Chapter Thirty-five

Another sleepless night. The dream wasn’t the cause this time. Scenario after scenario played in my mind- the outcome of telling Sofia everything.

I’ve always been a brutally honest person to this point in my life. Remember, apparently I lack tact.

In the “happy” scenarios I appealed to Sofia’s good natured soul, for she is a forgiving woman with a heart of gold. I sought out to exploit it because that’s the kind of person I’ve become so I had to work with what I had grown accustomed to. She naturally let the whole thing slide off her shoulder whilst shedding a tear from reaction to my heart breaking news.

In the “sad” scenarios I became who I used to be; before ever caring about another person’s emotional well being. The scenarios played to the same tune as my dream. Hence them being “sad” because it meant I were dead.

Would this work for me, or against?

We had a date for the night. Nothing fancy. I would rather do something simple than throw suspicion where it isn’t needed. I’ve read and seen men who’re about to break up with their woman wine & dine them then proceed to break the news.

I pity those men for wasting their time & for the women, well, I wish I knew what empathy felt like.

The idea was for Sofia to come over for dinner. She mentioned not seeing Sleepless in Seattle in a long while so I borrowed the DVD from Melina- that’s all it took. “I’ll drive over as soon as I’m finished here.” “Here” being work & had been a place Sofia’s time would slowly be consumed by in order to rid any thought of me. I hope.

I once read that after a harsh breakup, if that is what this will be, women do several things- some in combination. Lose their appetite or gain one, become depressed and eat their troubles away, cling to other men to dull the pain or swear off men for a spell and, so to speak, bat for the other team.

Sofia is a strong willed woman who never seemed to need a man but always welcomed one should a potential lover cross her path that was worth knocking her emotional walls down for. But there was one instance that broke her down.

This occurred prior to the man whom she got pregnant with but lost the child to the accident. The chimes of wedding bells slowly became more prominent. Then one night after a romantic date something snapped within him. Somehow this man whom she fell deeply for was forcing himself onto her. She was drunk with affection but not sexual desire. But that’s not how he felt and her incessant no’s went unheard as the sexual assault commenced.

At this time Sofia became heavily depressed. She wanted to eat but couldn’t stand the sight of food- it reminded her of the romantic confusion of a night that was picture perfect. The touch from a man, anyone really, sent her spirally into an emotional abyss. She was young but not naive. The battle for some degree of normalcy would be strenuous but it was a battle she forged and later triumphed over.

Hearing Sofia speak of her past as if it weren’t even hers told me she she was no stranger to heartache yet always remained optimistic- it lowered my own walls, if only a little. How could I do this to such a selfless woman who opens her heart to love knowing it’s just a matter of time before yet another man would be walking out of her life?

The phone rang. The caller ID indicated it was her. Breathing a long sigh I answered it.

“Hi honey.” The sing song in her tone reminded me of the smile that spread across my face once Cloud struck the final blow against Sephiroth.
“Hello, my dear. I trust you’re on your way?”
“Indeed. Shall I bring anything?”
“No, just your rear end.”
“What about the rest of my body?”
“Can it pull a Thing?”
“Afraid not. But if another body part could I’m sure some men would be thrilled.”
“Much like the simulated one of a mans that I found-”
“I’ll be there in twenty, give or take.”
“Can’t wait.” I closed my phone.

Dinner was almost ready by her arrival time. She brandished a bottle of red wine, aged ten years, along with a bright smile and a kiss that suggested her loins lusted for my body.

“And how was work?”
“Tiring. The children say hello and that they miss you.”
“You sure they don’t mean another Johnathan?”
“I only know of one, and he has my full attention.” She said this while interlocking her hands in a chain with my right arm.

We walked towards the kitchen. “Wow Johnny that smells delicious!” Her face became bright red with glee, her eyes sparkling with sudden hunger. The elevator to the apartment was on the very end. If there were any aromas circling the air you wouldn’t know, not until you ventured deeper.

“I feel so spoiled every time you cook fore me. I don’t think I do it enough in return.”
“Reciprocation is not necessary.”
“Why?”
“Because its petty. My doing something for you should not be answered with anything but appreciation.”
“But what if I want to show you appreciation by mimicking your lead?”
“Then its entirely up to you. I’m not expecting it.”
“You never had a woman wanna do things for you, huh?”
“Aside from my mother?”
She shook her head yes.
“Not really. But as I said, it is not expected. Now,” I said removing a chair from the table. “Have a seat.”

