My name is ChrisNotChris – Part III

We started doodling on the fogged-up screen as had become something of a thing between us.

4 July 2017

We nicknamed it Terrible Tuesday although the fact that “we” nicknamed anything already reveals there’s more to this story. If I’d been smart, there would never have been a “we” after such a day.

He was on his way to the snow and decided to crash at my place and get up early to drive the rest of the way. It’d been two weeks since we first met, two incredible weeks. Three amazing dates and sessions of sex and conversation and connection. I hadn’t felt so happy or connected to someone in a very long time. The similarities between us surprised me every day. We thought alike, shared a sense of humour, felt the same way about sex.

On Terrible Tuesday, he arrived at my place about 7 and we had dinner together. After dinner, in my ensuite, we stepped into the shower where we felt so comfortable together. We started doodling on the fogged-up screen as had become something of a thing between us. I had previously used the shower screen to explain to him a complicated love triangle I had been involved in earlier in the year. It was like drawing a family tree only with fucking.

On this particular night, in the shower, he told me that he wanted to tell me a secret, the thing he had hadn’t been disclosing and that I was most desperate to know.

He moved his finger across the shower screen, circles to represent himself, his ex wife and their two kids. The circles were connected by straight lines, horizontally to the ex-wife and vertical for the children. And then in another line from his circle, he drew a connection to a new circle representing the long-term partner he met after his ex-wife. They had been together many years but he’d already explained that they had separated many months earlier.  Then, as a joke, he drew a third line from himself as if to indicate he had another wife or long-term partner. At the look of confusion on my face, he laughed and rubbed it out with his finger and said “no, I’m not married. That’s not what I wanted to tell you”. Relief flooded me, but it was to be short-lived.

From the line that connected him to his previous long-term partner, he drew a long branch extending down the screen and drew a circle. There was a beat.

“I have an eight-month-old son,” he said.

I stared at the lines and circles in front of me, as the hot water rained down on me and gurgled into the drain. I drew a breath. I breathed out. I drew another before I finally spoke.

“OK … you have a son. Why didn’t you tell me about him?”

“It’s complicated. I didn’t really know how to explain it because he’s not here at the moment. He’s over in xxx with his mum.”

“OK … but you separated in January.” And he nods.

I’m still staring at the screen. I haven’t looked at him at all. I suddenly realise that I’m still in the shower, naked. I cross my arms over my breasts and mumble that I’m getting out. As I towel off, the questions are piling up like the inbox of an IT helpdesk.

“So … are you going to xxx? Are they coming back here?”

“They’re over there visiting her family. They left a few months ago but they’re due back in a few weeks.”

“Right, and where will they be living?”

“Well, with me, in our house.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s our house.”

“But you’re separated?”

“Well, we’re on a break.”

For a moment I forgot to breathe. I pulled my towel tightly around me and began rummaging for some clothes. He turned off the shower and followed me into my room, towelling off. I didn’t want him to look at me, didn’t want him to see me anymore. I pulled on a singlet and trackpants, in too much of a hurry to cover myself to worry with underwear.

Clothed, I sat on my bed and stared at the patterns on my doona cover like it was a long division maths problem.

“So … you’re not single?”

“No, we’re on a break.”

“But, why are you dating? Why were you on a dating app? Why then … what … why are you dating if you’re on a break with the mother of your son?”

“It’s complicated. I don’t know how I feel about her. I don’t know if I love her. I don’t know what’s going to happen when she gets back.”

“So, she might come back, and you’ll just get back together and … where does that leave me?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know.”

“So, I’m just this interim fuck thing while you wait for her to come back from her holiday?”

“No, no, it’s not like that.”

“Well that’s exactly what it sounds like. You went on a dating app, looking for a fuck, while your partner is travelling with your son overseas.”

“It’s not like that. It’s complicated.”

“Doesn’t sound complicated. You’re on a break. You have a partner and you’re fucking other people until she gets back next month.”

“It’s not like that. It’s not like that.”

“Who the fuck are you? I asked you on our first date, how many kids do you have and you said two. Just like that, two. You completely denied the existence of your son. What kind of father are you, to deny the existence of your child? And to me, knowing my story. Knowing that I would give anything to have a child. I would never, ever deny the existence of a child that I had.”

I paused quite deliberately because I wanted to hurt him now.

“You don’t deserve him.”

His head was hanging low and he was still naked, by now kneeling beside my bed. I couldn’t look at him. I was disgusted, beyond disgusted, that this man had used me for sex and denied his son.

I wanted to vomit as I recalled all the things I had told him about myself, my ex, my relationships, my sexual experiences. I picked at the cuticles of my nails. I didn’t even lift my head as I pressed on.

“What else is a lie? What else haven’t you told me? Is your name even Chris?”

“Of course it is, of course! Why would I lie about my name?”

“Well, you lied about having a son. And I can’t find you social media.”

“Just because I’m not on social media doesn’t mean Chris isn’t my name.”

“Well, I don’t know what to believe anymore because I don’t trust a fucking word that you’ve said.”

There was a long pause and then he took a breath.

“There is more. You know how I told you that I used to be in the army and the federal police? Well, I haven’t ever been.”

“What the fu–!”

“I have friends, one’s in the army and one’s a police officer and it’s their stories that I’ve shared with you.”

“Then what the fuck is it that you do?”

“I do something like what I told you. I do work with CEOS, but I do marketing and communications, not security and risk.”

“That’s what I do. Why wouldn’t you tell me that? That’s my job. We do the same job! You didn’t think I’d get that? Why the fuck would you lie to me about your job? We do the same fucking job!”

“I don’t know. I just … guess I didn’t want you to know where I worked. I just … your life sounded so exciting when I read your profile and mine sounded so boring, maybe I guess I wanted to impress you. And when I told you those stories you seemed so interested, and I just got … carried away.

“You fucking lied! You lied about going to Afghanistan, about serving in the army. About being a police officer – I’m pretty sure that’s fucking illegal!”

“I understand. I understand it might take you a little time, but can we just talk about it?”

“No. No, I have nothing else I want to say to you.”

“Well, do you have other questions?”

“Nope, because I don’t believe anything you’re going to say to me. I don’t need to hear anymore.”

By now it was about 11pm and all I wanted was to get him out of my sight.

“I’m not going to kick you out because it’s late. There’s a blanket in the cupboard in the hall. You can sleep on the lounge.”

“I’d rather sleep in here, with you.”

“That is never going to happen. You and I are never sharing a bed again.”

“Then I’ll go.”

“Then go. Get out. I don’t ever want to see you again.”

He began to dress all the while apologising and telling me he never wanted to hurt me. I didn’t respond. I crawled into my cold bed and pulled the covers up to my chin and closed my eyes. His shadow, cast by my bedside lamp, fell over me.

“Can I call you later?  Can we talk tomorrow?”

“I have more self-respect that that. I don’t ever want to speak to you again.”

He knew better than to try and kiss me. I heard him walk away and out of my bedroom, closing the door softly. A few moments later, I heard the door of the apartment latch, and he was gone.

I didn’t even cry. That came later.

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