“You’re right…” Alice sighed. “You do not even know yet what it means to wait. And do not even mention those nagging jealous thoughts that start going round and round in your head.”
“Has Andreas given you a reason to be jealous?”
“He has not given me a serious reason. He answers to all my e-mails and to all my phone calls. But he is very far away from me, geographically speaking, of course. How could I know for sure what he is doing there?”
Betty looked at Alice in amazement.
“Alice, that means to be possessive. It might happen not to have the slightest idea about what your husband is doing in any moment, even if you were to stay with him every day and every night. And what if he left for one week or two to another state or another continent?”
“I agree with you. You haven’t got a clue yet. And it is the very thing that this lousy feeling called jealousy takes advantage of. This is what the jealousy nurtures with: ignorance. I do not know what he is doing, I do not know whom he may meet absolutely accidentally, I do not know who may court him, I do not know who may fall secretly in love with him… And, nevertheless, I love him desperately. And I start missing him every time he leaves for more than two days. And I am waiting for him to give him again all my tenderness and love. And I do not tell him about the jealousy that plagues me every day I cannot feel him close to me.”
“Anyway, shouldn’t a healthy relationship rely on trust?”
“Normally. Trust. What would love mean if we did not invest trust into it? This strange mixture, trust and jealousy… In the soul of a person in love, there is a fight. Who wins? The trust or the jealousy? And when does this fight end?”
“The fight ends when you catch him with another woman.” Alice smirked.
“And what remains of it then, Betty? How much does it help you to know that, if you start again with another person, this miserable fight between trust and jealousy might come back?”
“This will be unsettling and painful, if you were right. And the thing is that I cannot contradict you right now, at least not theoretically. We arrived at the Mall but we carried on discussing it. The subject is interesting, you know?”
Betty brought her car to the underground parking garage behind a five star hotel located on the other side of the Mall building.
Before taking the key out of the ignition, she looked at the electronic watch on the dashboard. They had 50 minutes more in order to wander around the immense shopping center.
They stopped first at one of the clothing stores. Alice went straight to a stand with small checked patterned clothes, in red and orange.
“They did not have this pattern last week,” said Alice visibly delighted by what she had just found. I have something similar at home, but it seems more casual compared to what I have found.
“Do you like it?” asked Betty, struggling to look as if she was enjoying the happiness of her friend.
“Of course I like it. It seems to have been especially created just for me. I will buy it.
Alice felt somehow Betty’s “detachment” and gave up the enthusiasm caused by the discovery she made in the stand. She looked at her inquisitively and caringly told her:
“Indeed, what I have already told you about jealousy and trust gave you food for thought. Have I read your mind correctly?”
“It gave me food for thought and that’s all. The discussion is welcome. But, there is a long road ahead. You only just assume that Andreas could be unfaithful. I do not have any reason to assume that.”
“You’re right. I beg you not to take any of my words seriously! I want you to be my best friend forever!”
“I’m surely your best friend, Alice!”
The wind started to blow stronger when Betty still had about half kilometer until home. At 19:06 she was getting out of her car. James was still at the window. He saw his wife and waved to her. Betty answered waving her hand, smiling and hurrying to get to the entrance of the apartment block, because the intense wind was getting stronger.
James opened the door of the apartment and politely took the bag with the shopping she had brought from the Mall.
“Thank you, James. I am just a few moments late, am I not?”
“We still have time for us. We have plenty of time. Poor Alice… She misses her husband almost all the time. You are probably a real blessing for her.”
Betty sat on the sofa in the living room and tapped with her left hand, like and invitation, the place next to her, reserved for James. He immediately complied with her request, embraced her and kissed her sweetly.
“I was looking forward to you coming home, Betty. I want to talk to you. I feel we need to talk to each other.”
Betty looked at him warmly.
“What do we start with first? With the news you received today at the magazine? You were talking about having been promoted…
“Not about promotion… I did not have time to tell you on the phone and it seemed to me that it worried you what I was about to tell you.”
“You told me that there was one week.”
“Yes, one week until my departure.”
James noticed immediately the shadow of surprise and sorrow that covered the face of his wife.
“Do not worry, my sweetheart. I will be absent just for one week.”
Betty smiled as if she wanted to show that everything was all right, that she understood.
“Do I look as if I am worried? You told me something about an opportunity. It is something important for you, isn’t it? And, of course, for us. The marriage is a road that we have to travel together; it is not the experience of just one moment.”
“I agree with you perfectly. But, nevertheless, there is something that troubles you.”
The memory of the conversation she had with Alice on the road to the Mall flashed through Betty’s mind. She made the effort of immediately pushing away this memory and of imprinting in her mind the image of the loving and loyal husband that she had chosen.
