She sat, wine glass within arm’s reach, staring at her monitor. The light hurt her eyes in the darkened room, but she needed some time to herself. She stretched her sinewy arm outwards, fingertips brushing the stem of the glass as she pulled it towards her. Tipping it to her lips, she threw her head back and gulped deeply. She set the glass down a little closer this time.
She wasn’t one for overcomplicating matters and her password was no exception to this rule. She pounded at the keys mercilessly. YALE82. It was simple enough. She was proud of her educational pedigree. After all, she had earned it. Her lips turned into a bitter frown just before she took another swig from the glass.
The sound of the television was white noise in the background of an ever-present longing. He was talking to it again, as though it might actually respond. Her head tilted slightly as she strained to make sure he wasn’t headed her way. Satisfied that he was staying put for a while, she logged into her email. The one about which he knew nothing.
Not a single response.
She had posted the ad the day prior when she’d had some free time. He had gone to pick up their new patio set and would be spending most of the day assembling it. Tasks like these took longer than usual for him to do since the accident.
It had worked before. Why not now? She had only changed a few minor details this time around. She made herself a little taller, a little thinner and perhaps exaggerated only slightly the length of her hair. This time the bait hadn’t worked.
Frustrated, she logged out of the email account and instead opted to waste her time on social media. A man in her old neighborhood posted a note about an attractive woman he’d seen on the street. Given her current state of affairs, she felt irritated by it. No one responded to her ad. No one wanted her. She put on a brave face – day in and out – but it didn’t change the fact that she felt lonely and undesired.
A woman her age needed to feel desired. She was past the point of proving herself in her career. Past the point where she could have children. It had never occurred to her that she might regret the decision someday. At least you expect to have to take care of your children. She could have never anticipated the amount of care that Timothy now required.
She’d mentioned it to him several times. She needed more. She struggled to articulate what it really was she wanted. Shouldn’t the words come easily to her? She’d studied for years at an Ivy League school getting so far as obtaining her doctorate, but when it came to these discussions with Timothy, she was at an utter loss for words.
Instead, she spent her time participating in various charities around town. She became the epitome of a Stepford Wife; ensuring she was perfectly coiffed each time she stepped outside her home, even if it was just to check the mail. She engaged in meaningless, but polite, conversations with the neighbors.
But tonight, she needed a break.
Her release came in the form of antagonizing others; goading them into arguments just to pass the time. Smoothing her hair away from her face, she continued the attack on those she deemed less worthy than her. Letting out a string of vitriol, she pounded away at the keys as though they were the last bastion of hope.
This was for all of the times she’d been made to feel less than. For the string of men that couldn’t satisfy her. For the dalliances that led nowhere. She could never leave Timothy like this. She felt obligated to stay and make the best of it. But a woman still had needs.
She took a break and checked her email again. Still nothing. Pulling up the latest revision to the ad, she decided that she simply hadn’t been forward enough. Men liked filth, she knew that much. She wasn’t above stooping to their level to get what she wanted. She’d learned young how to manipulate and men were the easiest targets. Give them a promise of what’s between a woman’s legs and they’ll give their entire world for it. That’s how she’d snagged Timothy in the first place.
Truth be told, he wasn’t much older than her, but the accident had taken quite a toll on their marriage. More often than not, dinner was a quiet affair as they engaged in as little communication as possible. His mobility limited, they rarely traveled anymore either. That had been one easy way for her to get laid; simply stating she’d be at the beach, knowing his fair skin couldn’t bear the heat of high noon, then sneaking off with whoever was on duty at the swim-up bar.
These memories raced inside her head as she posted the revised ad. Within minutes, her inbox was flooded. Men. Some boys, really. She scrolled through them quickly, eliminating most of them at first glance. She settled on a man not much different than the one Timothy used to be. After a few exchanges, they agreed to play for each other online.
She loaded Skype and shrugged out of her knit sweater. Remembering the lack of privacy, she sauntered across the room and locked the door, her feet barely touching the floor, her breath escaping in short and anticipatory bursts. Flipping her hair to one side, it came to rest across her shoulder. She made her most seductive pout, still mostly a grimace, really, and dived in.