Trapped by The Mouse
The farther we got from the only life I’d ever known, the deeper the realization dawned that I had no idea how to be anyone other than who my mother raised me to be. This compliant, unquestioning woman, who was everything for everyone else, but had no one in her corner. I didn’t want to be that anymore, but I also didn’t see how not to be.
“You never did say why you were headed to Orlando.” His voice penetrated my thoughts. “I’m not trying to pry, but I’ve watched you stare out that window for the past hour, looking like you’re about to cry, then pushing your emotion away. I just thought maybe you’d like to change the subject in your head for a while.”
I just shook my head in disbelief.
“That may be the nicest thing a person has ever said to me.” And I meant that.
Mostly because I actually believed he meant it.
He blushed and rubbed his hand along the back of the neck.
“We’re flying buddies. Just keeping up morale.”
“Of course.” We both smiled because we both knew he was lying.
He was just a damn sweet man, but I wouldn’t know how to begin to change the thoughts in my head so, alas, his cause was a lost one.
“You going to be okay?” He narrowed his gaze on me, but honestly, it was welcome.
I craved his heat, his energy, his attention. Even if it was uncomfortable.
“I suppose it depends. I’m broke, somewhat homeless, and I found my husband of nearly twenty years in bed with our nineteen-year-old dog walker.” I pressed my lips together in some semblance of a tense smile.
“That sucks.” He looked like he was about to say something more, but I held up my hand to stop him.
“No. No. It gets better. Wait for it…”
He smirked and mimed zipping his lips.
I smiled and drew a breath, ready to tell him why I was really on that plane, although I could hardly believe I was.
A strange sense of power surged through my body, thinking about speaking the words to a stranger. It would mortify both Charles and my mother, and for no other reason than that…
“When I walked in on them, in our bed, he was tied up. She was wearing some kind of cat costume.”
I held up a finger and shook my head.
I had to tell it all.
“A cat costume that covered everything but her tits and coochie.” I drew a breath and finished. “She had a riding crop... and his bare ass was bright red.”
There was absolute silence.
I relived the moment again.
Granted, I was stunned. I mean, who wouldn’t be, but I didn’t care either.
I watched my flying buddy struggle, the humor clearly visible in his gaze.
I wanted to condemn him just on principal. It’s what I knew to do.
When he could hold his laughter no longer, I shook my head in judgment and just stared at him like I was better than him.
“It was the worst, most humiliating moment of my entire life.” I attempted to gain sympathy by impressing upon him the gravity, but it already didn’t seem as bad as it had in the moment.
“I’m sorry.” He tried to look serious. “Seriously, I mean, that suuuuuuuucks. I’m sure you didn’t deserve that and I am sorry.”
He looked away.
It was so I wouldn’t see him smirking.
I wanted to be righteously indignant. I picked up the inflight magazine and smacked his arm with it, but then… I couldn’t help myself. I laughed.
It just bubbled up from nowhere and there it was, laughter.
And no small amount.
I laughed hard.
It was like a rain that ends a drought, a miracle.
“See, that’s better.” He looked back at me with a smile.
He had, hands down, the best smile I’d ever seen in my life.
Maybe it was simply that his smile was genuine, and when he smiled at me, I felt like everything really was going to be okay.
“I have no idea what to do now.” And there it was. My truth.
And it was pathetic.
“Uh… don’t you file for divorce and take him for every couture dollar he has?” He charmed me with yet another smile.
“That’s not really how it’s done.” I shook my head.
“Ah.” He looked away.
I looked back out the window and wondered what I really thought this little tantrum run to Florida was going to accomplish.
“I was just so shocked.” I started to speak aloud, not even sure if I was speaking to him or myself. “I mean, I’ve seen a lot of things over the years, but not in my own bedroom.”
“I can imagine.” He kept his response brief, which allowed me permission to keep rambling.
“I mean, it’s not like he was with a child, or an animal… although…” I couldn’t finish my thought before I started to laugh again, this time with a bit of an hysterical edge.
“He was sort of with both.” He finished my thought for me, which only made me laugh more.
“Right?” The insanity of it was ridiculous. “I mean, we were already married a year when she was born.”I thought about that for a second.
“Ewwwww, she could have been our own kid… I mean… not like that… he’s not a perv… well, I mean, clearly he is, but not like… oh my god!”
He reached out and touched my arm softly.
“It’s okay. I got what you meant.”
