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.
“Diane, please come on in,” Mark welcomed me into his office.
His tone was courteous and professional, but there was a vein pulsing nervously on his neck. I could tell my presence was making him uneasy. As the meeting got underway, I shrugged out of my jacket, and as it progressed, I kept leaning in closer until he could no longer ignore the intrusion on his personal space.
“I don’t know if I’m getting mixed signals here, and if I am, I apologize, but I get the feeling you’re here for more than just the pictures from the shoot,” he finally said.
“No need to apologize; you haven’t gotten your signals crossed,” I looked him straight in the eye, so he could see the desire in mine
“Diane, I’m a married man,” he reminded me tightly.
“And I’m a married woman,” I countered.
“I would never do anything to hurt my wife.” “Funny, that’s not the impression I got when you were kissing me the other night,” I scoffed.
“That was a mistake,” he sighed.
“Carefu,l Mark; I might get offended at being called ‘a mistake’.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” he pleaded.
“I know you didn’t; I’m sure you wouldn’t intentionally offend a client with a portfolio as lucrative as mine,” I smiled over the obvious warning in my words.
“I don’t want to offend you, Diane.”
“Good, then let’s not have any more talk of ‘mistakes’,” I continued to smile sweetly, glad I had established who was in control here.
I was certain Mark had got the message that I wasn’t going to be shoved aside so easily; so, my work here was done for the day.
“I’ve got to get to the boutique - I’ll be in touch,” I promised, then picked up my jacket, and sauntered out of his office.
I still had not told my mother about the pregnancy, because I knew she would disapprove, but I had to tell her eventually; so, it might as well be now. Instead of heading back to the flat, I headed for my mother’s home. She was surprised when I showed up at her doorstep on a Monday morning.
“Julie! What has happened?” she asked worriedly.
“Nothing, nothing is wrong,” I quickly assured her. “I just wanted to see you.”
“On a Monday?” she asked skeptically.
“I left the agency.”
“I knew something had happened! You’ve left your job! Why?” she demanded, all her worry back tenfold.
“I’ll explain everything, but let’s go inside and sit down first - there’s something I need to tell you,” I said quietly.
She allowed me to guide her away from the prying eyes of nosy neighbours, but as soon as we sat down, she pounced again: “Anha, what is it? Why have you left your job?”
I took a deep breath, then blurted it out, “I’m pregnant.”
“What! Pregnant! By whom? That married man?”
“Yes - David,” I reminded her of his name.
“Oh my goodness!” she clasped her hands to her head, like this was the worst disaster ever to have befallen her.
“So, on top of carrying on with a married man, you had to go ahead and create evidence of your shame!”
“I’m sorry, Mummy, but I’m not ashamed of my relationship with David, or of the child we’ve created,” I answered firmly. She did not have to approve of my relationship with David, but I would not apologize for it, and I certainly would not apologize for the child I was carrying.
“You really should be sorry, because I raised you with higher morals than that! If you’re not ashamed, I’m ashamed for, and of you!”
“Then I shouldn’t bother you with my presence any longer,” I answered tightly, as I stood up.
“Eh! So, now because I have told you the truth, you want to walk out!”
“I came to tell you I was expecting; not to fight, or defend this pregnancy.”
“Some things are indefensible,” she spat in disgust.
I sighed; it had been pointless for me to come. She would never be all right with the relationship between David and I, or the child we had created. It was time to go. “I’m leaving now, Mummy; have a nice day,” I said quietly, then walked out the door.
I mulled over Julie’s text for most of the day, and by the time I left work, I had formulated a plan to raise the subject with Diane, without raising suspicion.
I set the plan in motion over dinner: “How is the boutique? Business good?” I asked casually.
“It’s all right; could be better, and hopefully once the campaign rolls out, it will be.”
“Let’s hope so – how is the campaign coming along?” “Pretty good; I actually went to the agency today and went over the pictures from the shoot, and they look great,” she walked right into my trap.
“You went to the agency dressed the way you were this morning?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Was I supposed to change at the boutique? Of course I went dressed the way I was this morning!” she snapped angrily.
“It’s not the sort of outfit a decent, married woman, struts around in; I only let you leave the house like that, because I thought you were going to be at the boutique full-time.”
“Oh! So, you think you have a say on what I leave the house dressed in? Perhaps you think the children should have a say on the subject too, since you’re bringing it up in front of them!” she fumed, her eyes glaring at me across the table.
“Kids, go to your rooms,” I commanded levelly, not moving my gaze from Diane. My message was clear - I was not backing down this time.
Once the kids were out of earshot, she exploded: “What’s this about not letting me leave the house dressed as I please? You don’t control my wardrobe, David!”
“In case you’ve forgotten, you’re my wife; what do you think people say when they see you dressed like that?”
“Probably that you’re lucky to have a wife with a body like mine after three kids!”
“Or that you look like you’re still searching!” I shot back.
“F*#k you!” she snapped and got to her feet.
“Sit down! I’m not done!”
“I am! I’m going to bed!” she declared, then stormed off.
I slammed my fist on the table in frustration; she always did this – treated me like I was a nobody whose opinion did not count. Fuming, I got to my feet as well, snatched my car keys from a side table, and headed for the front door.