“Better Her, Than Me”

You can also hear me read this story on:

Episode #16 of The Word Count podcast.

The prompt was “Your character suspects his/her husband is having an affair and decides to spy on him. What she/he discovers is not what he/she was expecting…” (I completely forgot about the “spying part” in this prompt, but the rest is there!).

*  *  *  *

The nightmare of the past seventy-two hours began when I received a phone call from San José, Costa Rica. The man speaking English with a Spanish accent asked for Mrs. Collins, and I knew something had happened to Mike. All I heard was: accident; hospital; and please come as soon as possible.

I had not heard from Mike in almost two weeks. He had been in Cahuita, a small city on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. He’d been living there for the past eight months, supervising the building of a bed and breakfast —a new venture and our second chance.

We had been married ten years, were childless, and life in the big city of Chicago had become stale. Mike and I had honeymooned in Costa Rica, and he had fallen in love with it. An indiscretion with his assistant had created a rift in our marriage about two years ago. In an effort to recapture the romance, he begged my forgiveness and convinced me to return to Costa Rica. It seemed to work. That’s when he got the idea to move there permanently. It was a tough sell initially, but I had to ask myself what was I afraid of?

Aside from my mother, a small network of close friends, and a teaching job that was no longer fulfilling, I really didn’t have much to tie me to the city anymore. At thirty-eight, it was time to take a leap of faith.

When the phone rang, I was in the middle of packing. The house had been sold, and the plan was to stay with my mother until the guesthouse in Cahuita was ready. It was left to me to settle everything in the city—not an easy task, but in the end, I had to believe my marriage was worth it.

* * * *

Now, I was on a plane to San José with a hospital address scribbled on a post-it note, a suitcase of clothes hastily thrown together, and a host of unanswered questions regarding Mike’s condition. Were it not for the sweet old lady beside me whose head kept hitting my shoulder as she nodded off, I probably would have burst into tears.

What could have happened to Mike? Was it an accident at the construction site? How badly hurt was he?

* * * *

I threw a twenty dollar bill at the cabbie and his eyes lit up.

“Senora, no tengo cambio,” he said, looking like he had just won the lottery.

“Keep the change,” I told him in Spanish. Three months of conversational Spanish was proving handy, but when I entered the hospital and was bombarded by all the signage, I didn’t know which way to turn.

A young woman approached me in a white dress with a silver nametag over her heart. It read “Maria” and her position was “Customer Service.” She directed me to the elevators and even pushed the button to the third floor where Mike was located.

Following a brief conversation with the lady at the information desk, I took a seat in the waiting room. The modern look of the hospital gave me hope that Mike was receiving good care. From what I had read about the facility, it was one of the best in Central America.

No more than five minutes later, a thirty-something man came up to me and introduced himself as Dr. Filip Ramirez.

“Mrs. Collins, thank you for coming so quickly. I know it could not have been easy.”

His English was surprisingly good. “Doctor, what can you tell me? Is Mike all right?”

“He’s suffered a…devastating injury. We had to operate to stop the bleeding.”

“What happened? Is he going to be okay?”

“Mrs. Collins. This is an unusual case. Your husband is going to need your support over the next few months.”

“Doctor, for god’s sake. What happened to him?” My anxiety must’ve been palpable.

“Mrs. Collins,” he said, “I promised your husband that I’d let him tell you the story. You may go see him.”

I followed the doctor through several corridors before entering a large room. As I walked in, I saw Mike sitting up in bed. A sheet covered the lower half of his body, and he appeared deeply tanned. I ran over and wrapped my arms around him, tears streaming down my face with relief.

“Mike, I’m so glad you’re okay.”

I nodded my thanks to the doctor as he quietly left the room.

“Abby, Abby…” Mike cried. “Oh my god Abby, I’m so sorry.”

I slowly pulled away from his embrace. “What are you sorry about, what happened? Was there an accident at the site?”

