Fiction Friday: After-Effects

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By Leslie Lindsay

Fiction Friday:

Slippery When Wet.  This is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress.  Woman has just done the deed with her first boyfriend…oh, but it’s many years later and she’s married to someone else.  So is he.  [original fiction.  Reproduction or sharing, or passing off as your own is strictly prohibited]

“On January 3rd—about 11 days ago—I pulled into the garage.  The clock on the Sienna’s dash read 1:47a.m. 

         I smelled of Steve.  I inhaled deeply, the scent wafting through my nose, piercing my olfactory bulb and traveling through to my limbic system; the most primitative area of the human brain.  Our bodies are particularly adept at recalling these memories of smell.  But I worried someone else—Joe—would notice and not like it.  It was probably nothing.  My senses particularly heightened, my body in tune with Steve’s pheromones.

         I relished in the thought.

         In my mind, the clock turned back years; instead of walking back into my own house in Grove, IL where I was the parent—the wife—it was my childhood home following a date with Steve.  The motion detecting porch lights, tip-toeing and knowing exactly where the creaky floorboards were located.    

       Tonight was very much the same.  I swallowed.  I was past curfew. 

       Only the moon lit our bedroom, casting shadows on Joe’s sleeping form.  That sour, sleep smell filled the air.  I stripped down to my underwear and slipped into bed next to my husband, my body rigid, a shell of guilt weaving a web of lies. 

       “Women who have affairs often have a plan.  They don’t usually get caught [having an affair].  They can pass it off as a business meeting or luncheon, especially if she works outside of the home.  They don’t blatantly lie about an affair; they just don’t admit it; her lies are those of omission.”  

        My mind knew what that book said.  It was hidden in my nightstand.  Like osmosis pressing its knowledge into my brain. 

        I pulled my legs to my chest into a fetal position, soft, hot tears rolled down my cheek.  Joe rolled over, threw his arm around my shoulder.  “You’re home,” he mumbled. 

          “Yeah,” I said through a sniffle. 

          “Where’d you go?” 

          I cringe because Joe’s sleep breath is bad, and also because I can’t think of anything else to say. “Nowhere.”  

           “To Nikki’s?” 

           “Yeah…Nikki’s.” 

           Joe is quiet for a moment.  We both know it’s a lie. 

           “Hon, I was thinking…I’ve really been a jerk lately.  I am sorry.”  He kissed my shoulder. 

           A hot tear ran down my cheek, a streaked mask; a façade.  “It’s okay,” I whisper.  And it is.

          As I had for the last few months, I fell asleep that night with my head full of Steve.  Full of longing and fear and memories.  Full of possibilities and ramifications.  What would happen to the girls if Joe found out?  What about Steve’s wife?  Our marriages? 

         With or without Steve I wondered if my marriage would survive.  Were Joe and I really meant for each other?  Was Joe ever going to stop being such a workaholic?   

         Like tumbleweeds in the desert on a windy day, the questions wouldn’t rest.  Soon, my body let go and I fell asleep.”

         And dreamed of Steve. 

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