I have a very important question to ask you, but before you can answer I have to tell you about Celia. Only when you know everything will you be able to confirm that I am, indeed, a good man…
• • • • •
Do you think I’m a bad person? Then again, how would you know? It’s not like we’ve ever been introduced, have we? Let me be honest with you; I don’t consider myself to be a bad man. Not even after everything that’s happened.
And what happened, do you ask?
Telling you how this whole thing ended before feeding you all the details would no doubt put me in the villain’s role. I’m not a bad man and that’s all I’m willing to say for now. Like every tale, mine has a beginning although I can’t put a specific date or time on it. I wouldn’t say it ever started; instead, it more or less grew on me. Like fungus.
No, that’s not the right imagery. I’d rather imagine it developing like a vine, climbing all around me until it smothered me. In other words, Celia’s love suffocated me.
She had been working with us for a little over a year. Nice little Celia, so young, and so pretty, and oh, so shy. I couldn’t say for how long she’d been doing this, but one morning I noticed her stare on me. It elicited shivers to run through my whole body.
Her stare, intense, became impossible to ignore; those eyes on my back were warm, like tiny hands running all over my skin and making it tingle. It was invigorating, glorious, but it had nothing to do with Celia.
It could have been anybody; all I craved was the attention. I had been married for several years and believed no woman would ever look my way again. Not until Celia.
She loved me more than life itself. Not that she ever said it, but I still knew. To keep bathing in her infatuation, I made sure to go and talk to her every day. I believed it was my duty to give her what she secretly wanted.
It didn’t take much more for the twinkle in her eye to shine brighter and her smile to grow wider. Even her skirts shortened while her necklines deepened.
To make sure I wasn’t imagining things, I made a little experiment. I stopped going to Celia’s desk to chat, made sure we didn’t make eye contact in the hallway, and sat as far as possible from her in the cafeteria. I kept this attitude for some time.
As I suspected, the twinkle, the smile, and the sexy clothes gradually disappeared. She reverted to being this quiet little thing she’d always been. I hated to see her suffer so I did the charitable thing and went back to paying attention to her. Like magic, she blossomed again.
Some would say that my actions were childish. I somewhat agree, but I had to be sure. Another way would have been to be blunt and ask her if she wanted me. I may be childish, but I’m not cruel; I didn’t have the heart to be some kind of a tease.
Things went smoothly for a couple of months as I offered myself to star in her not-so-secret love fantasies. Not many know this, but I’d always been a self-sacrificial kind of man.
Blinded by my little office romance, I never saw the beginning of the end coming. Even with my undying attention to her, Celia stopped looking or smiling at me. She must have realized that my little seduction project would never go any further.
I’d never make a move, I wouldn’t declare my love, and I certainly wouldn’t get a divorce. She knew it.
The thought of losing her rejuvenating love terrified me. I couldn’t let her stop loving me or worse, get over me. What other reason would I have to get up in the morning? She was my energy, my drive, my own little Viagra pill… just you go and ask my wife.
I didn’t let the panic overcome me. All it meant was that I’d have to work harder to keep her love alive. I took Celia to lunch that Monday, and every following one. It became our little rendez-vous, my clever way to nourish the fire in her belly.
It worked wonders.
Any time the flame seemed to be dwindling, I did my best to make her passion grow red hot again. Sometimes, I’d bring her a gift, a little something to make her believe I thought of her. Other times, I’d invent stories so she’d assume she was my confident and my marriage was in shambles. Keeping her love warm became my raison de vivre.
Until she changed… again.
The twinkle, the smile, and the clothes… they were all there. Except I could tell they weren’t for me anymore. None of my little attentions or heartfelt – yet untrue – stories were getting through to her.
I feared I’d be losing Celia forever when she told me this would be our last Monday lunch date. Had I been discovered? Heavens, no! It happened to be something I could easily deal with.
Learning she had found herself some kind of boyfriend was only surprising for a second. No way a budding relationship could ever win over her long-lasting pining over me. I needed to find the perfect way to make her mine – so to speak – again. And I instantly knew how to do this.
I had a thought for my wife, about how she would never learn how far I’d be willing to go to keep our relationship strong. I wish I could tell her only so she’d understand how much I love her. But it would never happen. Like Celia never knew the real purpose behind my asking her out the next Friday. She looked so adorable, hesitating between her new boyfriend and her deepest desire – that would be me.
Although I’d never been a smooth talker, convincing her to choose me was easy.
Celia made a player out of me.
I called my wife and told her I’d be going out with friends from work. Which was, when you think about it, pretty much the truth. I took Celia out to dinner and treated her to some nice wine, nice food, heartfelt compliments, and a piece of chocolate cake.
Then I kissed her.
I hadn’t thought of doing it, but it was a card I’d been keeping up my sleeve in case it didn’t go as well as planned. It went famously, but I still kissed her, making her love sparkle bright again. I myself came back to life.
I knew she enjoyed the evening, but the boyfriend’s shadow still hovered over us. He had to disappear… completely. Which meant I’d have to use the last card, the one I hoped would never be needed.
I made love to her.
If I wanted to bring back the fire, I couldn’t have expected the blaze that resulted from our one and only night. I had unleashed a monster. The love she’d been keeping buried was set free. Not only for me, but for the whole world to see.
It wouldn’t take long for my wife to learn about my sacrifice to her. And Celia herself would no doubt be the one to tell her. I couldn’t let this happen. Which explains why I told Celia we were over and that it actually never started. She didn’t accept that.
She threw my words and gifts back at me. I reminded her we were friends.
She reminded me of the kiss. I said I made a mistake.
She spoke of our night together. I blamed the alcohol.
She cried. I left.
Now, about the ending of my story, about what happened. To be honest, nobody really knows what happened. All I can say for sure is that Celia died soon after our last conversation.
We were told she had a car accident.
Not everyone believed it. And when I say this, I’m mostly referring to myself. I don’t believe it.
Sure, the roads were icy and the night was dark. Celia could have been tired, or drunk, or distracted. But deep in my heart, I know the truth; Celia killed herself.
I’m not one to brag, but I’m convinced this was her ultimate gift to me.
One for which I will forever be grateful.
Now that I told you the whole story, let me ask you this again.
Do you think I’m a bad person?
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