Saturday, December 22, 2012

December First

Dear Diary,

I guess this is the first chapter of my story:

The fresh sheets rustled as I turned over in bed. They formed themselves around me and I opened my eyes to see just a hint of blue-grey light through the window. It was December first, not only my fortieth birthday, but our twentieth wedding anniversary as well.

My husband Randy breathed deep and slow. I ran a finger over the soft, dark-brown wisps of hair on his chest, along the dark-brown stubble on his chin and pushed a lock of wavy brown hair away from his forehead. His hair curled around his neck--exactly the length I liked it. Exactly the length where he’d cut it short again. 

He softly took my hand and kissed my fingers. He rolled towards me and guided my hand to his erection. I stroked him and felt him harden even more. He pulled me in really close and kissed me like I was his first cup of coffee, ever.

He rolled on his back and I straddled his hips. He entered me with the grace that could only come after twenty years. We knew every corner and crevice of each other. We fit together like hand in glove. A perfect match.

But our marriage wasn’t always a graceful perfect match. Five years ago, when our daughter Mandy was fifteen, we had reached a stagnant point. Then she moved out two years ago to go to college and we seemed to have found each other again. What a miracle; so many marriages split up after such things.

I spread my legs to allow him to enter as deeply as humanly possible. I nuzzled my face against his neck, into his hair and smelled cigarettes. He had started smoking again a few weeks back. The smell mixed with his cologne made me tingle and I kissed him, sucking ever so slightly on the tip of his tongue. I circled my hips and pressed my weight down and then rubbed my clit back and forth along his moist skin. I tightened my muscles around his cock and I could tell he was close to coming. 

Like a well-oiled machine, we awaited that point we knew we would both reach our climaxes. I felt the light building somewhere behind my eyes and a wave of satisfaction. I kissed him full on the mouth, sucked his tongue. I never felt so loved, so important, so  much like a woman. 

He kissed my cheek. “I love you,” he said.

I squeezed him tighter, never wanting to let go.

“Happy Birthday,” he said.

Oh yes, my birthday. I was expecting a string of pearls because he had been on about me wearing nothing but pearls and red lipstick for some time now. I slid off of him and stretched out beside him on my side, one leg draped over his thigh. He moved away from me and sat up on the edge of our bed. He raked one hand through his hair. I heard the drawer on the bed-side table open, a lighter click and smelled cigarette smoke.

“Since when do you smoke in the bedroom?” I said. “There’s no ashtray.”

“Yes there is,” he said. 

I sat up and saw there was an ashtray in the drawer next to a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I craned my neck to see if there was a present in there for me, too.

“Jess, there’s something I need to tell you,” he said. A smile strained his lips. 

“Happy anniversary?” I said and kissed his thigh. “You don’t have to work today. It’s still so early.” I rolled on my back and held out my arms. “Come back under the covers.”

“Sorry, Jess, but I have to get up. I have a lot to do today.”

“But it’s my birthday. It’s our anniversary.”

He turned to me and his serious look made the blood drain from my face.

“I have to go.”

“Are you going to the city again? You said you didn’t have to go until March.”

“Jess, you know I love you. I love you so much. But there’s, well, there’s…”

A sickness heaved in my gut.

“Look. There’s someone else. Jess, I am so sorry.” 

A ton of bricks fell on my head. “You’re joking, right?”

He searched my face. He pleaded with his eyes. “Look. It’s me, not you, ok? I love you.”

“How long?” was all I could get out of my mouth.

“A little over two years. I hoped it was just a fling, but it’s not. She’s the woman I’ve always dreamed about.”

“I thought I was,” I whispered. 

He stood and looked out the balcony door over the frozen lawn. 

“Can’t we talk about this?” I said.

“I’m moving back to the city,” he said without turning to face me. “Today.”

Love, Jess

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On the Move

Dear Diary,

One quick post for the road: I think I overstayed my welcome here. Maybe it's time for a change of scenery. I'll write this quick and then I'm outta here.

