The Bad Project

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Chapter 35. Sandstrom’s Brainstorm/Marianne

Marianne went to Andy’s office. She knocked on the door. He opened it, and his eyes widened, and a big smile appeared on his lips. He closed the door behind her with that little click the lock made. “Marianne, I’ve been thinking. If I get a divorce but we live here, I can still see my kids. Let’s get married and then we won’t have to sneak around any more.”

Marianne pushed him back as he tried to gather her in his arms. “No, Andy. I can’t ruin your kids’ lives like that. They don’t deserve to have me break up your marriage. No, we must stop seeing each other.”

Andy hooked his arm through Marianne’s and pulled her over to the couch. She slipped out of his grip and sat in one of the two chairs instead. “What’s wrong with you, this is a happy moment for us. We can be together always,” he said. He had a faint frown between his eyebrows. She noticed his long eyelashes and felt regret, but she had to keep trying.

“No, Andy. This is it. I can’t see you any more. Don’t you understand? I can’t handle the guilt about your family any more.”

“But the situation isn’t any different. I’ve been married with kids all this time, we’ve made love, we’ve built our relationship. How can you change your mind now? It doesn’t make sense.” He said that tenderly, patting her head from a perch on the overstuffed arm of the chair. Marianne felt breathless. The sexual attraction was still there. Only her mind, and her memory of talking with Crystal, was standing between her and that couch.

“I can. I did.” Marianne jumped up and walked towards the door. He was faster, gathering her into his arms from the back. He hugged her gently but firmly, and although she tried to get loose she couldn’t. All she could do was to stand still and not respond to his whispers in her ear, his stroking of her breasts. After a few minutes, he let her go.

“Ah, damn. Just when I thought everything was going to be okay. I just don’t get it. You didn’t resist last Thursday. What happened? Did someone poison you with rumors about me? I never loved anyone before, even Debbie, my wife. It’s you I love.” He paced around the office, throwing his hands in the air to punctuate his thoughts. “Don’t mess it all up for some anachronistic feelings about marriage. Only half of the marriages today last, half end in divorce. It happens every day. People know how to deal with it.”

Marianne folded her arms across her chest. Her eyes blazed. “Not me. I don’t want to be divorced. If you’d do it once, how could I trust you? Didn’t you promise to stay with her forever?” She was out of his grasp, but he walked between her and the door whenever she was close to it. She wasn’t exactly scared, but she was frustrated.

“Sure, I felt that way at the time. But I was so young, barely out of high school when we got married. How could I know my own mind?”

“Like me. I’ve been out of high school for six months. I’m still a kid.”

“Old enough to love. People get married at your age all the time.”

“Maybe that’s why there are so many divorces.”

Sandstrom’s voice got less confrontational. She thought he had decided to try to seduce her with sweet talk. “Marianne, I’m saying I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Don’t you even care?” He walked forward and Marianne backed up until her leg hit the desk. He looked down into her eyes. It was the Andy she loved, and she didn’t resist when he kissed her. But her response wasn’t as strong as it had been, and maybe he noticed.

“Let’s talk about this again tomorrow,” he said.

She walked over to the door and put her hand on the doorknob. “I can’t. I won’t come back tomorrow. This is goodbye, Andy,” she said. She wished her voice sounded steadier. It was particularly shaky when she said his name. She told herself not to cry, no matter what.

He said, “We’ll see,” turned to walk towards her, and she opened the door and closed it after her.

There was a woman who Marianne thought was the departmental librarian waiting in the hall. As she walked away down the hall, she heard the woman knock on Andy’s door. He opened it and said, “Marianne---Oh, hello. What can I do for you?”

The woman went in and the door closed. Marianne walked down the stairs and out of the building, shaky but glad she had been able to resist, that he hadn’t convinced her to have sex. She wanted it to end. But he seemed to think he could change her mind. She hoped she could avoid being alone with him in the future.

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