Cracks in the Foundation


Things turned sour between my wife and me before we were married. Before our marriage was even recognized by our state, in fact. There was too much mistrust; too many incidents from our respective pasts had bubbled up to demand our attention. But we soldiered on. The gesture of our marriage, we agreed, was more important than the fraying of our bond.

As the months dragged on, we worked to rekindle the essential elements of our relationship. For the most part, we were successful. Janelle’s sharp edges, honed by the coarseness of our interactions over our most difficult times, began to dull. Mine, too, softened. For a while, things felt good. Comforting. Familiar.

Familiarity, though, would beget slothfulness. It’s what I’d worried would happen. Every night, when we were curled up together in our bed, Janelle would snore and I’d be plagued by fear. It was the fear of inevitability. No matter how well things were going, once we got our wheels back in the familiar rut of our old routines, I knew our foundation would resume its inexorable deterioration. There was only so much damage it could endure before everything we’d worked to build would topple.

We both felt pangs of stress before either of us articulated our concerns. Janelle started drinking again. She wouldn’t stumble around drunkenly, but not a day went by when I didn’t smell it on her breath. She made no attempt to hide it. I, too, regressed. I was overeating – just like how I’d done before we met, when food was the only way I could escape the reality of my depression. When Janelle and I started our relationship, I was elated. My self-loathing melted away, taking 25lbs with it. But each time our connection felt like it was weakening, the first thing I turned to for comfort was junk food. Now I down a pint of ice cream every night while she polishes off a bottle of wine.

If it wasn’t for our sex life, I think our relationship would have ended after our first fight. But I freely admit – we’re hedonists. We escape reality through physical gratification, whether it’s food for me, alcohol for her, or sex for us both. The pleasure we give one another has always purged the most toxic of the venom from our respective battle wounds. We both knew it was escapism. Neither of us cared. We needed to feel good and we had the ability to provoke that feeling in one another.

This morning, we were sitting at the breakfast table and drinking our coffee. As I’d always expected but never anticipated, Janelle announced her intention to leave me. I didn’t say anything. I just stared into my coffee; the black liquid and the white mug defocusing and hazing as tears filled my eyes. I asked her if she’d finally chosen Alana over me. She nodded and began to sob. We didn’t talk much after that.

A few hours ago, as Janelle was packing, she came over to where I sitting and hugged me. She held me for a long time. I sat, motionless, doing my best not to bawl. But she wouldn’t let go. I hated her. She kissed my cheek. My ear. My jawline. I felt warmth between my thighs. I hated my body. I turned and met her kisses. After less than a minute, we were undressed. Her tongue explored me and I writhed beneath her ministrations, despising her cowardice and antipathy toward our relationship while I clutched her head and ground against her mouth. I shuddered and saw flashes of our earlier life together as I came; my pleasure decaying into oversensitivity as I pulled her by the hair to stop her rough tongue from scraping over any more of me.

Janelle’s face wore a rictus of self-satisfaction and wanton lust. I could smell her arousal and knew it would be my only opportunity to finally give her what she needed. My final opportunity to get what I craved. I wasn’t gentle with her. It was what she’d always asked for but I’d refused to provide. This last time, though, she could have it all. I scratched. Bit. Pulled her hair. She arched her back and mewled in mindless pleasure which only infuriated and further-motivated me. Mewls became moans. Moans became screams. And screams became gasps as her muscles tensed and she collapsed on the sofa, wide-eyed and sweating. She lay on her back, splayed, dripping, and utterly exposed. I kissed her forehead and watched, transfixed, as warmth drooled from her inviting slit. Throat.

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