once said a hangover felt like a sharp spear of
light, slicing your eyeballs out of their sockets and leaving every nerve
rubbed raw, while a hundred drummers played in your head, complete with
cymbals. I couldn’t remember who said it, but I could attest to the truth of
it. The room spun. My stomach churned, and my mouth tasted like sour milk. I
squinted against the bright sunlight. Darn, why hadn’t I pulled the shades?
What time was it anyway? Rolling over
and lifting my head just high enough to look at the alarm clock, I tried to
focus. My eyes hurt just looking at the digital numbers.
eight o’clock already.
back down onto the soft mattress, I pressed my
fingertips into my temples. Rotten headache, served me right. Had I really
drank a half bottle of wine? God, I had
drunk so much and barely remembered anything from last night. Anything that is,
except Paul’s hands all over me. Oh Lord, Paul. Memory of last night flashed
through my mind.
had I done? Trying to block out the memory, I pulled
the sheet over my head, and inched my way to the other side of the king-sized
bed, glad for the coolness of the soft cotton sheets. What had possessed me
last night? I wasn’t some sex starved
teen. I was married for cripes sake.
God, how would I face Andrew?
stung my eyes. Suddenly, my actions from last night
became all too clear. How could I have done this? Just because Andrew had been
inattentive and away on business a lot didn’t justify having sex with another
rubbed the sleep from my eyes and groaned. What attracted me
to Paul anyway? He wasn’t even my type.
What the hell does a forty-two year old woman want with a twenty-eight
year old? Hardly even a man. Still a kid.
Young enough to almost be my son.
stupid, stupid! I hated that I had given in. Hated
the guilt that seeped into me. I’d never be able to live with this.
though Paul was, with his black curly hair and tanned
muscular body, we had absolutely nothing in common. Paul, single, athletic and
outgoing, bordered almost on the point of being crude.
Oh, he treated
everyone polite enough, and all the women at the club fawned all over him.
Maybe that was the problem — he acted like God’s gift to women.
what in the world made me give into his seduction? Clearly, I hadn’t been
straight?” I covered my head with the pillow.
“Honey, you weren’t thinking at all.” My voice sounded harsh, raspy. I rolled
over, eased myself up, sat on the edge of the bed, and pushed back the wave of
nausea and dizziness. “Pull yourself together, girl. You have to think this
I couldn’t even focus. And how was I going to face
Andrew when he came home later? I wasn’t good at lying, never had been. Andrew
would guess the minute he saw me. Damn, damn, damn, what had I done?
shuddered at the memory of last night. Paul hadn’t spoken
a single word the whole time we were together. He wasn’t tender or gentle like
Andrew. Our love making had been quick, fierce, almost animalistic. I held my
head in my hands. Couldn’t even call it lovemaking? Nothing more than sex. Pure
unadulterated sex. Stupid, that’s what it was, plain, old, every day stupid. My
stomach turned over, and tears slid down my cheeks.
and disgusted, I lay back down, curled into a ball,
and wanted to disappear. Go back to sleep. Make it go away, a bad dream. But it
wasn’t a bad dream, and it wasn’t going to go away.
I had to get up, move
on, had to work through it. Forget it happened. Yeah, like that was possible.
Never, in this lifetime. More importantly, I had to keep Andrew from finding
out. Right now, I needed to get up. There was much to do today. Lying in bed
and hiding wouldn’t solve
anything. Much as the thought appealed to me. There were errands to run and a
dinner engagement with my friend Jenny.
Oh, crap, Jenny.
How could I even
explain this to my friend? Jenny, who
knew everything wasn’t all peaches and cream between me and Andrew lately,
certainly wouldn’t suspect ‘little prude, Meg Baldwin’ of anything like this. I
really wasn’t a prude, but Jenny thought of me that way.
held me up on some kind of pedestal. Seemed like
everyone did. Heck, how had I earned that reputation anyway? I’d never been
Miss Goody Two Shoes. I did the things most college students did. Drank too
much, skipped classes sometimes. Shoot, there’d been a lot of skipped classes
since I didn’t really want to go to college.
hadn’t I portrayed myself as the perfect wife with the
perfect life? Nothing about me seemed perfect now. I had committed the ultimate
sin, cheated on my husband. Cheated on my family. Cheated myself.
someone had told me twenty years ago I’d be in this
predicament, I would have laughed at them. Even a week, no two days ago, it
would have cracked me up. Tears swelled in my eyes. I swiped them away. How was
I supposed to act normal around my friend or, for that matter, around anyone?
Nope, nothing else to do but postpone our dinner.
What good would that
do? I’d have to see Jenny eventually, and then what? May as well go. Get it
over and done with. I’d muddle through somehow. Besides, confession was good
for the soul,
didn’t have to tell Jenny everything.
fact, I didn’t have to tell Jenny anything. Like that was
possible. Jenny’d see right through me. Always had. She used to laugh at me in
college. I had talked about nothing but marriage and having babies. That’s all I
ever wanted. If my parents hadn’t
insisted, I wouldn’t have gone to college in the first place. My dream was to
find the perfect man, have a dozen kids, and become the perfect wife and
I had found the perfect man — Andrew. We were the
perfect match. Weren’t we? If Andrew found out, he’d never forgive me. Not that
I’d blame him. I couldn’t even forgive myself.
eased off the bed and stumbled to the shower. “Damn it!” I
bumped into the rocker along the way. My head pounded with every step like it
was going to explode. Stopping in front of the large mirror over the vanity and
half afraid to look, my reflection stared back at me.
than a tangled mass of dark brown hair that
desperately needed a color touch-up, I didn’t look any different. Even through my
bloodshot eyes, my face looked normal. A bit pale, some dark circles, but under
the circumstances that didn’t surprise me.
had I expected to see anyway? A sign on my forehead –
cheating wife? I rubbed some cleansing cream on the dark circles under my eyes,
relieved to see most of the black came off.
Phew, just mascara. I wiped off
the face cream and turned on the shower.
took a bit of effort to step into the tub - my whole body
ached. Pulling the curtain, I shivered at the initial shock of cold water.
Finally, a hot steady stream rushed over me, but all the scrubbing didn’t take
the dirty feeling from my body. Didn’t take the feeling of Paul’s hands away.
They’d be forever etched in my mind. Like an octopus he was. Couldn’t keep his
hands off of me. The thought of it repulsed me. Why had I been so attracted
ridden and red from scrubbing, I snapped off the
water, took a deep breath, and swallowed the nausea, rising in my throat. I stepped
out of the shower and heard my daughter’s voice in the hall.
Jason and I are leaving now,” Julie yelled. “Don’t
forget we won’t be home for dinner.”
God, the kids. What if they found out?
wrapped my robe around me, tied it at the waist, and
hurried to the doorway. Not only had I
betrayed Andrew, I had betrayed my kids.