Diane looked out the window to the sagging swing set, soft brown patches wilting beneath each limp swing where small feet had torn the grass away one blade at a time during happy arcs of pendulum rhythm. Her attention snapped back to the man sitting across the cozy table.
“I don’t really think I have anything to say,” she told the handsome man seated across from her.
“Nothing at all? I confessed something that has weighed on my heart for a long time and you have nothing to say?” her husband questioned unsurely, almost pleading with her to react in some way.
Diane had nothing to say because she had already known Jerry’s secret. She only suspected at first when the odd, secretive behaviors had started, when his excuses and explanations didn’t always line up. Finally, the Day of the Phone Call came, the day only a month ago when something inside of her had driven her to pick up the extension and listen, not breathing. The voice on the other end of the phone confirmed it. The only surprise had been that Jerry’s secret affair had been with a man.
“I need to know what you plan to do,” Jerry hinted timidly.
“Do? There’s nothing to do,” she replied. “I’ve spent fifteen years building this life and I’m not going to let something as insignificant as a little fun on the side derail that.”
“Diane, I thought you understood me. I’m in love with Michael. I’m so sorry, more than can you possibly know, but I have to be with him,” Jerry begged her to understand.
“I do understand what it means to want someone you apparently cannot have,” she retorted calmly, her icy glare the only sign of the anger roiling inside her.
Jerry, ashamed, could not meet her gaze.
“For fifteen years,” Diane continued coolly, “you’ve called the shots. You decided where we would live, where the children would go to school, which church we would attend. I’ve never spoken up because it was almost a relief to sit back and let someone else be responsible for the hard decisions. Now I’m making the rules.” She leaned back in her chair imperiously.
“First,” she announced, “this new interest of yours will not affect our children in any way. You will carry yourself in such a way that it never comes back on them. They will have happy childhood memories.”
Jerry leaned forward to take Diane’s hand, which she pulled back slowly and placed serenely in her lap.
“Michael may live here, but no one is to ever know about your relationship, not the children, not the neighbors, not even the man who delivers the newspaper.”
“But, sweetest,” Jerry interrupted, “how do you plan to explain an extra man moving into our house without people becoming suspicious?”
“I would not have him move into the house. He may live in the pool house.”
“Honey, we don’t have a pool house. We don’t even have a pool,” he argued.
“No, but we will,” Diane smiled.
“And we should just expect people to believe that we’re nice enough to just let some strange man move into our pool house?”
“Not a total stranger, darling, he answered the ad you placed in the paper for a lawn and pool man,” she answered without hesitation.
“I didn’t place and ad in the paper,” Jerry said, confused.
“No, but you will,” Diane smiled again.
“Your scheme won’t work. People love a good scandal and they’re bound to talk. They certainly would never think that I’m having an affair with Michael, so they will gossip that you are!”
“That’s true. Therefore, Michael’s boyfriend can move in with him. People will think we’re very fashionable, having a gay couple rent our pool house,” Diane explained patiently.
“Michael doesn’t have a boyfriend! I’m his boyfriend! That’s the whole point of this charade!” Jerry raked his fingers through his hair in frustration/
“I’m painfully aware of that,” Diane replied through gritted teeth. “I didn’t mean his actual boyfriend, I meant someone whom people would assume is his boyfriend. In fact, my boyfriend can fill that role nicely, and then I, too, can have my heart’s desire living right in my own backyard.”
She sat back against the suede cushion of the oversized upholstered chair, surveying the house that had once come to symbolize her absolute success as a wife and mother, pleased with how her plan was coming together.
“What?? Your boyfriend? And just how long has your little dalliance been going on? Do you have the nerve to sit there judging me while the whole time you’re the one who’s been cheating on me?” her fickle husband raged.
“No, but I will.” Diane smiled her happiest smile of all.