It was late when you came home from the office, weary and tired. I was pottering around, some music playing in the background. Through the kitchen window, I could see snowflakes twirling down in the dark and silently piling up on the ground. Everything was quiet.
You sat down and handed me a letter. “She sent this” you said. You didn’t need to say anything else; I knew who she was. I reluctantly took the letter, as if sensing a looming threat. An American lawyer in Madrid had sent us a notice of intent to sue. I sighed, shook my head and slowly sat down next to you. Sue for what? So, this would never stop? Even here, far from Spain, she would pursue us with her venom and her spiteful resentment.
She, the wife who had left you for a charming, but uneducated Spaniard. She, the mother who took your two kids with her to live that all-consuming passion. She, the brilliant scholar who could not be bothered by the petty and the mundane. To me, she was simply the woman who had made my life, our life, miserable, with her erratic behavior, unrealistic demands and unfounded criticism. She then pretended being the victim of the mess she had put herself into, when the Spaniard dumped her. She ended up alone and broke, far from home.
As the kids grew up, mostly in Spain with her, and became independent young adults, things got better. We episodically heard about her. She was now married to a much older Englishman. She was happy. She was working as an adjunct for a London university.
Years went by. On a rainy Sunday morning, as we were walking along 5th Avenue, we bumped into her. I silently observed the woman awkwardly standing opposite me. She looked frail. She had not aged well. We knew she was alone again and was battling with cancer. You exchanged a few words. She was talking too fast, nervously looking around her, never establishing eye contact with me. She was restless. And it suddenly hit me: the woman who had had so much power over our life was an ageing, lonely and probably unhappy woman. She was no longer a threat. She had a name.