“Abby, promise you’ll forgive me. I’ve been such a fool, I never meant to hurt you.  I…”

Mike had an expression of terror, which I’d never seen before. It both scared and confused me. I held his face in my hands and kissed him gently on the lips to calm him down. “Forgive you for what? Mike, you’re not making any sense. Where did they operate on you?”

I followed his gaze as he looked toward his legs. Gently, I pulled down the sheet and saw he was heavily bandaged around his groin.

“Mike?” I turned to see him welling up with tears. “How did this happen?” Was it a shark attack, some freak industrial accident, or…?

The realization slowly began to sink in, but I refused to believe it.

“Abby—” Mike pleaded.

“How bad is it?”

“It’s gone, Abby … It’s gone.”

“How the fuck did this happen?” I didn’t want to hear the answer, but I couldn’t contain the rage that now threatened to overwhelm me. “Tell me right now or I’m walking out of here.”

“Abby, she meant nothing to me. I swear it.”

The color drained from his face as the blood rushed to mine. Taking a deep breath, I released all the tension I’d been holding in. The past seventy-two hours had come down to this – my husband had been having an affair—again, and now, he no longer had a dick.

“How long, Mike?”

“Abby, does it matter?”

“How long has this been going on?”

“Six months.” He wiped his face with the back of his hand.

I cringed. “Six months meant a lot for her to do this to you.”

“She was a psycho, she—”

“Enough!” I said. “How dare you try to blame her for what you’ve done.”

“Abby, Abby, I’ll make it up to you, I swear. I love you.”

I never expected to feel so much anger, yet, in my mind, there was a quiet resolve, a detachment that gave me strength.

“Just answer me one question, Mike.”

“Anything, babe, anything.”

“Where’s your penis now?”

He hesitated before responding, “In the ocean, she threw it in the ocean.”

I bit my lower lip, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. In the end, all I could say was, “Better her, than me.”

* * * *

This story is included in a collection called  HOT FLASH, now available 

Amazon US  ~ Amazon UK

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24 Comments

Filed under Short Stories & Poetry

24 responses to ““Better Her, Than Me”

  1. Eden, you write the BEST stories. I LOVE reading them. This one was priceless. I can relate with the wife and mistress both. Poor guy should have learned to keep his pants zipped up. No he doesn’t have a pud to play with. What a putz! Eden, thanks for this great story. It kicks!

    Ardee-ann

    Like

  2. Great Story! I loved how well you got terrifying anticipation in so quickly. Thank you very much for a wonderful post.

    Like

  3. Hi Eden!! Stopping by to check out the site and hang out a bit! Great story with a surprise! LOL This could continue on in many ways…thanks for sharing!

    Like

  4. Rebecca

    *slaps desk while laughing*
    Threw it in the ocean…LOL!!!

    Like

  5. Fabulous!!! Mmmm… shark food… I was horrified and laughing all at the same time–great job!

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  6. Stop messing up the ocean! It has enough problems with penises floating around in it. In Thailand the women feed them to the ducks– That’s what I heard anyway. Great story.

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  7. Seriously, this was great. Sad, horribly sad, but written so amazingly well. You continue to amaze.

    Like

  8. Jessica

    I loved the story, and I loved what you did to the guy. He deserved it for cheating on his wife. The best stories are where the unfaithful get it.

    Like

    • Hi Jessica, thanks for your comment. Though I would never condone this in real life ;), it’s cathartic to write it.

      The old saying “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” from poet William Congreve definitely applies here. (hehehe)

      eden

      Like

  9. I love, love, LOVE your work Eden! Another fantastic story. I have to listen to you read it now!

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  10. I’m going to write about an unfaithful wife who has her vagina and uterus scooped out…

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    • Hi Darren,
      That would be interesting. Love to read it when you’re done.
      eden

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      • Hah! Well, I was kinda being facetious… though I think you knew that. 🙂

        It seems there’s a fascination with the cutting off or maiming of male sexual organs… and more worryingly that this is a perfectly acceptable response to male infidelity.

        I know your story is fictional… a work of fantasy. But this aspect is worrying, none the less. I suspect the response to a story of female maiming would be received with cries of horror (not delight)… and rightly so.

