The house was dark as I entered through the front door.
I didn’t need to turn the light on. Cheryl, my wife, and I had lived here for over 15 years. I knew every inch, every piece of furniture. I knew which stairs squeaked, and where to place my feet to make sure they didn’t. I knew that the bedroom door never closed properly.
Cheryl had been after me to fix that for years, but I never got around to it. I guess it didn’t matter now.
The bedroom was dark too, but the blinds were thin, allowing some of the full moon’s light to cast soft illumination into the room. More than enough to see Cheryl curled up asleep, and someone, who wasn’t me, curled up behind her.
I could tell they had had sex. The room stank of it. Cheryl was naked, and she rarely slept so, not unless she dozed of in her post orgasmic haze.
Given their position I wondered if he was still inside her.
Questions started to present themselves to me and I wondered about their affair. Who had started it? How had it progressed? How did they make the leap from being friends, to being lovers? I saw his hand curled protectively across my wife. He was wearing a wedding ring.
So, he was married too.
I wondered about his wife. Was she even now sleeping alone, wondering where her husband was while his dick was lodged in my wife’s ass crack?
Did they have kids?
What was the problem with their marriage that he had to be here interfering with mine.
And what was the problem with my marriage that he was able to.
I thought back to when I had met Cheryl. We neither of us were children. I had been 32 and she was 18 months older. I had been married before, but although Cheryl had had a long-term relationship, they had never tied the knot. He had apparently kept promising that one day he would ask, but never did. Eventually she gave up waiting.
Both of us had been single for over a year before we met up, and although we met on a dating site, it was literally love at first sight.
I had thought that we would be together forever. Apparently, that was not to be.
I sat on the stool by the dresser and watched her sleep.
She was as beautiful as ever. Her long dark hair had streaks of grey in it now. She used to dye it, but for some reason more recently she had decided to acknowledge her age and was ‘growing old gracefully’, and it was graceful.
Yes, she had some grey in her hair. And yes, she had a few more lines around her eyes and her mouth. Laughter lines I think they call them, but none of that mattered to me. I loved her just as much, more even, today than I did when we first met.
I had thought I would feel more pain than this, but for some reason I just felt empty. No anger, sadness, grief or loss just a void. A dark and cold emptiness. I wondered at that.
How can It be that after so long together I can contemplate my wife, in bed with another man, and not feel anything. I loved her with all my being and yet seeing her in his arms just left me feeling only very slightly sad. Nothing more.
I watched for a few minutes more, wondering what I should do next.
Should I wake them? Demand explanations, commit violence? He seemed to be much bigger than me, so I’m not sure how that would turn out, but I just didn’t have the energy for it. Empty as I said. Just slightly sad.
I noticed then that Cheryl’s eyes were open, and she was regarding me.
She looked like she was afraid to move. Not afraid that I might attack them or hurt her, more the kind of fear you get when approaching a skittish animal. Fear of frightening it away.
“Julian?” she said quietly.
“Cheryl,” I replied. She stiffened. She blinked several times as if trying to convince herself that I was real. I guess she hadn’t expected to see me.
“Who is he?” I asked quietly.
“His name is Tom,” she replied. “He’s a teacher at the school.”
I nodded sadly.
“Just over six years.”
“Six years?” I asked incredulously. How had I not known about this. She had been seeing another man for six years.
Despite our conversation Tom didn’t stir. His slow heavy breathing continued.
“I thought you loved me,” I said.
“Baby, I loved you more than you can ever imagine. You were the best man I ever knew.”
“Then why? “I asked “Please tell me. Why are you sleeping with him?”
“I’m sorry baby,” she said, tears now tracking down her face. She was still lying down, so they were running across her nose and into and out of her other eye. “I am so very sorry. But I was so lonely, I needed someone.”
“We made vows to each other, to love each other forever.” I said.
“No,” she replied, more tears flowing now “Not forever. We said ‘till death do us part’, that was the promise we made baby.”
“’til death do us part,” I repeated. A little confused by her words.
“I’m so sorry baby,” she said sobbing quietly now, “but you left me, you died.”
I looked down at myself, finally seeing the truth. I wasn’t sitting on the stool, the stool didn’t exist anymore I was actually sitting on nothing, with my legs partly encased in her bedside table.
No wonder there was no noise on the stairs, and that I hadn’t stumbled on any furniture.
I remembered now.
For the first time I noticed that the ring on Tom’s finger matched exactly the wedding ring Cheryl was wearing.
The sadness was gone, even the emptiness was gone.
“Do you love him?” I asked.
“He is a good man, and yes, I love him. Not like I loved you. Not more or less, just a different kind of love.”
“Does he treat you well?”
She smiled.“He does.”
“Is he good in bed?”
This time she laughed, although I could see the tears still flowed.
“Will I see you again?” she asked after a moment.
I thought about that for a second.“I don’t think so. Maybe, someday perhaps but not for a long time I hope”
I stood up and moved a little closer.
Kissing my fingers, I touched them to her forehead.
“I love you,” I said. “I will always love you.”
Trembling she lifted her arm to touch my hand, but we never connected.
“I love you too,” she replied, “and I’ll never forget you.”
Leaning forward I placed my hand on Tom’s shoulder
“Look after her, she is very special” I said to him. He didn’t stir.
Then with a final look back at my beautiful, widow’s face, I left.