Before You Say Goodbye

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Chapter 4

With a queasy feeling, I walked towards the house of my future in-laws. Standing at the door, I tried to listen inside the house. Nothing was to be heard. Seeing and hoping if I could avoid a ringing, I pressed the doorknob down and was surprised to find that the door was no longer locked. Quietly I crept through the house into our living area. Douglas was lying in bed, dressed. Of course, he was dead drunk. He probably hadn’t locked the front door again either. I changed into other clothes and went back downstairs to get my daughter, who was sleeping in Douglas’s parents’ bedroom that night. She was already awake. I took her out of her cart and happily hugged her tightly to me.

No one had noticed my absence. Before noon, I was on the phone with Richard. I only wanted to thank him briefly for his help, but it was only after an hour that we had finished the conversation. Douglas asked after his midday awakening where I was and with my answer, “I slept in the living room”, the topic was immediately settled.

At the lunch table, I announced loudly that I would go for a walk with Katharina right after lunch and asked, almost deceitfully, if anyone would come along. I knew beforehand to turn all of this off. But so I could calm my conscience before I secretly called Richard again to ask him if he would go for a walk with us. Even while dressing Katharina, I felt infinitely happy and whispered into her ear, what we were both up to, as if she were my co-conspirator.

Richard and I met at Council Square and immediately walked on in the direction of the park. After only a few meters he asked if he could push Katharina. I had never heard such a question from Douglas before. Storytelling and laughing, we continued on our way. We did not care about the darkness that already surrounded us. Only when it was time for Katharina, did we start our way back? Our farewell at the edge of the park was sad but only friendly.

When I came back I was impatiently expected by Douglas and his parents. Not yet the door properly open, Douglas came rushing to me and asked me to tell him with whom I had met in the city. Shocked by his knowledge, I just told him that I happened to meet my old trainer and we then had a chat. He seemed to be satisfied with this answer. This brought instant relief to me. I took care of Katharina and hoped to have elegantly circumnavigated this topic. But I had not. At the dinner table, everyone was talking to me again. Douglas accused me of having planned the meeting with my trainer, which was true, but I continued to deny it, and of not having told him anything, as usual. My anger at him became overwhelming. In the past year, I was almost completely non-representational for him. He did what he wanted and then accused me of not telling him everything! Defiantly I said that it is my final decision with whom I meet. Then Douglas’s father also interfered. In a threatening tone he let me know, “My lady, we feed you and your child. So we have the right to know everything. I checked your cell phone and you talked to him for over an hour, and not for the first time.”

I was outraged. He searched my cell phone without hesitation. Immediately I left the table and went to my daughter. In desperation, I called Richard to ask him what to do. Instantaneously he offered me that we could stay with him for the time being and that he would also pick us up in his car. But I did not want that. I was too afraid that there would be an open confrontation when Richard would show up at the door in his car. I left the same evening with Katharina, a suitcase and a perambulator.

Richard had already prepared everything for our arrival. The things not yet properly brought into the house, I fell around his neck and let my tears run free.

The first night in his house Katharina and I still slept in the living room, but already the next day we, actually he, because he had paid for it, got a crib for my daughter. His guest room and his study upstairs became our rooms and he got a new lock for the shared bathroom.

I was happy all around in my new home from the first day. Our living together was more like living in a student flatshare. At that time, although he was already my secret love, I was not ready for more.

It was the little things and banalities of the day that made me wish more and more often than I was more than just his roommate. I had no idea that he felt the same way. Except for the friendly greeting and goodbye kiss and the one or other friendly hug nothing ran between us. Only his parents, who came to chat and drink coffee once a week before Katharina and I moved into his house, knew our flatshare relationship. And when we went shopping, to my mother’s grave, or just for a walk, we seemed like a couple and not like friends because he was always with Katharina in his arms. Katharina was his daughter from the beginning. Whether bathing, changing diapers, giving porridge, or playing, he was always there for her. But putting Katharina to bed was also the only moment during the day when he entered Katharina’s and my room. We always stood close to each other for minutes at her bedside, sometimes without a word and even though she had already fallen asleep, just because of the closeness between us.

In the second week, he simply washed our laundry. When I then saw how he was folding my underwear for the closet again, I was standing next to him and we were talking, I was so embarrassed that my face turned red. When a few days later, the next wash was due, I did his laundry with him. While sorting the laundry, I noticed his boxer shorts. Curiously, I looked at them. I had never seen Richard without overpants before and imagined how he would look in the shorts. Also, the dried sperm stain contained in it did not escape my attention. I smelled it and somehow hoped that he had cum in these pants because of me. The next time I washed, I didn’t find any more stains in his shorts. I never told him that I had discovered the sperm stain and he said nothing when he saw his laundry already folded in the evening, but I think he guessed my final discovery and it was infinitely embarrassing for him at that time of our togetherness.

Winter was in its last throes. His parents, brother, aunts, and uncles were there for his birthday and we celebrated late into the night. This whole family is so welcoming that at no point did I see each other as the 5th wheel on the car. I was very uncomfortable at the time because everyone also brought something for Katharina.

After everyone had left, we cleaned up together. I was still so amped up from this day. I had never experienced such a family atmosphere until then and did not want to go to bed yet. The TV was on and we were lost in conversation. The night-time lowering of the heating made the room noticeably cooler. Richard felt that I was cold. Got me a blanket without saying anything and covered me up. But I didn’t get any warmer in the blanket either. He mocked that he could already see frostbite in my face.

“Instead of making fun of me, you could warm me up!” I answered him just as mockingly.

“Shall I lie down with you?” He asked hesitantly.

His tone of voice also showed his wish to lie to me. At that moment I also realized what I had asked him to do. I hesitated with my answer and then only lifted the blanket. Closely he nestled against me. With the blanket over our bodies, we lay motionless and silent on the couch. Feeling his warm breath on the back of my neck, my senses went crazy. Into the silence, my hand sought his and placed it on my T-shirt-covered belly. The warmth emanating from it made my body glow. Everything inside me changed. My breasts pressed against the cups of my bra and my belly was full of ants. Lying like this, we fell asleep.

It was still very early when I woke up. Slowly I moved so as not to wake Richard. “Do we have to get up already?” I heard his voice whispering in my ear.

I turned to face him. “Do you want to?” I asked back.

He just shook his head. Whereupon I gave him a small, very short, kiss on the mouth. I got back a much firmer one on my mouth. Our eyes tried in vain to fathom each other’s thoughts. His mouth approached mine. As we touched, a lightning bolt ran through my entire body. His lips gently captured my upper lip to then tenderly massage my lower lip as well. My mouth opened. Feeling the penetration of his tongue, mine came to meet it. They played around each other. Tenderly, carefully and enjoying.

After the kiss, we looked into each other’s eyes again. Only his words, “Sabrina I love you,” broke the silence. I could not answer him, my mouth was sewn shut, I could only hug him tightly. Richard also hugged me tightly and felt the tears running down my face. With this hug, a relieved exhalation reached my ear.

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