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Chapter no 30

The Teacher

EVE

“NOW THESE ARE A PERFECT FIT.”

Jay is kneeling beside me, in a back row of Simon’s Shoes, having placed a pair of Calvin Klein green pumps on my feet. We do this sometimes after our session in the storeroom, if she hasn’t called him to come home. We go out to the main part of the store, and he helps me try on shoes. There are already half a dozen boxes on the floor beside me.

“I can’t afford these,” I remind him, although they do admittedly look gorgeous.

“I wish I could buy them for you.” His eyes meet mine. “I wish I could buy all these shoes for you.”

“And I wish I didn’t have to go home to him.”

I blurted that out without thinking, but as the words leave my mouth, I realize how true they are. On my birthday, I was considering recommitting to my marriage, but now I realize that Nate and I can never crawl back to each other. The abyss between us widens every day.

“Why not leave him?” Jay says.

I snort as I kick off the pumps. I like them too much, and it’s frustrating. “And then what? We run off together?”

Even though I say it sarcastically, the truth is that I dream of a happy ending for me and Jay. It will never happen—we both have too many entanglements—but if only we could. In the end, though, I couldn’t do it to Nate. I couldn’t humiliate him that way.

Sometimes I think he would barely miss me though. He came home tonight, dripping wet, and he told me he had taken a walk in the rain to inspire himself. Then he went up to his office on the second floor, and he closed the door. I knocked to tell him I was leaving, but he barely acknowledged me.

As if on cue, Jay’s phone starts ringing. This time while he is talking, I can hear a baby crying in the background. I rest my chin on my hands, trying to push away the stabbing guilt in my chest. No matter what happens with Nate, I need to end things with Jay. Sooner rather than later.

“You have to go,” I acknowledge as soon as Jay ends the call.

“She wants me home.” He sighs. “The baby is… Anyway. Next week?”

While he is still crouched beside me, I reach out and run my fingers along an old jagged scar just below his hairline. He told me he got it when he was a child, trying to worm his way under a fence. One of these weeks, it will be the last time for the two of us. But I hope that won’t be this week or next week.

It will be soon though.

“Yes,” I say. “I’ll see you next week.”

Jay looks down at the shoeboxes scattered at my feet. “I better put all these away. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

All the boxes came from the storeroom, so we each grab a bunch of them to carry back there. Almost like Pavlov’s dogs, I start to get turned on the second we get close to the storeroom. It doesn’t matter that we’ve already gone at it twice tonight. I still want him. And by the look on his face when he glances over at me, he feels the same way.

“Next week…” He says it as much to himself as he does to me. “I already can’t wait.”

We leave the store together. He locks up, and then as always, he walks me to my car first, parked in the tiny lot. I always get a bit anxious when Jay and I are out in public together, but usually it’s only briefly as we’re walking to our cars. But today I get this uneasy feeling, like somebody is watching us.

When I get near to my Kia, Jay grabs my arm and leans in to kiss me again. Then he heads off to his own car, back to his home, to the crying baby. I climb into my Kia and return to my husband who doesn’t love me.

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