by MD Maurice
What secrets do we give away when we sleep?
|Word count 1998
Julia talks in her sleep and in those dim hours between waking consciousness and fitful slumber, she mumbles her secrets. I lie still and eavesdrop.
That is how I found out about you.
When she breathed your name in the dark, Julia’s voice had had been a yearning moan. My chest grew so tight that every heartbeat was a bolt of white-hot pain. I fractured into pieces in the neon glow of clock.
After wallowing in the despair, a rage bloomed and settled upon me with a blessed clarity. I knew what I had to do to make it right again. I threaded my hand through hers in the dark and kissed her bare shoulder.
I began to plan how I would kill you. It would take time. In the end, I suffered through nine months of preparation. It took almost a year of dedicated, meticulous planning.
That night I waited for you outside our offices. I stood outside the glass doors, just to the right of the area covered by the security camera. I had been acting out for weeks, purposefully tanking my performance and prompting interventions that I rejected out of hand. This day though, I lowered the partition. I asked you for help and you leapt at the chance to be my savior once again. You never failed to play the hero card when it was dangled in front of you.
“I think Julia is having an affair,” I confessed in the back of the abandoned and unmonitored warehouse parking lot where you had followed me. I did not have to fake the anguish in my words. I said them, and then I watched your eyes.
Did I imagine your mouth twitched slightly, that your eyes almost closed for a second? Had I seen the guilt flash across your handsome features before you composed yourself? In an instant you became my friend again, my mentor. Your eyes became the windows of compassion and understanding. This is what had been wrong with me for months, this situation was fixable. You could save me, again.
You adopted that supportive, solemn expression of yours and draped a comforting arm around my shoulders. You assured me it could not be true, ran through the merits of my marriage, gave testimony for my loyal and loving wife. You assured me that I must be mistaken, that Julia would never betray me. You were so convincing as you sat that there, giving me those false assurances.
You never saw it coming. The gun was at your ear before you drew another breath, uttered another lie. I stared into your eyes for only a second before I pulled the trigger, never giving you a chance to tell me how sorry you were for fucking my wife. I left you in the parking lot, a crumbled heap by the side of your car, enough heroin in the glove compartment to tarnish your stellar reputation and raise a decent theory or two about what had happened. I drove home. I burned my clothes and showered while Julia slept.
It was done. I grieved along with Julia at your loss and tried to put my life and my trust back together with her. Our friend and my mentor was dead, a senseless crime in a violent world. We grieved but we lived on. My revenge had been sated. I even managed to feel grateful that you’d somehow left no traces of your acts behind for anyone to find, like photos or receipts. For months after, I was afraid someone would figure it out. I was terrorized by the idea that Julia might confess the affair to me in her grief and that it would suddenly occur to everyone that given my position, I had possessed the motive to murder. Mercilessly, and I can only assume, rightfully, nothing like that happened. The matter was behind me, behind us.
I forgave Julia’s straying. I accepted her betrayal as a temporary lapse, bore of weakness and strain after that miscarriage during the holidays. My wife had fallen into a state of depression. My projects had kept me in long hours, and I know now that she must have suffered in silence. She would have been an easy target for you. I reasoned that none of this had been her fault.
After Julia had processed your loss, the light returned to her eyes. She no longer fell into dark moods that would last for days. With you dead and buried, Julia refocused more on our marriage, on being a good and adoring wife. She lavished me with attention, planned elaborate little getaways and found a renewed vigor in our lovemaking. In a bizarre way her brief affair had opened her up to the new possibilities of physical love and I reaped the benefits of that awakening.
I contemplated this all again as I watched my wife rub tanning oil into her perfect skin. It was her idea, this trip to Mexico. Julia had wanted to go somewhere new and exotic for our ten-year anniversary. She had spent hours looking for just the right place and finally decided on Tulum, a remote tropical paradise that boasted few amenities but glorious ruins and wide, remote white sand beaches. We arrived last night and had fumbled around in the dark until we found our lodgings, little more than a beach shack with a thatched roof and tiny kitchen. At first, I had baulked at the idea of staying on the ocean. A city rat at heart, I have never learned to swim. Julia had been enchanted with the place though and I could not deny her anything.
Sitting here, on the porch of our bungalow, staring out at perfect turquoise waters, I can see the wisdom of her selection. She looks amazing this morning, her red suit hugging every curve as she gets up to walk down the beach. I watch her go and marvel that this beautiful creature belongs to me.
