All for a Strawberry

Betrayal tastes like strawberries. That’s it. There is no better description. Of all the things in the world, betrayal definitely tastes like strawberries.

Perhaps I should explain. He used to bring me strawberries. Big, luscious, strawberries of the most deep red you’ve ever seen. Sometimes we’d dip them in chocolate and feed them to each other. Sometimes I’d just leave them in the fridge and nibble on them for days. I thought it was all so wonderfully romantic. Sure, others would’ve like flowers, but flowers die and I loved strawberries.

Obviously, they weren’t store bought, as they were better than even the more expensive organic stuff. He would never tell me where he got them, said he wanted to keep the mystery. I let it be, as that was beautiful and romantic too.

Eventually, we became more comfortable in the relationship and the romantic gestures slowed. It happens with every couple. We moved in together and became more comfortable still. Yet, through all that, the strawberries came. They stopped being big, romantic gestures and became more of a mainstay in our fridge. Still, I didn’t know where they came from. Honestly, by that point, I had almost entirely forgotten that they had to come from somewhere. I took them for granted.

***

One day, he got a call. It didn’t have a name and I didn’t recognize the number. He was in the garage and I couldn’t get to him in time, so I answered. There was a woman on the other end. She seemed surprised to be talking to someone else but him, but not overly so. She asked for him, I told her I could take a message. After some reluctance, she agreed. She told me the strawberries would be delayed by two days, so not to come pick them up until then.

I was burning with curiosity, so I did something I shouldn’t have. Two days after the call, he went out to run some errands. I followed him. I know it was bad. I do. I’m not distrustful by nature but I just had to find out where those magical strawberries came from. After a few mundane stops, the grocery store, the hardware store, he ended up in a residential area on the far east side of town. He parked in front of this quaint little house, green and white with two little flower beds in front. He got out and walked to the door. A woman answered, probably the same one from the phone. She was sort of pretty, I guess, regular height with dark, messy hair and wearing clothes that were just shy of skimpy. Nothing to write home about though. They stood like that for a few seconds, her in the doorway and him on the porch, before she smiled and pulled him inside. Definitely not what I’d call a normal strawberry transaction.

I wanted to bust through the door and catch them in the act, but I didn’t. I went home to cry instead.

I had collected myself and my thoughts by the time he got home. He was carrying a basket of those strawberries. My suspicions confirmed, I confronted him. I told him everything about what I had seen at that house. He got angry with me. Honestly, I can’t believe his audacity that he could get mad at me for following after what he’d been doing. He said they weren’t doing anything, so there wasn’t anything for me to be upset over. Eventually, he said he’d stop getting strawberries from her, “if it would make you feel better.” I told him I’d have to think about it.

After nearly a week of icy awkwardness in our house I decided I would forgive him if he stopped seeing that woman. He agreed. We stopped having strawberries in the house. I worked to actually forgive him. I loved him, we could get through this, I thought.

***

After several months, I had forgiven him and things mostly went back to the way they were, minus the strawberries. I felt good. The man I loved was still there, and there wasn’t another woman taking his attention any more. It was actually better than it had been before, even if I never got to taste those otherworldly strawberries again.

One day, I came home from work and, when I walked into the house, something felt off. It felt, emptier somehow. It didn’t look any different, so I ignored the feeling. I walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. Inside was a basket of big, luscious, strawberries of the most deep red you’ve ever seen. Seeing those was almost like a physical blow. There was a note on top. I needed to read it before jumping to conclusions. I opened the note and inside was only a single word.

Sorry.

Frantically, I ran from room to room, checking the entire house. He was nowhere to be found. His side of the closet was empty and all his stuff was gone from the living room. He was gone.

It’s been years and I have never once heard from him since that day. The strawberries sat in my fridge until they got moldy and I had to throw them out.

So, betrayal tastes like strawberries. It’s a shame, I used to like strawberries.

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