Liam came back today. Was it this morning? I have no clue. I keep picturing the scene over and over.

He came into the ktichen and looked into the little room where Sven sleeps. Only I was there with him. Oh, and Pieter too. Three spent lovers exhausted on a pile. We looked like a baroque painting, three naked bodies in an erotic pose. I would call the painting: Passion Spent; or The Fall From Grace; or The Taking of the Maid. 

Anyway, I had felt myself starting to doze off. The apartment door opened and slammed shut. Liam said something in Dutch from the kitchen. None of us moved. I turned my head towards the light.
Liam stood in the doorway of the little room and looked in at the three of us for a moment. No expression on his face. Not a word. Nothing. He turned away. I heard the door open and slam so that the walls shook. 
“He’s looking for you,” Sven said.

“Oh fuck,” I said.

“I’m going back to bed,” Pieter said, crawled over the two of us and left. 

I sat up and looked at Sven. 

“Good night, Jess.” He rolled over on his side away from me.

I got up and walked up the back steps. I was sore now from all this fucking and sucking and rubbing. I opened the door to Liam’s room and turned on the light. He wasn’t there. I grabbed some of my clean clothes, went into the shower and came back to his room. He still wasn’t there. I tried to sleep but kept tossing and turning. I didn’t know if I should feel guilty or not. Some unspoken possession was going on here but I didn’t know if Liam’s attentions were enough to keep me here as an exclusive lover or not. He certainly did what he wanted to, coming and going, doing God-knows-what. 

I stayed in the room for much of the day. I had one bottle of wine left. I drank that during the day and found some old bread to eat. No one came. It was still cold in here. 

I pulled on my jeans and the sweater that I had worn on the trip here. On the table was the crumpled slip of paper with Gabi’s number on it. Oh shit! I was supposed to meet them for breakfast! What time was it? I switched on the computer. Shit. It was 7pm. 

A new e-mail from Randy was in my inbox:

Where are you? I’m here with your mother and we are going to bring you home. You have a family to take care of and it’s time you take responsibility for your actions. Your mother and your daughter need you. Stop acting like a child. You just have to respect my decisions. We’re all adult here. I’m going to find you.

I'm outta here.

Love, Jess 

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Dear Diary,

Have I already said that those boys can cook? Love, love, love.  

At our table, a pair sat down. They talked in English with very heavy German accents. The chattered away with each other in German and then they would remark to us in English. I ate in silence and only nodded my head politely, wolfing down the stew. I was absolutely famished. I hadn’t eaten in two days.

“This is our last night in Amsterdam,” the woman said. “We’ve been here the whole week.”

“And is it cold here,” the man said. “A damp cold. Not nice.”

Sven nodded. I did too.

“The sun was shining in the morning when we ate our breakfast. But the fog came back,” she said.

“Germans like to talk about the weather,” Sven said.

I finished eating and got up and went to the WC to wash my hands and face. I felt such a warm content and thought about going back to sleep for a few hours. I was just drying off my hands when the German woman came into the tiny room, with one toilet stall and a tiny basin stuffed into about two square meters of space. We stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the little basin and spoke to each other in the mirror.

“Are you just visiting? Or do you live here? You’re American, aren’t you?” 

“I’m just visiting for a few days,” I said. “I’d like to see more of Europe.”
My answer baffled even my muddled head. See more of Europe? Any ambition I felt had dissipated in smoke. I was truthfully planning to stay on here until Liam or his brothers physically threw me out.

“Well, if you’re looking for someplace to stay in Germany, here’s my number. We live in Nuremberg. Beautiful old town.”

I looked at the slip of paper. She had scribbled Gabi and a telephone number in red ink. I stuffed the paper in my pocket. These invitations never amounted to anything, empty holiday encounters. She washed her hands, checked her look in the mirror and reached across me for the towel. Her arm brushed against my arm and my breast that hung free underneath Liam’s t-shirt. My nipple stood up and a chill went up my spine.

