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Three is a crowd: Julie is superb, but she is not Diane

(Continued from last issue)

David and Diane have been married for years; then there is Julie, the young secretary whose axis collides with the couple’s in ways none of them saw coming.

JULIE

Waking up the next morning with David lying beside me gave me a warm, beautiful feeling; one I had not experienced in a long time.

As a little girl, like every little girl around the world, I had dreamt of growing up, meeting my Prince Charming, having my father walk me down the aisle to marry him, wearing a beautiful white dress, living in a beautiful white house, and having two or three beautiful children.

It had all seemed so easy then, like a given rite of passage, until I had been forced to grow up faster than most when my father died, started working as soon as I finished school, all my time – and money – dedicated to helping my single mum raise my younger siblings.

And then I met David and everything changed; I no longer had to work myself to the bone just to make ends meet, or to worry about where the rent and my siblings school fees were going to come from. As a married man, he was not exactly my ‘Prince Charming’, but he was definitely my knight in shining armour.

And yet, despite everything he had given me, there was still a part of me that wished I could have that little girl’s dream of a wedding and family of her own.

Waking up with David this morning had given me a glimpse of what that could have looked like; Junior waking us up before his alarm did, we groaning simultaneously, still exhausted from a night of passionate lovemaking; I making him breakfast while he showered and got ready for work; asking him what he wanted for dinner before kissing him goodbye and wishing him a good day at work.

These were no doubt ordinary, routine morning activities in most households, but for me, they were special moments that I would treasure and cherish, glimpses of a little girl’s dream that had never truly died.

DIANE

Once we got to the boutique, Tracy ensured that I kept my mind off David and on work by keeping me busy with sales records and invoices, and generally updating me on what had been going on with the business while I was off.

I had been so distracted by all the problems going on with David and our marriage that I had definitely been slacking off at the boutique, and unfairly leaving most of its everyday running to her, but after our talk in the car that morning, I was determined that that was going to change; for the rest of the day, I banished all thoughts of David and focused on work.

We finally wrapped up for the day a little after six, and Tracy insisted we pass by the little café near the boutique before heading to our respective homes.

It had been a long day, and I just wanted to get home, but since she was my ride home, I reluctantly gave in to her cajoling, and ten minutes after leaving the boutique, we were settling into our old favourite corner table and waving over a waitress.

Once we had placed our orders – a cappuccino for her and a glass of wine for me – Tracy stretched her hand across the table, placing it firmly over mine.

“I think we got a lot accomplished today; it’s really good to have you back, with your mind fully in the game again. I’ve missed you, but more importantly, the store has missed you,” she said softly.

“You are one of the strongest women I know; once you put your mind to something, there’s no holding you back - you’ve just got to stop letting David’s issues get in the way.”

“I know, and I promise things are going to change from now on,” I promised guiltily.

I meant it as well; over the past few weeks it had felt like my life was spiraling out of control, but today, working side by side with Tracy, I had found at least one aspect of my world that I could control, and I was determined to latch onto that.

The rest of my world might be crumbling around me, but if I could keep just this part of it standing, then maybe – just maybe – Tracy was right and somehow eventually all the other pieces would fall into place too.

DAVID

In an attempt not to completely wear myself out with double trips between the house and the apartment, and to escape the tension between Diane and myself, I told the children I was going for a work trip, promised I would be back for the weekend, and then spent the next few days at just the apartment.

Before the previous night, it had been so long since I had spent a night at the apartment, let alone three (which was how long I had until the weekend), and it was a bag of mixed feelings and experiences.

On one hand, Julie was fantastic; she made me breakfast each morning before I left for work, welcomed me back with a smile and a kiss when I returned in the evenings, had tea and dinner waiting for me, the apartment spotless, and Junior clean and happy.

She was everything a man wanted in a wife; everything I wished Diane could be. On the other hand, no matter how immaculate Julie kept the apartment, it could never really feel like ‘home’. I had put my blood, sweat and tears into the house I shared with Diane; surely I had not built my dream home, only to wind up living in a small rental apartment.

Besides, I missed the children, and coming home to the girls’ enthusiastic welcomes and all their stories about the day, and I hated lying to them about why I was not there.

Of course this did not mean that I did not love Junior or enjoy spending time with him, for I did, but at barely a year old, it was not like we could actually talk and have a conversation like I could with the girls – or Daniel (not that I had too many of those with him).

My quest to find balance and a happy median was an ongoing process, and at the moment, with school starting on Monday, my plan was to begin spending weekdays at the house, so I could take the children to school in the mornings, and then pass by the apartment for an hour or two in the evenings on my way back to the house.

I had not told Julie of the plan; she had taken to the current arrangement with gusto, and I just hoped she did not have any false expectations that it was an arrangement that was going to go on unchanged indefinitely.

margaretwamanga@yahoo.com

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