I wondered how wrong it would be to collapse on him. To just lay my head on his chest and stay there.
Age was such a stupid big deal in my set. Every woman I knew was always running off to every corner of the world to get the latest treatments, all the while the men were sleeping with younger and younger women.
I mean, yeah I did it too, chasing youth, but I never enjoyed it and that should count for something. Maybe if I never went back, I could let myself age like a normal person. I imagined freedom with that.
“I should have just stayed put, looked the other way. I do that for everyone else.” I drew away from him because his energy was messing with all my systems. “I should have just made the best of it. That’s what everyone I know would do. If I’m truthful, I can’t see myself doing anything but that in the end. So why am I here on a flight to gatorville?”
He leaned so close and drew my attention back to him with a whisper.
“Maybe you could have someone go kick his ass first?”
I smiled and lowered my gaze to my new boots.
“That would make me feel better.” He continued. “Oh! Maybe the dog walker could do it?”
He waited a beat and fought back a snicker.
“No, that won’t work. Apparently he likes that.” His eyes sparked with amusement.
We both laughed.
“You’re terrible!” I tried to act appalled, but I think my laughter shredded my holier than thou cred.
“Laughter can be a life saver in a situation like this. You’ve clearly got some thinking to do, but I can’t imagine anyone blaming you for needing to get away while you figured this all out.” His thumb caressed my forearm in an unbearable tenderness.
“You haven’t met my mother. Running away is not what we do.” I was somewhat ashamed of my choice, but in the moment…
“I don’t see this as running away. This is extreme self-care, and me being here today, maybe it’s kismet.”
My breath locked for a second. I had to close my eyes.
When I opened them, I was staring straight into his. They were the color of sea glass and it was like you could see all the way to heaven in them.
“Let me explain. I’m not making a profound romantic gesture. I know you girls don’t like that.” He assured me.
I had to laugh.
“We girls? I think you just did the offensive thing you were trying to avoid.”
He was adorable.
“Well hell. I apologize. Anything I say from here is only going to make me sound like the old guy I am.”
I narrowed my gaze on him.
“You’re like what, thirty?” I folded my arms across my chest. Age was not something we discussed in Manhattan… unless it was behind your back, of course.
“I’m thirty-seven. So probably a good decade older than you.” He seemed serious.
I shook my head but couldn’t deny the swell of happiness sweeping through my veins.
“I already told you I’ve been married nearly twenty years. So you’re saying I got married at seven?”
His mouth opened and his eyes seem to search for a response somewhere in the cabin.
“Oh right.” He looked away and rubbed the back of his neck beneath where his long hair was held in a loose band.
“It’s just—” He looked back at me “—I’m going to sound crazy, but something about this feels like destiny. Maybe I’m supposed to help you figure all this stuff out. Maybe I’m supposed to give you the support to not back down. Maybe I’m supposed to—"
Make mad passionate love to me so that when I do return to my world I’ll have memories to live on until I die a ripe old age in Malta?
“—I just hate to think of you all alone in this.”
I think I missed part of that, but he is fucking adorable.
Have I mentioned that yet?
“I don’t know about destiny, but you’ve already been kinder to me than possibly anyone I’ve ever known.”
And sadly, I meant that.
“That makes me sad.” He looked like he was about to cry.
I shrugged and tried to make light of it.
“It’s not a big deal. I have a blessed life.” And that is what I said... every time.
I always said it.
It was habit.
It just was.
And it gave the other person an out. They could smile understandingly and tell me it was true.
So I waited for him to do just that. Only, turns out, he isn’t everyone.
“Maybe we have different definitions for blessed?” He raised a brow at me, then softened the challenge with a half-smile.
It felt like a gut punch with a side of caress.
I didn’t know how to react. This is not how this is done.
“I don’t know what...” I had nothing.
“Well, in my world, blessed means you have a roof over your head, food on the table, and people in your corner that love you.” He spoke like he was an authority on the subject.
People said stuff like that because it was expected, but he didn’t really think that, did he?
“Well, two out of three ain’t bad. Right?” I tried to sound cute, adorable, endearing. Not sure I hit any of those marks.
“I’m not sure that sentiment applies in this case. I think everyone should get the trifecta.” He was serious now, and that was almost the worst part.
He felt sorry for me and I got angry.
“I don’t need pity. My choices. My consequences. I’m fine.” I gave him my hard edge and iced him out.
Although maybe my real problem was that I felt sorry for me.
Trapped by the Mouse is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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