Sofia silently sat down. I took the wine from her and made my way to the kitchen area where I removed the corkscrew from a drawer and then proceeded to open the bottle.

I poured two glasses and set them at our places at the table. Sofia watched my every move. I hated being watched as I performed tasks but her eyes were not prying. She admired my tenacity. Not just career wise- the mundane too.

She must be in love with me. This makes what I must do that much more difficult.

We never said the words to one another but the feelings have been hanging above us like a lingering air freshener. Despite my infidelity I know that I care deeply for this woman. This must be what karma is.

Walking back into the kitchen, I set up two plates of rice and beans with a side of lemon chicken and salad. My mother taught me to cook because I asked her to. I love to learn and eating is necessary. I already knew how to cook yellow rice by my tenth birthday simply by watching and then mimicing her. I miss my mother dearly.

“How’s production on the movie progressing?” Sofia asked.
“Not bad.” I said, taking a bite of food.
“Why does it feel like you wanna add to that?” She said. I could feel her watching me. Its funny, Sofia had become able to detect when I’m holding back something or perhaps lying. But my infidelity has gone unnoticed. I think.

Nevertheless, she was right.

“Its Ralph. He isn’t happy with how three key scenes were written yet we’ve already filmed them. Now he wants to shoot all over again.”
“And how do you feel?”
“I think Ralph still has insecurities about his writing that haven’t been dealt with. He’s great, and this movie is going to get him noticed if he stopped being so scared. Plus,” I said while swallowing food. “I don’t wanna spend the money. We’re almost out of funds and truthfully I don’t wanna put my own money in. Not that its a problem for me. Its the principal of it.”
“Why not just stroke his ego a bit?”
“We’ve reshot two of those scenes three times already for bullshit reasons. I’m not doing it again.”
“You sound like you’ve given up.”
“On the subject, yes.”
“No, I mean on the movie.”
“…What drew you to that conclusion?”
“Of late as you bring it up in conversation you seem annoyed by it?”
“I’m annoyed by Ralph. The man has plenty of experience with women yet he’s inadequate about these love scenes. How’s that possible?”
“Maybe he’s living vicariously through his characters.”

I remained silent.

“Something else is on your mind.” Sofia said. I looked at her, she was staring at me. I severely disliked being put under a microscope.

“No there isn’t.”
“Sure there is. Your eyes do this involuntary squint like you’re squeezing something out, or holding back.”
“You seem to think you know a lot about me.”
“I know enough.”
“For what?”
“To be in love with you.”

There it is. The air has finally cleared, the words let out of the fog in a fast moving gust in my direction. Her eyes began misting at the corners. She bit her bottom lip- to stifle a cry?

“I can’t do this anymore.”

Sofia crossed her eyebrows while backing into her chair.
“Do what?”

Shit. I said that out loud?

I put my fork down and then stared at her. No sense in sugar coating it now, not that it was a thing of mine to do.

“This,” I said pointing at the two of us. “I have a confession to make. I’ve been unfaithful for several months now. I’m coming clean because I realized you don’t deserve this behavior and I was stupid to do it.

Before you ask ‘why’ and expect me to give an answer typical to male responses, my reason doesn’t befall normal circumstances. I intentionally sought out to commit infidelity out of my own social experiment. What I failed to see coming were the feelings of guilt.

See, I don’t need companionship. I don’t even need intimacy. These are traits I lack and due to this I wanted to see if I could get caught. I didn’t. But, I still felt guilty. I feel guilty. I became something I wasn’t and damaged you and you are the last person who deserves such a thing.

I don’t expect forgiveness and am anticipating your deleting my number. I read this is what women do to begin the healing process. I’m fully prepared for your hands to come across my cheeks. I deserve it.”

Sofia remained still while her eyes and the steady rise/fall of her chest became her only movement. Finally, her lips moved. “I don’t know what to say. I mean, I wanna say something. I have LOTS on my mind. But I can’t connect the words to my mouth. I never expected this from you. A man ten times lesser than you- but never YOU. Gosh, I mean…I don’t, know, what to say.”

So she did the only thing that could answer for her. The chair slowly moved back, she rose. Looking at me expressionless she turned on her heels and made her way to the door. The elevator arrived, she opened the door, boarded, locked it, ascended.

“I love you, too.” I said, and finally broke down as if the floodgates could not hold it any longer.

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