We met on the beach. As I walked toward Claudius, my heart was like a heavy weight in my chest. The day was overcast reflecting how I felt inside.
He told me last night that his wife needed him. She had suffered a stroke and needed looking after. As a doctor, he could care for her and as a husband, he would be fulfilling his vows…for better or worse. Although I ached inside, I couldn’t argue with his logic. He still wanted to do right by her. Perhaps, he felt guilty about cheating on her with me or it was just the kind of man he was–kind and caring.
He didn’t love her but he cared for her. She was an older woman, the only daughter of the man whom he used to work for. She took over the business after he died. She went over the books with him. She invited him over to the mansion for tea and then one day, she made a proposition. She asked him to marry her. She knew he didn’t love her even though she loved him. She wanted companionship. She needed him. It was enough just to have him with her. They could sleep in separate rooms and not have any relations, she told him. In exchange, he would run the house and manage the business.
I met his wife and him at a fundraising dinner. She was an attractive and elegant woman. My attraction for him was immediate. I was there with a date but by the end of the evening, I knew that it would pointless to continue seeing him. After he took me home, I broke up with him. A week later, I ran into Claudius. He asked me to have lunch with him. I did. Then, he asked me to have dinner with him the following evening and I did. More dinners followed and then we were in an illicit relationship.
When I reached him now, he took me in his arms and held me tightly as he kissed me passionately, desperately because he knew–we both knew that this was the last time we would see each other. Tears rolled down my face as I clung to him and kissed him back. Again I asked myself why I had do a foolish thing such as fall in love with a married man. Then, I reminded myself that I had a chance to walk away–to run in the opposite direction but I didn’t. I chose to stay. I chose to continue our affair. I chose to ignore what was right because I was madly in love with him. And at the back of my mind, I hoped that he would leave her for me.
He was going to leave her for me but then, she had the stroke. He felt that it would be heartless to leave her now when she needed him. And I had no choice but to let him go.
It was a deserted beach but he broke off the kiss and took me into a cave. “One last time,” he muttered thickly as he ripped off his jacket. “Let me make love to you one last time.”
I didn’t argue. I didn’t protest. I simply got undressed. He spread our clothes on the ground and I lay down on them. He got on top of me and began to kiss me again. I kissed him back.
I gave myself to him one last time. When it was over, we lay, wrapped in each other’s arms for a long time, neither of us willing to let go. The tears fell silently down my face again and I shut my eyes as if I wanted to blot out the world–everything, except that moment. I clung to him for dear life.
“I love you,” he muttered thickly, his warm breath on my neck. “Please always remember that.”
“I love you too,” I whispered.
We lay there for a while longer and then, slowly and reluctantly, he stood up. He reached down and helped me to my feet. He handed me my clothes and we got dressed. When we were done, we walked back out into the sunshine. He faced me. His expression was one of pain and deep regret.
“I don’t want to say goodbye to you,” he groaned. “If it weren’t for the stroke, I would be saying goodbye to her, not you.”
He caught me by the shoulders. “I wish, I wish–“
I place my fingers over his lips. “I know.”
“I will always love you,” he muttered urgently. “I will love you until the day I die.”
“And I will love you until I draw my last breath.”
He hugged me tightly again, kissed me long and hard on the mouth and then he was walking briskly away. Out of my life forever. I was letting love go.
I watched him until I couldn’t see him anymore and then, I collapsed onto the sand and sobbed uncontrollably. Several times, I returned to that beach, watched the waves roll in and out, wishing I could go with them. Then, one day, I stood there, as the sun set over the ocean. I didn’t wish to run into the waves and drown myself. I placed my hand over my swollen abdomen. I had our son to live for. Besides, suicide would rob me of the hope that one day, his father and I will be together again.