Right off the bat, I need to make one thing perfectly clear.
This was all my fault. She did nothing wrong. She was always a lady. She was the perfect wife.
She just wasn't my wife.
She was married to one of my best friends. A friend who trusted me enough to ask me to keep his wife company while he was away serving our country.
It still amazes me how quickly it all happened.
For months I kept my word to my friend and, in the process, gained an even stronger friendship. For months we talked and hung out and drank and smoked together. It was the best period of my life.
Then it started. A nagging little feeling in my heart that began to grow each time we were together.
I tried to shake it off. I told myself that there was no way I could have those kinds of feelings for someone I'd never even kissed. There was no way I could betray a friendship (two friendships!) like that. I kept telling myself that it wasn't real, that it was just a phase.
I was kidding myself, and I knew it.
I'd been trusted with that which my friend prized most in the world, and, even if it was in mind only, I'd betrayed that trust. I had to get away before my terrible secret was exposed.
Those last few weeks when I rushed my Air Force discharge through, and prepared to move away - those weeks took all of the willpower I had in me. If I could just keep my feelings to myself for a little while longer, if I could just get the hell away before I blurted them out in some drunken soliloquy, I could limit the pain to myself.
It hurt to leave, but it would have hurt far more to stay. My betrayal would never have become our betrayal, and it was only a matter of time before my secret would be exposed or guessed.
For a while, after I left, we wrote each other. I even went to visit once, partly as a friend, but mostly to see if my feelings remained.
Once I returned to Seattle, I told her in a letter. I told her the words I'd only told - and meant it - two women before her. I thought she deserved a reason for what came next...
Later in the same letter, I told her goodbye.