Crystal didn’t expect Manny and Camila to be a happily ever after duo. She would have rooted for them every day in every way to try to prevent it, but she still had the feeling Camila was more deeply in love with Diego than she herself even realized.
Sansara, Crystal’s twin spirit, was a mind-reader. Telepathic. And she saw Camila thinking about Diego twice as often as she thought about Manny, sadly. Which is why they teamed up, using logic and girlfriend encouragement to make Camila understand that she had to give Manny an ultimatum. She deserved to feel loved. Deeply. That is, if you asked the two spirits residing in Crystal’s vessel. All human beings deserved that, in their opinion.
The problem with Camila’s crush on Diego was this: he wasn’t her actual significant other. She used Manny to dump all her problems on and Diego was capable of picking up the final pieces to help her stay together. Manny had yet to grow in the way she needed supported and she was stunting his growth by transferring those duties to Diego.
This was something cheaters found fairly frequently. They left their primary flame for a fling and the void left by the primary flame grows bigger and bigger as the spark for the recipient of the fling eventually goes out. That other person was never supporting them completely because the husband or wife work was done by the husband or wife. They divorce or dump their significant others, come together, and find out that the significant other was never taking the brunt of their problems or concerns before, and then they are overwhelmed and they end up leaving just as surreptitiously as they snuck into a relationship with you.
In short, Camila was going to find Diego lacking if she ditched Manny to pursue him. For one thing, Manny’s income was cushy for Camila. So cushy, she could afford to get her nails done every single week. Diego made peanuts in comparison to his friend, who was middle class while Diego would be classified as nothing short of working class. Blue collar, not white. That was going to chafe Camila’s sense of entitlement for good booze, great food, and all the self-pampering in the world on her hubby’s dime.
For another thing, Camila had nearly fully trained Manny to deal with her nonsense. All women had to do this, she knew, it’s just that Crystal herself lost patience when her ex-lover proved to be cruel for the sake of being cruel. It happened every time and it was a flaw she couldn’t live with. She hoped Diego would be different… he had yet to be cruel to her. Yet. Key word.
She half expected dinner this evening to be full of insufficient apologies and excuses for calling her to rescue him from a bar tramp. Almost all bar tramps are jilted lovers, by the by, she’d discovered via Sansara’s magic. If you just ask them how they’re doing and make it clear you want to know about their story, they’re likely to open up to you — sex of interest or not — and tell you what’s going on. That’s the true therapy they required, not some quickie in the bathroom to tell them they’re not worthy of real love.
And almost all cheaters want to go back to the lover they jilted at some point, too. They forgot how good it was to be with someone who stuck love notes in their pockets or did the dishes while they cooked dinner. They forgot how much work it was to figure out how to coexist together. They forgot the reason they loved you to begin with, if you ask me. People forget these things because they take the mickey, as they say in England. They take more than their fair share and they aren’t reminded they’re getting the better end of the stick. You have to remind them from time to time. And if they aren’t listening to your words, do to them what pains you so.
Crystal, specifically, tried to communicate herself nine times before she smote anyone for being an asshole to her. Once she got to the land of smite, it was almost impossible to reel her back in, too. She would cut her nose off to spite you before she let you back in to her inner circle. Sansara had told her that Diego didn’t want to let go of the girlfriends he had on the side, and that was that. She was going to be absolute in her cold shoulder routine forevermore… unless he could convince her he was going to do it. And Sansara. No shred of doubt left in either one, he had to surrender.
He had to choose Crystal and Sansara. No one could choose that for him but Diego himself. She knew that all too well, thanks to Psycho Boy Ben. She knew Ben was in love with her, but he would never acknowledge that. He was looking for logic and algorithms and formulas to tell him that she was The One(TM).
Let me tell you a secret about The One(TM), folks: it’s the one you choose it to be. No one will ever effortlessly fall into your arms, walking alongside you every step of the way to Happily Ever After(TM). You had to teach each other about yourself, which is why Crystal didn’t believe in open relationships. How could you teach more than one person how to respect all your boundaries? How could you teach them all your preferences? How could they care enough if they aren’t with you, sleeping at your side?
The answer is they don’t. So, you cheaters out there — I won’t call your names — just hear me now: there is no such thing as a soul mate. There are people who choose to be easy to get along with and there are people who choose to be assholes. Find one who chooses to be easy and find out their love language and shower them with love in a meaningful way.
