Infidelity

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Characters (4):
Charlotte (age 10)
Blake (age 17)
Claire (age 50)
Christopher (age 50)

Overview: Christopher, the father, has been unfaithful in his marriage to Claire. The couple's eldest daughter, Blake, knows of the infidelity, as does Claire, while their youngest daughter Charlotte does not.

Blake

Today, after the woman called the house phone, asking for my father in a strange and unfamiliar high-pitched voice that was syrupy sweet and made my heart beat in erratic bursts, I went on a quest to find his ring. My father does not wear a wedding ring; I cannot remember his hands any other way than the way they are now, which is large and rough and bare. The woman’s voice stung me like the attention of a pesky bee; her voice made my eyes ache, and my mind, and my skin. I hung up the phone swelling with a newfound resolve: I had to find his ring. I approached his room with trepidation, my heart simultaneously dashing and braking thinking about all that I might and might not find, dragging my feet with paradoxical determination. For all of my apprehension, the ring itself was neither difficult to find nor was it shrewdly hidden. I found it tucked neatly inside a cream-colored velvet jewelry bag, which was placed in a small blue box in the first drawer of his bedside table. You could call my father a lot of things, but messy is not one of them, even regarding the most shameful of matters, and the ring was there, in all of its tangible honesty. I extracted the ring gently from its tenable cocoon, watching it catch the soft light from the lamp by his bed, which I had turned on in my search. I held it close to my chest, and in my hand it weighed one thousand pounds; I turned it over and over until I was weak and it fell to the ground, rolling around and producing a metallic clamor that steadily dwindled into nothingness.
Silence.
Weighted silence, silence that carried the weight of one thousand pounds of deafening volume.
Silence that engulfed us all that night, that night that we all waited breathless on different phones of the same landline, listening to the high-pitched, syrupy-sweet lilt and bowing our heads in overwhelming, unfathomable shame.

Claire

Hearing all of my husband’s indiscretions manifest themselves in this voice, it’s all I can do not to laugh.
Come on, Chris. Where’d your game go? You’re better than this. At least try and impress me. This foolish, giddy girl, barely older than Blake, doesn’t make me blink twice. I hear her syrupy appeal, appeal that is solely aesthetic and completely devoid of substance, and I am ashamed of you. Ashamed of the man you have become. Ashamed of the standards you set for the woman who has driven a permanent, irreversible wedge between yourself and your family. Ashamed of your shame, and the way you carry it around with you like a secret. Your shame isn’t a secret; your shame isn’t hidden or obscured in any way, but rather acutely visible, brilliantly dazzling in light nearly too bright for the eye to detect. I hear your voice pick up the other line, say, “I’ve got it guys. Thanks,” and I have to think the most morbid thoughts in order not to burst into a fit of giggles. You are pitiful. You are pitiful, and your secrets are not secret; your marriage is not a marriage; your children do not regard you as their father; your life is not your own. So I ask you, what do you have to offer this girl?
And I answer my own question, chuckling to myself as I set down the phone neatly and go on with my night: you have nothing. This girl is what nothing yields, the product of nothing, what vapid selfishness results in.
And that, my dear, is irony at its best.


Christopher

Who knew I'd end up here, 50 years old, with two beautiful daughters, married going on twenty years. It hasn't been all easy, all smooth sailing, and I know that from the outside I look like the bad guy- I don't know their friends, or their activities, or where they go at night on the weekends. I haven't been to one of my daughters' piano recitals since, I don't know, they were four or five maybe. That's pretty crazy. But it's not all my fault, not that I'm calling myself the victim, but Claire doesn't make it all that easy for me to be involved. It's like she woke up one day and just gave up, turned herself off, and built a brick wall a million miles high between us. She doesn't tell me what's going on, doesn't communicate. I try sometimes. But what kills me is that she took my girls with her. Blake more so than Charlotte, but every day I can see them both retreating from me even more, and I can feel myself losing them with that gut feeling you get from those intangible aspects of life. Parts of it are my fault, but their treatment of me makes me not want to be at home, makes me angry, and makes that anger manifest itself in dark corners of dark places with dark people whose faces I can't make out in the darkness and whose names I never care to learn. By now I've lost track of which came first: the anger or the mistreatment. One was irrefutably a result of the other, but it's gotten too messy to discern which one started it all. Tonight, I will drink a beer alone at a bar downtown, in an area where I know no one and no one knows me, and I will drink until my eyes glaze over and until I cannot taste what I am drinking, until I cannot determine whether or not I am drinking at all. I will come home late, being careful to turn the doorknob in that special way that obscures the sound of its opening, and I will walk gingerly across the carpeted wooden floors, avoiding the familiar creaks that could give me away. I will peer first into Charlotte's room, and then Blake's, and then will retreat to my own where my wife will not be waiting and where I can sit alone with the weight of all that I have lost and broken.

Charlotte

Today, right before mommy picked up the phone, an interior decorator came by the apartment to help mommy. I walked around with them for a bit, because mommy said that the decorator could help me redo my bedroom. When they went into mommy's bedroom, the decorator made a weird face. She was surprised, I think, that mommy's side of the room was bare. Mommy got flustered and upset. The decorator explained how important the bedroom is, how it's maybe even the most important room in the house. Mommy gave a laugh that meant she was right and the decorator was wrong and the conversation was over. "I hate this room," she said, ushering the decorator out. "I spend the least amount of time here." Then I ran to my room and cried and cried and cried.


Blake


He is two different people. The He that I like is part of my collage, a kaleidoscope of beautiful memories. I have re-lived every single one, most often on those nights where the He that I don't like has emerged from His ugly cocoon. One day I will meet Him again and I will fan out the memories like a deck of tarot cards. "Pick one," I will say, my voice rough and sly. He will smile, the memories twinkling in His eye. He will pick my favorite.





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