Bored in her marriage to a young lawyer and stifled by life as a mother, the restless Grace pursues her life of passion and excitement, whatever they may cost. —Written by Nadia Yusuf
It was 4:00 pm on a Friday when I shut down my computer. I had spent three hours on the net’s back pages looking through the adult service section and found nothing of interest. I stared aimlessly at the screen. All the messages were from horrible looking-old-men with craggy faces asking to be my sugar daddy.
I lean back in my chair and light a cigarette—I don’t want John to know that I’ve been surfing the net. He’s a good man, and I don’t want to upset him. But it still doesn’t change things; we married too quickly. I should have stayed single. Maybe things would be different.
John works long hours at his law firm to pay off the colonial style-house he just purchased. It has ten rooms and balconies off the second floor, and the common sitting-room opens on to a large garden, fragrant with every sort of flowers, and where a winding path ran down to the lake.
There were some legal troubles, I know for a fact, something about a bad investment; anyway, he lost a lot of money in the stock market.
He’s got a lot on his plate. But it isn’t ok, because I’m tired too, and I’d like to have a conversation about money that doesn’t end with him walking out of the room.
Of course, I don’t say that. I pretend to care. But I don’t.
Between John’s legal troubles and the baby, I am unusually, cranky. Sometimes I feel as though the walls are closing in on me, and there is no place to run.
I finally got Georgina down for her nap about an hour ago. She cried for hours. I can’t hate her. But she scares me. I almost called John at work to ask him to come home early because I could no longer look at her. Without even thinking, I shook her a little until she stopped. I don’t know why I did it. I guess it was my way of punishing her.
Agitated, I walked out of the nursery and locked myself in my room. I sat on the bed and tried to think about what I wanted. Life felt different. I thought I was going mad. Like it was God’s way of punishing me.
I know John is the problem. He’s away at the office for long hours, and I think he’s cheating. Every time his cell phone rings it’s the blond twenty-year-old assistant that works in his office. She’s always calling at odd times.
He laughs, of course, and says that I’m making this all up just to torment him.
You see, he thinks that I’m lonely and that I’m letting my imagination get the best of me.
Sometimes I think he’s right. So I will leave it alone and talk about something else.
But I know he’s lying. So, I find myself back on the personal ads section. This time, I’m looking for a sort of ladies’ man that isn’t afraid of danger. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with it. John has his little assistant. Anyway, I would like to hang out with my girlfriends more, but then they all started having babies, so we hadn’t seen each other for a while. We were all just too busy with our own lives.
John is home—now. He’s in a foul mood. He’s pissed off because of the new Persian rug I just brought. He says I spend too much money on frivolous things, and the new drapes for the living room were not necessary. I don’t say anything. He gets uptight because he thinks my living standards aren’t practical. He thinks I’m spending too much on the house. It’s the least he could do for leaving me alone. All I do is get up early, make coffee, and tend to Georgina. I go outside and walk around the yard. I walk to the lake. Walk back. Amble back inside the house and I sit down. I think that someday I will leave. I imagine what my life will be like without John and Georgina.
What is it with me? One minute, I’m desperate to be alone when he’s here, and when he’s gone, I can’t bear it. I can’t stand being alone with Georgina; she makes everything seem so permanent. I want to be someone else; who’s married to someone extremely important, and is a socialite that has tons of friends and travels the world.
In the beginning, I thought it would be like that with John. He said he was a top legal attorney, but he barely wins most of his cases. He even lied about having an enormous trust fund. And he’s useless. He thinks that one of his money-making schemes is going to make him into a multi-millionaire.
John’s down stairs watching TV with Georgina. I look out of my bedroom window; I see the garden and the flowers that are starting to bloom. Out of another, I get a view of the lake. I fantasize about taking on a lover; and how exciting my life would be with one. Even though I am embarrassed to be with John, I don’t think I should leave just yet. My husband is a good provider, and we do have a comfortable lifestyle. But at times, it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. I get depressed when I stay in this mindset for too long. Like there are no other options.
After John retires to bed, I got on the web and set up an account. My user name is Black Dollia. I’ve been obsessed with the name ever since I could remember. I thought what happened to her was wrong, having been mutilated and bisected at the waist. But the name always stuck, so I used it.
The next day at breakfast, while John bounced Georgia on his lap, I asked if we could get away for some time. To some romantic destination, and spend a month there. Maybe to the South of France, it seemed like we hadn’t been in ages. Just the two of us, I proclaimed, suggesting that my mom could watch the baby while we were gone.
John only laughed. “Now Grace,” he says. “You can’t be serious. She’s only but a few months old. We can’t just leave her with your parents.”
I think I’ve had enough of this. It’s just so wearing. Every time I think I can talk some sense into him and that we’re finally getting closer, there he goes throwing Georgia in my face. Sometimes I feel like she’s always going to come between us.
“It was a mistake,” I told my mom over the phone. “I should have never asked him.” Shit, I hate when I start thinking like this, but I don’t know how to stop, and so I say, “I should have never had her.”
