It’s a little hard to fix my marriage though when Walt is home for less than one waking hour per day. I try to gently point it out to him and he flies into a rage. He tells me that it’s a busy season for him at work and I just don’t get it. Do I want him to lose all his clients?
But I do make an effort. Every night I cook us dinner, not just in the microwave, and have it ready for him when he comes home. And I don’t eat it either, which is pretty difficult when he doesn’t get home till like 10PM. This ends up not being a great thing for my diet, since I end up snacking almost nonstop till dinner.
The weight situation is not good. I know I’ve been cheating like crazy on my diet, but it’s still horrifying to discover that none of my clothes fit me anymore. This morning, I woke up and put on a pair of size 14 slacks only to find the button wouldn’t button. I tried a few other pairs and none of them would go on. One of them wouldn’t even fit over my ass. I have to admit, I started to cry at that point.
I found a couple of billowy dresses in the back of my closet that seem to fit. They are practically muumuus. I’m a little embarrassed to walk around like this, but I can’t go around naked. I know that I have to make a trip to the mall and get some new clothes at a bigger size. I think I’ve finally graduated to plus sized clothing.
Part of my resolution to make things right with Walt is that I vowed to have sex with him next time he propositioned me. But unfortunately (or fortunately), that never happened. He seems utterly uninterested in me lately. I guess it’s because of how I look. I don’t even blame him. I don’t even get why he wants to stay married to me so badly, but I guess he doesn’t want to be humiliated by having his wife leave him.
I haven’t talked to Riley in a week. I only saw him once, outdoors near our office talking animatedly to some of his colleagues. Our eyes met for a brief second, but he didn’t say anything or acknowledge me in any way. But between you and me, he’s still been leaving those thermoses of coffee outside my door. I know I should stop drinking them to discourage him. But he makes the coffee so good, so I drink it up, wash out the thermos, and leave it for him to pick up at the end of the day. I guess I’m encouraging him, but I can’t help it. Maybe I just like the attention.
Anyway, I’ve got to get Riley out of my mind and focus on more important stuff. Namely, I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to say for my evaluation. Susan thinks I can talk Frank into giving me a promotion, and maybe she’s right. Except how am I supposed to do that? What have I done to deserve something like that?
I sit in my office in the afternoon, making a list on my computer of reasons to give Frank why I should get a promotion. So far I’ve come up with:
1) Well-liked by students
3) Good hygiene
This is not the most impressive list I’ve ever seen. It’s not even that accurate. My students don’t like me that much. Now that I’ve seen Riley teach, I feel like my students don’t like me at all. And I’m not particularly prompt. I do have good hygiene, I guess. But honestly, I can come up with a better argument for why I should be fired than why I should get a promotion.
If only I had finished my book.
I stand up and start pacing around my office. It’s too small to get up a really good pace though. I’m basically walking around in a small circle. I start to feel a little ridiculous. I go back to my wooden chair and fall back into it.
I hear the chair creak threateningly, then a second later, I’m on the floor. The wind is knocked out of me, and for a few moments, I have no idea what happened. Then I see the chair on the floor next to me with one leg hanging loose. I broke the chair. I can’t believe it. I’m so fat that I sat on my chair and it broke.
I scramble to my feet, my cheeks burning in embarrassment. Well, at least nobody saw it happen. I know I have to call maintenance and report the broken chair, but I can’t bring myself to do it yet. I guess I can say it was broken when I came in. Very believable.
Sighing, I grab my jacket off the wall and wrap it around myself. I need some fresh air.
I wander around campus aimlessly for a while. It’s decidedly nippy by now, and I feel the cold air going right up my skirt. I don’t know where I’m going exactly, but somehow I find myself wandering in the direction of the tree where Riley and I were sitting the other day. It was such a peaceful, quiet area. There was something about it that inspired me somehow.
But when I arrive, I find that the spot has already been claimed. I see a lone wheelchair parked in front of the tree, Riley slumped down in his chair, flipping through a small book. For a moment, I’m tempted to turn back before he sees me, but then he lifts his eyes and it’s too late. He looks so sad that my chest aches.
“Hey, Maggie,” he says. He pauses, then adds, “I mean, Margaret.”
I get closer to him and see that the book in his hands is some kind of diary. “Hi,” I say. “How are you doing?”
He leans back in his chair. There are light purple circles under his slightly bloodshot eyes. “I miss you. A lot.”
I hug my jacket to my chest as a cold wind blows past me. The hem of my dress blows around my calves. “That dress…” Riley says. A small smile plays on his lips. “It looks nice. I told you it would.”
“You told me?”
He looks up at me, as if searching my face. “I bought it for you.”
