Sorry for being remiss on keeping up with Dana’s story. It has been too long and I hope you readers have not lost interest. Part 7 is underway. Enjoy . . .
Jessica, or Jess, Morgan was an expert witness for an art theft case I was helping prosecute. She was a PhD in art history and ran a gallery specializing in old lithographic prints. She was single, in her late thirties, was tall, elegant, beautiful, and confident.
The case involved the theft of several prints from a private collection by a Chicago industrialist and we met to discuss the case several times over three weeks generally after six when she had closed her shop for the day. A few times we met over dinner or drinks and after discussing nuances of the case, we would talk of other things and about ourselves.
She was a native of Chicago, she had studied at The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and earned her PhD at Columbia in New York. She was single and ran a successful gallery. Her father, a successful businessman, had died in a small airplane crash in Alaska when she was in college. Her mother still lived in Chicago, but she indicated they weren’t very close. She had a brother in New York City and a sister in Portland, Oregon, both married with two children each.
She wanted to know more about me and I gave her the bare basics and moved on. Another night she asked about my marriage but I dodged her question by changing the subject. She didn’t pursue it.
Then, one Friday night, Russell went to his parents for the weekend after he left work right after lunch. He had insisted I go with him, but I refused and went on to ask him how he can take off work early so easily to go to spend time with his parents but never to spend time with me. He responded that he saw me all the time. I said the time he thought he spent with me was worthless, that I wanted his attention, to do things together. It turned into a full blown fight and he left with me crying.
Feeling alone, sad, and needing some company, I called Jess, she was free, so we made plans to meet for dinner. I ended up having one drink too many and my tongue was pretty loose plus with feeling angry and sad, when she prodded me again about my marriage, I let go and told her how unhappy I was and that I regretted ever getting married. Once started I couldn’t stop and I told her about our fight that afternoon and every last sordid detail of my lonely life. I was bordering tears by the time I finished my story. She reached across the table, took my hands, assuring me that that was not the way my life should be, that I should not have to be unhappy and feel alone, that marriage should be a partnership of love, sharing, enjoying time with each other, having fun. I asked how she knew so much not ever have been married and she just said that the right person hadn’t come along and changed the subject.
Her kindness and the alcohol pushed me then into full blown sobs. She paid our bill and got me out of the restaurant insisting I spend the night at her condo rather than going home by myself in the shape I was in. There was nothing left in me to resist her so I walked with her guiding and supporting me, my head on her shoulder, the one block back to her place on the second floor above her gallery.
We went in and I collapsed on her leather sofa and continued my crying jag. She brought over a box of tissues and took me in her arms and held me while I cried every tear I had needed to shed over all the years of my marriage. When my crying subsided into whimpers, he took me to her guest room, showed me the bathroom, gave me a night gown, and helped me undress and get into bed. I fell instantly asleep both from the alcohol and from being spent from crying.
I awoke in the morning, confused in the strange room, not knowing where I was. The memory of last night started to return and the more I remembered, the more ashamed and stupid I felt. I checked the bedside clock and it was 9:30. I had a huge headache. Then the smell of coffee wafted in along with a rap on the door. I heard Jess ask if I was awake and she came in with a steaming cup and sat on the edge of the bed, touching my face tenderly, asking how I was feeling.
I told her about my head and she got two aspirin and a glass of water. She was mothering me and I loved her for it. I needed that more than I had realized. I tried to apologize for last night but she gave me a warm hug and said it was fine, that she was happy I confided in her and not to worry. She gave me a squeeze and left me to dress and join her for breakfast.
I was surprisingly hungry and was treated to a breakfast of orange juice bacon, eggs, toast and more coffee. She suggested we spend the day together and to see the new exhibit at the Art Institute. With the aspirin, coffee and food, I was feeling better and thought it’d be fun. We took a cab back to my apartment so I could change into more casual clothes and comfortable shoes. Then we spent a great day together and we had dinner of pizza and a movie at her spacious modern condo with beautiful art and furnishings.
I met her again the next day and we spent Sunday together walking down by the lake enjoying the spring weather after another long, cold, dismal Chicago winter. She took my hand several times as we walked. I felt like a young girl again. Later that afternoon she walked me back to my apartment and made plans to meet for dinner on Wednesday night.
I arrived home mid-afternoon, happy with my new friend, exciting, smart, fun to be with and fun to talk to. I liked her a lot. Then Russell came in and my happiness immediately faded. He was pissed that his parents were upset with me that I wasn’t with him again and accused him of failing in his marriage, of not keeping his wife in line. He told them that he wasn’t failing his marriage and would make sure I’d be with him the next visit.
I retorted that I was not going to spend my time being around his meddling controlling mother and I would certainly not be with him next time. I went on to again say how unhappy I was happy with him not ever being around here or us doing things together, that I was lonely and felt ignored, that he could take off work to be with his parents and not with me. With that, he glared at me for a long moment, turned with his nose in the air and went to bed. The way he looked at me I fully expected him to hit me. I took a big breath and slept on the couch, got up and left early for work so as not to have to see him more than in brief passing.