Lately, I’ve been finding myself slipping deeper into depression as John’s very existence starts to frustrate me more and more. I was telling him about all the neurotic thoughts I was having, and the next day he came home with flowers because he thought that I was being dramatic about being a new mom.
At first, I didn’t think much of it, but now I believe he wants to trap me in this cold house and watch me suffer. He pretends to listen with interest, like when I tell him I’m hearing footsteps coming from the attic. And that I think someone is watching me. And then there’s the dream I keep having: I’m lying in bed, and I can’t move. It’s dark all around, and I’m screaming for someone to wake me up. But then I realize that no one is coming to my rescue.
“Jeez, Grace,” he says. “You haven’t been the same since the birth of Georgia. I think you’re freaking out over nothing. I’ll call Dr. Ezzat, now.” He looks up at me and smiles. “He’ll know what to do.”
Dr. Ezzat prescribes pills for my depression, and when I take them the pain disappears. It’s like getting wasted on drugs, but the euphoria helps me cope.
That evening, I watched John getting ready to head out, putting on his shirt and tie. He seemed distracted, probably because he lost a lot of money playing poker, the other night. I feel Jealous. As always, I envy him, the luxury of leaving the house whenever he wants. It was his idea to move us out to the suburbs, away from all of my friends. He wanted the largest home in the neighborhood, with 8,000 square feet of land. It’s good for the baby to be raised in open space, he says. I don’t argue, because I know what this is really about. He doesn’t trust me.
When we first met, I wasn’t looking for anything serious. I only cared about three things: drugs, money, and partying. I ran my own PR company and had a healthy social life. But now everything has changed. There is nothing to do here. The town is small, and all the moms do is talk about diapers and how perfect their children are. Nobody would believe me if I told them how much effort it takes for me to bond with my child. No. I don’t think they’d want to hear that. To be honest, I was hoping for a baby boy, but when Georgia was born, it just added to my depression. I thought that if John couldn’t make me happy at least having a son would.
Still, I’m fortunate to have Anna, our new nanny. She’s only here part-time to help out with the baby. She’s a Godsend. On the days she’s here, I can get some peace. Unfortunately, Anna can’t stay longer. She works other nannying jobs. I’ve tried hiring her full time, but she’s committed to the other families.
Georgina is crying again, so I take her out for some fresh air. I miss work. I miss having my own life. Two months ago, I was a different person. I was happy. But now she won’t stop. If it’s not the crying, it’s the sleepless nights. She just won’t sleep. I keep telling myself that everything is going to be fine while I’m trying to rock her to sleep. While I’m walking around the garden, patting her on her back. I keep telling myself that this is normal.
John on the other hand loves being a dad. When he’s home, he spends a great deal of time with Georgina. They have an unbreakable bond. I hate it sometimes, watching him dote over her, and always talking about wanting more children. I miss my independence, but I also miss what John meant to me before we got married when I was his mistress.
I enjoyed it. I loved it, in fact. I never felt guilty. It was the best sex I ever had.
Everything seems to be off when John’s away. Georgina has been crying again non-stop, and it seemed as though she acts like this only when John leaves the house. It’s so hard to hear myself think when she cries for hours. Sometimes I pretend not to hear the sounds coming from the nursery. I close my bedroom door and sit at my desk, searching the web, searching for my escape.
Later that night, I’m lying next to John, listening to the air conditioner. Georgina fell asleep an hour ago. But I can’t sleep. It’s hot. So I tiptoed downstairs and sat by my computer. I’m getting anxious. There’s no message in my inbox. I’m starting to think that I might not find anyone. But I’m still hopeful. The lure of emailing a complete stranger is just the kind of excitement that I need. Anyway, I’ve decided to leave John. The sex just doesn’t cut it anymore. I want to sleep with another man. I have this incredibly amazing feeling that I’m going to find him online.
I take a deep breath then slowly let it out. I missed the old me. When I was traveling the world; and hanging out with influential people. You see, I had grown up fast; I lost my virginity when I was fifteen. I had spent a great part of my teenage years in a frustrating search for fulfillment. I had tried everything, from dating men to women. Which, led to an awkward affair with one of my dad’s friends, and into a world of eroticism.
When the relationship fizzled, I became a webcam model and made a shit load of money showing off my tits. I was really fucked up then. So when a friend of mine told me about the sex clubs, I was into it. Unlike S&M clubs, where no sex actually occurs, this was the real thing. I was blown away. There were couples—having sex—right where everyone could see. People would either enjoy this experience or be repulsed by it.
Eventually, I had to stop. I couldn’t keep that lifestyle up. I met John through a friend, and it was around the time I had left the nightlife. He was married and I think he knew a little about my reputation—but not all of it. I don’t think he would have left his wife for me if he did. I was a different person around him, wholesome. The kind of woman he wanted.
John didn’t go into work, today. I made him dinner and we stayed up watching action movies. I told him I was tired and wanted to go to bed but he insisted I stay and finish the film with him. “I’ll go with you once the movie is over,” he says.
I sat there looking into space.
That night, I had a dream that I was with a dark-haired man and John caught us together. I went to a restaurant, and he met me there, and the guy was really charming, and we started kissing.
“What’s going on?” John demanded.