Julia looks back and catches me staring. She tosses her mane of dark curls and flashes me a smile that stops my heart. She wades out into the water and calls out to me.
“Harold, come on. At least put your feet in, it’s so wonderful!”
I shake my head smiling, “I’ll just watch you, Baby.”
“Are you sure you just want to watch me?” She asks, pouting sexily.
Julia slides the straps of her red suit off her shoulders.
“What are you doing?” I ask, sitting up in my lounge chair, feeling the familiar tightening in my groin.
“Come one Harold, I won’t let you get too deep,” Julia teases, continuing to ease the suit down, exposing more and more of her perfect breasts.
I cross the sand, already hot in the early morning sun. I scan the beach, but we are totally alone. The roofline of the next closest bungalow is barely discernable in the distance. I stop about five feet from the edge of the surf.
“What if someone sees us?” I ask, already conscious of my erection straining inside my khaki shorts.
In answer, Julia pushes her suit all the way down to her waist. She runs her hands over her breasts, squeezing them, teasing her nipples into hard points. She slips completely out of her suit, lets the surf take it from her. She stands in calf deep water, completely naked, beckoning to me again. She twists her body in the sunlight and her creamy skin shimmers. Her body makes me weak and the urge to touch her, to be inside her is overwhelming. She smiles that way she’s done so often lately, the smile that says her body is all mine. Julia reaches for me and I take her hand.
She pulls me against her in water that is ankle deep and cool. She slips her hands down the back of my shorts, cupping my buttocks and grinding her body against mine. We began to kiss and caress each other, moving together. My hands find her breasts, her nipples rock hard in my palms. I lower my head to suck them into my mouth, tasting salt and the faint sweetness of lime and coconut. I run my hands down over the curve of her ass as she backs further out into the surf.
Waist deep now, I am losing myself in her heated kisses. Julia’s teeth gnash my neck and her hands move to the fly of my shorts, freeing me. My fingers find her underwater and she is warm and wet inside. Julia's moans grown louder, rising above the sounds of the gulls and the surf. She tugs at me, wraps her arms around my neck.
Aching to be inside her, oblivious to the rising water rushing past us, I lift her up by the back of her thighs and bring her down onto me. She begins to move, up and down, clutching me with her legs, arching her back so I can bite and suck at her as we fuck. The sensation of being partially submerged in the cool water and enveloped in the heat of her sex is amazing. I feel her convulse around me. I feel myself getting closer and unable to hold on any longer, I drive myself into her, losing myself and howling into the air above our heads.
I come in a powerful rush and I feel as if I am slipping. My euphoria gives way to terror as I realize that I am slipping, slipping out of Julia and farther into the deep blue. My feet flail wildly, seeking purchase with the ocean floor and I drive myself even deeper out in my growing panic. Julia’s thighs slide off me. I reach for her but catch only the side of one slick hip as she retreats from me. The sea seems to be alive, a thing that pulls me like an arm around my waist, farther and farther out. I look up through the salt and spray and see her standing firmly, the water lapping just below her sex.
Her body is shaking, her breasts heaving…with fear for me? No, wait. She is laughing. I am slowing drowning and my wife is standing there, watching and laughing. The incredulity of the situation hits me with a force as great as a tidal wave.
“Julia? What is this? Help me, Goddammit!” I scream at her, reaching out before another wave overtakes me and drags me back.
The water climbs up my chest. The sea throttles me. I take in great gulps of air that quickly turn to swallows of bitter salt water. I taste brine and filth and death. I go under, and then fight to the surface again, my lungs burning.
“You said you would take care of me!” I scream, frantic now.
Julia has gotten smaller, faded back from where I struggle in the waves. I go under again and again, each time finding the surface with more and more effort. This time when I get my head above the waves, Julia is speaking to me in a cold voice I would never have recognized as belonging to my wife.
“I am taking care of you Harold, just like you took care of Jim.”
My heart stops and there is a terrible moment suspended between us as she says your name. My beautiful wife backs away toward the beach slowly, her eyes are on me and there is a strange, serene smile on her cruel mouth. My body is growing weaker and I can feel the insistent pull of the tide on my failing limbs. Julia fades into the landscape.
I muster one last feat of strength and surge up from the depths to scream, “You planned this you bitch! How did you know?”, at the top of my tortured lungs.
Before I slip under again, I hear Julia, giving me her answer from the safety of the shore, “You talk in your sleep Harold.”