If you could powder up a storm and give it diamonds you’d call it Emily. Who but me would know that her hair was once untucked beneath the Midwest sun and that her breaths were girlish laughter instead of sultry sighs? It had escaped me then but her outer glow was the trophy of New York, at least to those blessed enough to kiss her hand and get tipsy on her conversation. I don’t think she’s ever fluttered her lashes so much or pouted those rosy lips until she danced across marble floors and broken hearts. And God how tempting she was, how seductively slender and impossibly charming that girl could be. Most would assume that shame had left her after girlhood, but I should know better. Beyond the champagne nights and glittering jewels was the home we had to come back to. The home where those heels fell messily on the floor as she whined drunkenly for her towel to wipe off her sultry mask. “What a darling wife!” they’d say, “You’ve got the best looking girl this side of Manhattan!”. Nobody knows that Emily has freckles or dying eyes or sickly breath. They don’t know that she can only stand to make love when she’s tipsy or that her face was actually more beautiful back in Iowa than under the chandeliers in Paris on our honeymoon. Nobody knows that she’s shattered as many wine glasses as she has hearts or that her only talents are for petty conversation and making the world believe she’s anything but a pretty face.
You might ask why I am still her husband, why I still tell her I love her and carry her to our bed instead of letting the other men take her in a cab. If anything, it’s because I am a fool who believed that the capacity to change is just as great in other people as it is in me. And perhaps it is because I feel responsible for bringing her this life of endless luxury and adornment. Some would call it pity as solid as the gold on that little manicured finger, but my pride will not allow it to be admitted so easily. I like to think that I am here to save her. I have to save her from herself for every night that she threatens to jump off the balcony or every morning that she tearfully insists that I am leaving early to go see “that ugly redhead downtown”. If only she’d remember how many mouths she’d kissed that weren’t mine or how many promises she made to stirred men in the upstairs bathroom. It is a cycle of destruction and at times I wished she’d just leave as often as she threatened to. But the truth is I am scared for her as well as of her, and it may be why I am trapped here. It may be why I’ve been lying to myself for 5 years. The girl I once loved was killed by shimmering fantasies and cheap liquor. And I think that may be the hardest thing to swallow.