“Nothing,” I said.
“I want the truth.”
“I’m in love with him. I want a divorce.”
I woke up.
“You were having a nightmare,” John said. “Come here.”
He reaches out for me. “Not now,” I say. “I feel sick.
I got up, walked downstairs, and flipped on my laptop. Message pending then flashed up again—immediately.
Message from Mr. Wonderful
Hey! Do you want to talk?
Message Black Dollia
Not now, my husband is home. Later!
The next Morning, I messaged Mr. Wonderful. He was single with no kids. When I asked him what he did for work, he said he worked for a talent agency and was trying the site out. He said he was a private man but had no problem video chatting. We both didn’t have a profile picture, so I didn’t know what he looked like. For all I knew, he could be some kind of serial killer. But the excitement of not knowing spurred me on. I was intrigued.
We texted for a bit until I heard footsteps coming from upstairs. I logged off.
Afterward, I couldn’t get him out of my thoughts. I needed to know more about the man behind the screen.
I spent the rest of the day with Georgia in the garden. She seems to cry less when she’s outside. When John got home he didn’t say much. He mentioned something about a client over dinner then went back into his office to work.
I waited until everyone was sound asleep before messaging Mr. Wonderful back. He asked me to turn on the Webcam so he could get a better look. He wasn’t handsome like John. But he was sexy. Square face. Dark hair. Lean and muscular. He had my full attention. I put my hand on my breast and started touching myself.
I’ve been seeing Mr. Wonderful secretly for weeks now. John is out with Georgia somewhere, and I have the house all to myself. There’s an unread message from him waiting in my inbox.
Message Mr. Wonderful
I haven’t been able to get you off my mind. Are you alone?
Message Black Dollia
Yes. Only for a little, my husband will be back shortly.
Message Mr. Wonderful
Can I see you, turn on your Webcam.
(I turn on the Webcam)
Message from Black Dollia
How is this?
(I potter around, showing off my body.)
Message Mr. Wonderful
Now open your legs and move your hand down.
Message Black Dollia
Let’s meet in person.
Message Mr. Wonderful
Soon, darling. I want to play a little longer.
I’m about to do what he asks when I hear someone at the front door. John is back with Georgia and their heading up the stairs.
Message from Black Dollia
I can’t now. I have to go!
It’s been a month since I heard back from Mr. Wonderful; he hasn’t answered any of my messages. John is acting differently. He took me to The Hamptons for a weekend and left Georgia with my parents. It was mid-summer and beautiful out. We lit a fire. We had wild sex and rented movies. Then we went to the Palm for dinner. I said something, and he said, “You look beautiful this evening. I can’t wait to get you back to the hotel.”
After we made love, I turned on my back and lit a cigarette. I was going to end it with Mr. Wonderful. I thought he was sexy. And maybe a good fuck. But that’s all.
John and I are back on. It’s like when we first met when he was into sex toys and rough sex. I think he knows about Mr. Wonderful. But won’t come out and say it—I had just finished touching myself when he came downstairs last month, and found me giggling with Mr. Wonderful over Webcam. I quickly turned it off and just looked at him. He stood there looking at me for a long time and walked off.
We’ve had a good week since we got back from The Hamptons. I’ve stayed away from my computer. It all feels like a blur now. I’m glad I never met up with that guy; it would have been a bad mistake. Anyway, I’m happy with John. He stopped badgering me about having more children, and Georgina cries less.
A couple of weeks later, John and I are watching television when the news comes on. I turn up the the volume when the newswoman starts talking about a serial killer that’s been on the loose for quite some time. They’ve arrested someone. The killer kidnapped, raped, and murdered numerous young women and girls since the late 2000s. He lured women from the web to hotels where he’d rape and dismembered their bodies. His name is Ryan Duncan.
I stand and inch closer to the television as an uncomfortable lump in my throat appears. I take a deep breath, and suddenly it’s hard to think straight. A face flashes on the screen. It’s Mr. Wonderful! I take a step back and trip over the heel of my foot as I look on with disbelief.
“Grace, what’s wrong, are you alright?” John asks.
“I’m alright,” I say, looking over my shoulder. Then I kiss him on the mouth. I’m trying to play cool. But all I can think about is the emails. I have to get rid of all the evidence. Now!
I make a beeline to my laptop and lock myself in our bedroom. I was shaking, the freaking computer wouldn’t load fast enough, and John was knocking on the door. When it finally loaded, I could see all the illicit conversations and my naked body strewn all over the screen for the entire world to see. It was all there. John was pounding louder, now. With my heart slamming against my chest, I turn to look at the door, and now he’s saying that he’s going to break it down.
“What is the matter?” he yells. “For God’s sake, what are you doing!”
I lick my lips and I’m about to delete my account when I notice my inbox has an unread message. Mr. Wonderful! He must have wrote it before he got caught. And suddenly I can’t’ move. I can’t breathe.
Then he says—very quietly. “Open the door, Grace.”
“I’m coming,” I say, hurriedly.“ I just need a moment.”
Of course, John picks the lock open. He stopped short by the door. I turn to look up at him, then taking a deep breath, I press down on the delete button.