The reality of his current circumstances did not quite match the image he had often daydreamt of, but it was an awfully close facsimile. He had access and the gift of Audrey’s dependency, which was more than enough material to work with, not that he intended to manipulate the situation to selfishly serve his desires. Marshall was here strictly because Audrey needed him to be. This is what he would have to remind himself of on a regular basis, because otherwise it would be enormously difficult to resist such sweet temptation. He would make himself comfortable but would resist the urge to grow overly cozy with a set-up that had a vaguely defined but definite expiration date.
His cell phone buzzed, indicating that someone had sent him a text message. Minutes earlier he had left a voice message for Chase, who may have been too busy at the moment to return the call but could not resist giving a quick written response to his startling news. Chase liked to joke that he was working on a book chronicling Marshall’s eternal quest to swing his relationship with Audrey from the platonic end of the spectrum to the end that incorporated a naked exchange of bodily fluids. He could be quite imaginative in his prose but probably would not have come up with a predicament as unlikely as what had transpired in real life. Marshall pressed keys on his cell phone to reveal Chase’s latest wisecrack. As it turned out the message was far from humorous and the sender was not Chase.
Heard about your new living arrangement. More proof of what you’d surely still deny to my face if given the chance. Must go now. My man is waiting for me. Enjoy your ready made family. You’ll learn the truth someday. She will never love you.
Marshall deleted the message and flipped his phone shut. He would not allow the biting words to mess with his head. For someone who claimed to have moved on to a new and more fulfilling relationship, Sarah did an impressive job of keeping tabs on him and expressing disdain for his every action. He briefly wondered whether the man in her life was fictitious, then since he did not really care either way, proceeded to reflect on the last sentence of the message. It was no doubt spitefully intended, but that did not remove the possibility of its being true. Audrey’s love was not guaranteed. Happily ever after did not make its way to everyone’s doorstep. Most people made due with whatever came along for however long it lasted. They surrendered fairy tale hopes for cookie cutter lives that they could make peace with. If it looked like happiness to those looking from the outside, success was claimed. But a certain percentage of people routinely opted for chaos at the expense of the appearance of tranquility. Perhaps for them the appeal of the race was stronger than that of the finish line, the thrill of the chase far more important than actually catching up. Was the disputable fact that Audrey would never love him in the most gut wrenching definition of the word precisely what made her the perfect woman for him?
His phone buzzed again, leaving the question unanswered for now. He had asked it of himself often without being able to resolve anything, so this interruption of his thoughts could not be blamed. He expected that Sarah had come up with some additional choice words but instead found a short message from Chase on the miniature screen.
No need to worry about safe sex so live and love dangerously.
“Marshall, could you get me a glass of water.”
The request came from Audrey who had awoken from her nap and was summoning him via the intercom system they had set up. Somewhat ironically it was a baby monitor that they used for their one way communication. Then again, one way communication was probably a fitting match for a one way love affair even if the directions were opposite each other. Since he could not respond into the receiver Audrey would have to trust that her message had been delivered and her request would soon be accommodated. Such trust was well founded. Where else would Marshall be but there for her, at the ready to quench her thirst while his own lips remained parched for her kisses?