“I’m sorry,” I say, shrugging helplessly. “I don’t remember…”
“Yeah, I don’t suppose you do.”
I don’t say what I’m thinking, which is I can’t imagine why Riley bought me such an ugly dress. He really does have odd taste.
“What’s that you’ve got?” I ask him.
Riley holds up the small book. “This? It’s yours, actually. You used to keep it in your purse and you’d write in it while we sat out here.” He flips through the pages. “When you filled it up, you gave it to me and got a new one.”
I recognize, even upside-down, my own handwriting in the book. I wonder if he’s telling the truth about how he got the book.
“Here,” he says, holding it out to me. “You can have it back. It’s yours anyway, and… I don’t want you to think I stole it from you.”
I take the book out of his hands, and flip through the pages. I see my own writing in fine black ink. Page after page, filled with poetry, notes, ideas. Maybe this is something I could use for my meeting with Frank.
“What are you doing here?” he asks me. “I’m guessing you didn’t come to see me.”
“Just needed to think,” I say. “I had a rough morning.”
I’m embarrassed to admit what happened, but I figure if anyone won’t judge me, it would be Riley. “For starters, I sat on a chair and it broke.”
He snickers, but then wipes the smile off his face quickly. “I’m so sorry. That’s… terrible.”
“Terrible or hilarious?”
“Maggie!” He shakes his head, unable to keep another chuckle from escaping. “It’s terrible. Of course.”
“I’m glad you think it’s funny that I’m so fat. It’ll help you get over me.”
“No,” he says. “I promise you, it really won’t.”
I know he means it. Somehow he doesn’t seem to care that I look like this. His eyes are traveling up my body and I feel very exposed, all of a sudden. “Listen,” I say to him. “I don’t think you should bring me coffee anymore.”
Riley looks alarmed that I’m breaking the one last contact we have together. “But, why?”
“This needs to end,” I say. “I have to fix things with my husband.”
“But I don’t mind bringing you coffee,” he says quickly. “I’m already making it for myself. It’s not a big deal, I swear.”
I reach into my purse and pull out the small thermos he’d filled for me this morning. I hand it to him. “No more,” I say firmly.
He reluctantly accepts the thermos from me and puts it in his lap. His head drops down, staring at it. “This is really fucked up, Maggie.”
I agree. It’s really fucked up.
I believe that Riley and I had a little fling. Maybe I did it because I was angry with Walt, maybe I was depressed over not being able to make a baby, maybe I was feeling ugly because of all the weight I gained… I have no idea. But whatever my reasons were, I was wrong. It took a car accident and losing my memory to finally realize the error of my ways. Like any sinner, I must now repent and make things up to Walt before it’s too late.
That night, Walt gets home very late. At ten o’clock, I lie down in my bed, telling myself I’m just taking a nap, and I’ll wake up again when he comes home. Except when I wake up, Walt is already snoring in bed next to me. Cursing to myself, I go back to sleep, only to wake up again while Walt is in the shower.
All right, step one of fixing my marriage: we need to start having sex again. Like, now. I rifle through my dresser drawer, and pull out my slinkiest nightie. It’s black lace and I remember how sexy Walt thought it was. I start to put it on, but the damn thing won’t go over my hips. Of course.
After a bit more searching, I find a red thong and matching velvet bra. My boobs are spilling out of the bra and the thong is biting into my skin, but they fit. I don’t even look in the mirror, for fear I’ll lose my nerve.
Walt emerges from the bathroom in a cloud of steam. He’s completely naked and I have to admit, he still has a great body. A bit of a tummy, but he’s very fit for 42. Any woman in her right mind would think he’s sexy. But somehow I’m not turned on.
“Hey, Margaret,” he says to me. He looks me up and down. “Looks like that underwear is a little small for you.”
My resolve weakens for a moment, but no, I have to do this. I saunter up to my husband and place a hand on his chest. “Well, maybe you can remove them for me?”
Walt almost looks confused for a minute. Then he catches on and laughs. “Are you serious?”
He looks at his watch. “Bad timing, hon. I’m late for a meeting.”
“Oh,” I say. All I feel is relief, but I force myself to say, “How about tonight?”
“Yeah, maybe.” He shrugs. “Or tomorrow.”
I nod again, trying not to feel rejected. My husband is a busy man. It’s not like I can expect him to always be at my sexual whim.
“You know what would be really sexy?” he says.
“What?” I ask.
“If you dyed your hair blond. I’d really like that.”
What? Okay, that’s an odd request. But it could be worse. He’s not asking me to buy handcuffs. I could totally go blond. I could get some hair dye this afternoon. Actually, maybe that would be a nice change.
To be continued....