This photo of an old cottage built in the 1920s could be the temporary home of Deepika. It’s secluded . . . and Deepika writes, laughs, creates, prays, and waits within its cozy walls.
Wake Me Up by Justin Bog
Once upon a time . . .
The anticipation kills him. He sits in his car, one of the many toys the legal profession bought for him. He wears a lighter, spring Italian suit with a crisp white shirt. He knows he looks good, masculine, his hair is styled conservatively, and his covetous green eyes scan the front of the house. She has no visible neighbors and he doesn’t worry about anyone noticing his presence. He knows he is not a brave man and his confidence can be his most helpful shield. He imagines Deepika taking his silk, sea-blue tie off, sliding it with a purring sound from around his neck. He’s felt this same anticipation many times in the past. He’s given signals to Deepika. He’s laughed a little too courteously when in her company, sparkling, flirtatious. She’s in her cozy little rental bungalow; spring daffodils and crocuses sprout from the earth close to the house. He imagines Deepika waits for him, spies him from within and beckons to him to take the next step.
Geoffrey never questions this feeling of anticipation. He doesn’t tell his wife, Madison, he’ll be late for dinner; she is teaching her night class and his plans remain unknown to her. He breathes deeply and takes the first step. Out of his black car, a big Cadillac Escalade – the car I tease him about being the choice for the Hip Hop Pimps and such an embarrassment to my budding environmental stance. I say: Just wait until I’m old enough to vote. Just you wait, Mr. Escalade. I always insist on playing Eminem or Nine Inch Nails, depending on my mood, when he and I drive together anywhere. The nihilism in both singers grows on my father and he starts listening to them when I’m not even in the car. I am Chris, Geoffrey Bullet’s son, and I can see my father as clear as a rerun in High Definition. I can play this image of him stepping loosely out of his Escalade over and over again even though I was never there.
Geoffrey is on the porch. His palms are cool. He’s not perspiring anywhere. And the door opens before he can knock.
“Geoff,” Deepika says. Her tone holds no surprise. Her arms swing straight without nervousness. Her delicate features almost make him stutter.
“I wanted to speak to you.”
“I can imagine what you want to say.” Deepika is going to make it easy for Geoffrey. She also craves his touch, maybe not as much as Geoffrey needs her, but there’s no way for him to know this. Why spoil the tableau?
She welcomes him into her home without another thought. It’s been too long since she’s had a man in her bed. She’s written about Geoffrey’s clumsy overtures throughout the winter. She even wonders if his wife knows he’s been flirting so dangerously with her. Deepika and my mother work in the same department at the University. They pass by each other in the halls on a weekly basis. Deepika is used to keeping secrets.
“I really don’t want to say all that much,” Geoffrey says with a confident smile. His wife, his son, the images of his wholesome, broken family, the family he deconstructs every time he steps out, we are nowhere in his mind.
Deepika grasps Geoffrey’s tie, close to the end and pulls him to her. Their lips meet and Deepika closes her eyes. Geoffrey keeps his open.
She leads him to her small bedroom. They are feverish with intent, quick to disrobe.
He loves her golden, butter-soft skin, from head to toe.
When they finish and she’s wrapped in her robe and he’s slipping his last dress shoe on, she doesn’t even ask him when they’ll see each other again; she knows he’ll be back.
This is a Tuesday.
On Saturday Geoffrey tells Madison he’s going to The Home Depot, something for the backyard, spring cleanup, he insists on getting.
“Do you want to take Chris?”
“He’ll just get bored.”
Maddy doesn’t press.
“I’ll pick up dinner too on the way home,” he says with an extra ounce of cheer in his voice.
He’s tangled up with Deepika within twenty minutes. Again and again, he professes and protests, protects, he doesn’t say he is falling in love with Deepika,
Love doesn’t cross Deepika’s mind. She’s content with the present situation. She does bring up playing it safe after their first encounter. Adults talk about safety, and Deepika views nothing they are doing as safe.
He massages her back, her feet. Once he even insists on shampooing her black hair, a cliché Deepika laughs at when she reads about it or sees the cliché on film. He can’t seem to get enough of her. After allowing him to do this as if playing out some scene in a simple movie Deepika knows Geoffrey will never be one of her serious lovers.
Like all things, when the secret is broken, when Madison finds out, when she asks Geoffrey if he’s having an affair and he confesses his indiscretion with slow tears at the corners of his eyes, my mother kicks him out of the house. Slamming doors, raging. Thank God I wasn’t home for this battle and when I get home and I ask where my father is, my mother doesn’t respond. She walks upstairs and shuts herself off in her bedroom. She doesn’t cry. She thinks: How can I always be this stupid? I’m not letting him back this time. Then she thinks of Deepika, his chosen one. This time anyway. It’s always someone a little off, someone with an exotic feature, someone Geoffrey chooses because they seem to contain a subtle power over him, someone Geoffrey is attracted to, and Madison should’ve guessed Deepika would be her husband’s perfect target for her directness alone.
In early summer, two months later, Geoffrey comes crawling back to Madison. Deepika is only a visiting teacher after all and wouldn’t want to plant roots here in Montana. Madison listens to his begging. She doesn’t even say the usual chestnut: This time things are going to be different.
“I love you,” Geoffrey does say. And he says it again and again that day. Needling.
“I know you do. Chris will be happy to know you are back.”
“I’ve been such a selfish bastard. I’m going to make it up to you.”
“I don’t want to ever hear about this again. Do you understand? I never want to hear you say you’re going to make this up to me, to us, because you can’t.”
“Never,” he whispers.
“Chris is aware of what you did but I didn’t tell him any specifics. I’ll leave your storytelling for him. He’s not a child anymore. He knows.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I wish I could believe that part.”
“I don’t deserve you.”
He’s saying all the things he’s said before. She’s allowing him to say all these things. For that last summer twilight, anyway, as a family tiptoeing around each other there is still some semblance of happiness but it is hard earned.
Three more sections of the psychological drama, Wake Me Up, are here on the blog: A Great Distance Parts 1-3. (Just click to read the first part.) I hope you read them and enjoy Deepika’s mindset, what she picked over and placed into her own fiction during the narrative of Wake Me Up.
Thank you for reading and please comment if you would like to see more original writing here on my writer’s life blog.
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