Scene 1. London. Heathrow airport.
She cleared security with relief (she always worried even though she was likely the safest possible traveler they could have on board), wriggled back into her favourite Valentino flats and wrapped her Pashmina around her neck. She stood for a moment wondering what to do next? It was odd to be traveling on her own with no one directing her. She was so used to Edward’s directives that she sometimes stood completely still unable to move her body, like a laboratory mouse that had been conditioned to pause until the right cue came along. She sighed deeply with no small feeling of regret for the years she could not undo. On this trip, Edward would not be carrying her luggage or streaming angry comments on poor service non-stop in her ear or clenching his teeth as wings were de-iced or flights delayed or hotel rooms inspected, upgraded, or angrily changed. Most certainly he’d be returning his coffee rudely to waiters as she cringed at his brusque air of entitlement.
Gone. All of it. She sunk down in a comfortable chair in the first-class lounge and pulled out her new Moleskin notebook. She remembered in her first year of college how her English teacher insisted they all keep a journal and she had. Up until her marriage when her then new husband felt that journalling at night was taking away from their time together and so, she had quietly put it away and never opened it again. Until now. She could smell the new pages and the soft leather cover and feel the crisp paper between her fingers. She felt shy and could think of nothing to write so instead she made a list.
-find new walking shoes of some kind (new TB. or Valent., red)
-buy winter coat (wool/Harrod’s?/Westwood?)
-speak to Ted re: account info, logins
-find a hammam!
She’d read that hammams were excellent for detoxing the whole body. She certainly had a lot detoxification to do and she’d heard there were some good ones in London. That was how she would spend Christmas she decided. Not in some silver glittery dress smiling at Edward’s business contacts in a demure wifely act of interest and delight but rather in a steamy room with strangers losing a self she was loathe to keep inside her anymore. She smiled. That sounded both erotic and biologically interesting. Indeed, it would be snakelike and restorative. She smiled again. Edward hated public bathing and pools of any kind. She vowed to swim in every hotel pool she ever stayed in for the rest of her life.
This would be her first international trip alone. She felt a little ashamed. How could she, at this age. be doing this only now? Never mind, she scolded herself, get on with it and don’t rummage around in the past looking for why’s. Now is now and besides it’s time for a very crisp martini. No, that wouldn’t be good for her skin. Best to hydrate and head to bed. She felt the sag of jet lag seeping in as she her driver made his way through the dark streets of London on the way to the Four Seasons Park Lane hotel where she was staying.
Live, Prue, live! came the voice from inside that she didn’t recognize as her own but yielded to it anyway and replied: yes, yes, yes!
Scene 2. Pasha spa, London.
She sat in the hammam and went in and out of a blurry, drowsy consciousness. She never wanted to leave this womb-like room. She needed the sanctuary, the locked door, the dark light, the heavy steam, the water cascading over her. Here she could shut out the last few days and all that she had learned about her previously perfect life. All that she couldn’t have ever dreamed of happening in her marriage had happened. Right under her nose. Maybe even in her own bed?
She slumped down into the water and closed her eyes, holding her breath for as long as she could. She could hear a a deep drumming, maybe the traffic outside? She emerged and spurted out water, gasping for air.
She drank the lemon water they’d put beside the deep tub and sunk down deeper into the water until it came to just under her nose. How long had she been crying? Through Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing day, New Year’s and now into the next year. It didn’t matter in this aquatic refuge; she let herself cry as hard as she needed to. She told herself she would only leave the hammam when she was done with crying and then get on with things. How long would that be? She didn’t know. A year? Two years? The rest of her life?
Then so be it.
Edward had been having an affair. And for some time. This was brought to her attention by his lover, Violet, (who sounded like a teenager) in a text of all things. It had confused her at first because she did not have anyone to text with except maybe Ted or Edward so she had assumed at first it was some mistake. Until the girl called her and left messages. When she heard her voice her stomach roiled and felt acidic. She knew it was real then. The elastic that was holding her and Edward together snapped and somewhere on the other side of the world, in his sleep, Edward felt nothing as she struggled to breathe under the weight of his betrayal. It’s not as though it’s a shocking surprise, she told herself–they both knew their marriage had flat-lined but she’d hoped it was something that could be resuscitated and brought back to life. They’d loved each other once, and she was sure they could again.
No, that was a lie. She had felt obligated to resuscitate it because she could not imagine, could not conceive of herself in any other life. Now there had been a deliberate severing so long, so deep, so complete, that there was no longer a way back for her. He had unwittingly locked her out of their home and destroyed the way back in. Mr. and Mrs. Everett, the marriage, was gone.
Just like that. She lay back and realized that her summer pruning had taken longer then the ending of her marriage had. She felt something she couldn’t recognize, it was up ahead in the future and she was partly afraid of what drew her to it and darkly excited. She knew plainly now what she had to do and do very carefully. Yet the immense hole her broken marriage left in her heart drove her to constantly fill it with new sights, smells, sounds, words, colours, places, names, streets, language, touch, landscapes, raindrops, airplane escapes and hotel rooms she’d never been in before.
She felt as though she would need to travel to the other side of the earth to fill it. Maybe she never would. She would only know by going the distance it took, however far that may be, to heal.
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