Karmen sat at the table, nursing her cocktail as she sat across from her friend, Cee. She couldn’t help but notice the couple sitting at the adjacent table. They were nestled into their booths across from each other. The space was tight, and the man was very tall, so he had to nestle down into the booth a bit to lean his back against the bench behind him comfortably. His long legs invaded his companion’s side. Karmen didn’t want to assume that she was his wife. The restaurant was dimly lit, and she couldn’t tell if either of them wore a ring, and she didn’t want to make it obvious she was staring. However, Karmen got the sense that they were a couple who had been together for a while. They seemed to sit so comfortably together, and the chemistry between them was palpable.
The woman didn’t seem to mind his legs resting next to hers as she leaned across the table as if she were trying to get closer to him. The man spoke low and softly, and the woman laughed so hard she had to hold onto the table to keep from falling. The man gazed adoringly at the woman with the long dark hair streaked with silver, who reminded Karmen of herself. The man, however, did not remind her of her husband.
He reminded her of someone else, and she found herself wishing she had someone who looked at her the way the man at the adjacent table was looking at the woman sitting across from him.
“KARMEN!” Cee shouted, startling Karmen from her reverie.
Cee chuckled, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you, but I said your name like four times.”
“I’m sorry,” she replied, “I was lost in my own little world for a second. You have my attention now.” She smiled at her friend and took a sip of her raspberry margarita.
“We were talking about dreams in the car earlier, and you asked me to remind you to tell me about the reoccurring dreams you’ve been having,” Cee sparked Karmen’s memory.
“Oh!” Karmen squealed. “Let’s wait for Miranda; that way, I don’t have to explain this twice.”
Cee nodded in understanding.
As if on cue, Miranda appeared next to the table. Karmen slid over so she could sit next to her. She slid a raspberry margarita towards her friend, “Monday special. I took the liberty of ordering you one.” Karmen informed her.
“Thank you,” Miranda took a sip as she smiled at her friend. “Oh man, that’s good!”
Karmen and Cee both nodded emphatically in agreement.
“Okay, so you guys remember the reoccurring sex dream I had as a teenager, right?” Karmen inquired.
“You mean the one where you were blowing your future husband?” Miranda asked.
Karmen chuckled, “To put it bluntly, yes, but I could only see his torso. I knew he was tall, but I couldn’t see his face, “she reminded them even though they had heard this story more than once.
“What about it?” Cee asked.
Karmen sighed, “I’ve been having them again.”
Miranda choked on her drink.
“Sorry,” Karmen knew not to touch her friend while she was having a coughing fit, but she placed a hand behind her head so she wouldn’t hit it against the back of the booth.
Miranda regained her composure and took a sip of water to soothe her throat. She nodded to let her friends know she was okay.
“Didn’t those dreams stop when you met Kevin?” Cee asked.
“Yes,” Karmen confessed as the guilt ate away at her.
“I’ve been keeping a secret from you two, and I’ve hated keeping it, but I kept it because I didn’t want you to lose respect for Kevin.” Karmen took a long sip of her cocktail as if it would give her the courage she needed to say what she was about to say.
“Six years ago, while I was taking care of my dying mother, my husband slept with someone else.”
“What?!” Miranda asked in disbelief.
Cee just stared at her with widened eyes.
All Karmen could do was nod as she fought back the tears. She hated crying in public. “He said he got bored and that it didn’t mean anything.” She started again after she regained her composure. “He promised me it would never happen again.” Karmen released a long heavy sigh as she slumped her shoulders.
“The thing that kills me, though, is that I asked him if he even thought of me, and he said no,” Karmen scoffed. “He didn’t even think of me?”
Karmen rolled her eyes as she took another sip of her drink. “I can’t make any decision without considering him, and he could sleep with somebody else and not consider how it would make me feel?”
“Wow,” Miranda said in disbelief, “I don’t know what to say. That sucks. I’m sorry.”
“That’s not the worst of it,” Karmen told them as she took yet another drink.
“There’s more?” Cee asked in horror.
Karmen nodded before continuing, “I allowed my emotions to get the better of me, and I searched through his phone. One message to a woman said, ‘I just have to say you are so beautiful. A true natural beauty,” Karmen paused for a moment, “And another he asked if she had photos or videos.”
