Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vignette - The Last Time

The Last Time

by Rick Diehl

They always met in some seedy hotel room, since neither the man or the woman made enough money to pay for anything better without causing their spouses at home to get suspicious of the spending. Honestly though the room never really mattered, since their hunger for each other overshadowed everything else in their lives by that point, and compared to the common sense that both of then had long sense left behind, the quality of the room they met in, was a minor thing to ignore.

He was not young anymore, but not quite ready to relax completely into middle age yet either. But the gray hair in his beard and the expanding pot belly told him that time was no longer on his side, if it ever had been in the first place. She was younger, in her early 30’s, small and pretty, but beginning to show the wear of time and poverty.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love his wife, or that she didn’t love her husband, it was just after meeting at a party a few months earlier, they somehow couldn’t stop themselves from finding reasons to keep “accidentally” running into each other, and so, within a few days of meeting, they were very much involved. I can’t really say that they were in love, put it was inarguable that there was something lacking in each of their lives that they were able to fill with each other.

They were lying on top of the bed, naked, enjoying the afterglow from making love, and sharing a cigarette, taking turns blowing smoke rings into the air and laughing, when she turned over beside him in bed, and became serious, she told him that she was going to tell her husband about her affair and that she thought that they should leave their spouses and move in together.

The man went very quiet, and became very serious and the room became very cold, and for the first time the woman noticed that the room was dirty and cheap. Finally he spoke.

“What, are you fucking insane?” he finally burst out, a bit louder than he meant, “What are our kids going to say when they find out we’ve left their parents to run away with each other?”

She drew up tight, pulling her knees toward her face and wrapping her arms around her legs, and despite his anger the man couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was at this moment with nothing but the brown 40 watt light bulb dangling above.

“I’m not trying to be mean,” his voice going soft, “but we both have our own lives and this was never meant to make those go away.”

“But what would be wrong with us taking the chance, can you really say that you’re happy at home?”

He had to admit to himself that she had a point, or why else would he have been where he was in the first place. But then he thought some more about the slow, boring life he had at home, and realized that as miserable as he was in that place, it was his life, and like it or not, he wasn’t willing to change that.

“Look, maybe someday when the boys are out of the house, and she’s doing better at her job, maybe then I can think about leaving, but until then, I can’t. And what about you, are you willing to put your little girl through that?”

She stepped off the bed and instead of heading into the shower like she did every other time, she began to quickly put on her clothes, and gather her purse.

He tried to get her to calm down and sit with him, but she was angry and hurt and soon enough, she walked toward the door, and he knew that this could be the last time he ever saw her.

He asked her to stop and clam down a minute and talk to him.

She turned and looked at him and smiled, but there were tears in her eyes.

“You already told me once how you feel, you don’t need to tell me twice.”

“If you don’t want to come be with me, you don’t have to, you’re a grown up and can make your choices?”

“So is this it then?” he asked, “Is this the last time we’re going to get together?”

“I just don’t know” she said, and then began to sob.

He got up, still naked and took her in his arms, holding her tight while she cried for a very long time.

After awhile he let her go and put on his own clothes and they left, dropping the key in the box on their way to their cars, and then they went home, she went east and he went south.

The sun was very high in the sky, and a single bird could be heard singing.

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