“If it’s not love, it’s hate.” Occam’s razor made Crystal believe this completely. It’s the reason she tried to bestow love everywhere she went. There are five love languages as defined by Gary Chapman, which any dolt can Google for more information, but in short:
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
Every person enjoys some combination of all of these aspects of communicating your commitment to them. It applies to friends just as well as partners or mates. Every person enjoys some of the above, but some people will always favor hugs over kisses, for example. You have to learn all the preferences of an individual to appropriately express love in a meaningful way.
Crystal loved receiving all five, but the problem was learning what aspects of each language she found valuable. In fact, she went to a therapist with Ben once, and said she was about equal on all five according to the quiz and he had said, “You take love any way you can get it.” That wasn’t quite accurate, as it turns out, since she is one picky wench. It wasn’t anything at all… You had to know her nuances to show her that you love her.
Nobody knew her nuances. Nobody would, at this rate. Diego was doing what all men do: attempting to undermine her choices with his own because he “knows better” or he thinks his own preferences are more important. For instance, the ring that Diego just bought happened to belong to a friend of Crystal before it was returned for the upgrade. She knows it quite well, because it was Christina’s. In fact, Diego should have recognized it himself, but he didn’t know Christina as well as she did.
Christina’s ring was a diamond ring and she knew it well. The reason Crystal didn’t like diamonds was that all diamonds were blood diamonds. Africa had been corrupted by conquistadors — whether they were actually Spanish or not is irrelevant — that overran the locals and decided to mine the precious stone at their expense, killing thousands of natives for the sake of greed. Nothing pissed her off more than greed.
In fact, she’d reflected on greed for an entire month once, in her youth. She’d extrapolated it to realize that every cardinal sin was a type of greed. Avarice — greed for money. Sloth — greed for laziness. Gluttony — greed for food. Wrath — greed for control. Pride — greed for getting one’s own way. Lust — greed for fornication. Envy — greed for what others have.
She decided greed was the base component that was wrong with the human race, at large, and redesigned herself to become less greedy. She’d been at it for over twenty years, actually, which is why she gave most of her hard earned cash away to those around her who needed things they were unwilling to buy for themselves, no matter how much sense it made.
In fact, greed was the reason Christina was no longer her acquaintance, let alone a friend. Long story short, she wouldn’t help Crystal leave the psycho she was dating, pulling the favor to her side like a true narcissist when she had a panic attack that was more important than Crystal staying alive.
In short, this was a recipe for Duane getting punted to the curb if he tried to bullshit her about that ring and if he wouldn’t accept that she truly did not want diamonds on her person. The negative vibration from the deaths all around the diamonds disturbed her equilibrium, anyway. Besides all that… diamonds were worthless until the early 1900s, when engagement rings became the gold standard for staking a claim for a woman as your property, wouldn’t you know.
She was going to refuse to wear a ring, anyway, until Diego had one, too. He would know that soon enough, of course.
Camila was slothful, wrathful, and envious, but if she was deprived of Manny’s money, she would also end up waist deep in avarice. She’d become so entitled, she couldn’t see the forest for the trees. She wasn’t considering things practically at all, daydreaming about a man who hardly saw her. Sansara had seen, in the little time they’d spent together, that the woman had accosted Diego on her husband’s birthday at his own fucking party.
She really hated Camila for this. However, she knew Manny loved the stuffing out of her. To love Manny meant honoring his choice to be with the woman who coveted his best friend. The woman who dared to break two marriages, not just her own. Crystal reviled all people like this; they were agents of hate. They were not respecting the choices of others by giving into their own greedy, wanton desires.
She cradled Brinx in her lap, petting him as she thought about what else to write in her diary. Camila had removed her ring before she arrived at the shop for the nail service, another thing Crystal hated her for. She’d given up on her husband without ever telling him what she wanted. Crystal communicated as clearly as she could manage, which wasn’t always adequate, she thought, but at least she tried. Who the hell gave up on their husband just like that? Manny was loyal and still in love after twelve years of marriage. She’d kill for that kind of devotion.
Manny never gave up on his wife! He grew with her over the years, instead of stagnating. Crystal did date someone she thought was that loyal, though Sansara recently disabused her of the notion. She didn’t like that at all. Every single person Crystal had chosen to love chose to quit loving her and cheat on her instead. She no longer cared why cheaters cheated, she wanted to punch every single one of them in the gut. She wanted to kick them in the balls. And then she wanted to sumo drop each and every one of them. Especially Nicholas.
Sansara hated Nick. She hated him so much, she tried to kill him with her witchcraft, but it didn’t work. If she ever encountered that motherfucker, she would summarily destroy him. He was the origin of Crystal’s multi-year suicide attempt known as Psycho Boy Ben and his house full of mold.
