When We Were Strangers
"This can't last. The pain I'm feeling, can't last. I must remember that and try to control myself. Nothing lasts really. Neither happiness nor despair. Not even life lasts very long. They'll come a time in the future when I won't think on this anymore. I can look back and say it was just a passing fancy. No, no I don't want that time to come. I want to remember every minute, always, so it never happens again.”
As Zoë was sitting in the Hoboken train depot, her mind was going in so many different directions. She had to talk to Mike, even though he wasn't with her. “I know I'm a happily married woman, at least I thought I was."
Oh Mike, there's so much that I want to say to you. You're the only one in the world with enough wisdom and gentleness to understand. If only it was somebody else's story and not mine. As it is, you're the only one in the world that I can never tell.Ever! Even if I waited until we were old people, you'd be looking back over the years and be hurt. I don't ever want you to be hurt. We’re a happily married couple and let's never forget that. We have a home. You're my husband. I know I'm a happily married woman - or I was, until a few weeks ago. You're my whole world, and it's enough, or rather, it was until a few weeks ago. Mike, I've been so foolish. I met a stranger and I thought I fell in love. I'm an ordinary woman. I didn't think these things happen to ordinary people.
It all started on an ordinary day in the most ordinary place in the world - the Hoboken coffee shop. I was having a cup of coffee and reading a book. My train wasn't due for ten minutes. I looked up and saw a man come in from looking at the train schedule. He had on an ordinary raincoat, his head was turned down and I didn't even see his face. He got his coffee, and turned. Then I saw his face. He had eyes that were bluer than a cloudless sky. He was tall, and so handsome. I asked him if he could pass me the half & half. He smiled and nodded his head, that was it. Mike, why was I so attracted to this man?
So that's how it all began, just me asking for half & half. I completely forgot the whole incident. It didn't mean anything to me at all. At least I didn't think it did.
Three weeks later I was running to my train. I suddenly remembered his train went to Morristown and was just pulling out. I don't know why but I looked up at the windows and at the running passengers, wondering if he was there, but he wasn't. I was really thinking of other things, but couldn't understand after three weeks this stranger was popping into my head again?
Then one day I was turning the corner in Greenwich Village, you know Mike how I love to shop at all the bohemian shops, I feel so cool! As I was window shopping I literally bumped into my stranger. I nearly fell to my knees.
"Hello! I don't know if you remember me, we were in the coffee shop about a month ago? I never told you my name. It's Chad”. He was speaking so quickly I couldn't get a word in.
"Of course I remember you. Well I’m finally glad to put a name to a passing face!” I felt so embarrassed, I knew I was blushing. “My name is Zoë, it's wonderful to finally meet the person who handed me half & half!”
Chad and I started to laugh.
"Zoë, I was wondering if you'd like to have a drink in SoHo?” Chad asked.
"Well, um, I really should be getting on, but, I think I have enough time for just one, okay Chad that would be great!”
"Excellent Zoë! May I take your arm?” Chad asked…I had no premonitions. I suppose I should have had. It all seemed so natural and so innocent.
“Of course you may. Lead me on.”
We had a wonderful afternoon. Not only did he buy me a drink, but he bought me a wonderful late lunch too. You know I always chain smoke when I drink, which I know upsets you.
Mike when we were done we decided to take a long walk and in that walk we learned everything about each other. He works on Wall Street and is just starting off, he's so optimistic about his future. At one point we decided to sit on a bench near 2nd avenue. The intensity between us was real. We started to stare at each other. We stopped talking, our eyes met, and I noticed he had placed his arm around my neck.
“ Zoë you're so beautiful, I've actually been thinking about you for a month. I wanted to bump into you, but I never did. This is embarrassing, but I've had dreams about you…I'm sorry I don't mean to embarrass you…”
With his last word I embraced his face with my hands, and our mouths met. Tongue meeting tongue, we were kissing with animal magnetism, I couldn't get enough, and I knew we both wanted each other.
“ Zoë I live near here that's why I was in Greenwich Village, come over, just today. I really want you.” He pleaded with his blue eyes.
“Yes, I want you too…I'll work out the rest of the day, let's go.”
Mike, that's what's so shameful about it all. That's what would hurt you the most if you knew, that I could feel so intensely as that, away from you with a stranger.
We had sex over and over. He touched me in places I never felt before, but when it was over the guilt was immense, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror. I had an afternoon lover.
Remember me calling you? I never lied to you, but I had to and the sad thing was you believed me, because you always do.
Every week we met, the same time and his apartment. One day we were touching, embracing each other as if I had made my mind up to leave you. Then out of the blue, “she” walked in.
Chad never mentioned anyone else? Was this his sister? Was this my punishment for falling in love, or rather lust for another man?
“At it again Chad?” The woman was cynical, she smiled so slyly.
"Hey honey, I'm Mrs. Chad, Laura, and you are?” She was evil, but he was a liar too!
“Laura, her name is Zoë! Leave her alone! I screwed up, not her, she didn't know I was married. Why are you home so early too!” Chad screamed at her, as if this was normal?
“I came home because the scent in MY house is not MY scent, I knew you were up to something again! As I said, MY house! Get your whore out of here, you know what will happen to you if Daddy finds out again, you bastard!”
“Okay, okay! Let me speak with her for one minute!” Chad was screaming at his “wife” continuously. I had to run and run out fast. He looked at me, and I at him with fire in my eyes.
"Zoë you're no prima donna either! You're just as married as I am. We fucked, that was it!” He said
I stopped and looked in his eyes, his piercing eyes I once fell for, and said…
“It wasn't just fucking, I had fallen in love…I'll never be married like you!”
Remember when I called you to pick me up Mike? I asked you to meet me in Hoboken? I wanted to feel you around my arms, not a stranger that I fell for, not something I thought I was looking for, because I already had the man I was looking for, my husband.