“Please, believe me that I am very understanding. It is for the first time when your job sends you away from home and yet, I have still not got used to it, that’s all. But, I will listen to you. Tell me about this opportunity. How could I show you that I love you if I do not take part in what is important to you?”
“The magazine really needs me, Betty. This is why Lloyd called me back suddenly from my short holidays. The feeling that I am useful is really extraordinary. And I will visit Switzerland, too. There will be a very important conference there, on scientific themes.”
“Oh, yes? I do not have any doubts that the week there is going to be remarkable.”
“I will keep in touch with you every day. Regardless of the physical distance between us at a certain moment, my soul will be only at one millimeter away from yours.”
Betty smiled lovingly and caressed James on his cheek.
“You are my lover who will love only me all his life, aren’t you?”
“You are the goddess that I will adore until my death! Does it sound too ‘cheap sentimentally’?”
Betty started laughing and took the face of James in her soft hands. She looked deeply into his eyes. James felt through his stomach the thrill of a love for which he was about to thank loudly to heavens.
“Love, trust, respect. The ingredients of a relationship that lasts until a venerable age. Do you agree with me, sweetheart?”
“Absolutely! Tell me, will you miss me?”
“Well, I will dive into my work the days when you are gone and I will see your image in front of my eyes. One week passes quickly.”
“Yes. Betty, I would like to unveil something to you.”
“Oh, interesting! I like confessions.”
“Indeed, I have wanted for a long time to tell you, but I hoped it would not be the case to do it.”
“Come on, you set my ears on edge.”
“Well. How should I begin… You need to understand me and to believe me…”
“Tell me then… I am all ears.”
“Ok. Come what may! Look, it happened even today to me, while I was waiting for you to come home. I do not know, it is something very weird… Could it be an illusion?... hallucination?... I suddenly see, effectively, very real, how a portion of a wall next to me starts moving. Sometimes even the floor or the bottom board is moving, is waving. I do not think I am nuts. Have you noticed any signs of madness from me?”
“Nevertheless, I cannot find any explanation. How come I can see so clearly how a perfectly solid wall becomes like the surface of a sea ruffled by a strong wind? No normal man could believe this!”
Betty looked puzzled at him. She said:
“It is pretty strange … this hallucination you are talking about. Hold on, because I do not clearly understand. Do you say that you see very clearly how the wall is moving?”
“I can see very clearly, clearly enough that I could not be convinced I see apparitions. Betty, you do not believe me. Be sincere and tell me that you do not believe me.”
“Well… what can I say. Have I seen anything, in order to be able to say that I cannot believe? Oh, what can I tell you? I am very surprised, if you really mean it. And it is very implausible what you are telling me. It is impossible to see that something that cannot move is moving, if your brain is not playing tricks to you…”
“I am not insane, believe me! If I did not have my head screwed on, how could I be the best scientific reporter of the ‘Harmonics’ magazine? How could I drive a car? How could I get married? Do I really need to have a psychiatric consultation?”
“Please, James, you do not have to tell me so. And then, you ask me to believe you. Ok, I will believe you. I trust you once more this time. Have you told anybody else about this weird thing? Or does it remain our secret?”
“Only Anthony knows. Believe me, I wanted to tell you a long time ago, but I kept hesitating. Anthony is a very good friend. He doesn’t know what to believe about this phenomenon, but he is not skeptical. And I wanted you to know about it. I had a sadness that I could hardly bear, as long as I hid it from you as my secret. It was only a confession. Even if you do not believe me in your own self, at least I know that I do not have secrets hidden from you.
“Oh, this is indeed a thing to appreciate. But try to put yourself in the position of somebody who has not seen what you can see, namely walls moving. Have you ever seen a UFO? You have not seen one. And you will not think that the UFOs exist, in spite of the numerous books with so-called evidence you might read. I will believe you because I trust in you and I know you would not have reasons to lie to me. So, it will remain our secret. Only you, Anthony and I will know about it.”
“Thank you, Betty! Anyway, I do not expect the others to believe me. Anthony is a more open minded person and is my wonderful friend, and you are the woman that I know that understands me. As regards the belief…, that’s it. I myself would not believe, but I am very puzzled. Why does it happen only to me and why such an unreasonable thing?”
“I say we should make the days that remain until your departure to Switzerland as pleasant as possible. About the weird phenomenon, we will have time to discuss.”
“You are right. When I come back I will reassure you. Wait for me dearly while I am away. Be sure that I will think about you every day. I will be looking forward to coming back home. And find out for the hundredth time that you are the woman of my life! I will love only you until I die!”
Betty held James in her arms and gave him a firm and long kiss.