In fact, she spoke to Crystal at great length about the mannish boy, until Crystal had decided she didn’t even want to meet the bastard. Ever. Now, every time Sansara brought him up, she sighed and said she’d rather not deal with it. She used to scream and shout in rage, mind you, so Sansara could tell she was almost completely over the one and only man Crystal had ever proposed to.
“Sansara, what’s Diego doing right now?” she asked her psychic twin spirit.
“Ring shopping,” she replied.
“Oh,” Crystal said. She hadn’t expected that. She expected him to take his sweet ol’ time, actually. She was never anyone’s number one, she knew that deep in her heart. “Is he lying about his feelings?” Crystal highly doubted everything that looked like love because, sooner or later, it turned into a bid for control.
“He doesn’t like women coming onto him, apparently,” Sansara answered, knowing that would be more meaningful than reiterating that Diego wasn’t lying about having feelings. His actions would speak louder than his words.
“Then why’s he friends with three women who want to fuck him?” she asked innocently, confused by the lack of logic he was displaying.
Sansara replied, “That’s not going to last long, it would seem. He figured out that he wouldn’t bring them home to meet you, so it’s not just innocent. I should make you wait for him to tell you, but I understand your lack of trust. Allie cat kind of made it rather poignant that he doesn’t like how other women behave.”
Crystal got the impression of Sansara resting her chin in the palm of her hand, her elbow on a surface like a table. This meant she was open for girl talk, Crystal knew.
“I could have given her better advice, I admit,” Crystal told Sansara. Sansara merely gave her counterpart the impression of nodding.
“He wondered why you didn’t, he even asked you to hold you accountable, if you recall,” Sansara replied.
“Yes, well, I told her what came to mind. It’s what I always do. I guess my mind was distracted by this man who keeps telling me he wants to marry me going to bars in his free time and then throwing the problem he created by doing so at me like I’m magically going to fix everything,” Crystal complained.
Sansara giggled at Crystal just then. The giggle actually escaped their lips and Crystal smiled at the expression of mirth. “I love you, Crystal. I have an opposing point of view for you to try on for size, though… What if he wanted to prove to you he wasn’t interested in other ladies?”
“He can prove it by dumping his side bitches,” she said vehemently. She was completely over the idea of competition after Ben. That boy destroyed her complacency when it came to other women. She wasn’t even jealous of Janice, Ben’s new lover. It just hurt to see how badly Ben had ruined her with his “love.” Hate is more like it, she thought.
“I can’t believe he’s friends with the bitch Ben has been dating. Doesn’t he know she’s into sleeping with as many people as possible by now?” Crystal was sour as Hell and she knew it. This is why she exiled herself in her room to write and achieve balance again.
In her opinion, people who were into polyamory and polygamy were losers. They gave up on the idea that they can love and be loved exactly the way they crave, so they diluted themselves and spread themselves thin over many people rather than forming a concrete relationship with any singular person. She was programmed to be monogamous. It was non-negotiable, as it turned out, and it’s how she turned the ship around to get the Hell out of Dodge.
Ben was not so subtle in his attempts to coerce Crystal into a long term three-way relationship with Janice. He probably thought he was clever, but she just let him slide, waiting for him to stop lying to himself about sacrificing their relationship for a fantasy that would never be.
Getting his dick wet was more important than her feelings, clearly. He should have found a lesbian couple who liked the occasional romp with a man together. That’s what he truly wanted, anyway. To be the awkward third wheel because he didn’t know how to be a partner. He kept trying to force Crystal to meet Janice, again and again, as if it wasn’t completely obvious he just wanted to fuck both at once. Not just fuck them both, but the two of them have sex with each other.
He wanted a monogamous woman to have sex with a stranger just so he could watch and join. He tried to ruin the core of Crystal for a recreation of ye random porno. She cried again then. She couldn’t believe how far she’d fallen from grace by the time that happened, how much he’d subverted her true persona, how much he’d used and abused her. How much he lied to her.
Crystal could never have sex with a stranger. She might not have known enough to marry each and every person she did have sex with, but she knew them at least enough to understand their motives and motivations. Ben’s motives were unclean and she knew it all along. She didn’t have Sansara to give her the insider scoop on Ben for her twin spirit came to her after she moved away from all other humans, but she didn’t need it. It would have helped her leave sooner, most definitely, but she knew Ben very well. He only cared about himself, the narcissist that he is.
Crystal received a text message from Diego, asking her out to dinner. Well, this ought to be interesting. She was in a foul mood, remembering what Ben did to her. She said okay and set her phone down again.
“Sansara… what are we going to wear to dinner?” she asked, trying to let go of the negative emotions that had jumped out of a dark corner of her mind as she remembered Ben and how he’d hurt her for sport.