From The Most Forbidden by Kerstin Thorvall
“The Most Forbidden”
I’m in Rome, alone in a slightly ugly stuffy hotel room.
I gave him 200 dollars for him to go away. Two hundred dollars. That’s almost a thousand crowns and I gave it to him to get rid of him.
But who? Who did I give these 200 dollars? Quiet. Wait. I’m going to tell you.
He’s the one I can’t meet in front of mama or my children. He’s the one who’s forbidden,
and whose name may not be named.
“Have you heard anything from him?” she asked before I left when she had come to take care of the two smallest children. (She never says his name. As though that would make him more abstract.)
“Oh no, not at all,” I said, and tried not to turn red
from with shame and triumph.
Of course I had seen him. Just recently he had been living at my place again, at our place, and I had given him food and cigarettes and liquor, washed his clothes, carried off some dry cleaning, bought him a new shirt and socks and underwear and a charter trip to Rimini, so that he could meet me in Rome when I arrived.
He left yesterday. The day before she came. She doesn’t know. The children don’t know that he’s in Italy either. Everyone thinks he’s finally out of my life and this is a trip I’m taking to “get over” him.
Her eyes are still surprised and suffering when she looks at me. The words “how could you?” are written on them. “How could you do this to me?”
Once more, I had done the worst thing that had ever happened to her
one more time.
First I went and slept with a boy I wasn’t even engaged to. Then I was unfaithful in my marriage. Was unfaithful again. Got divorced. Got married again. Traveled to Africa with a 20 year old. Got divorced again and those poor kids…
How could I do that to them?
How could I do that to her?
And on top of all that, this man. This frightful, criminal, unscrupulous person. Have I no mercy at all?
No. I don’t.