Emmaline Bovary’s come undone. She can’t understand how she ended up like this: 50, married to a man who lies about fucking his secretary and blames her for all the problems in their marriage, never pregnant but still managed to get stretch marks, bitter right down to her expensive citrus perfume, and more unhappy than any wealthy socialite has the right to be.
Her husband hasn’t kissed her on the mouth in 18 years. He’s kissed near her mouth—the corner of it, the dimple in her chin—but not her lips, not inside where she desperately wants him. Even when they fuck (not make love—not anymore), his hasty, dry-mouthed kisses only speckle her neck, her shoulders. He never meets her eyes—he stares at the embroidered pillowcase, the cream colored wall, never at her. When he’s finished he pulls out and walks naked to the guest room (they don’t sleep together—he says she kicks and he’s gotten tired of waking up with bruises). She squeezes her thighs together and tries to hold his come inside her just a little longer—she already feels it slipping out to pool and dry on the silk bedding.
She goes to the country club to eat lunch alone. Jack’s away on business; she thinks it’s Hong Kong this week. She imagines the petite, almond-eyed Chinese girls fawning over his westernized clothes, his smart haircut. She wonders how much of the sex he pays for and how much he can charm his way into getting for free. When she gets up to leave she bumps into Scott Lockhart—all bleached white teeth and insufferable cockiness. Some days, fucking the neighbor’s wife seems like a feasible option. On those days, she drinks until she can’t hold the cut-glass tumbler and the image of her tongue in Jeanette Lockhart’s cunt slowly fades away. She wonders if Scott has any idea she’s not paying attention but abandons the thought when he launches into a ten-minute description of a boil he’s just had lanced at his last doctor’s visit. She decides it’d be worth fucking Jeanette just to see the look on Scott’s face, the crushing blow to his masculinity. She wonders if he’d hit her and if she’d like it if he did.
She looks forward to her OBGYN appointments. She keeps going even though she hasn’t bled in two years. The doctor is handsome with kind eyes and thick fingers. She’s wet before he even gets out the KY. She wishes her hands were bigger so when she’s alone at night they’d fill her as much as his do. Her own fingers are thin and cold and make her feel even emptier when she’s thrusting them inside herself. She wishes he’d leave the speculum inside her just a little longer, spread it just a little wider. She reminds herself not to beg when he gets up to leave.
She gives the maid the rest of the day off and finishes the dishes herself. Her hands redden and chafe under the scalding water as she works the wire-brush fretfully across a cast-iron pot. The bristles scrape her knuckles with every stroke and she relishes the sting of detergent in the shallow cuts. As she works, she lets her mind drift to the night she met Jack. It was 1978 and she was spectacular-- tanned and glossy in a way only a 23 year old could be. The swirling neon lights of the oh-so-trendy nightclub bounced off her skimpy sequined top playfully. She was on her knees doing lines of coke off low, mirrored tables when he approached her. He was a fucking god in tight black pants and a half-buttoned shirt. She wanted to crawl into his chest hair and make a nest. She gave him a blowjob in the bathroom instead. Back then it didn’t matter if people thought she was a whore, didn’t matter if she spent all day drinking and all night fucking strangers for drugs and approval. But Jack was different. Jack had plans for his life. And those plans just happened to include a blonde trophy wife. She almost fit the bill. A quick wardrobe change, a brief trip to rehab and voila! Mrs. Emmaline Bovary was born. They were married in less than three months. She wonders if she ever loved him or just loved the idea of him. It doesn’t particularly matter now.
The house is so large it echoes at night. She doesn’t bother to turn on the lights—it’s harder to hate yourself in the dark. The heavy, wooden dining table feels cool under her raw, stinging hands. A glass of scotch sits at her elbow. She imagines knocking the drink to the tiled floor, imagines the sharp, shattering sound of priceless crystal, imagines the amber liquid staining her posh shoes. She downs it in one burning gulp and carefully sets the cup in the stainless-steel sink. The steep climb up flights of wide, carpeted stairs doesn’t seem worth the energy so she curls up on the Italian leather couch. Shivering in her tailored dress, she wishes she had a blanket—but sadly it would clash with the clean lines of the sparsely decorated living room. Her nipples ache in the chill of the room and she can only hope the morning will be warmer. It’s not likely.