Spacing Lee B. Montgomery
The Honeymoon's Over

The Honeymoon’s Over
Excerpt

A Love Story

On the morning of Pearl Harbor Day, my husband, Thomas, sneaks about in the morning darkness. The tendons in his feet make hollow popping sounds as he tiptoes around the bed, kisses me, and whispers, “Happy anniversary.” And then he’s off to fetch coffee, his moon-white ass disappearing in shadow, the floorboards of our century-old Victorian creaking as he goes.

Tom loves to wonder in the twilight of dawn. He discourages anything loud or light within an hour of rising. “Shhh,” he insists. “My subconscious is wide open.”

It is a difference we have, the way we take on the world each day. I like to launch myself into the day like a rocket, but over the years, I’ve learned to cherish the dark and quiet of morning too.

This year marks twenty years of being married, but today, we are celebrating twenty-five years of sleeping together. We can’t remember the actual date, so we marked Pearl Harbor Day as the day. An evening concert moved into a night of spectacular lovemaking, another morning, and afternoon hot tub with cognac, and another night at his house. Three days later, snowed in by a record-breaking blizzard, I was shipwrecked in a water bed and in love. We were in our early twenties, at the end of other relationships that had soured, which made our weekend escape even more lovely because it was unexpected. And because Tom knew my boyfriend Jack and I knew Tom’s girlfriend Susan from our college days, our pairing was controversial enough to be otherworldly.




There are many qualities Tom and I share that keep us together: a flair for drama, a sense of humor, a desire for wild adventures, and a propensity for declaring holidays to celebrate us! We were married on Independence Day! We got together on the Day That Will Live in Infamy! And not long, we announced to our friends and associates that we were also celebrating Twenty-Five Years of Fidelity! We even talked about throwing a party to celebrate! Pearl Harbor Day 2005! All Bets Are Off? Free At Last! Done! Over and Out!

We were too busy to arrange a party, and weeks later, I actually sat down and thought about it.
“Tom, I think it’s actually twenty-four.”
“Details!” he said. “I’ll spot you a year or two for good behavior.”
So we celebrated twenty-five anyway. Even though it was probably twenty-four, and more likely twenty-three, because we weren’t exactly together as of that night. We broke up countless times in that first year or two. God knows I wasn’t faithful. And Tom was having difficulty letting go of his psychotic girlfriend. I would wait while he listened to her whine on the telephone about God knows what. Our dates occasionally included emergency pit stops at her apartment, for example, when she lost her menstrual sponge. (Guess where?)

Jack, the boyfriend I had left, was swift and resolute in breaking it off. Even after five years of torturing one another. Even after he befriended my dearest friends, and slept with many of them, including prep school friends and childhood friends, he announced that he was devastated and refused to talk to me. A year or so later, we began talking again, which meant a series of stilted conversations every few years on his birthday, usually initiated by me calling his office because he asked that I not call his house because his wife was bummed out that I never talked to her. This was our course until about five years ago when late one hot summer night the phone rang. I lay in bed and listened for he answering machine. I was hoping it was Tom, who was away at a trade show, but when I heard Jack’s voice, I picked it up.

“Is everything okay?” I asked.
“Sure,” he said.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“In the backyard,” he said. “Is it too late? Have I called too late? You used to go to bed so early.”
“It’s okay. Tom is out of town.”
“I’m sitting in my backyard with a nice glass of Pinot,” he said.
He then inhaled sharply, and I knew he was smoking. I had just quit and instantly missed the sensation, the awful smell, and the dull ache of smoke moving in and out of my lungs.
We ended up talking for hours. He had settled near where we had briefly lived when we were twenty. Now, that’s where I saw him: sitting in an old-fashioned backyard chair made of woven nylon ribbon, surrounded by tall cement walls like the California I knew so well from decades before. The reason for the call, he finally admitted, was his marriage was over. His wife–the one who had forbidden me from calling the house, the one who periodically erased my name from his electronic organizer–had asked Jack for a divorce, and left him home to stew alone for a few weeks while she took the kids to some exotic locale.
“That’s terrible news,” I said. “Are you sure?”
“I had an affair a while back,” he said. “We never really recovered.”
I went silent, mentally calculating the time of the affair. Was that, for example, the year I called to wish him a happy birthday and after his brief hello, he yelled, “How’s your marriage?”
“You got caught,” I said.
“I did,” he said softly.
“Bummer, “ I said. “Can you beg?”
“It’s too late. I even bought her a twelve-thousand-dollar diamond ring and propose again. I actually bent to my fucking knees and asked her to marry me.”
“She said no?”
“She said yes. Then, a few weeks later, changed her mind.”
“Changed her mind?”
“And kept the ring…”
“Get out.”
“She did.” He laughed, but his voice was so hollow and sad, I imagined it rolling around the floor, darkly, like a marble.
“Shit. I hope the sex was good with whoever you had the affair with; I hope it was good enough for all this.”
“No.”
“No? No? Jesus! This is horrible.”
“You don’t understand,” he said. “She is the type of woman who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.”
“Who?”
“Maryanne.” The wife.
“How did you get caught?”
“Oh God.”
“C’mon. That must have been some barnburner of a day.”
“She wanted to get caught. Her husband sent a detective.”
“In San Jose? Who is she?”
Jack told me a woman’s name that I instantly forgot, a silly, puffy name like Sheila or Shirley.
I knew this scenario would never be my problem. No matter how I longed to have affairs, to be a wife who lived with a silver spoon in her mouth, a someone who might inspire others to hire private eyes, it wouldn’t happen. It would never happen, because I am the type of woman who fails self-esteem tests posted on America Online, and had just recently bombed the “Are You Afraid of Success?” test posted on psychology.net.
“Can I call you again?” he asked.
“Surely?!”
“Not funny.”
“It is too funny. It is very funny.”
“It just has meant the world to me to be able to talk to you, to talk to anyone. Are you sure it’s okay?”
“Yes, it’s fine.”
“But I don’t want to cause any problems with Tom.”
“Tom who?” I laughed. “No worries. He’s cool. He’s very cool. Besides,” I added, “he’s never home.”

 
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