In preparation for an article I was writing, I had interviewed 9 divorced women – each with their own tale to tell. While writing the article, I thought of every single one of them and would hold them in my thoughts while I grieved for them. This is a series of fictional stories, inspired by their lives and strength.
Any resemblance to real persons or other real-life entities is purely coincidental. All characters and other entities appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental.
Olive sat at the table opposite Charlie, both of them fiddling with wooden chopsticks the waiter just brought to their table, waiting patiently for their ordered items.
They were eating at Sushiro – Charlie’s favourite Japanese outlet at Tiong Bahru plaza, for the 3rd time this week.
“Oliiiiii, you’re sulking again,” Charlie playfully knocks Olive’s elbow off the table, the one she had been using to prop her chin on.
To Charlie, Olive is an open book. Whether she was upset, frustrated, tired or happy, her mood of the day would be completely written on her face. And all Charlie wanted was to make Olive smile – even if it was just at a lame joke. Her smile….. Was the most beautiful thing.
“I’m sorry….im doing it again, aren’t I?” Olive said sheepishly, as she straightened her back and sat up straight to face Charlie.
“It’s just that…. Its been 3 days since he’s been home. I’ve tried messaging him, calling him. I’ve even called his two friends Ben and David. It just feels like he’s avoiding me.”
“Of course he’s avoiding you. You’ve just told him about me. No man likes to find out his wife is cheating on him” Charlie says with measured words while taking a plate of salmon belly sushi off the conveyor belt.
Sushiro is Charlie’s favourite restaurant because customers can see exactly what they’re going to eat before they select it. The restaurant puts servings of sushi and sashimi onto coloured plates, and a conveyor belt that goes around the restaurant parades the delectable items across the customer’s tables.
“I’m not. He’s the one who’s been cheating on me with her since who knows when,” Olive felt heat rising to her face. Immediately, flashbacks of when she saw photographs of her husband kissing and hugging another woman invaded her vision. The images were so clear. When she first confronted her husband, he had denied it and said the woman was just a friend and they were just fooling around.
“Can’t I just be so comfortable with a friend that I can be physically close with her without being attracted to her? Our friends dared us to kiss so we did. I just didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d make such a big fuss about it.” He had glared at her with such intensity and made her feel like she was the unreasonable one.
After that fight, Olive’s husband stayed out for 3 nights and didn’t come home.
Her initial anger waned into desperation, and she gave into the gaslighting. “I’m sorry dear, I shouldn’t have doubted you. It’s my fault for being so insecure. Come home please? I can’t sleep without you around….” She had pleaded in a message to her husband.
Over the next 8 months, Olive’s husband would repeat this again and again, spend nights away from home and make Olive feel as if she was the one at fault.
Pulling her mind away from her memories, Olive looked up at Charlie to see a pair of eyes furtively looking at her.
Charlie was trying to ask her a question, and she knew it. “What is it?” Olive asked.
“If you say you’re not cheating on your husband……then what is this? What are we doing now?” Charlie asked, now looking away and fiddling with chopsticks.
Somehow, Olive knew this question was coming. She knew she could no longer avoid talking about them. What was….them anyway? Did she have feelings for Charlie? Or was she just lonely?
“I don’t know Charlie. I really don’t. I really enjoy your company….and I know that I like you enough to want to get to know you more. I’m just really…confused. But either ways, I don’t think this is considered cheating lah…..because you know.” Olive ends her sentence awkwardly.
“Because what? We’ve spoken on the phone every day for the last 3 months. We’ve met each other’s friends. We’ve even….been physically intimate. Because what Olive?” Charlie asks, now looking directly into her eyes.
When Olive didn’t reply for what felt like an eternity…..Charlie asked a question hoping Olive would disagree with.
“Is it because, I’m a woman?”