by Noni Bird
500-word dialogue piece
“No…anywhere. Anywhere but here! Ugh.”
“You have? When? Where? With whom?”
“Slow down. I have to think. There have been a couple…”
“A couple of men?”
“Yes, men. Aren’t we talking about men?”
“Yes. You’ve had an affair or two?
“You asked if I’ve ever fallen for someone at work. I did, thirty years ago.”
“Well, this man, George, and a business partner bought out the company I was working for and took it private. He was wealthy, an MBA from Wharton, Big Four CPA – Big Eight, back then – and handsome, unmistakably Jewish. A New Yorker.”
“Exactly. It’s hard to believe he was just forty-two back then…so young…but I was only thirty myself. I was totally in his thrall; I would have done anything for him, and he was very fond of me too. I was reporting directly to him in the beginning as the interim CFO. It was a heady time.”
“My husband almost divorced me because I became such a workaholic: I never went home at night. I already felt unfaithful at that point. But I didn’t commit adultery, at least.”
“What stopped you?”
“George was married with two sons, like me. I decided I couldn’t hurt his marriage or compromise our professional relationship. I respected him too much.”
“Is that the end of the story?”
“No, of course not, I wouldn’t bore you.”
“To continue…the company started to fail after only two years – it was too highly leveraged - and it was incredibly stressful trying to hold it together financially. It broke my heart, but I had to leave.
“Not long afterwards, I had lunch with a friend who stayed behind. She told me George had a girlfriend he brought in to be his secretary.”
“Yes, I was totally disillusioned. And it was a dagger in my heart to be passed over for an affair with some unexceptional twenty-something.”
“But recently, my husband and I were back in Philadelphia. We met for dinner with a friend, Dave, and his wife and talked about the old days, when Dave and I worked together. Suddenly, Dave remembered he was connected to George on Facebook, so he pulled out his phone.”
“The fours of us felt like voyeurs looking at the Facebook photos, but we did it anyway, even my husband. George had aged well and was handsome as ever, in better physical shape than I remembered, when I’d never seen him in anything other than a business suit. There was a photo of him standing between two women. The one on his left was wearing a graduation cap and gown. I thought she must be his granddaughter; she bore a resemblance to him, but not a striking one.”
“Then Dave recognized the woman on George’s right. It was the former secretary! The college graduate was their daughter.”
“Is that the end of your story?”
“Yes. And they lived happily ever after.