Keisha laid in her California king bed, smiling from ear to ear; basking in the afterglow of an early rendezvous with Dwayne. A grown folk meeting if you will. It was long overdue by anyone’s standards. She couldn’t remember the last time they’d had an early morning touch and agree session. With the kids, work and studying for her Master’s degree, she never had the time nor the energy. As she pulled the covers over her body and caught a whiff of Dwayne’s cologne she wondered why she hadn’t carved out the time to love on her husband more often. Eight years of marriage and it had been pretty close to a year since they’d spoken to each other through soft strokes of the hand, gentle pecks of passion in between beautiful sounds of sensuous moans. It was music to her ears. Music she’d forgotten to appreciate. She missed it.
Like a love struck school girl, Keisha giggled, singing along with Dwayne as he belted out Luther Vandross’s “For you to Love” from the shower. Smiling, she recalled their first dance eight years ago as they were first introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Dawkins. Good ole nostalgia made her remember why she’d married him; something else she’d forgotten over the years. He was a great man, husband, father and provider but the last two years had been difficult. She knew she’d been a little hard on him since she’d taken on a heavy course load but she excused her behavior by complaining of being stressed and tired. You should understand she’d scream. You should understand more, he often retorted. It was a constant back and forth which seemed to have little to no resolution. Somewhere along the way, they’d begun to live two separate lives; her doing her thing and him doing his. It was awkward at times, but she had more important things to worry about. He would get over it she assumed and based on the activities that had just taken place; he had.
Keisha glanced at the clock on the nightstand and jumped up smiling. The kids were at school and her meeting wasn’t until noon so she had a couple of hours to enjoy her husband a little more. She sauntered into the bathroom and softly closed the door behind her. Gently she pulled the shower curtain back just enough to step in behind him. Startled, Dwayne turned around and quickly pulled the shower curtain back and placed something in between the towel he’d placed on the toilet. Before Keisha could say anything, he pulled her into his arms and continued where they’d left off causing her to forget all about his strange and suspicious behavior. And forget she did, for the moment at least. After the festivities had come to an end, Dwayne kissed her on the forehead and hopped out of the shower to get ready for work. Although Keisha was basking in the after effects of what they’d shared all morning, something was gnawing at her and she couldn’t shake it. She stood under the hot water hoping whatever she was feeling beyond euphoria would wash away; that just maybe she was being paranoid. For the first time in the entire eight years they’d been married, she felt insecure. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Dwayne yelling, “Kee, I’m gone and I’ll be home late tonight”. The sound of the front door slamming stopped her from hopping out of the shower to interrogate him as to why he was going to be late.
Keisha sat on the edge of the bed, putting lotion on her legs, wondering if she should get in a quick nap before her meeting. She was exhausted but she knew with all of the unanswered questions racing through her mind the last thing she would be able to do was sleep. As she walked toward the walk-in closet she noticed Dwayne’s cell phone on the dresser. Because she knew he would need it, she picked it up to call him but decided to look through it first. Too her something about his behavior warranted and even justified her investigation. Quickly she punched in his passcode and began going through his voice mails, call log, photos and text messages. At first glance nothing seemed out of place and she felt at ease and suddenly guilty for even suspecting Dwayne of anything that wasn’t above board. He’d always been honest with her even when she didn’t want to hear it and furthermore he’d never given her any reason for concern. However, the guilt wasn’t enough for her to end the questionable search. She perused his text messages looking for names that weren’t familiar; to no avail. Just as she had conceded that she’d been wrong, the phone began to vibrate indicating a text message. Dwayne’s brother’s name appeared on the screen but the photo didn’t match. Suddenly her interest was piqued.
The tears began to flow as Keisha sat in disbelief unable to fully grasp what she was seeing. Her hands began to shake as she held the phone in her hand; rapidly scrolling up and down. Reading and rereading text messages between her husband and some other woman. The messages were detailed, passionate and descriptive of a kind of love she thought was supposed to be exclusive to her. Her heart sank as she read message after message of her husband sharing details about his day; his life and his feelings. Strangely, reading his complaints about her and their marriage made it more real than all of the times he’d voiced his concerns directly to her. For the first time she actually heard how he felt long after he’d stopped talking. The lack of intimacy, the time she’d spent away from him and the kids, the flying off of the handle any time he brought up anything she didn’t like, the way she spoke to him disrespectfully in front of whomever was around and her refusal to make him feel like he was a priority were just a few of the complaints she’d chosen to brush off and ignore. Unfortunately for her, he’d found solace in another woman who was willing to be for him what she’d been unwilling or unable to be for some time; interested. It became apparent to Keisha that beyond anything physical, Dwayne was emotionally invested in someone other than her. Which to her was far worse than anything physical.
For the first time, Keisha sat alone wondering if she’d gotten this whole “he’ll get over it” thing wrong. Although, she wouldn’t openly admit it, deep down she knew some of the culpability rested with her. He was right, he hadn’t been her first priority. Subconsciously, being in a position to provide for herself and her kids just in case, was her priority even after eight years of marriage. As far as she was concerned, she’d put in enough work prior to Dwayne marrying her for her to retire after saying I do and in a sense she’d secretly collected her retirement gift some time ago. Maybe she should’ve listened when he said he couldn’t talk to her anymore. If she was honest, she hadn’t created an environment conducive for him to feel comfortable talking to her because anytime he was honest, she’d fly off the handle or dismiss his feelings with an unconcerned whatever and a cavalier wave of the hand.
It had been a long time since Keisha had taken self-inventory and she didn’t feel good about what she’d uncovered. Keisha began to cry. She loved her husband and she wanted to salvage her marriage. She was willing to fight for him and what they’d once shared. And yet, she felt horrible, angry and stupid for even considering forgiving him and she just needed to vent. She knew Becky, her best friend of twenty plus years would understand and offer sound neutral advice like she’d always done. No matter what, she could always depend on Becky to tell her the truth whether she liked it or not. She grabbed the phone to call her but decided to call the woman that was intruding on her marriage first. Nervously, she selected the number from the countless text messages and called. As the phone rang, Keisha rehearsed in her mind what she was going to say. “Hey Baby” the woman answered. Keisha listened stunned. What she heard was like a punch in her gut. Everything she’d just rehearsed, somehow no longer applied. “Baby, is that you?” the woman questioned. She caught her breath enough to say, “No, Becky. It’s Keisha”.