breasts.
When the kiss ended she said, “I love the way you kiss. I love the way you hold me.”
“Does this mean you take back what you said?”
“I will not tease you again. I lost sight of what my life was about. I’m sorry I put you, us, through the last months. I want to be your wife, your lover and your best friend. I want to show you how I love you.” Somehow she got my clothes out of our way and rode me to glory, right there in my new chair. I had the pleasure of watching her breasts bounce as she rode me, and the pleasure of touching her and feeling her as we climaxed pretty closely together.
She didn’t get off me. She pulled the blanket up and covered us. Minutes later we were back asleep.
The sun was fully up when my eyes opened again. I was alone. The blanket covered me. I tucked my appendage back inside my clothes and zipped up. Then I got up and folded the blanket. As I folded it I noticed a mostly dry spot of bodily fluids on it, so I walked it to the washer and put it in. I headed for my bedroom. If there was fluid on the blanket there surely would be stains on my chinos and underwear.
I stripped down and turned on the shower. I had cum all over me too. I wrapped in a robe and went to Donna’s room. I knocked and said, “I’m taking a shower. Want to join me?”
Sharon opened the door in her robe and Donna was standing beside her. “Who are you asking?” Donna asked.
“We need to talk.” This time she was smiling. Sharon slid past me and into my bathroom. She shut off the shower. When she came back they sat together on the bed. I sat in the chair.
Sharon and I have been up most of the night. She saved my life. She saved our marriage. I love her for what she did. But, because she did it, she expects for us to toss her out. I don’t want to.”
“We can afford for her to stay. It costs less to have her here than the kids.”
Donna added, “And she helps around here.”
“I can stay?” Sharon asked, looking at me.
“Yes. You can stay.”
She jumped up, kissed Donna on the cheek and then me. “Ok, now you can shower!” She ran back in and turned our water back on. When we got there she was back in her room. We got very clean and when we redressed we discovered Sharon had washed our clothes and the blanket.
Sharon borrowed Donna’s car and went shopping for a few things we had forgotten.
“We have a new problem, Alan.” Donna said after Sharon had gone to the store..
“Sharon is falling for you.”
“No. That’s a little strong.”
“No, actually I softened it. Sharon loves you. She and I talked. I know lots about her history with men. She didn’t even believe a man like you existed. She shared with me that she watched us this morning and cried because she wanted it to be her in the chair with you.”
“God! What can we do? I don’t want to hurt her.”
“Then don’t. Let things be as they are for a few days. Just be yourself.”
That’s what we did. I started noticing little things. Donna came and sat in my lap as I sat in the new chair and Sharon would bring us a light blanket to cover up with. I was met every morning with a mug of coffee and on work days a travel cup on my way out the door. Donna and Sharon became closer than sisters. They shared the car easily. They finished each other’s sentences. They cleaned the house together and cooked together. The next lasagna was the best I’d ever had.
Weeks went by. At breakfast one morning Donna asked, “Can we afford a short vacation?”
I asked, “How short and how much?”
“Four days and a thousand dollars, for all three of us.”
“The thousand is air fare?”
“No it’s everything. We can go on a four day cruise to Mexico. The room and the food are included. Figure an extra couple hundred for extras and we have a worry free vacation.”
“Ok. I like it. You two do the planning and book it. Call me at work and I’ll get the time off.” Sharon handed me my travel mug and I left for work. They called before lunch. It was Tuesday. The ship sailed that Friday and was back on Monday evening. I got the time off. All I had to do was drive the three of us to the dock. They packed, planned and were ready to go on Friday morning. Our home was less than an hour from the ship and we didn’t need to be on board until four in the afternoon.
We left at noon.
We had lunch on the way. We were the fourth group in line when the gates opened. The others had come from a long ways away. When they let us on board Donna kept all the paperwork except for our three passenger ID cards. We were guided to an upper deck and told our bags would be in our cabins after the life boat drill. We wandered around the upper decks, saw the pools, hot tubs, three places for dancing a walking/running track and a great place to watch the ship leave the harbor.
Donna and Sharon were almost giddy. I had the sense that there was something they knew that I didn’t. However, I was having lots of fun so I didn’t think much about it.
The life boat drill was actually fun. We learned how to wear the life jackets and where to go for our life boat. At the end of the drill they said, “We can go to the cabin now.” I didn’t hear the clue.
We went down the elevator to deck seven. I followed Donna. She had the deck map. At cabin 722 she used her ID card and it unlocked the door. She walked in and I followed. Sharon followed me inside and when I heard the door close I stopped. In front of me were two twin beds pushed together and a bunk hanging from the wall. They had booked all three of us in the same cabin!
Sharon said, “I think you should sit down.” I sat. More accurately, I collapsed into a chair. They sat side by side at the foot of the beds.
“This has gone on long enough.” Donna said. “I told you Sharon loved you six weeks ago. She’s going crazy, loving you. We booked this trip as a trap. We both love you. Can you love both of us?”
“You aren’t serious!”
I saw tears welling in Sharon’s eyes. They were deadly serious. If I blew this off I would hurt both of them. I realized I could love them both. I had stuffed my feelings into a box labeled “friends” when they belonged in a box closer to my heart. I had been acting as if there were a law in the universe that I could only love Donna.
My legs got me standing and I reached for both their hands. They stood. I wrapped my arms around them and kissed Donna. I heard and felt a sob from Sharon. I turned to Sharon and kissed her. Softly and gently we kissed and kissed again.
When we came up for air I took a breath and said, “I promise to love both of you all my life. I will love you both as my wives. Is that what you both want?”
Sharon nodded and tears flowed. Donna said, “Yes!” She backed out of our three way hug and said, “I’m going for a walk. When I get back and if it’s Ok for me to come back inside, have a little piece of paper sticking out under the door. No hurry. Our dinner isn’t until eight.”
Sharon was unbuttoning my shirt as the cabin door closed.