It was probably sometime around Wednesday when I really made it clear to the AP that I would be traveling to be with my wife on Saturday, for several weeks. She may have muttered something asking me not to go. And, maybe she said something about taking her with me. I didn’t sense that it was terribly important to her, but I do think she brought it up more than once. Well, of course she did. She brought up everything again and again. She had a few topics of conversation in her, and she would just re-cycle them continuously.
She must have said something to me Thursday indicating that she was thinking of getting a plane ticket to travel with me. Friday she messaged me about meeting her at a travel agency. I worked quite late that Friday, thankfully past the travel agency’s closing time. I met the AP near the travel agency. We talked and had dinner. She bugged me to lend her money for a plane ticket. That suggestion was very unrealistic, and I made that clear. She begged me to help her write a message to a supposed acquaintance asking for money. Between my exhaustion and my foolhardiness, I conceded. Finally, we went our separate ways, me saying I was going home to pack.
Just as I was getting to sleep she called me and exclaimed she had somehow — she refused to elaborate — obtained money and bought a seat on the same flight. I foolishly agreed to give her a ride to the airport.
The next morning I packed and took a cab to her place, thinking she would be ready to just jump in the cab and head to the airport. She wasn’t ready. I can’t even venture to guess how long the poor cab driver waited as I helped her with her ridiculously overpacked bags. Then we waited as she went through her apartment, turning things off as though she were going away for a long, long time.
Before going into the airport, she handed me some assorted items — a camera, a blouse, and an empty perfume box — saying she had no room in her luggage and asking me to carry them. I foolishly agreed, not knowing how to decline without a big fuss. At the airport she was surprised the airline charged her for her excess baggage. Impatient, worried about time, worried about her making a scene, and acting with my increasingly bad judgment, I lent her money for the excess baggage.
At the gate I ran into a co-worker, not someone I know well but a guy whose family is in the same social circles as my family. The AP was there. I felt it would raise more suspicions if I did not introduce her. I introduced her, but completely avoided describing how I knew her. I thought hopefully my co-worker would think I knew the woman professionally only. All three of us tried to pretend there was nothing unusual about this. I don’t know if my colleague figured out I was cheating. I hope not, but I don’t know.
The AP sat next to me on the plane. I matter-of-factly said something about the last leg of my flight, the leg that would take me alone to see my wife. The AP suddenly acted surprised that I had a final destination different from hers. Of course, she had known all along that we each had a different final destination. I was going to see my wife and the AP was supposedly going to see her son, in two different cities, in two different directions. Her surprise about it at that point, on the plane, was either disingenuous or insane. She made some effort to persuade me to change my plans and to stay with her at her destination. She then badgered me to help her reserve a hotel room at her destination. Again, like a fool, I eventually gave in to her badgering.
Midway through the journey she again hounded me to change my travel plans, I calmly refused, over and over. She asked why. I paused and said, “I do love my wife.” For the first time ever, the AP went totally silent. It wasn’t anger or sadness. It seemed more like surprise. The silence continued and the surprise seemed to settle into resignation.
When we finally got off the plane and went our separate ways, it was not a very remarkable event. There was just a rather quiet farewell. Maybe there were hugs or kisses. I don’t think so. I certainly don’t remember it that way. As I walked out of sight of her I felt very, very relieved to be rid of her.
I sat and ate a bowl of noodles. That’s when I remembered, with shock, fear, and disappointment, that I still had that woman’s camera, blouse and perfume box in my bag. Shit. I boarded the plane for my final destination. During the flight I exerted minimal mental effort to develop a plan for hiding the AP’s belongings from my wife.