Joey looked down at his phone the picture from the bar staring back at him. He was there with his best friend and his girlfriend. Girlfriend was a strong word, but for 10 years, more than 10 now, he called and she came. He touched her and she came. Such a good little bitch and always ready to preform whatever tricks he asked of her. Sure there had been a handful of other men in her life but it was to be expected. If memory served him correctly she had briefly hooked up with one of the other guys who had been there last night, one hanging out in the back of the picture. That’s all it was a mindless fuck, a hook up.
Commitment wasn’t something he could give her, at least not the kind that Hallmark movies were made of, but he could give her what she wanted — what she needed. He could give her the best parts of himself. Not the picket fence, the two kids, and certainly not the fucking dog, just someone to love her, spoil her with drinks at the bar, to fuck her after and tell her how pretty she was, how good she was. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t exactly the truth. He did love her, as much as it was possible for him. It should have ended up differently for them, maybe one day it could, eventually. For the better part of 10 years he had been telling her these half truths like throwing a nugget to a puppy, somewhere between the breading were shreds of meat. She loved nuggets.
It was what she wanted, what she needed. He was someone to anchor herself to — a love story with a definite ending, not because she wasn’t enough, but because life got in the way.
As unavailable as he was, he was her rock. Her savior. He would never abandon her, wouldn’t disappoint her, how could he? Built in endings worked both ways. Besides, Joey looked down at the picture, at her. She was glowing. Not just from whatever filter she insisted they used, but she was happy. She always looked happy around him especially now that her face lost its roundness with each pound she lost. Her tits didn’t change though.
She was everything he could dream of in a girlfriend. She knew when to keep her lips sealed (all of the time) and when to open her mouth big and wide (on her knees before him). They weren’t together. They just were same as it ever was: he called, she showed. He touched her, she came. Joey closed his messages app and turned on his music, then his lock screen before sliding his phone into his armband. He glanced at the clock in the kitchen. It was a later start than he wanted, but still early enough to get a run in. If he stopped for bagels he could be walking in the front door before everyone else woke up.
It was clockwork, broken but right at an off hour.
She knew no matter how right it felt it was wrong, but she couldn’t stay away — wouldn’t. For years she watched people come and go from their group. All of them chasing their happiness not seeing what was right there in front of them. God, Mickie’s last girlfriend moved from the suburbs to farm country because she liked the lampposts or some shit. Really, what was so different about reading books and being a shut in surrounded by cows or people? She left behind a house, a man, not to mention the menagerie of animals Mickie had surprised her with over the years. She didn’t know people out in farm country. She didn’t have her friends of her own, here or out there. That was supposed to make her happy? More shocking, she thought it would be okay?
She scoffed. Her hair rustled against her satin pillow. Ginna had found her happiness in the same town she grew up in, with the friends she had for ages. She found it in him, with him. Maybe it wasn’t normal, but fine.
Ginna rolled over to his spot on her bed basking in the warmth from where he had slept. The traces of cologne and stale beer tucked into the pillow she now snuggled. She heard the door close, he’s probably hoping to stop for bagels. He would grab her a chocolate drink. An extra one he could keep tucked away for the next time they saw each other. She buried her head in his pillow and breathed in more of his scent. She felt like one of those animals that stick their heads in the sand completely blocking out the outside world. She immersed herself in him, his scent mixed with lingering sweat. Mornings were the worst. Her phone dinged from her nightstand. Ginna would look later, right now all she saw was him.
He was everything to her: a confidant, a lover, a friend, a beast in the fucking bedroom. He was everything she could want in her man. He was there for her, he loved her. Always told her how beautiful she was, how good, how she was perfect for him. Not since the day her older brother had taken his last breath had she thought of getting married or having kids. She hadn’t thought about love outside of a husband and kids. She hadn’t wanted to ever face the headache of losing anyone in her life ever again. Before him she hadn’t thought of loving someone else, letting them in and making them part of her. It didn’t always have to be about a marriage. She still had her parents, her younger sister, her nieces and nephews, and she had him. Whatever he needed from her she would give, because he had already given her so much.
Eventually it all worked out the way it’s meant to, and soulmates could be a best friends, a romantic partner, a husband or wife, or just “your person. . .”
Not everyone marries their soulmate.
