The thoughts had started in my mind before spreading through my whole body. Skin, bone, arteries, fingernails. He’s cheating on me. He’s cheating on me. I know it. I know it. It wasn’t such an illogical thought to possess. The phone calls and text messages had become shorter and more sporadic. He was all of a sudden “too busy” to talk when it was only a few months ago that it had been me trying to get him off the phone and motivate him to maybe join a club to occupy his arduous, lonely evenings without me. Ever since he’d started that new job, the one I’d encouraged him to take, he’d changed. He had taken up running. He was going out mid week for drinks and talking fervently about his new friends, many of whom tended to be female. He had been name dropping one girl in particular, Denise. I’d restrained the jealousy inside. Maybe it was my fault? I was the one who had taken the job in Dublin, the job that had consumed all my free time during the week leaving me no choice but to move up. Still, being two hours away didn’t constitute much of a long distance relationship and I had made the effort every weekend to travel home and see him.
I’d noticed a new confidence about him that seemed to gain momentum by the week, a certain spark or strut as though he was courting again. I knew I could ask him outright without any frills if he was seeing someone else but what if he didn’t tell the truth? Why would he? Situations reversed, would I? I wouldn’t want to be labelled as a cheater. The halo once revered, smothered in muck. Friends and family thinking of you like some murky, adulterous rodent. No. I had to find out by some other means. Four years of my life I’d committed to this person. Late night pillow talk, long drives, forest walks, dinners at his parents, Barcelona, Gaudi’s church where he’d said those three words for the first time. If he was cheating on me, I deserved to know. I owed it to myself to trust the instincts that weathered my daily thoughts. How would I find out? I remembered them how he’d said he was going to the cinema with Phil from work that evening. Phil, an elusive person he’d never mentioned to until last nights’ phone call. My hands shook at my desk as I thought about it. I sat back and looked out the window at the passing traffic below. I decided I’d put in enough hours to check out early and embark on an impromptu drive. Was I actually going to check up on him? Had I lost my mind?
My hands tightened on the steering wheel as I drove, faster and faster towards the cinema, unsure of what I would find. When I arrived, I spotted his car parked at the back which meant he was definitely inside. I pulled in to the garage across the road and determined to wait for as long as was needed. Hours passed more slowly than any hours in my life before. Eventually I saw movement. Faces, teeth, scarves, couples, hats, all leaving. For a while there was nothing and then, there he was. There he was and there she was. A blonde girl, hair down to her waist and her arm linked in his. They reached his car and she playfully grabbed the keys from his hand and dangled them up at her cheek. He grabbed her lower back and pulled her in to him. Her breath made the air smoke. They started kissing passionately. She threw her arms around his neck. I had to turn away. The sight made me want to vomit. That was my boyfriend. Four years, duvet days, us at the cinema, us in his car, me being kissed that way but now her, her, her. My stomach took on a pulse of its own, my head reeled. I ducked lower in the shadows of the spreading darkness as they drove away together. My world seemed to come collapsing down. It was as if someone had pulled the ground open and I was falling without a harness.
When I confronted him, he denied it before then resorting to blaming me for everything. It was my fault for moving away. It was my fault for always being tired. That was it then. One conversation and it was over. Single after four years and approaching thirty having to start all over again. The pain was immeasurable, the fear was debilitating.
Five years on now as I look back, I wish I could have told myself that it would be ok. The amazing partner I am now so lucky to have in my life wouldn’t have materialised if I hadn’t followed my gut inclination and I am eternally grateful that I did.