Catherine has mastered many things – the violin, piano, effortless corporate takeovers – but the art of crying prettily has never been one of them. Puffy skin and smudged, tear streaked eyeliner rim emerald eyes; the accompanying shrill voice only enhances her raccoon like appearance. In any other situation Tanim might find her complete lack of composure amusing, especially since his wife prizes herself on maintaining a cool demeanor, but he is far too distracted to pay her uncharacteristically blotchy face any mind. It is only when something dark flies past his head, a hair brush perhaps or a pair of expensive Gucci sunglasses, that he turns his focus back to his raging wife.
“You bastard!” the woman screams for the second time, spitting guttural expletives normally too beneath her to dare utter. “What’s her name? Tell me your slut’s name!”
He almost laughs at the demand. ‘Her’ name? Catherine really doesn’t know. She suspects, yes, and rightly so, but she has no concrete proof of his transgressions. Late nights at the office, anonymous clients treated to expensive dinners, last minute weekend trips, but no true evidence. If she knew the truth she wouldn’t be calling him a bastard; she would be calling him a pervert, a fag, a freak. Well, let her spin whatever fantastic tale of betrayal she wants. He refuses to tell her the truth, refuses to give her the satisfaction of turning her slanderous words on his ex-lover. That he could not bear.
“How could you do this to me? How could you embarrass me like this?!”
Embarrass her. Yes, that’s what this is about. Not her happiness, not their wedding vows, but the affluent lifestyle to which she has become so accustomed: a handsome and successful husband, the city’s most coveted penthouse apartment, friends with summer houses in Greece and ski cabins in Switzerland. Let her take the damned apartment, then. Let her steal all their false friends away. He doesn’t care. He has already lost the one thing which stirred desire and passion within the dead ashes of his heart. What is her precious social standing worth compared to that heartbreak?
“For Christ’s sake, say something!”
What does she want him to say? Should he apologize? Plead for her forgiveness? Frankly, Tanim doesn’t care if she forgives him or not. He realizes he should feel something in this moment, guilt or regret or shame, but he’s gone numb all over. The pit in his stomach which once knotted at each compounded lie has already frozen solid and he has no emotions to spare for his wife. She may sob now, but he wept himself empty days ago. All he can do now is stare, dry-eyed and silent, a dead wasteland in the eye of Catherine’s hurricane.
“Fuck you, Tanim. I’ll take you for everything you’ve got, you cheating bastard.”
Another object whirls past his head, glittering in the light, and the front door slams behind Catherine so hard it rattles in its frame. Tanim bends down to retrieve the projectile, turning the diamond encrusted gold band over in his palm. Now he really does laugh, recalling the token left by his true lover, the three meager lines scribbled on a scrap of paper left behind on the nightstand: I’m sorry, Tanim. I can’t. Goodbye.
Take him for everything he’s got? Oh Catherine, he muses bitterly as the ring slips from his slack hand, you’ll be quite disappointed. I’ve got nothing left at all.