Little Miss Perfect
By M.E. Carter
Looking at myself in the mirror, I take deep, steadying breaths, trying to get my heartbeat
Am I really going to do this? I like Aputi. He’s kind and genuine and thoughtful. He’s like no man I’ve ever met before, and I feel safe around him. In all my years of marriage, I can honestly say I never felt like that. But does that make this okay?
I’ve never been a girl who has one-night stands. Getting naked with someone I don’t know, who might live in a dirty house or have bedbugs in their clothes never seemed appealing. Not that anyone has those kinds of goals, but those thoughts always stopped any womanly desires I may have had right in their tracks.
But this—this is so much more intimate than sex. So much more revealing. And yet, part of me wants this more than anything. And it’s all because of Aputi.
He is so different from anyone I’ve ever known. Aputi is a protector. A provider. And I’ve been in his house, so I know he doesn’t live in filth. Maybe there are too many chemicals, but no bedbugs. He’s the kind of man who would take care of a woman forever, even if she got sick or fat or was in a bad car wreck. He’s one of the good ones. And he likes me.
Before I can second guess myself, I turn the faucet on and begin getting ready for him. He
doesn’t know I’m doing this, doesn’t have a clue. But I hope my actions tell him everything he needs to know about what I hope for the future.
Funny how a few weeks ago, I was perfectly happy with my present. Earlier today I was
lamenting my past. And yet suddenly, I’m hopeful and, dare I say excited, about my future.
Aputi helped me do that. He helped me see that maybe I was settling for a life that was settling for me. I’m not sure I want things to be that way anymore.
Tonight doesn’t mean I’m offering Aputi forever, but it means I’m offering myself something more. As nervous as it makes me, this is the kind of intimacy I need. Aputi has made me crave it.
It takes a few minutes to get ready, but mission now complete, I stand with one hand on my bedroom door. Taking a deep, steadying breath, I ease the door open and walk through it into the light of the living room.
Aputi clicks off his phone and looks up, freezing immediately when he catches sight of me. The moment seems to go on and on and on. Finally, I can’t take it anymore.
“I feel really naked right now, can you please say something?” I blurt out, tugging at my
“You took off your makeup.”
I blink back tears I didn’t know were coming. No one has seen me without makeup in at least a dozen years, maybe more. I didn’t expect to be so emotional about this moment.
“It’s not weird, right? I mean, I know I have some scarring on my face. I had really bad acne as a kid, so I usually cover it up. But is it hideous? You know what, don’t answer that. I’ll be back.”
“Deborah.” Aputi’s tone is more forceful, causing me to stop before I finish turning around and disappear again. “You look amazing.”
“I do?” I ask softly, not sure I heard him correctly. “I don’t think I like my hair pulled up in this messy bun thing. It pulls weird at the top.”
“I like it down too. But if you like it up, it doesn’t bother me. It shows off your neck.”
“Oh. Um. I… yeah.”
Slowly, and not really sure why, I comply. It’s not as if he has power over me. It’s as if I know he’ll never hurt me. Such a strange thing to know only a few weeks after becoming, well, whatever this is. Friends, maybe. But I suppose when you finally realize you’ve been hiding behind perfection out of fear for as long as you can remember, realizing the fear is gone gives you the strangest sense of freedom.
He doesn’t say anything, so I finally look up at him. That’s when he speaks.
“I know how intimate this is for you. I’m so honored that it’s me you are sharing it with. I’ll
never take advantage of that.”
Once again, I have to blink back tears. For so many years, I’ve been doing everything in my
power to make my husband look at me just like this. I thought I was doing something wrong. I thought I wasn’t good enough. Turns out, I was trying too hard for the wrong person.
I open my mouth to tell him as much when Trevor comes racing through the room, singing
about the Santa Spiderman on his jammies. When he sees me, he stops dead in his tracks.
My sweet boy blinks a few times, and for a split second, I wonder if he doesn’t recognize me. It doesn’t take long to realize he’s actually having his own moment.
“Mommy.” His voice is so low it’s almost a whisper. “You look beauuuuuutiful.”
My heart melts and yet feels full all at the same time. It’s something I’m not used to, but it’s something I never want to end.
“The boy’s not wrong,” Aputi confirms as Trevor loses his train of thought and runs out of the room again.
“Thank you. Not just for saying that, but for everything.” I sit back down next to him on the
couch, wearing my brand new yoga pants. I’ve never worn them before, but I’ve seen Elena and Callie both wear them, so I thought I’d try something new. So far, the comfort level is living up to the hype, which is unexpected. But everything about this night is a surprise at this point. I don’t know where this relationship is going. I don’t know if or how it will end, but it’s already one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Somehow, I know it’s as close to perfect as it will ever be. Summoning my newfound confidence, I decide it’s time to let go just a little bit more.
“I can’t date you.”
Aputi blinks a couple of times and his face falls. Immediately, I know I started this conversation wrong.
“Wait. That’s not what I mean.” Taking a deep breath, I give myself a moment to put my words in the right order. “I would like to go on a date with you at some point, but not yet.”
A small smile graces his very handsome face. “I know it’s too soon.”
I nod, relieved that he, yet again, understands. “I know my marriage is over, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.” I can’t help but shake my head a bit at that realization. “With the exception of having to call myself a divorcée from now on, which is going to elicit a lot of whispers at the next PTA carnival, the idea of not being married to Rick isn’t as sad as I would have thought a couple weeks ago. But I still don’t think it’s appropriate for me to date while I’m legally married. Separated or not.”
Aputi’s long arm comes up and rests on the back of the couch. It reaches so far, he’s almost touching me. I can practically feel the heat from his skin on my cheek. Suddenly, I’m ready for the divorce to be finalized so I can touch him for real.
Ooh! I need to slow my hormones before I turn into a tramp. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up with a tattoo right at the base of my spine.
“I’m not here to pressure you, Deborah. You’ve got a lot of life changes ahead of you. I’m just here to be your friend. For now.” The quirked eyebrow gives me no doubt that he’s just biding his time until I’m a single lady again.
Soon, Aputi, I think to myself. I’ll be single soon….