From: zackthemack@hotmail.com
Sent: Sun 1/12/08 9:10 PM
To: ariel1970@yahoo.com
RE: Tonight

There’s been a change of plans. My beloved wife is so tender and fragile these days, and though I do not deserve it, she has forgiven me, at last. Just last week she could barely look at me. Her speech brittle, words chosen painfully, as if we were in-laws, she talked around the weather, the day, but rarely directly to me. Weeks into therapy, Charlotte had not forgiven me our affair.

I emailed you last week because I wanted you. Living here then was like living here before—you. She was characteristically cold, distant. I was reminded often of you. Not of as you are, but of as you are not. The depths she went to avoid me attending all-day conferences and workshops–why a writer needs conferences, IDK–would have been funny, if it were not happening to me, to us.

But, tonight she smolders. Her short brown hair whipped around her face as she turned it this way and that. Her long, sensuous lashes could barely contain her almond-shaped eyes. I told you once of her passion, you accused me of missing her, you were right, of course. Tonight she bristles over a remark carelessly made.

“Is there milk in the macaroni and cheese?” I am lactose intolerant, a condition my wife had carefully planned meals around—along with allowing for my other allergies—but that I was afraid she had forgotten in my absence.

I wonder that you did not notice, but we seldom dined together, did we? Our entanglement had left her intolerant of my various calamities and so I had asked. Oh, but I am so glad to have asked, for then I realized her forgiveness was finally granted. The words that came out of her supple mouth, the articulate gestures of her long, slender fingers, the contortions of her beautiful golden, brown face, finally she is at ease with me again. I would kiss her bony hands gleefully, but to do so would be to admit I know she did not before forgive me. I would rather to mark this pass silently than to mark it in vain.

I, of course, cannot continue to see you, meet you, as we had planned.

From: zackthemack@hotmail.com
Sent: Sat 2/19/08 9:10 PM
To: ariel1970@yahoo.com

I have been ill these last weeks. Between conferences, Charlotte has taken up cooking with a vengeance rivaled only by Chef Ramsey, LOL. So vexed by my dietary limitations, she has decided to see exactly what I am allergic too, so as to strike a balanced medium for our meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are an array of possible intolerants. She tries so hard to please me in ways other women would not endeavor. I have worn a path from the couch (where I sleep so as not to disturb her) to the bathroom. I fear our carpet cannot handle more of her culinary intervention.

How is my girl?

From: zackthemack@hotmail.com
Sent: Mon 2/21/08 9:10 PM
To: ariel1970@yahoo.com
RE: Enough

Of course I will stop calling you my girl, as you are right, you are no longer my girl. Charlotte is the only girl for me. If only I had known before our venomous months of sex on your dented futon and all of that cheap, greasy affair food. Shiny packaged sandwiches from gas stations on the way to your cramped apartment. At least, Charlotte says, climbing six flights up that narrow stairwell (I am convinced echoes of our lovemaking still linger there) kept my body strong. Still, if I had not eaten all of that sleazy food for you, I would be spared the indignities of the weekly colon cleansing Charlotte says I now need to go along with the prune, fiber shakes she makes me for breakfast.

Thx–a lot.

From: zackthemack@hotmail.com
Sent: Sat 3/5/08 9:10 PM
To: ariel1970@yahoo.com
RE: What the hell?

Oh dear silly little one, of course Charlotte knows all about you. She does not know about your emails; though you must be more careful. A cell phone rang during dinner last night. I worried it was you. I dropped my fork with such a clatter I worried the plate chipped. Charlotte would have been furious as the plates were given to her by my mother, as was the house, and everything in it. A price for marrying me, sort of a dowry.

My nerves are so on edge that Charlotte has taken to making me drink a strong brew of teas and whatever else she read or heard will soothe me. She tries so hard. I suggested Charlotte stay home this weekend and spend it with me. The look in her eyes frightened me more than her silence. I immediately reconsidered. These weekly conferences, though I don’t see her write anything, keep her connected with other writers. The phone, of course, was not you. Charlotte has taken to whispering on the phone, no, to taking calls in other rooms and then whispering. I know because when she catches me cocking my head to listen, or tiptoeing behind her into the living room or bedroom, she sneers and sometimes growls at me. Worse, she will turn her back on me, talking as if I am not there, hissing into the phone.

She is everywhere.

From: zackthemack@hotmail.com
Sent: Tues 4/29/08 9:10 PM
To: ariel1970@yahoo.com
RE: What are you talking about?

I am dreadfully allergic to shellfish, tobacco and olives. Or, it makes a horrid dish. The concoction slithered around the plate, shrimp sliding under leaves, hiding within olives. They slid down my throat faster than I could chew them. Charlotte poised across from me the better to see my discomfort, watching every bite slip in to my mouth. She notices everything, forgives me everything or nothing at all. My insides, and I know because between vomit and diarrhea, I am forced to come face to face with what should be within my body, are rotting. I mean to rid myself of this poison. I will tell her everything, she will know everything. She will forgive me for she loves me so. Her deep eyes water as she empties the buckets I am forced to relieve myself in when I am too weak to get to the bathroom. She utters not a sound as she empties the buckets, when she is home. She spends more time at these conferences. They are spilling in to her work week so much that she had to quit work to devote her time to conferences. I married a writer. She is writing a mystery, it is not finished. She says I may not like the ending. I am sure it is good, I assure her, she has been writing for so long, has so much knowledge by now. Her lips puckered in a huge hard kiss, but she did not kiss me. We are not ready for intimacy: sex, words.

From: zackthemack@hotmail.com
Sent: Sat 5/18/08 9:10 PM
To: ariel1970@yahoo.com
RE: Leave me out of this

You are in it! She knows about us. The teas are working, loosening my bowels, my tongue. I am a babbling fountain of deceit, Charlotte says. She was slithering around the dining room, the bedroom, slithering and hissing in front of me. She has devised a menu of roots and berries, three times a day. I am an unattractive mass of adulterous rotting flesh. I do not know where Charlotte comes up with these things. But, they must be true. Thoughts flicker, anger, indignation, but they wither. Pride is hard to maintain when your stomach knots, cramps and releases in 60 seconds. She hates you less today than she did yesterday.

From: zackthemack@hotmail.com
Sent: Wed 7/2/08 9:10 PM
To: ariel1970@yahoo.com
RE: You’re as crazy as she is. May you both rot in hell

Thank you for the well wishes. Charlotte and I are doing frightfully well. Charlotte has ceased going to workshops. Her novel is finished. She lays up at night watching me sleep, I know because I wake often and she attends me. She has created the most delightful bitter, sweet tasting tea. My angel is just now fixing me another cup of this elixir. Goodbye forever sweet trollop. Tempt me no more!


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