The Bait

I was only interested in him because he was broken. His wife was leaving him, he knew it, I knew it, lots of people knew it. But they were still living together. And I was working with her. So I was there that night, working on a project with her, when he came home all sad and rejected, his face a perfect picture of misery, which he knew because he snuck a look in the mirror on his way in, but I wasn’t supposed to see that and obediently pretended I hadn’t. He made sure his hair came down, just so, over his eyes so that we’d want to brush it away. He made sure he spoke with just the right amount of sad resignation and hope. He complimented me in front of her, hoping to draw her jealousy, or anger, or laughter…anything really. Hoping for a reaction from her, ignoring the reaction he got from me.

I was embarrassed by myself. How could I blush and look away and be attracted to this man? He clearly wasn’t good enough for my co-worker, so why did I find him attractive? And why wasn’t I better able to hide that I was attracted to him when she was right there! What sort of monster was I?

Or maybe it was her. Maybe she was the monster. After all, he was a perfectly likable guy: well groomed and maintained, employed, hetero enough, by all accounts good with kids and animals, and attractive. Very attractive. The way he moved his body smoothly from standing to sitting. The way he leaned back in a chair, pencil in hand, smiled shyly and spoke of how much meaning and reward he got out of his job. The way he talked about riding horses when he was growing up and how much he missed that and wasn’t there a place nearby where you could ride horses. Attractive. Obviously perfect.

No, there must be something wrong with her. Here she had the perfect boyfriend and she was giving him up for a better life somewhere else. Why wasn’t she taking him with her? What had he done so wrong that she couldn’t continue loving him the way he loved her. Definitely her, the monster.

Perhaps I could help, after all, I’d be staying behind when she left, too. Really she was leaving us both. We could look out for one another, make sure he was getting over his heartbreak, make sure I wasn’t floundering at work without her. And why not. He was a perfectly lovely man and he’d just complimented me, hadn’t he. He wouldn’t mind my company for awhile, just checking in on him every few days….

Look at the way she was baiting him! Getting dressed up to go to our company party. Who was she trying to impress? She was leaving? But there she was, looking perfectly perfect for a night among boring colleagues. Look at how he looked at her, almost angry. No, that couldn’t be it. Must be a trick of the shadows. He clearly adores her. Will be miserable without her. But I’ll be here to help.

She’d told me all about how she worried for him. How she didn’t think he’d take care of himself without someone to do it for. She told me how he only knew how to make the same three meals, and one was nothing more than a dessert. She told me how he couldn’t go to a movie alone, even if it was one he desperately wanted to see and she had no interest in. How he only had two close friends and they weren’t much more than people he ran into at the coffee shop. She told me how lonely he’d be, how he needed somebody.

I couldn’t believe she would leave him, knowing all this about him, how could she leave him? Well, I wouldn’t do that to him, not me. I’d care for him. I’d be there to eat his two meals and a dessert, if he cared to make them. I’d be there to watch the movies he wanted to see, even if I had no desire to see them. I’d make sure he had a reason to take care of himself. After all, he’d just complimented me. We would get along just fine. She could leave and enjoy her perfectly new perfect life, and I’d stay here and take care of the pieces she left behind.

He was beautiful, after all. Perfect really. How had I never known she was such a monster?

~~~That’s one hour~~~

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