Archive for July 9th, 2011

9th July
written by amber

A Phone Message

Elizabeth burst through the door, two plastic bags of groceries dangling from each arm (she’d forgotten the reusable bags again), her purse leaping off her shoulder like a suicidal ski jumper and the cat tangling around her legs. She dumped the bags on the floor and picked up the cat as she pressed the button to play the answering machine message. She expected something from her youngest daughter, a demand to pick her up at the soccer field or a request to spend the night with a friend.

Thus she wasn’t listening too closely as the message played. An unfamiliar male voice. “I love you. I can’t live without you. Run away with me. I’ll pick you up at 9.”

She played it again. It was the same. She pressed ‘Erase.’ What if Stuart heard this?

She hadn’t had an affair since that rough patch in their marriage, two years in, before the kids were born. But she’d been feeling restless recently, more interested in the men she saw, trying to look sexy again, not that Stuart had noticed. Someone else obviously had – but who?

The young man in cut-offs who mowed their lawn? She’d given him lemonade; they’d talked about Cuban music. He’d joked about taking her dancing. She’d told him, good god, she’d told him that her husband never took her dancing any more.

Jeff, the husband of Stuart’s secretary? They’d hung out together at the office picnic last week, two spouses not in on the latest fifth floor gossip. They’d flirted. She drank too much spiked punch. She let him kiss her behind the public washrooms.

The mystery man who was at her favourite coffee shop nearly every time she went. They enjoyed long long talks about books and movies, about life and people they knew. She knew so much about his life and he knew so much about hers. Except they didn’t know each other’s names.

This is ridiculous, she thought, and dragged the grocery bags into the kitchen. A note from Stuart. “Don’t worry about making dinner. I’ll be a little late but I’ll bring something.”

She put the groceries away, fed the cat and poured herself a glass of wine.  The kids would be home any minute, and then she could stop speculating on who the call could be from. But the kids didn’t show up.

She called them. They had the same story – daddy said they could visit a friend for the night.

She’d tell the man, “No.” But at least she could look nice when she did it. She changed out of her work clothes into a soft summer dress. She put on  White Shoulders perfume and a touch of eyeshadow.

Another glass of wine. Sitting on the porch at 8:45. Who would arrive first – the mystery man or Stuart? This could get awkward.

At nine, Stuart’s Smart Car rolled up the driveway. He got out, flowers in hand. “Are you ready to run away with me, oh lovely Elizabeth?”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

Thank you to Jane Steblyk for suggesting this story idea.