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2nd February
posted by amber


At the stoplight, as I stood and waited for the ‘Walk’ signal, I saw a woman in a car that was stopped and signalling to turn. She was kissing the driver, a man I did not recognize.

But I recognized her. It was my mother and she was having an affair.

I was on my way to the hospital to visit my father who was there recovering from a heart attack. My first impulse, to turn away before she saw me, was slow in coming and unnecessary anyhow. The embrace ended and the man accelerated around the corner, squealing his tires, although the light was still against him. An approaching driver had to slam on his brakes and swerve around.

And I saw my mother – who would have been pale and shaking if my father had pulled such a trick – laugh.

At the hospital, I wondered if my father knew about the affair. If knowledge of it had contributed to his heart attack. But I didn’t ask him, suffering from the same reticence which had made me want to hide my face when I saw her with that man, instead of pointing and shouting, “Adulteress! Adulteress!”

I returned to my apartment and didn’t phone her that day, as I had done every day since my father went into the hospital. Nor did I phone her the next day.

She barely seemed to notice. She called me on the third day, the day we were to meet with the doctor and receive an update. We’d planned to travel together by taxi, but she told me I could take the bus as I usually did while she’d be driven to the hospital by ‘a friend.’

And if I hadn’t known what I knew, I’d have pictured another grey-haired lady, just like her, as the ‘friend.’ She was that cool, that brazen, but I knew better. But still, her very casualness gave me doubts – had I really seen a kiss or just a supportive embrace from a man friend? Had I really seen her laugh or had she been screaming with despair?

So I hid behind the large sign near the hospital’s entryway and saw the same sporty little car and the same handsome man with his mane of thick white hair. And a rerun of the same kiss. Illicit passion. No doubt about it. After the kiss, she got out and he sped away, nearly hitting some poor patient shuffling along with their IV pole and a cigarette.

When the doctor told us that my father was recovering well after his procedure and would be able to return home next week, I was certain I saw sadness mixed with determination on her face and I knew she was going to tell him.

It would kill him.

She is the love of his life, as he repeatedly tells everyone. And he needs her now more than ever. But I don’t really have a choice. I’ll step up and look after him after she’s gone. Losing her will be a terrible blow to him, but he’ll never know how much worse of a blow I’m protecting him from.

And if I pull this off the way I’ve planned it, her boyfriend will pay too, for his careless driving if nothing else. One little shove is all it’ll take, the next time he drops her off at the hospital…

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted 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 or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

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