This is just a flash story. It is really neither a RAAC nor a BTB. If you can't live with that. and if you are not a fan of stories that do not provide answers to every question raised, you won't like this one either.

I can't believe I am here. I'm only half listening to the court ordered marriage counselor droning on and on about rules, expectations, and other drivel. As I look around her rather drab office with the mandatory dark oak cases filled with books that I'm sure she's never read. Hell she probably couldn't even pronounce half the titles. The room is decorated in therapy chic with the usual diplomas and other related nonsense. And yes there is an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser operating in the corner. At least her soothing water therapy rock piece was out in the waiting area.

My dentist has one of those too. I'm not sure if the noise it makes is designed to hide the sound of drills or screaming patients. I asked once and they told me it was to calm the patients in the waiting area. My thoughts were along the lines of, maybe if you didn't make me wait 45 minutes past my appointment time before you lowered yourself into acknowledging my presence, I wouldn't need calming!

We sat across from the counselor's ornate dark walnut desk in two wing back chairs that besides being uncomfortable had to be at least thirty years old. At some point I'm sure her office was stylish but now it looked like she outfitted it from a Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Oops, she just asked me a question. I looked up and met her eyes.

"Mr. Johnson this is important are you even paying attention?"

"No I'm really not, can you repeat the question please?"

A clearly exasperated Dr. Meredith Wickenburg, obviously not being used to honest responses gave a deep sigh and a look that reminded me of my fifth grade teacher when I wasn't paying attention to her. By the way, how is it that a doctor who expects to be taken seriously wants you to call her Mere, emphasis on the second 'e.' I mean really, if you want to be called Marie just spell your fucking name right!

"You know Mr. Johnson not only is your attendance here required by the court, your cooperation and participation is also. I remind you that if I report back to the judge that you aren't following the expected protocols he can hold you in contempt."

What the fuck are expected protocols I say to myself. "I understand that Dr. Wickenburg." I have no intention of ever calling her Mere. And another thing, why the hell do I live in one of the only few states that can require counseling! I'll have to be careful to make sure I only say these types of things in my head because although I have nothing but contempt for what's happening to me, I don't want to go to jail sitting next to a bunch of guys who are there because the robbed a liquor store, or stole a million dollars and have to say that I'm in for not cooperating with Mere.

"I understand Doctor Wickenburg. So you better repeat the question so the judge doesn't get mad at the both of us."

"Mr. Johnson....."

"I would prefer that you address me as Frank."

"But your name is Thomas?'

"I know but I've always liked the name Frank."

"Mr. Johnson....."

I interrupted her dismissively with a short wave of my hand. "Okay, okay. I'm being a jerk and I'm sorry, but I'm sure you understand that not...want... to be here! However I promise to be good from this point forward, please I'm begging you, just repeat your question."

"Very well then, is it all right if I call you Tom?"

"Actually I prefer Mr. Johnson, you and I aren't going to be friends. I'm not being difficult, but I would consider it a favor if you called me Mr. Johnson."

"Okay, Mr. Johnson my question was simply, although I now have a great deal of trepidation in asking it, what are your expectations of these sessions?"

I had to give a short laugh and I thought I saw a twinkle in the doctor's eyes when she said it. Maybe I will like her after all. "Honestly, and I'm being sincere here; my expectations are that at the end of these sessions I will be divorced." That increased the noise level of the constant wailing from my wife sitting to my left, significantly.

Doctor Wickenburg started to say something, but thought better of it. Perhaps she was a quick learner. She turned to my wife Ruby and asked the same question of her.

My hopefully soon to be ex-wife, who hadn't stopped crying the whole interminable time we have been seated, went into a rather long soliloquy about how she made a mistake, she wants a chance to show me how much she loves me; blah, blah, blah.

My mind drifted back to the incredibly stupid reason I am forced to be sitting in this chair. My wife of 13 years, the college educated mother of our three elementary school age children, decided that she needed to experience sex with another man. Specifically Chandler Bisbee, a two bit actor on a night time soap opera that she was passionate about. I mean he wasn't even the star of the stupid show.

