To the Men Who I’ve Talked Out of Leaving Their Wives

By Amber Wong

July 25, 2022

To the Men Who I’ve Talked Out of Leaving Their Wives

When you called, I was careful not to interrupt your soliloquy. Sometimes the best truth comes in fragments, unguarded bits of prose, an ugly tone or misshapen phrase that reveals much. Words, unfiltered, somehow arranged themselves into a story, and even without sturdy markers of time and place and who exactly you were worried about hurting, by the time you’d exhausted yourself you always came back to one question. Should I leave her?

That broke the spell, and I’d momentarily wonder, “Why ask me?” I was never the other woman. I wasn’t your daily confidant, your sage sister, your therapist. Other than faithfully reading Ann Landers and Dear Abby, and once authoring a short-lived advice column in junior high, I had zero qualifications. You opened your address book. You chose me.  

You, I hadn’t seen since high school, when we’d meet daily for attendance period. You, I hadn’t seen since college, when we’d bonded over hating water chemistry. You, I hadn’t seen in over a year, even though you were right around the corner. Before you called, I’d imagined your lives as perfect.

My divorce struck like a mistimed clash of cymbals, a shriek of feedback in my favorite song. This was the ultimate irony: my husband had no one like me in his life when he left me.

Thirty years on, he effuses to me about every new girlfriend. To him, I offer no advice.

Amber Wong
is an environmental engineer in Seattle who writes about culture, identity, and hazardous waste cleanup, although usually not all in the same essay. Her work has appeared in Fourteen Hills, Craft, Pangyrus, Under the Gum Tree, Creative Nonfiction, and other literary journals and anthologies.

Image by mike courtesy of Adobe Stock

comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow