Another man disappeared from her life... Not that he was gone anywhere. Oh, no. He lived with her in this large, beautiful house they inherited recently from her mother.
She sipped her martini and watched the dogs play in the garden. She looked around and thought that maybe she should get busy. The plants definitely needed some trimming.
She was mixing her third martini. "My name is James" he said. Not exactly James Bond, but he was handsome and had more charm than anyone she met in a long time. She knew right away that she would not be able to resist the temptation. Things looked so gloomy at home.
She went back to the terrace and saw the dogs disappear behind a large azalea bush. How carefree they were. How easy their lives. She was getting drunk. Closing her eyes she tried to imagine what her life would have been like if she did not meet James. No. It did not really matter. Frank became invisible a long time ago. Their marriage failed and James had nothing to do with it.
When she first met Frank eight years ago, she felt that this was a beginning of an exciting journey. She fell in love with him right away. They had so much in common. They traveled a lot, enjoyed music, collected art. He was such a passionate lover, but something changed and she wasn't even sure when did this happen. Life with Frank lost its sparkle. She felt stuck. She still loved Frank, in a way. They say it isn't love, but a habit. She suspected that it was pity mixed with regret, or maybe an obligation of some kind, but preferred to be believe that she still felt something for him. Otherwise, why would it be so difficult to leave him...
And of course, there was James. He was only two years younger than Frank, but had so much more life within. He almost reminded her of her first husband, Don. They were too young when they met and did not have a clue what life was all about. One day he disappeared. He took off with another woman taking their entire savings as well as her Tiffany engagement ring with him.
The dogs were at her feet now wagging their tails like mad. Carefree life. She was in a prison of her own making and felt she needed to break out. But how? Or when? She believed that the world was like a immense hall with many doors. You could have everything. Your perfect life was lurking behind one of these doors. You just had to chose and open one. But which one was the right one? Every time you got stuck in the life of your choice you ended up in the huge hall and had to chose again. Some of us seem to never find the right door. We wander through the corridors of life avoiding the stares of others who, like us, just entered through the wrong door.
No matter what she decided to do, someone would get hurt. If she left Frank, he would not make it without her. His business was falling apart and she kept him motivated to go on. They grew apart as lovers and could never be friends. If she left, he would fall apart like his business. But if she stayed with him, she would suffocate.
Taking another sip of her martini she lost herself in the beauty of this ancient garden. For a while at least. What if she broke off with James? She wouldn't really break his heart. In no time he would find another woman. Or would he? For the first time in months she was uncertain about him. But if she left him, she would deprive herself of love and passion. This wasn't just another side-step. Nothing you get over with a drink or two. This was her life. Things were still possible. She was only fifty two and did not want to get buried alive with Frank. But she was afraid to go away with James. What if he left her for another woman? What if things became a routine as soon as they begun to share the same bathroom?
She could keep the things just the way they were. The desperately boring, but safe life with Frank and the exciting affair with James. She would miss him at lunch and pretend to attend another yoga class, or something just to get away from Frank in the evening. She would miss James as soon as he kissed her good-bye. He would insist she stayed, she would get anxious to get back home. They would make plans for weekend knowing that they would never be able to wake up together on Sunday morning. How long would that last?
But James confronted her. She was forced to make a decision. She had to choose. Soon. She could not think clearly. Why did he insist? Things were just fine the way they were. She wanted to get up, but gave up. James was out of town and Frank wouldn't be back until late this evening.
Why was it so difficult to make a decision? Where was she in the whole scenario? It occurred to her that leaving Frank might not solve her problems at all. She felt as if her life was almost over. Her best friend decided to have a plastic surgery when she felt stuck like that. Something had to change and she chose to change her looks. And did anything change at all? She is on antidepressants now. Poor Tara.
Lying there with her eyes closed she was trying to remember the time when life with Frank was still full of excitement. They had money, they had visions, they wanted to experience something spectacular. But somehow they grew apart. The magic was gone. At some point they became strangers who had nothing more to say to each other and their conversation was reduced to party gossip and small talk. They still could talk passionately about the stock market, but this made things even more tragic for her. She knew that she was too dominant and too demanding. Just like her mother. It was her fault that Frank gave up on them and become invisible. Disappeared. If he were at home right now, she wouldn't even notice. A quiet shadow of a man who ceased to be. Or was it the other way around? She never really gave a thought to it. What if she was the one who disappeared? Maybe Frank wanted to leave her long ago, but simply couldn't and felt stuck in his life with her? What if he too was trying to figure out which door to open? She never considered that.
Telephone rang in the living room. She was too drunk to get up and just listened to the the message that was being recorded on the answering machine. It was Jacqueline from the doctor's office. She was supposed to contact Dr. Andrews as soon as possible. They had the results of her mammogram.
By Dominique Allmon
The World According to Anna by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.