We were out to dinner for no special reason other than I could tell that being the full time stay at home mom and kiddie referee thing was getting to her, so I got an overnight babysitter, namely her parents, for the kids and a hotel room for us so we could drink and not have to worry about driving. I wanted to treat her to a nice quiet adult meal, some conversation, and maybe even a little dancing. I was never really a very good dancer and don't enjoy it at all, but Ruby was a great dancer and loved it. I have even taken dance lessons so that at least I wouldn't embarrass her out on the floor and I have gotten to the point where I can hold my own. And we were having a great time until that shithead Bisbee showed up.

Dinner was over and we had moved from the hotel's four and a half star restaurant into the club room. We were on the dance floor waltzing to a slow number with my wife's head resting on my shoulder. Besides thanking me for a great evening she was whispering all the obscene things she was going to do to me later in our room, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to find what I suppose was a handsome man about my age who was staring directly into my wife's eyes.

"Mind if I cut in."

It wasn't a question and he never looked in my direction he just started dancing away with my wife. I was in a state of shock as they slipped further from me. I stood there and felt like everyone was staring at me. All I could think of at the time was to go back to the table and sip my Jim Beam Black on the rocks. I really didn't want to make a scene. About 45 minutes and several songs later my wife returned alone to our table and put the straw in her daiquiri to her lips and took a long sip. She acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

"So that was Chandler Bisbee." She stated simply.

"Who the hell is Chandler Bisbee?" I asked in a barely controlled manner.

"He's a famous actor and he is on my favorite TV show."

"If he was famous I would know his name, and you have about nine favorite shows!" I was trying hard to keep it together.

Though I was seething inside I didn't want to cause a disturbance and besides I felt there was still a slight chance that Ruby was still going to teach me a new position that she referred to as the 'wheelbarrow' later on that night in our hotel room. She quickly dispelled me of that thought.

"Whew, I really worked up a thirst out there." She was fanning her face with her free hand. "Chandler is such a good dancer." She stated wistfully.

As I stood up and offered her my hand I said, "That's great sweetheart but can we finish the dance now that he rudely interrupted?" She never budged from her chair.

"Listen honey, I already promised Chandler that I would save the rest of the evening's dances for him."

"You did what?" I screamed.

"Sit down Thomas you are making a scene." She was looking in all directions furtively. "The whole club doesn't need to know our business."

I couldn't help myself, although dumbfounded, I sat down and starting looking around too. Then I locked eyes on the smarmy bastard sitting alone across the floor. He had a smirk on his face as he stared back at me.

If I had more time, and wasn't in a state of shock I am sure I could have come up with something more eloquent, but all that came out was, "huh?"

"Listen Tommy, I love you and I know you love me. I will be yours forever but I am going to be with Chandler this weekend. When I get home Sunday evening I will go back to being your faithful and loving wife. This is just something I have to do for me. I promise you it will be a one-off. If I had more time I would try to explain myself better, but Chandler is anxious to leave." When she finished her statement she leaned in and kissed me on the cheek and stood to leave.

My brain finally kicked back in and I reached out and gripped her forearm, very firmly. "Listen carefully to me Ruby; I am only going to say this once. There is still some hope for our marriage right now, but if you walk over to him, I will file for divorce come Monday morning."

"Oh Tommy don't be so melodramatic." She gave me that disdainful limp wrist wave women do when they are done talking about something. "You aren't going to break up our family over this. You're seriously going to become a part time dad living in a one bedroom apartment, and trying to survive on about 30% of what you make now, over something as insignificant as this? Act like an adult and we will talk when I get home Sunday evening." She was very dismissive of me.

And then she walked away.

By the time Ruby got home very late Sunday evening, the kids had been at her stunned parent's house since Saturday afternoon and I was long gone. By long gone I mean 150 miles away, unpacked and camped out in my brother's basement. By mid morning Monday I had met with a family law attorney, had him start my divorce petition, and completed all the tasks I was directed to do by him.

My attorney had warned me that my wife's assessment of what my life would become when divorced wasn't far from the truth. He confidently stated though that her assessment of the percentage of my income I would keep was off. He thought 35% was more accurate.

I didn't care. I wouldn't spend one more day with her after the disrespect she showed me. I've heard that true love dies slowly but in my case it was snuffed out like a candle in a sudden breeze when she turned her back on me. I felt nothing but a deep burning anger towards her and an unfathomable sadness over having to leave my children. Nothing and I mean nothing was going to keep me with her. Hopefully someday when they were older I would be able explain it to my children so that they would at least understand my reasoning, even if they couldn't forgive me.

She tried but she couldn't reach me because I left my computer, phone, our formal wedding photo torn in half, and my ring on the kitchen table. She tried to contact me at work but she was rebuffed by being told as I had directed that I was taking a week's emergency vacation. The receptionist also told her that she was no longer allowed on company property and her phone calls would not be put through, and that if she continued to disrupt the business they would be forced to obtain a restraining order.

I didn't know it at the time of course, but I learned later from her parents that when she got home and saw the little shrine I had left for her she broke down in tears. By the time she got to her parents she had a full understanding of what she had done to her marriage. She and the kids didn't leave their house for a week. For a time they thought they might need to institutionalize her. She wouldn't eat or drink and barely slept. The kids were absolutely terrified. Her mom told me that she finally had literally slapped her daughter in the face and told her she had fucked up royally and to get her shit together and take care of her children. I would have really liked to have been there to observe that. The following day a process server showed up at their house and she was formally notified of the end of her marriage.

Her parents were mortified when I explained what had happened and although I didn't expect them to be, they were supportive of my actions and helped me stay in touch with my children. They asked me only once if I could forgive their brain dead daughter. Their words, not mine. After I told them no, they never discussed anything but their grandchildren's welfare and activities with me from that day forward. I am forever grateful to them.

There was a lot of back and forth between our lawyers but despite many attempts to get me to sit down I had never spoken a single word to Ruby since that evening until we arrived for our first mandated counseling session. We had a couple of joint meetings scheduled through our attorneys but as I was told by mine that I didn't have to be there, I chose not to be. Ruby got hysterical on both occasions. I guess she had it in her mind that all she had to do was talk to me and everything would be fine. I suppose that was a rational thought on her part because it only took one conversation with me to end our marriage?

At our court appearance, I never even looked at her. When she tried to speak to me I ignored her. Maybe it wasn't the smartest move on my part because a short time later she was ecstatic and I was ordered into joint counseling by the slightly peeved judge. At that point, to say I was dealing with anger management issues was a huge understatement.

I considered ignoring the order, but my attorney said that wouldn't be a smart plan. I considered quitting my job and just disappearing but my attorney told me that it wouldn't lessen my financial responsibilities and asked me if I could really do that to my kids? Of course I couldn't.

So here I sit in the first of twelve scheduled weekly meetings. It had gotten off to a rocky start and it didn't look to be getting better anytime soon, based on my first interaction with Dr. Wickenburg. My trip down memory lane was suspended by another question from her. Apparently my wife had finished her monologue and it was my turn again.

"I said, Mr. Johnson is there anything you would like to say to your wife now? She tells me you two haven't spoken at all since, well since the incident."

"You mean the incident where she left me standing alone holding my dick in the middle of the dance floor to go spend a weekend fucking her new boyfriend. That incident?"

"Really Mr. Johnson that kind of language isn't helpful."

"Well the incident wasn't real helpful to me Doctor! I know, I know. I'm sorry. No doctor, there isn't anything I would like to say to my wife." I folded my arms and leaned back in my chair trying to be invisible.

No one said anything for a several moments. I think they were both shocked. Well they shouldn't have been. I haven't said anything to her in over three months, why would I start now. Dr. Wickenburg was sharp though.

"Well ok then Mr. Johnson why don't you tell me how you felt when Ruby left you on the dance floor?"

