Nonfiction by Monet P. Thomas
Say you got away scot-free, as free as betrayal can be, and months go by, and he still has no idea what you’ve done, and he still loves you the way he always did. So you go on like you never crossed that invisible line. You lie in bed for hours, eyes trailing the shadows of passing cars on the ceiling, and you listen to your beloved’s easy breathing. You think, “How well he sleeps.” How peaceful, and innocent, and pure.
Know that you’ll feel the need to confess at random times: as you both step down from the curb onto the crosswalk and a car inches forward—you imagine the car hitting you and you can’t die with this secret. The words are always on your tongue, like a boy standing on the edge of the diving board, a line of kids crowded behind him all the way down the ladder, and the pool ringed with spectators gesturing and yelling for him to jump.
The Moment that was Always Coming
He stepped over the low fence and stood for a moment surveying the community garden. She watched, swaying on unsteady feet. Bending forward, his tall frame broke at the waist, and he came up with a bit of something—brought his hands to his face, as if to pray. Turning to her, he held out his cupped hands. It was well after midnight in a shadowy corner of a neighborhood called Browne’s Addition. They’d just walked toward home together from the bar, both a little drunk.
She leaned in. Later, she would know this was when everything changed. Maybe it was the slight tremor in his hands at the touch of her lips. Maybe it was the scent of Lavender, intoxicating and compelling, rising up from the bruised blossom like an invitation. Or maybe the smell triggered a final shift inside both of them. Before, she’d been a girl with a boyfriend out of town and he’d been just a friend and they were celebrating being in the same city for one last night. And then his long fingers were caressing the soft lines of her face and her nose was full of plucked flower.
When I woke, sunlight was dozing on the pillow beside me. My first thought was to wonder what my boyfriend was doing right then, almost 1,000 miles away. No. That’s not true. My first thought was how I would explain this or if I even have to tell him. The sounds of cabinet doors opening and closing in the kitchen distracted me. What was he doing? What time was it? It was the season of early sun; it could be 6 a.m. or noon. I rolled onto my stomach and smelled coffee. And then he was there in the doorway with a cup.
“Didn’t know if you took cream or sugar.” He said and offered the steaming mug. Both, I thought to myself, but I didn’t say anything, just accepted the drink. The first sip was life-affirming. The second clears the sleep and brings clarity: I did a terrible thing and now a man was making me coffee. Bits of last night come back to me: the walk home from the bar, the garden, the kisses that led to his bed.
It was at the bar, with drinks clinking together, I’d held sway over a large group. I was telling a story, a long one with a big payoff, and my beer had sloshed over the rim with every gesture. I told them—no—I proclaimed, “Men always bring me coffee in the morning.” They all nodded, smiled. Yes, they agreed, men would.