|There was only one letter this morning, and as she read it, tears welled in her eyes and made their slow progress down her face. She was sat on the spindle-back chair at the kitchen table as she read. His chair.
It was only once. One small indiscretion that she had locked within herself and which had haunted her ever since. They say everyone is entitled to make mistakes but there are some actions that we make, instinctively knowing they are wrong, with not a thought for the consequences. But for the last twenty three years those consequences had writhed within her like tangled rope. It was her guilt. She had wanted to tell him. How many times had she sat at this same table with a note pad before her trying to put into words her regret, her shame, some sort of explanation for what she had done? Even now she could pick out the faint trace lines of writing in the surface of the pine kitchen table. Her pen gripped too tightly; the pressure too hard such that the words went through.
Linda got up and walked to the kitchen counter. He’ll be up soon and will be expecting his tea to be ready, as it always had been for these last forty years. How many days is it exactly: three hundred and sixty five multiplied by forty? When she was younger she would have been able to work it out in her head but her mind wasn’t so agile now. Where had she put the calculator?
It was no more than an office fling really, two people that were overwhelmingly attracted to each other. She worked in the accounts department and he was in sales. He was married, of course. The relationship only lasted three months but they stole every moment they could to be with each other. She could remember those trysts now. Their scheming and cunning came so natural to them as they found ways to meet up in empty offices and corridors, anywhere out of prying eyes, just to hold each other for a brief moment. And then there was that afternoon. Ah yes, that afternoon. They had both arranged to work late and when everyone had gone home, they had each other and they had the time to move their relationship past one of just a kiss and a cuddle. Linda pushed the memory aside as quickly as it formed.
It all ended when he was posted to another office down South. They both knew it couldn’t carry on and they mutually accepted it. “Nobody knows about it and no harm has been done,” he said. No harm has been done?
Linda poured boiling water into the mugs and stirred the tea absent mindedly. She took the letter out again from the pocket of her dressing gown. She sat back at the table and held the ticket. It was for a cruise around the Norwegian fjords; a gift from their children to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary. To celebrate their “perfect marriage” as they put it. But it wasn’t perfect was it? There was a flaw deep within the ruby that only she could see, that only she knew existed. How could she accept the gift when it would be a lie? A mockery of their forty years together.
She heard her husband’s footfalls on the stairs and stood up to greet him, at the same time pushing the ticket deep into her pocket. “Happy Anniversary, dear’” he said. He held her tenderly in his arms and kissed her. Linda kissed him back; her loving, faultless, unsuspecting husband.
She pressed her face into the warm crook made by his shoulder and neck and softly began to cry.
The second part of this story is called "Autumn Years - A continuation" and can be found in my portfolio.
Thank you for reading!
© Copyright 2012 Cyril Sweet (UN: cyrilsweet at Writing.Com).
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