She had known about the other woman for three weeks. She had told Jessica. Only Jessica. Jessica was her friend. They worked together. Bethany heard about it from the wife of one of HIS friends. Bethany also worked with them. She didn’t get along well with Bethany. Bethany told Erica, another cackling coworker. Erica told Jamie and Elizabeth. By the time she knew, a solid twenty people knew about the other woman as well.
Dan and Mike approached her before the meeting. Mike had been harboring feelings for her since the very day they met, two years previous. She knew it, and intentionally avoided social situations that might take an award turn. She wasn’t into drama.
Mike had the biggest grin on his face and kept hiding behind Dan as they walked up to her. Dan fumbled his way through “Yeah, so, we all heard about Derek.”
“Yeah. We’re all really sorry.” Chimed in Mike, doltishly smiling and unable to mask the mirth in his voice.
“Yeah. You sound real sorry Mike.” She tried not to sound too bitchy, but try was all she managed. She was sure everyone would find out before long, but was annoyed at how quickly it happened, and also very angry with Bethany – she wondered how long Bethany had known without bothering to clue her in on her own husband’s fuckstickery. She also didn’t think she had fully grasped the depth of the situation yet. Things were still confusing and she hadn’t accepted the idea of being single again.
“Yeeeeahh. Well, we all heard. And we ARE all really sorry for you. Despicable.” Dan, trying to salvage the conversation – if you would even call it a conversation. More an interlocution if you ask me (interlocution has always carried a sense of trespass, unwelcome invasion if you will, in my mind). “Anne-Ee-Ways; some of us are going to Grouper’s tonight after the meeting. We all thought you might like to join us. I know it’s been a while since you’ve come out with the group, and god knows you could use it right now.” The awkwardness of this last was thick in his mouth, gunking up his jaw, slowing down his tongue and face until he was left standing quietly with a painful look of bemused anguish.
“We’ll see Dan. I doubt it. Gotta lot going on. You know…” unsure of how exactly to take all this, she just turned and walked to a seat and the far end of the room. Away from everybody, away from the door and any prying eyes that might come into the conference room, set into the sockets of any nosy, or just plain-fucking-awkward people.
The meeting was the same as every meeting – let’s pat each other on the back for maintaining our numbers again this quarter. Celebrate mediocrity and mundanity. Good job, fellas and fellerettes, we came in right at our quotas again! Outstanding! Keep up the good work! Which really meant, I cannot fucking stand you people. I spend two thirds of my daily life around you fucks. I have to look at you, I have to smell you, I have to hear you speak your unpleasant, boorish, proletariat vernacular. I don’t even know what those words mean, I just say them because I’m supposed to be smart. I didn’t even earn my MBA, my wife did the online classes while I went to bars and hit on waitresses. You’re all supposed to look up to me, but I know you all hate me, even that sycophantic little fuck Randy. My wife hates me. My daughter hates me. My son thinks his uncle is cooler than me. I haven’t had sex in four months, I can’t even get it up! I fucking hate my life. I hate this company. I hate you all so much!
She spent the last twenty minutes of the meeting quietly looking down into her lap, swiping through facebook memories and snaps and pins and tweets All her friends looked so happy on their timelines. She kept coming across group photos wither Derek and her, lookingust as superficially happy as the rest of them. She wondered when it would sink in. When she would start to grieve. Aren’t you supposed to mourn the death of a relationship?
She thought about the fact that the relationship had been dead for quite a while though, this wasn’t some atrocious act of betrayal out of the blue, this was the next step in a process that started long ago.
She had cried the night she found out. Not because she was sad or hurt or anything like that. It was more a cry of relief, almost joy. Not that she was happy about the fact that the man who promised to always be true was in fact going around behind her back like a weak little boy, but she did feel better knowing that her suspicions weren’t unfounded. She’d rather have a happy marriage, but if she couldn’t have that, at least she wasn’t paranoid, her powers of reason still served her.
After the meeting was finished she gathered her thoughts and things and walked out to the parking lot, passing people and trading pleasant platitudes along the way. She got into her car, started up and started driving.
On a whim she decided to swing by Grouper’s. ‘Fuck it’ she thought ‘I think I just might get White Girl Wasted and do something I haven’t done in years. I just don’t want to care right now.’
She showed up at the bar a little bit later than most everyone got there, stopping on the way to freshen her make-up.
Mike and Dan saw her first. Mike, tripping over himself the get up from his stool and rush to greet her.
“Heeeey. You look fucking great!” Fairly pantomiming the Fonz as he said this
“I’m wearing the exact same thing I was wearing two hours ago at work, Mike. Calm your ass down!” She couldn’t help but smile and giggle a bit. Apparently the mirth was contagious. She felt like she had wings that she had forgotten about, and that she was spreading them again for the very first time in a very long time. Shedding the weight of her painfully derelict marriage. She realized she didn’t feel betrayed by Derek so much as estranged. She was angry that he lied to her, but not sad, not hurt. She felt, not good, but definitely not so bad either.