Something had changed. Kasen looked at Marise with some interest after she had ignored him for the second time in their session. They were taking a break from the tango for a breather. The steps were complicated, as much as he loved to hold on to Marise, it would take her quite some time before she learned all the intricate steps. She was supposed to slide one of her legs in between his, and slide her calf along the back of his thigh and leg when he dipped her. They would get to that part and she would freeze.
Freeze was too polite of a word, Marise had panicked. He could see it in her eyes, her pupils dilated and she looked like a deer in headlights. It was early, and he would hate to have her leave so soon, but there was no point of him continuing the lesson if she was not going to dance.
“Let’s call it quits,” Kasen said after her third stumble. Marise grimaced and didn’t argue. Damn, he hated seeing her like this. Her agitation struck him hard in his gut as if he was the nervous one.
He put his fingers underneath her chin and tilted her head to look at her. “What’s wrong, Marise?”
“Nothing, nothing at all. My mind is just preoccupied. I am sorry I am not on par today.” Marise said breathlessly. She could not believe that today was her anniversary and not once did Darryl mention it. May I should just surprise him with something. He’s appeared to be under a lot of stress lately.
“Marise, I know when you are bullshitting me. What is it?” From the tone of his voice, the soft dulcet way he said her name, Marise knew that Kasen cared. Maybe he cared too much.
“Today is my anniversary.” Marise said, not meeting his gaze. She heard Kasen suck in a deep breath and exhale slowly. She dared to sneak a look at him and she saw what resembled pain in his eyes. What did I do?
“Then you shouldn’t be here. Leave, we will pick it up again sometime.” Kasen turned abruptly and walked out. For the several weeks that they had been spending so much time together, he had managed to forget that she had a husband. Her admittance of her anniversary sent reality crashing down around Kasen, hard and unrelenting.
Marise did not know what came over him, but she needed to get out of his home. His home felt like a home and not the cold and lifeless apartment she lived in with her husband. She walked out of the living room without a second thought. She drove the way home with her radio turned all the way up, singing old songs on the radio. She had not done that since she was a teenager and it made her feel good.
Marise actually had a smile on her face as she fumbled with her key. It was still early, she decided that she would cook her and Darryl a wonderful meal and they could sit down and talk like they used to. She missed the way that they used to talk about everything, when their lives seemed like it was just starting. She sighed with the memories and opened the door. The lights were down low and it smelled like cologne and incense throughout the living room. Maybe Darryl had something special for her after all. Marise smiled at the thought that maybe they were on their way to some new ground. After all, if he was home early, then for sure he had something special planned for their anniversary. She would even forgive him for forgetting her birthday last month. Kasen hadn’t, she thought, but she immediately pushed the thought away. She kicked off her sneakers and walked to her bedroom without turning on the lights. She did not want to ruin the surprise.
Marise walked into her bedroom and heard noises. When her eyes adjusted to the red light, Marise saw figures moving around in her bed. Where was Darryl?
“Damn Darryl dude, get off my knee,” came a deep and gruff voice.
“Sorry Ray, but this girl keeps on moving,” There was some heavy panting and then a squeal.
“Fuck you muther fuckers, I am coming…”
“Yeah that’s it, come for us baby,” Then Marise heard Darryl’s rough voice as he came. She knew that sound better than her social security number, and at the end, the world became silent.
Marise could hear the whirling of the ceiling fan, the heavy panting of the party under the cover. But she could not move, she could not breathe. She couldn’t even think. She flicked on the light switch and when three surprised faces emerged from under her expensive Egyptian cotton sheets, Marise stopped thinking. There they were Darryl, Ray, his best friend, and some chick with an orange mane and blue eye shadow.
Marise blew out a breath, and before Darryl could even analyze what was going on, Marise turned around and threw one last comment over her shoulder.
“Happy fucking anniversary Darryl.” And she walked out. She left without packing her bags, she just took her purse and drove to her mother’s house.
Her mother was no more receptive than she ever had been.
“What are you doing here?”
“Thanks Mom, nice to see you too.” Marise said, sliding past her mother into the doorway.
“Not that I am not happy to see you, Nay, but you could have called.” Marise’s mother looked fidgety. Marise stopped half way to the stairs and looked at her mom. Her mom was too busy looking into the living room.
“You are right Mom, I could have called. What is going on in there? Do you have company?” Marise tried to peek around her mother, but the living room was dark.
“Yes, I do, as a matter of fact. Why aren’t you with Darryl, isn’t it your anniversary?” Mother looked agitated.
“Yes it is, and why I am not with Darryl, well, long story.”
“Cheryl!, get your ass in here now, this is hard to keep up without you.”
“Cheryl baby, come in here.” That was a woman’s voice, and she sounded in a state of lust. Marise watched the color drain from her mother’s face and Marise almost fainted. Was everyone she knew embroiled in a threesome? Frustrated Marise pushed past her mother and went back to her car.
She didn’t have any place she could go. She would honestly feel bad if she showed up to work wearing the same thing that she had on today. Marise decided to go shopping. There had to be a mall open somewhere.
As she shopped, Marise became more and more helpless. She sunk all of her extra money into paying off this debt, so she could not get a hotel room. Her mother was an undercover freak and there was no way she was going to stay there. Her best friend lived in New York and there was no way she would go there. She was a Midwest girl at heart.
As Marise sat in the parking lot of the strip mall after buying the few amenities that she could afford. Her phone was buzzing like crazy. Darryl had called several times, but each time he refused to leave a message. If he was really concerned, Darryl would have left a message. The funny thing was, Marise could not feel her heart breaking. It was the stuff that songs were made of right? You should feel your heart breaking when you just find out you husband is cheating on you with a man and a woman.
No, Marise was just numb. She didn’t feel anything but the gentle sputtering of her car. She had to go somewhere. Marise thought of the only place she could go. Before she could analyze the rationale of her thinking, her fingers were dialing.
“Hello?” said the soothing voice on the other end of the phone.