We stopped and looked at each other in the mirror. My hair was clean but hung limp on my shoulders. Dark rings circled my eyes like I spent all my time in the dark. Gabi, on the other hand, seemed fresh and healthy. She wore her hair short, very artificially red. Black rimmed glasses shielded her face from the world. 

She looked up into my face then reached behind my back and locked the door. She took her glasses off and set them on the basin. I saw her eyes were a brilliant blue. Her hand was cold against my cheek and she pushed a strand of hair out of my eyes much like a mother would to a tired child.

“Is everything ok with you?” she said.

I felt a dam of tears behind my eyes. I nodded that, yes, I was fine. I think I even mouthed the words. I was fine. Everything was ok. She smiled, put her hand behind my head and pulled me in for a kiss. A long, soft, emotional kiss like I had never had from a man. An understanding, a real confession of passion, a sensual and considerate exchange.

“Do you need to talk?” she said.

I shook my head no, reached up and stroked her hand that still cupped my one ear. 

“You can come with the two of us tonight, if you would like.”

I looked down at my feet.

“Would you like to meet for breakfast tomorrow? We aren’t leaving until later in the afternoon.” 

I nodded yes.

“I better get back. Otherwise I’ll get a spanking if he finds out I’ve cornered you in the WC.”

She unlocked the door, pulled it open and went back into the guest room. Her husband’s voice rose as she turned the corner and entered the room. I used this escape and took the back steps two at a time up to Liam’s room. The room was dark and cold. Either the twins hadn’t turned the heating on or it was broken. I switched on the computer and logged into my e-mail.

The fat black letters announced an unread e-mail from Randy, subject none. I clicked on it and prepared myself for an angry attack. No greeting, no signature. Only these words:

We’re in Amsterdam. There is no such coffee shop called Fortuna. Where the fuck are you? 

Love, Jess

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I am so cold

Dear Diary,

Would someone please turn on the heat? They told me they would, but it is taking ages to warm up here. I just can't size the two of them up. 

There I was, naked, no clothes, no passport, freezing cold. I had no recollection of having sex but the tell-tale sticky wetness between my legs was a dead giveaway. 

I got up, rummaged through Liam’s chest of drawers until I found some stretchy cotton sport pants, a t-shirt and a sweat shirt and I headed for the shower. I locked the shower door and heard a few pairs of heavy footsteps coming up the steps. The shower squealed as I turned the tap on and hot water stung against my cold legs. 

I quickly went back into Liam's room and locked the door here as well. The towel smelled like a mixture of bleach and damp as I toweled my hair. A knock sounded at the door. It was both Sven and Pieter. I backed up without a word and let them enter.

“It’s very cold in here. Could someone turn on the heat?” I said.

“Liam didn’t pay his heating bill this month,” Pieter said. He was a tick taller than Sven and seemed to be the boss. “That’s why he’s out working. His tastes are too expensive.”

“I thought he worked here,” I said.

“Yes, he does, but he has other work, too.”

“When is he coming back?” I said.

“Not for another week, I assume,” Pieter said. “He’s on holiday with a rich widow.”

Sven laughed when he saw my eyebrows shoot up.

“What did he tell you he did?” Pieter said.

I looked away. He never told me anything about himself.

Sven laughed again, “They only have sex,” he said. “They don’t talk.” 

“Come downstairs with us. We’ve made a lot of stew. Fresh bread. Come have something to eat.”

I crossed the room and rummaged through one of the drawers until I found socks.

“Where are my things?” I said to Sven. “Everything is gone.”

“What, your clothes?" Pieter said. "Liam gave them to our neighbor to be washed. Seems he’s quite smitten with his new pet.”  

Sven laughed again. It's still ringing in my ears. Half sinister, half childish, completely intriguing. 

