Mauro had missed us by a single moment. Luckily, he was a simple guy who never thought badly about the people in his life, even when they deserved it. He would never notice the unmade bed or the fan being left on while the house was supposedly empty. If he saw anything amiss, he would chalk it up to my chronic untidiness.
There was a time when I almost wanted him to discover the affair. I yearned for his attention. But not the kind of attention that you can get across the dinner table with two kids interrupting every sentence.
“How was your day?”
“It was crazy because...”
“Mom, get me a glass of water.”
“Did you pay that utility bill?”
“I was going to, but I had to...”
“Daddy, look at my magic trick.”
No, I needed that kind of deep intimacy that hasn’t been in this house for years. The pillow talk that kept me up all night, riding around the hills on his motorcycle in happy silence, and the endless afternoons curled up in each other's arms with nothing else on our itinerary for the day – that kind of intimacy. Nowadays, the closest thing I feel to that is a shoulder rub while I scrub the dishes in the sink.
The days are long. They start with getting the kids’ clothes ready for the day. Then, there’s the rush to school, followed by the rush to work. The eight hours at the office are full of interruptions, phone calls, last-minute projects and client complaints. Then, it’s back to wiping tears away, wiping butts and wiping sticky surfaces clean around the house. The irony is that I’m constantly being touched. My kids hang on me while I try to get dinner ready. They need hugs even when I need to use the bathroom. They won’t sleep without a combined total of 45 minutes worth of goodnight snuggles and rocking.
But that’s not the same. I missed that other kind of touch. So, I found someone who could give it to me. Who didn’t have another email to write or something more interesting to watch on TV. It was never meant to happen, yet it did and without much complication really. It only happened twice, but the second time he came home early. We quickly got our clothes back on and crept out the back window. But when my two worlds brushed together and nearly collided, it brought me back to reality.
That night, the guilt was unbearable. ‘What kind of wife does that to a reliable guy like Mauro?’ I asked myself. It ate at me for days after that, but the anxiety was more acute at night. I would wake with a startle and hope that it had only been a bad dream. Then my mind would start spinning a web full of worries and fears, guilt and regret. I vowed it would never happen again, but then again, I had vowed to be faithful to my husband. That didn’t stop me from doing it. So, why should I trust myself not to give into temptation again?
During one sleepless night of turmoil in particular, I had a realization. The truth is that I don’t want that life for myself. Sure, it would be fun and exciting for a while. Keeping a taboo affair hidden from sight and arranging secret rendezvous had a certain attractive quality. But like everything shiny, it would get dull with time. And I know, that when the fun wears off, the only thing left will be the ruins of the life that I had so earnestly constructed. I don’t want to raise my kids without their father by my side and in their lives every day. I don’t want to learn how to live my life as a single mom. I don’t want to give up this comfortable complicity for drama and heartbreak.
It wasn’t until the day that he came home and confessed that things fell back in place. He had a different kind of confession to make. Mauro said that his boss had decided to sell the company and there was no room for his position under new management. It was a surprise to both of us, but it was shocking that he had kept this information from me for weeks. I now understood why he had come home early that day, and I almost forgot to hide the look of realization from my face. He said he had been afraid of my reaction, worried for our financial situation and embarrassed that he found himself suddenly unemployed. The hope was that he would quickly land a job with their competitor and be able to deliver good news with the bad. His plan hadn't panned out.
In a weird way I feel like we were even now. The guilt has lifted. Mostly, I’m glad that I can be there for my husband during this challenging time. Mauro really is a decent, reliable guy. He deserves a wife who will support him through good times and bad.