You predict that running into the other woman will be traumatic, catastrophic, a ripping of the sandy earth beneath your feet. You’ve studied enough Jerry Springer reruns to know that a millisecond of the meeting might prove exciting, the pulled hair and a nervous energy that drags you into actions you’ve never felt capable of before. Your body will instinctually discern how to throw a punch, fingers curled into a fleshy puppet bent on exacting revenge. Time will slow to a crawl while you savor every word you say, every inch of respect you reclaim.
Except when the moment happens, nothing you expected plays out. It is sickeningly comical how mundane the incident is. The apartment, his apartment, smells like dust and mildewed soap. The other woman hangs back behind a spare bedroom door, because there is no bravery or excitement present. There is, in fact, a distinct lack of passion. When you walk into the hiding room, you realize that you are the only passionate being present. Everything else fades to a milky white. You want to laugh except it will seem out of place. Both of them deserve the silence they’ve created for themselves. You have your daughter in your arms, and when the two of you leave there will be laughter at home. You save your laughter for the places that deserve it.
And all of the fears, that she would be prettier or exotic, disappear and you understand that she isn’t even a person. Rather she’s the physical embodiment of all the ugliness your soon to be ex-husband was hiding in the corners of his body, beneath his pillow at night right after he whispered I love you. She is tangled vines and drooping intentions wearing a smirk that could be blown away with a cool puff of breath. One word whispers behind your ears as you turn and descend a staircase actually carrying you upward.