My illicit affair with Poison continued for months. By this time, my wife already knew.
There wasn’t a day she didn’t beg me to end it. I tried to but I couldn’t. I was addicted to Poison and she knew it so every time we met at our spot, she gave me a dose of what I hadn’t tasted before. And like a pin drawn to a magnet, she would pull me deeper down the bog of senselessness.
Every night I spent with Poison was evident, for her scent would be all over me. My wife would open the door for me and I’ll manage to mutter, “Thanks,” to her. Even with my blurry vision, there was no mistaking the sheen of tears in her eyes. A part of me would want to comfort her so bad but then, there was this other part that just wanted to sleep and relish the effect Poison had on me. And that other part always won.
Each time my wife helped me get ready for bed, I would hear her sob silently. As always, I would be too focused on sleeping away Poison’s overdose than console her. I loved my wife but this addiction to Poison was doing a number on me and I could no longer think straight.
I would wake up the next morning sober and starving. My wife would be curled with her pillow on her own side of the bed. With the guilt I felt for not caring enough for her, I would go to the kitchen and prepare breakfast for the two of us.
At the dining, I would look at our wedding photos and see the happy smiles on our faces. Nostalgia would overwhelm me and in that split moment, I would vow never to see Poison again but to stay with my wife and make her happy. But I never fulfilled my vow. Instead, the cycle repeated itself; over and over again.
One fateful morning, I went into the bathroom to get ready for work, and I saw the evidence of the previous night on the floor. My soiled clothes. Wrinkling my nose, I used two fingers to pick up the part I suspected was clean in the shirt and what I saw threw me off guard.
A sudden wave of anger at my wife washed over me for putting up with my excesses. At the same time, I was disgusted with myself. Poison had reduced me to a baby and my wife was going to bear the brunt of my anger.
“Lillian, wake up,” I shook her roughly. She opened one eye first, then the other. Immediately her eyes met mine, I felt bad for waking her up the way I did. Everything I had cooked to lash out at her dried up in my mouth.
“Good morning,” She said as a slow smile spread on her face. I couldn’t understand her. Why would she smile at me after the hell I had put her through the previous night? I couldn’t bring myself to say anything so I swallowed hard and tried again. When no words came out, I cleared my throat.
All this time, Lillian was watching me. I began to feel uncomfortable. My palms were sweating and my thoughts were all over the place. I started to think of how best to present the matter to her. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings more than I already have but I had to do this.
“Lillian, I don’t want to continue hurting you. You deserve better than all I’ve put you through,” I said in a shaky voice that didn’t sound like mine. I expected her to say something but she didn’t and it made me more nervous.
“I think it is best you left me.” Lillian looked at me with one brow raised, and then she moved closer to where I sat. She took my sweaty hand in hers and gave me the most genuine smile I had seen in months. Even Poison’s seductive pout couldn’t compare to the emotions my wife’s smile built up in me. All of a sudden, I felt like I was choking with tears but I had to be a man. So I swallowed hard and blinked.
“Is that all you have to say?” She asked calmly. I nodded afraid that my voice would betray me and release the dam of tears in my throat. Then she squeezed my hands gently and continued.
“Fine. I’ll leave,” She said and I rose my head up quicker than a flash of lightning. I honestly hadn’t expected her to agree to leave me. I must have pushed her to the point of no return.
Swallowing hard, I pulled my hand from hers. You would think I should feel elated about my new status of freedom, but I wasn’t. All I felt was defeat. “I’m not in a hurry to see you leave Lily. Just…take your time,” I said and stood up to leave but she quickly caught my wrist.
“Richard when I said I would leave, I wasn’t talking about leaving you with Poison. I hate what she has done to you; what you let her do to you. When I talked about leaving, I meant that I would take her down with me. And you are going to help me,” Lillian’s eyes pierced mine as she spoke. There was no denying the determination in those eyes and voice.
A part of me jumped for joy and the other part was frightened. I was happy that Lillian would help me do the dirty work of dumping Poison. But I was also scared at the realization that I would lose her when the job was done. I had no intention of losing both ways so I made her a proposition.
“If I help you take down Poison, will you stay with me?”
She smiled at me and stood up slowly. Her movement deliberate and I wondered what she was up to. Lillian placed both hands on the side of my face and smirked.
“That was the plan you failed to see Richard. I never wanted to present you with the decision of having to choose between me and Poison. Or should I say Alcohol? I wanted you to make that decision yourself.”
I looked at her speechless and I remained the same way even when she kissed my cheek and walked away. She was right. If she had blatantly presented me with that decision to make, she would most likely have lost. But here I was caught in the middle of the Devil and the red sea. I knew what I had to do.
As a wise man had once told me, “The Devil you know is better than the Angel you don’t know.”
At that moment, I knew I had to choose my devil; Lillian.
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