It was while waiting outside of her daughter’s piano lessons, while asking the four-year-old to stop kicking the bench, that she began to fall apart. It was only a tear at first, a solitary droplet cascading down her cheek.
That it insolently landed on her cashmere, it was that that angered her. The delicate sweater now bore a saline stain.
The whole music school could go up in flames, she thought, and I could just watch from the SUV. I could watch the cashmere burn.
But there was no fire, no purging blaze. The image in her mind of a dancing flame brought a smile to her lips before she shuddered at his words.
“I forgive you.”
The stained cashmere wrapped tighter around her, the kicking keeping time with the clumsy B-flat scale, she hated him even more.
That college night had been too cold for romance, too innocent for passion.
Love, after all, fell neatly into his equation. He would love only once, kiss only one woman. She would be pure, untouched. Jesus wouldn’t have it any other way.
Her seventeen-year-old self worked for his affection anyway. Perhaps it was youth. Perhaps it was that loneliness scared her more than lovelessness.
“I have something to tell you,” she whispered from under the dark night. “I’m not a virgin.”
The equation wasn’t working. Contaminated.
The look in her eyes was fear, or two parts fear and one part shame. Rape was never entertained then, never considered. Jesus hated her for not being a virgin, and that, she knew, was her fault and hers alone. Good girls just didn’t let that happen to themselves.
The agony of silence turned to unpardonable harm.
“I forgive you.” He hugged her briefly, platonically, crying to himself for the purity lost.
Fuck you! I have done nothing wrong, you dumb-ass shit-for-brains!
“That’s what I should have said,” she mumbled to herself.
“Nothing. Stop kicking the bench.”
* 333 words on the 3rd definition of ass.