Marie* considers herself an 'accidental' mistress, a role that she never thought of playing. Prior to her affair, she had always seen women who slept with married men as cold, calculating cheats. How did she end up as one? She tells us her story.
*Names have been changed. The author was given creative license to write the narrative in her own adaptation.
This is the anatomy of my affair. My story is simple: that of a girl who fell in love with a married man. I don't know why I agreed to this interview or why I would choose to offload in such a public matter. It's my Catholic upbringing, I suppose, seeking benediction in form of confession.
But this is neither here or there.
It began innocuously enough. We met through common friends. Clichéd as it might sound, I took one look at him and knew that my life was never going to be the same. We hit it off instantly, our chemistry palpable: the attraction so combustible it burned every last bit of rationality away. Bits and pieces of our respective stories were traded. I had just gotten out of a 5 year relationship while he was going through his divorce with his wife. We shared a love of books, film noir, and excessive whiskey. He was in IT while I worked as a freelance artist. We were both surprised that we were the same age, our birthdays a mere week apart. We half joked about planning a joint celebration.
Inebriation makes it difficult to wade through the intricacies of our beginning. I don't recall the clear pathways my thoughts might have taken, but I remember thinking that this would be different. Interesting. He was a complete departure from the other men I had dated. He was practical, pragmatic. Quiet, but without the smoldering intensity I usually crave from my men. Confident but tempered with a touch of shyness, he was devoid of the brash arrogance most good looking men are saddled with. He was objective and logical, with a endearing aura of calm that begged me to take a closer look.
We tumbled into his bed that night, all wild, tangled limbs and flying articles of clothing.
He was not my first relationship. He was, however, my first and only married man. According to him, his ties to matrimony were only a technicality, an irksome bond which would soon be dissolved. I was his choice; wasn't he with me right now instead of her?
For three years, we played at being in a relationship. Time began moving according to the hours we spent together– the minutes we spent conversing over shared meals, the seconds when our phones chime incessantly with short little messages sent throughout the day. To live for so long in the shadows of both our failed relationships, being together was a revelation of the possibility of forever. We moved in together and planned our future: travel adventures set months in advanced, concerts bookmarked to be watched, RSVPs to various events as a couple. We were synchronicity, love, and laughter, our lives intersecting in so many delicious ways. I began to hope.
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One morning, the doorbell rings and I open the door of our apartment to a woman with a suitcase. His wife. She flew in for a surprise visit. He didn't know she was coming; he left for an early morning conference call. I stayed behind to work at home.
I invited her in.
If I was going to be completely honest, I've always harbored a fear of this day, a nightmare I rehashed over and over furtively, silently. In our bedroom, alone with my thoughts while nestled in the crook of his arm, I must have run through a million and one varying scenarios, mock scenes played out morbidly throughout the dark night. I never gave these debris room in our shared space, never confessed to having them. It was a secret that I harbored, fearing that holding them up in front of him to examine would bring them to reality. After all, the light of day always seemed to chase away any shadow of doubt. He would smile over his coffee mug and I would smile back. Everything would be alright.
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None of those prepared me for the politeness of reality, this confrontation with the other woman that he loved. I envisioned heated arguments in deafening decibels. I imagined hair pulling and resounding slaps on the face. Instead, we sat awkwardly in the living room. She was balancing her cup of tea in her lap as I studied her intently, satiating my curiousity about the woman that he married.
She was beautiful, inoffensive in her loveliness. I explained who I was and she calmly nodded. Her words tumbled out. It was not his first time to stray, but I was the only one he shared a life with. She loved him and understood. She should have signed those divorce papers, but, she wanted another shot at making their work.
"Should I leave now?" she softly asked, almost apologetic. "I don't want to interfere with your plans."
Her words were my undoing. Through the haze of my disbelief, a single thought sharpened with crystal clarity.
"Stay," I finally said. "He was never mine to keep."
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Photographs from Starcinema.abs-cbn.com/movies/the-mistress. Banner image for illustrative purposes only.