You brought me colors and stars and cosmos andwonders. I wanted you so badly, craved you so much,that I knew I would suffer whatever bad things wouldcome my way. There would be repercussions for myactions—I knew this, and I knew no one but you wouldunderstand.
Life is full of hard choices.
I chose you.
Isabel could hardly believe it. I can’t blame her. Insome ways, I couldn’t believe it either. That I was doingthis, taking this step, and risking it all on you. You, Vera,were the unknown. You still are. But I had faith in whatwe had, that our connection was more than lust andromance…it was deeper and brighter than that.
No one believed me. Why should they? They see ithappen all the time, the man approaching middle-age,trading in his wife for a younger one. They said I wasthinking with my cock, that I was caught up in the sexand the shiny new thing that you were. Of course, I wasenamored with you, of course the sex was better than Icould have ever imagined. But they didn’t understandthe truth behind all of it. They didn’t believe I was inlove with you.
I don’t even think you believed it. But of course Iam, more now than ever. And love makes you do sillythings.
In what you would call hindsight, I see now that itwas reckless and impulsive of me to ask you to move toSpain. I should have waited until the divorce was final. Ishould have waited until you were out of school.
I was foolish and very selfish and very scared. Icould only see you, only think of you. I just wanted youhere so badly, and I was afraid that if I waited, youwould leave me. You would find someone better,someone your own age with less baggage. Sometimes itsurprises me that you could even want me at all.
But you did. You agreed to come here, and eventhough I knew deep down it would be better for everyoneif we waited until the dust settled, I risked it. I wouldhave walked over burning coals for you, just to have youin my arms. I would have put the whole world injeopardy just to be inside you again.
I should have been the adult here. I should haveknown better. But my heart got the best of me. I broughtyou here, right into the flames. I thought I could shelteryou from the heat, that I could protect you, that I couldride out the inferno with you safely under my arm.
But I was wrong. And because of my recklessness,you had to suffer. I had to suffer. My daughter had tosuffer. Everyone is suffering.
And you are gone.
The other night when Isabel showed up, that wasthe hardest night of my life, harder than the night wemade love at Las Palabras, knowing we had to saygoodbye the next day.
I never wanted it to happen that way. I neverwanted Isabel to see you, nor you to see her. I knew youwere already wrapped in guilt, and I knew Isabel wouldonly hurt. She is a beautiful woman and she is stillyoung. But seeing you—so fresh and shining so brightly,it would have only destroyed her, made her feel old, weak, useless. Those feelingswould turn to anger, and her anger is a sharp anddangerous object.
But you came to the lobby—I cannot fault yourcuriosity—and the two of you met. Isabel was destroyed,and her drunken anger took over. You could only watch.
I could only watch.
I wanted to defend you. In my heart I did. But toyour eyes I didn’t. I couldn’t.
I told you that one day I’d have to choose betweenyou and Chloe Ann. I suppose at that moment, I had tomake that choice. I had to play right by Isabel. I couldn’tchoose you, because if I did, I would lose all contactwith Chloe Ann. I was at Isabel’s mercy, and she had meby the balls.
It is complicated. It is so complicated. All thesethreads and knots wrapped around all of our necks,tying us to one another. If one moves, the other feels it,loses air. I defended Isabel, and the rope tightenedaround your throat. If I defended you, the rope would besevered between me and my daughter.