If You Leave (with link)

imagethis is a romance short story I wrote for the Becoming Writer Wordhaus Fiction Writing Contest

http://www.wordhaus.com/2010/01/01/romance-if-you-leave/

Trish

I just lied to my husband for the first time in our thirteen years of married life. Okay, sure, I’ve told little white lies.

“Don’t worry, my new shoes weren’t that expensive.”

“Yes, Sunday dinner at your mom’s sounds great.”

“No, that shirt you picked out all by yourself isn’t at all hideous.”

Sam has told his share of little white lies too. Everybody does. The lie I just told him was a doozie. I already feel bad about it. Actually, I feel bad about the last two years.

That’s why I need to do what I’m about to do. It’s time for me to get ready.

*****

I’m sitting at a small table in the corner, waiting. I’m nervous as hell on the inside. On the outside, I hope it doesn’t show. I take a sip of my wine, and I fight the urge to down it all at once. I decide to do some people watching instead.

I look around me, wondering what kinds of stories the people here have. They probably run the gamut. There are most definitely singles looking for love. Perhaps there are happily married couples here for date night. I wonder if anyone else here is in the same situation as me.

Then I spot him coming towards me. I smile and give him a little wave.

*****

My nervousness has subsided. Jake is a nice guy, and to my surprise, I feel comfortable with him. I shouldn’t, of course, but I do. After our few run-ins at the neighborhood coffeehouse, I had a feeling we’d be compatible.

Jake is so easy to talk to. I forgot how good that feels. It’s just so nice to be able to talk to someone again. Me and Sam haven’t talked – really talked – in so long. We also haven’t done other things in a long time. Without realizing it, I’ve put my hand over Jake’s. How long has it been there? I’m touching a man who isn’t my husband, and I’m not weirded out by it. I think I can do this. Or can I?

*****

I glance at my watch. “Oh, I didn’t realize how late it was getting. I should get going.” I glance over at Jake, not knowing what else to say or do. This is awkward, for me at least.

Jake takes my hand in his, and gives it a quick kiss. “I like you, Trish.” He smiles at me. “And don’t worry, I can be discreet.”

I see a twinkle in his eyes. And I didn’t think it could be more awkward than it was a few moments ago. “Um…thank you.” If I’m not mistaken, Jake has just let me know that he’s up for an affair. Good to know. I guess. “Goodnight, Jake. Can I give you a call in a couple of days?”

*****

The lights are on downstairs. Sam must still be up. I was hoping he’d be asleep. I remind myself that he doesn’t know where I was or who I was with. Still, I can’t help but feel guilty. How could I not? I’m thinking of cheating on my husband. Things have been crappy, but Sam’s not a bad guy. He doesn’t deserve that.

I take a deep breath and get out of my car.

Sam

“Sure. Have fun.” I just got off the phone with my wife. I was going to tell her that I had to work late. I know it’s a tired excuse used by men the world over, but I didn’t feel like getting creative. It didn’t matter anyway. She called to tell me that she won’t be home until late tonight. She said she and her best friend, Bonnie, were having an impromptu girls’ night out.

This is perfect. I get to follow through with the plan and I didn’t have to lie to Trish. I’ll just go and check the place out and see what happens. Maybe nothing. I’ve never been there, so I don’t know what to expect.

*****

I pull into the parking lot of Bar None. The name is awful, but I hear it’s a great place to meet people. I shut off the ignition, and suddenly I feel like a piece of shit. I’m forty, and I’m at a bar, hoping to meet someone to have an affair with. I’m a walking cliché.

Things with Trish haven’t been good for a while. It feels like we’ve scarcely talked to one another, let alone touched one another, in a long time. A couple of years at least. I get out of the car and go inside.

The place is pretty nice. It’s one of those trendy places with candles on the tables and original paintings on the walls. I head straight for the bar and order a beer. I do a quick scan of the room. Definitely a lot of great-looking women here. I decide to circulate.

About a minute later, I spot someone familiar in a corner. “What the f-.”

*****

I stand there for a few minutes watching them. Trish hasn’t seen me. My wife is laughing and practically holding hands with another man.

I want to go over and punch this guy in the throat. I take a step forward, intending to do just that. I stop myself, realizing that I have no right to be upset. After all, I’m here at this bar trolling for ass.

What the hell am I doing? I love my wife. True, we seem to have drifted apart. We can get back to where we were before. I know it. We have to. This can’t be how our love story ends.

“I have to win her back,” I say to myself. I turn to walk out before she sees me.

*****

I’m back at home, waiting for my wife. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to say to her, but before her head hits the pillow tonight, she will know that I am ready to fight for her. For us. I don’t know how things between us got so far gone, but I’m ready to re-commit to my marriage. I just hope she feels the same way. I pray that I’m not too late.

Trish & Sam

“Sam, what are you still doing up? I thought you’d be in bed.”

“I was waiting up for you.” I wrap my arms around Trish’s slender waist and kiss her the way I used to. From the way she’s kissing me back, I can tell I haven’t lost her yet. I pull away from her. “We need to talk.”

“Oh…okay.” I can tell by the look on her face that I caught her by surprise with the kiss. She pushes her hair behind her ears and smoothes her dress down. “What’s up?”

“Trish, I saw you at Bar None tonight. You were with another man.”

Her face was suddenly panic stricken. “Oh, God. Sam, I can explain. See, I…wait, what were you doing there?”

Again, I’ve caught her by surprise. “I was there for the same reason you were. I was looking for something or someone else.”

“Sam, I’m so sorry. But nothing happened, I swear.”

“I believe you, Trish. Nothing happened with me either. I left after I saw you there.”

“I don’t know what to say. I’m so ashamed of myself.”

“Oh, Trish. I’m so sorry for everything. I love you.” I kissed her once more. “We can make things right again.” I looked into my wife’s beautiful green eyes. She started to cry.

“I love you too, Sam. I’ve always loved you.”

“Baby, I know that.” I smiled to let her know everything was alright. At least it would be. There was a lot of work to be done on both our parts.

“Do you think we can start over?” Trish looked at me with her eyes full of hope. “What I did tonight was horrible and if I could undo it, I would.” She took my hand and turned my wedding ring around in circles. “Because you know what, Sam? If you leave, I don’t think I could recover.”

I took Trish by the hand and led her towards our bedroom. “If you leave, I know I couldn’t.”

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