“Why is he doing this?” Miranda asked.
“I don’t know. “Karmen admitted, “Because he can?”
Cee scoffed as she reached across the table to grab Karmen’s hand, “Karmen, forgiving him once was kind, but you can’t be his doormat.”
“I know,” Karmen broke down in sobs. Miranda placed a comforting arm around her friend. Karmen nodded to the couple at the adjacent table, “I’ve been watching them. I want a man who would sit in an uncomfortable booth with me. That’s it. I just want someone who loves me enough to remember the little things.”
“I know you’ve been unhappy for a while,” Miranda informed her, “I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I could tell you haven’t been happy.”
Cee just stared at Karmen with tears in her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Karmen asked her friend, concern written on her features.
“Jason did this to me too, twice, also,” Cee admitted.
Karmen shook her head, “Twice?”
“Yep.” Cee nodded before taking a drink. “And if you’re like me, you’re wondering if you can trust him.”
“Yes, that’s part of it, but mostly, I feel like I’m not important to him anymore. He says he loves me, but I don’t feel it. I spent so much time grieving the loss of my mother and then focusing on my health and getting in shape. I don’t think I ever took the time to really deal with the feelings from his first betrayal, and the fact that he could do this to me again just proves he doesn’t care.” Karmen confessed.
“I feel like he’s just giving up,” Miranda slid her arm through Karmen’s, “Like he’s self-sabotaging in some way.”
“He looked at me the other day and told me that he doesn’t deserve me, and all I could think was that he was right; he doesn’t. I deserve better than this.” Karmen was seething.
“You’re right,” Cee responded, “You do deserve better, and as I said, forgiving him once was kind, but Karmen, no matter how hard you try to put a broken plate back together, you will always see the cracks.”
Karmen looked at her friend, “Are you saying that more for yourself or me?”
“Both,” Cee responded matter-of-factly.
Karmen wiped her eyes, “He said something that I just keep replaying over and over in my mind.” She paused to take another sip of her margarita. “He said he feels like he’s slowly destroying me. Like overtime, he’s just been watching my light fade little by little.”
“I sat there wondering how he could do such a thing, how he could watch the woman he supposedly loves die a little each day and not say anything or do anything!” Karmen sighed, “Kevin says his brain is hardwired and that he doesn’t mean the things he does, and he doesn’t think about anything, and that he just always fucks up every good thing, and if that is true, should I keep trying to be understanding, waiting for him to get his shit together and prove to me he can be the man I need him to?”
“You’re a smart woman, Karmen,” Miranda started, “Please don’t let love make you stupid. You’ve told me he continuously tells you you’re too good for him. Maybe you should start listening.”
Karmen released a heavy sigh, “I just know if the tables were turned, and every week, month, and year I watched Kevin slowly become a different version of himself, and it felt like I was slowly killing him, but he kept holding on because that’s who he is, I couldn’t let him keep going. I would have to walk away because I wouldn’t want to watch the man I love become so miserable, knowing I was the cause of it.”
“I don’t think he’s ever going to leave, Karmen,” Cee informed her.
“I know,” Karmen agreed, “I sometimes wish he would, though, so I didn’t have to be the bad guy who walked away.”
The waitress finally arrived with their food.
“Do you think the dreams have a correlation?” Miranda asked.
“I’m not sure. I mean, they could simply be just dreams, but it is odd that they would start again.” Karmen replied.
“And they really just stopped after you met Kevin?” Cee asked.
Karmen nodded as she sipped her margarita. “Immediately, and just like the last dream, I can’t see his face, but this time, he’s doing things to me rather than the other way around.”
“Ohhh,” Miranda and Cee commented in unison as they raised their eyebrows at her.
Karmen blushed as she gave one last look to the couple at the adjacent table as they stood to leave. The man stood and offered his hand to help the woman up. Her hands were so small and dainty compared to his. He leaned down and whispered something in her ear, which caused her to blush and giggle. She playfully swatted his shoulder, and he let out a low chuckle before helping her to her feet.
Karmen swirled the straw around in her cocktail, “That’s all I’ve ever wanted. A man who continues to want me.”
Cee nodded her head in agreement, and Miranda wanted nothing more than to go home and show her husband how much she appreciated him for remaining loyal.
To be continued…