        Like

        • Darren,

          Yes, of course my story is fiction—a tongue-in-cheek, slightly cathartic tale at best, and neither I nor anyone I know would ever deem this behaviour as acceptable—nor does society for that matter. The few women who’ve done this have been tried by a jury of their peers. It is a crime after all.

          As for a story of female maiming – I am not sure if you read much horror, but maiming of women is not only common, but usually central to the plot. A lot of horror is written by men, and whether that’s the reason or not, I’m not sure. I suspect most men don’t like writing about maiming themselves.

          Now for the non-fiction part – female genital mutilation is practiced today all over Africa and in certain pockets of the Western world, including the US, Canada, and the UK. It is illegal, yet it still happens and is rarely prosecuted. In the UK, the most dangerous time for young girls is during the summer holidays – a time when the procedure is carried out, allowing for recovery before going back to school.

          I’m a zealous proponent for non-censorship in writing. That includes the amount of sex or violence in my stories. For me, the defining ingredient is always “relevance to the story.” I won’t go into all the details here, but if you’re interested in reading a great series that I contributed to about Sex in Literature, here’s the link > http://sooozsaysstuff.blogspot.com/2011/07/topic-relevance-of-sex-in-literature-in_11.html

          There was a subsequent series specific to Violence in Literature, and Censorship in Literature as well.

          There are many things about writing that I love – spinning a fantasy and sharing ideas are but two of them. I must admit your initial response caught me off guard, but this exchange is another example of why words are so powerful.

          I appreciate your taking the time to comment. 😉

          eden

          Like

  11. Horror? Not so much. I’m more of a sci-fi fan. I love the early ‘horror’ stories by Poe and Stoker… and Shelley. But these tend to be fantasies of an entirely different sort.

    I find a lot of horror movies today a little too focused on the gore and less on the horror/terror. I’m not squeamish, I hasten to add. I just don’t find masses of blood, guts, torture and popping eyes… well, that horrifying. Cronenberg got it right, with his ‘venereal horror’ but it’s a tricky balancing act. And Stepehen King, as an example, tends to have an awful lot of pale imitators who have mistaken his art for something else.

    As for the maiming of women being common and central to the plot within horror… I would guess it’s actually distributed fairly equally between men and women. I’d have to do a lot more research though, to confirm. Which books are you reading?

    And I’m only too aware of the prevalence of female genital mutilation in the real world. However, it has little to do with the provoked titillation of the mutilation in your short.

    But… that’s not really my point. I was merely remarking on how the response to your character’s loss of his penis would likely be entirely different if something similar happened to a woman. One is seen as funny (or even deserved), whereas the other would be seen, fantasy or not, as a gross, deplorable act. There wouldn’t be much giggling.

    I’m interested why this is the case.

    I’m not advocating censorship either. No thanks! My erotic tastes, for example, are fairly extreme and I’d be no doubt seen as quite odd by many… 🙂

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    • Darren,

      We seem to have come full circle. In response to what the reaction would be if there was a story of an unfaithful wife who… as you put it, had her vagina and uterus scooped out… there’s only one way to know for sure.

      You and I can speculate all we like, and chances are a story like that would be met with disgust and horror, but there still needs to be a story built around it. At the end of the day, it’s fiction.

      No man deserves what happened to the husband in my story, regardless if he cheated a thousand times over, yet women can relate to the story. Why? Because they can see themselves doing it? No, of course not, but there’s a tinge of satisfaction in knowing that this man is now without his most prized possession. This character is a predator, and odd as it sounds, there’s a ‘sisterhood’ component to this. He’s no longer able to ruin another woman’s life. That’s why you detect the giggling from my female readers—it’s symbolic that the weapon of his prowess should be destroyed, horrific as it is.

      I couldn’t write a story where the female character would provoke this same sense of camaraderie amongst men. Who knows what that says about the sexes? We’re just wired differently.

      My offer stands. If you want to write a companion piece to this, I’d be happy to read it.

      😉
      eden

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