I guess play time was over. "I'm not sure I can adequately elucidate how I felt without breaking down doctor, and I don't want to give Ruby the satisfaction of seeing how much she hurt me."

"Why do you think she would get any satisfaction from knowing she hurt you?" The doctor queried. For some reason she seemed surprised I would feel that way.

My wife interrupted, "Can't you at least look at me Tommy?"

I ignored her and kept looking at the doctor.

"Try your best to explain please." Doctor Wickenburg was leaning forward in her chair with her hands together on the desk. She looked genuinely interested in my response.

"I have never been so hurt in my life. And the only reason I can conceive of her doing that to me was to cause me a deep anguish that I can never forgive or forget. But do you know what the worst part was?" She didn't say anything and just shook her head.

"She told me that what she was going to do was insignificant. She said that trashing our bond of fidelity was not important to her." It didn't seem possible but Ruby's wailing grew louder.

At that point Dr. Wickenburg and I both looked over at her. I turned my attention back to the doctor, "do we need to call 911?" I asked with genuine concern. Ruby looked like she was starting to hyperventilate or go into shock. I thought she might pass out. It appeared that Dr. Wickenburg wasn't sure what to do so I felt like I had to act.

"Ruby honey, stop your incessant crying and I promise I will talk with you!" I shouted at her. Her eyes lit up and she began to work hard at controlling her emotions, but it wasn't easy for her. I looked to the doctor for help and she gave me the slow down sign with her hands so we both just let Ruby wind down for a few minutes.

After about ten minutes, when she had calmed herself sufficiently, she turned and between sniffles pleaded with me. "Will you really talk to me?"

"Yes Ruby, I will. I promise, but you need to pull yourself together. Do you remember that night you told me that I needed to act like an adult and we would talk about this when I got home?"

"Uh, huh."

"Well let's just pretend it's that Sunday night and you and I are going to talk about it ok?'

Her whimpering had almost stopped now and she nodded her head and blew her nose.

I was thinking, Dr. Wickenburg is getting paid $175 dollars an hour and she is sitting there like a lump. Shouldn't she have some doctor shit to say about now? I guess not.

When Ruby had sufficiently calmed herself we just gazed at each other for a moment before I could speak.

"Ruby, do you have any understanding of how badly you hurt and humiliated me but what you did?"

"I think I do now and now I'm so sorry I did that, but it wasn't my intention."

"It doesn't matter what you intended, it's what you did to me." I was speaking matter of factly. "You destroyed me. I couldn't believe it when you said that what you were going to do was so insignificant. Do you know what the most precious gift a husband can give his wife is?"

She shook her head no.

"It is the gift of fidelity. I have never been a woman so I can't speak for your gender, but I believe men are not monogamous by nature. I took great pride in remaining faithful to you. It wasn't really that difficult despite the fact that opportunities presented themselves for me to break that vow. I knew it was an important expectation that you had of me, but for me it went beyond that. It meant so much to me to be able to give you that gift, that commitment. For you to throw that away for a weekend with a second rate actor was unfathomable to me. It just killed me. I can't really express the depth of my emotion. And to further the insult you threatened me."

A shocked Ruby cried, "I never did that!"

"Yes you did Ruby. You told me what would happen to me if I filed for divorce. I remember your exact words because you cut me to the core with them. You said, 'Oh Tommy don't be so melodramatic. You aren't going to break up our family over this. You're seriously going to become a part time dad living in a one bedroom apartment, and trying to survive on about 30% of what you make now, over something as insignificant as this?'

Her eyes went wide and she covered her mouth with her hand. "Oh no Tommy you misinterpreted what I said. I didn't mean it as a threat. It was just what was going to happen to our family in a divorce. That is how I meant it."

"It doesn't matter how you meant it Ruby that is how I construed it. You can say whatever you want, it won't change my thoughts. You don't have the right to tell me how I should feel about it.

And the final straw for me Ruby is the loss of intimacy. You and I have talked about it many times before. We both believe that just before you die the best moments of your life flash before your eyes. If you are a decent person those providential thoughts are what remain as you cross over."