Love, Jess

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Dear Diary,

I woke up this afternoon and realized I have lost two days in here somewhere. It was after I met Liam's twin brothers. I'd say they're about ten years older than Liam, so that makes them about five years younger than me. The one brother gave me a pipe full of something to smoke and all I remember is, well, not too much. Everything was great. I kept hearing some woman singing that song 'Beggin.' That's a song from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. My mom used to listen to them.

But now, I'm here on the sofa, typing away. The place has been cleared up some, but all my stuff is gone. My clothes and the clothes I borrowed from Liam. I have literally nothing to put on. When I finish this, I think I'll have a look through his chest of drawers. It's friggin cold in here. And my backpack is gone. My passport is in that backpack.  

Love, Jess

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This Is Your Fault, Randy

Dear Diary,

I am no longer a vegetarian. I haven't eaten meat for close to ten years. That’s another part of my old self that I have abandoned. My new diet consists of red wine and hamburgers from Amsterdam. They are the best I have ever tasted. 

Randy is pouring on the guilt. How could I leave home two weeks before Christmas? How was this going to make him look? What was I doing? I was going to ruin my life. I answered his e-mail with four words:

My Life Is Ruined.

Then I added another twist of lemon:

This Is Your Fault, Randy.

Love, Jess

Monday, December 10, 2012

An Observation

Dear Diary,

Liam pointed a few things out to me today. For one, he said, those periods of unconsciousness that I slip into when he goes out are called sleep. Another thing, he said, that, although it is not that healthy, consuming nuts, bread and red wine is considered eating. And I have not lost five pounds. He would have complained. He said I could easily gain five pounds if it was up to him.

And, he said, I could probably love this city if I would go somewhere besides up the Prins Hendrickkade to that little shop that sells wine and back into his bedroom. 

It’s too cold to go out. The wind whips the snow horizontally and my view of the city is reduced to what I see through the folds of my coat collar. The trees outside sway as I sit in the warmth, sipping at a glass of wine. I light a cigarette. He takes the cigarette from me and stubs it out. He draws on his hand-rolled cigarette and sets it in the ashtray. Firmly planting his lips over mine, he shares his smoke with me. I pull him in close and kiss him back. He pulls away and unbuttons the top button on the khaki-green shirt I have borrowed from him. My skin shivers as he presses his warm lips to my bare chest. He undoes another button. And another. 

He leans back, grabs his joint and takes a deep drag. I ask him why he lets me stay here. He says I’m good company.

Love, Jess

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Dear Diary,

Two weeks before Christmas and here I am in Amsterdam with a young man named Liam, crashing in a room above a coffee shop called Fortuna. I must have lost five pounds. I don’t sleep, I don’t eat.

Randy has finally written me an e-mail. He wants to know where I am. I told him he could read all about it when it comes out in paperback. I’m not answering any questions. Let him explain to the family where I am and why I’m gone.

I could love this city if it wasn’t for the bitter cold coming in of the IJ bay. Or the lake. Whatever it is. I am exhausted-- jetlagged, I think--but still? After a week? In spite of that my senses are sharp, I am processing every detail of my surroundings: the drip, drip, drip of a faucet I can’t see. Shouts that I hear from the street below. The red and green paisley print scarf hanging in front of a book case. One flame dancing in an unseen draft. A spicy scent with a hint of cigarettes and orange that can only be coming from the young man that just sat down next to me.

Love, Jess

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Leaving New York

Dear Diary,

I've been gone for a week now and do you think Randy has tried to get a hold of me? Ok, I don't have a phone but hubby does know my e-mail address. I thought he would at least contact me to let me have it for leaving the car at the Beacon train station with the keys still in the ignition.

I've been at Liam's the whole past week. He was sitting next to me on the flight to Amsterdam. Strange. What kind of person would bring someone home that they met for the first time on a plane? He's young but he's wise. Thin but muscular. And very, very open.

Love, Jess

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My New Life

Dear Diary,

That's it. After twenty years of marriage, he finally admitted to having an affair. He's left the house, but I'm going to abandon it. And my old life. I raise my glass and make a toast to my freedom.

Love, Jess