The Affair?: A Short Story

She sat at table beside the window that overlooked the lake. Mountains, in shades of blue, rose up in the distance, a thin sheath of fog wending slowly to the left, providing glimpses of the mountain tops.

Her cup of coffee, not instant nor espresso, rather the sort that comes from machine promising lattes and cappuccinos and short blacks and barely delivering, rested beside her right hand. Her left held the edges of the newspaper that would otherwise have flopped over the table’s edge.

An unseen distraction caused her to glance up; perhaps she’d seen something out of the corner of her eye beyond the glass, perhaps a thought exposing itself in her mind. A smile appeared on her face, spontaneous and barely discernible, as though she were trying to keep it hidden. As though she had a secret that she wanted no one to guess.

Her glance moved towards her left hand, her right hand leaving the comfort and safety of her coffee cup to reach across and play with the rings on her wedding finger. She spent some moments in her trance, oblivious to the sounds of the busy restaurant, of cutlery and crockery clattering, small children demanding ‘just one more’ pancake from the DIY pancake machine, and the chatter of diners discussing their plans for the day.

Quietly, she finished her meal, folder her newspaper and her slightly soiled napkin, and returned to the room she’d spent the previous night in. Alone.

Not long after, she was seen wandering the grounds around the residence. Still very much in her reverie, still holding a secretive smile, and still playing with the rings on the third finger of her left hand. Twisting and turning them, then placing her hands in her pocket when she realised what she was doing, only to repeat the action again and again.

Hours later, a man was seen, entering the room she’d been sleeping in. He’d arrived with an overnight bag, knocking on the door and announcing himself as room service, although clearly, he wasn’t.

Bursts of laughter, bouts of uncontrollable giggling, and the sounds of a shower made their way under the door, and down the corridor at regular intervals. Save for the long pause in the midst of it all, an hour, hour and a half in length, of quiet. One could only guess at the goings on behind the door of the woman with the tired eyes and barely discernible, something-to-hide smile, and the man who arrived in the early afternoon, with his overnight bag and little else.

When the emerged, wearing nice dress clothes and a look that novelists would likely describe as ‘post-coital’. Looking closely, their faces were a complex mix of many things; wide grins, tired eyes, and a couple-in-love giddiness that twinkled from within those same tired eyes.

It was a confusing state of affairs for those who had been observing these goings on over the day, and during the course of the evening, where this couple, over dinner, chatted and laughed and clearly enjoyed the moment they had with each other. They did not hold hands, or wipe crumbs of food from each others faces; actions one tends to expect when one witnesses what appears to be an act of infidelity in progress.

Late morning of the following day, they left their room. Each carrying their respective overnight bag on the outside of their bodies, their inside arms wrapped loosely around the waist of the other. They barely lost contact, a hand rested on an arm, fingers lightly touching a leg, as they checked out of the hotel.

Hands were clasped as they made their way through the car park and, to the confirmation of all in view, kissed each other on the lips before getting into two different cars and driving off.

She sat, in her car, glancing out the window, the lake with the ducks and lily pads no longer in view, just a stream of cars that were impeding her exit from the car park. And she laughed.

She laughed as she thought about how this all must have looked from the outside … her sitting alone as she consumed her breakfast, a man making his way into her room, the sounds of laughter, the stupid grins, the dinner together before arising the next morning to depart in separate vehicles.

If only life were half that interesting.

It was no affair. They didn’t even have the energy to pretend an affair; no role play or spicing up the marriage.

Simply two people, married nearly twenty years, three children, busy, with far too much going on in their lives that they were both mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Two people who juggled all the things that needed to be juggled, who organised and called in favours, who sorted a roster for who else – outside of the two of them – could pick up, drop off, put to bed, and feed their offspring as and when required.

Two people who needed a break, and worked it out the best they could, with what they have.

The assumptions, however, are possibly far more exciting than the reality.

The reality, however was just what we needed.

 

 

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