As if giving it a romanticized name like “soulmate” changed the fact that her husband was fucking someone else, and had been for most – if not all – of their marriage. They officially had a teenager, 13, a preteen, 11, and one too close to being in the double-digits. Time moved like a NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. Here she was, a mother of three, grateful her husband had finally gotten snipped because she wasn’t going to ruin her kids’ lives over their father’s inability to keep it in his damn pants.
Ismaralda remembered her relief when he walked back out into the waiting room after the procedure. It was one thing to fuck around on her, divorce wasn’t an option — her mother was still alive. Dealing with a baby mama or a long lost child wasn’t on her to-do list. It was sad enough to watch how her husband treated his mistress. Issy laughed at the word. It sounded so olden-timey, almost classy and fancy. The complete opposite of the busty, bleach blonde staring back at her.
Issa didn’t even bother to screenshot the pictures or texts anymore. Though she had to say it was a great shot of them, they looked happy. If one didn’t know better, they could be real couple, a happy one even. She knew better, and the reality was simple: they weren’t a couple even if they thought they were happy now. Issy closed Mickie’s social media page, the picture from the bar last night disappearing with it.
Joey treated their dogs better than how he taught Ginna. At least the tricks he taught them were to protect them and not a grand performance for the king. Well, most of them. No Mathews party was complete without a surplus of food and beer, and Joey letting the dogs out into the yard just to show off how quickly they came when called.
Issy used to look at Mickie and give him a dramatic eye roll for the theatrics of it all. At least that’s what it seemed, but really she would be looking for Ginna whose blonde head and exposed bust could be seen peeking out from behind Mickie. Issy wondered if she her squirm under his commands. Her body stayed, but her eyes betrayed her. Everyone looked at Joey when he called for the dogs and snapped over to their long, lean bodies running at full speed. Everyone, except. Ginna whose her eyes stayed locked on Joey until the dogs had gotten their treats for good behavior. Issy figured Ginna would get her treats later. It was a perverse form of animal cruelty the way he treated her, like the most desirable bitch in the liter. The one best suited for breeding, so she’s bought and used up in excess. When her prime is over she’s dropped off to the pound with saggy tits and pitiful hope in her eyes. She doesn’t know her own isn’t coming back, hasn’t figured out that no one else will want her now. Except in this case Ginna’s for sport, blow jobs and ego stroking, Joey already has three kids that he’s aware of.
If there her husband had to be amounted to one trait and one trait only it wouldn’t be the size of his cock, which even she had to admit was sizable and generous, or the insanity of his ideas. It wouldn’t even his ability to encourage those around him. No, it would the size of his ego and his desperation for having it stroked. He was a god to that girl, had been since the day Mickie introduced her almost 15 years ago.
It should have been weird, a 16 year old hanging out with a bunch of 26 year olds at the bar, but Mickie had been friends with her brother and when Brian had passed, Mickie brought her around in his stead.
Most people are incapable of keeping a secret for 45 hours, and these two thought they’d kept a secret for more than 10 years? Whether it was ignorance or a good cover up, probably a blend of both, it had taken Issy a little bit of time and detective work to see the full picture of what was happening. It wasn’t that she didn’t know fidelity was an issue, one night stands were one thing. The thing with Ginna. She needed to know who. Not that she had to work too hard. After so many years people got lazy. . . asking friends to cover, posting pictures from the bar standing a hair too close, but not all people.
Issy finished her coffee and began rinsing out the mug. She figured Joey already started making his way home from her apartment. If he was running late, he’d stop off for bagels. The kids were still sleeping a feat Joey didn’t realize. She had kept them up late last night sugared up and granted unlimited tv and game time other wise she and her little chickadees would all be up and waiting for the sun. The kids didn’t need to know their father hadn’t made it home last night, that he didn’t sleep in the den like he would say he had. Let them sleep through the night blissfully unaware. She’d draw herself a bath, soak with a spicy romance, create her own bliss. Not all people could plan accordingly, but some could. She could.
Some people are very capable of prepping their husbands shakes with various drugs and poisons in small doses for years at a time or borrowing an illicit spare key and swapping out various prescriptions like birth control or antidepressants. Some people can do that and tell no one. The same way a person could take their husband to the doctor when he’s “just not feeling right,” or console a young, crying mistress in the bar bathroom, offering her a tissue and walking her back to their friends. Some people can do that, show kindness to those they abhor. All dogs eventually get put out of their misery.
Everything works out the way it should in the end. . . after 10 years a few more aren’t too long to wait.