We Call It Cheating

It’s where love meets desire on the corner of breakup and divorce. An evening out with the wrong person, and all we do is call it cheating, as though someone broke a handful of rules. Like going sixty in a forty zone. Or peeking at cards.

The start of torture, unlocking Pandora’s box of doubts. What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with him? When did you stop being enough, and what does she have that you don’t? Search your body for the answers like you wrote them on your skin, up your sleeve, just out of sight. That’s what cheating means, doesn’t it?

A future’s shattered, and so is your heart, but you try to piece it together anyways, using your tears for glue and his excuses for a clamp. If you can just find a way to hold on, everything will be okay. Nobody got hurt, or if they did, there are other rounds, other games, other tests. After all, it was only cheating.

What a word. Like a drug or a code. Having outside help or inside knowledge—all the answers, all the advantages, the power to win. How could it be so very bad?

But time goes by, and the pieces fall apart. You’re left with devastation, and emptiness; you try to hold out as long as you can, but one of you leaves, tearing away what’s left of unity. You were one. You were whole. Now you’re jagged corners and frayed edges, hurt and broken, and anyone who gets near you gets cut. You want to be alone, but the silence aches with what’s missing. The sound of people becomes noise, drowning yourself in otherness. And yet we call it cheating.

Copyright 2014 Andrea Lundgren

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