The Rainiest Season
And now, for something a little different from my usual posts… Last night I was in Hong Kong, reading an excerpt from my published story, “The Rainiest Season”, at a book launch party (that’s me in the photo, signing books). I thought I would share the same piece with all of you. It’s a very personal, true account of the breakdown of my marriage in the Philippines ten years ago.
This excerpt begins at the point where I’ve been alone for more than three months and I really, really want my American husband back. This is not an uncommon story among expat marriages in Asia, particularly in the Philippines, where sex comes cheap and is for sale pretty much everywhere. Girlie bars are an accepted part of the culture and are found in every tourist area. Many a husband succumbs to temptation, as did mine. Here’s how it played out…
As each week passes, I find it easier to live on my own, knowing that it is only a matter of time until Edward comes back. I am ready to put this terrible episode in our relationship behind us. Eventually, he will tire of playing Hugh Hefner and come back to me.
Sure enough, three and a half months after he walked out of our house, he texts me that he wants to come for a visit. I am jubilant but nervous. Everything must be perfect. I clean the house until it shines; I plan meals and shop. On the morning of his arrival I put on a new dress, jewelry, and mascara.
He arrives in the early afternoon, smiling. I notice that he looks happier and more handsome than he has in years. I hope this is because he has come home, but I am wary: he is carrying no luggage. I cannot upset him, cannot interrogate him, cannot accuse him. I cannot live in limbo anymore; I cannot live in borderline poverty. I must get my life back.
He compliments me on my appearance and the changes I have made to the house. I serve wine as lamb shanks braise on the stove. He receives text message after text message, and is quick to answer them. I cannot ask questions. Foreboding creeps into my chest.
I light candles and serve dinner and he praises my food. The texts continue and my anxiety grows. He says he is tired and asks if he can sleep in our bed upstairs.
“Of course,” I say. “Do you mind if I sleep there too?”
“That’s fine, sweetheart,” he says.
I climb into bed and seduce my husband, as I have planned, eager to show him that I can do anything those girls can do.
The next morning, I am triumphant. Take that, you whores! Might there be some irony in the victory?
At eleven o’clock his cell phone rings. When he answers, a woman’s voice is loud and angry. He is placating, using a tone of voice I have only ever heard him use for me.
“I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon, sweetheart,” he says into his cellphone.
“Who is that?” I yell.
“A friend, that’s all.”
“A friend? You don’t talk like that to a friend. Why is she calling you?”
“Okay, look, I didn’t want to upset you, but I’m living with her in Subic. It’s nothing serious, I’ve lived with a few girls in the past few months. I really just came down here to take back the electric oven.”
That was definitely one of life’s bizarre moments… If you’re interested in reading the whole story, “The Rainiest Season” is included in an anthology of 26 essays, titled How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia, edited by Shannon Young. The paperback version is available through amazon.com and is also available in all e-book formats.
Thanks for reading!