Maya stopped outside the bedroom, ears right next to the keyhole, eyes shut, nostrils flaring as she inhaled the scent: All Spice with a hint of caramel. She forgot the headband that matched her jogging outfit inside and had to fetch it, but it was a Monday and her husband was sleeping-in late. He worked weekends in the office. He always came back home smelling nice.
She wondered if her husband’s bulk was on top of her sister’s midsection, his syncopated thrusts matching her movement.
Damn the headband. She paused on the landing, waiting, hoping, before letting her feet steer her to the Writing Room. She was late anyway for her morning jog.
They looked like…
She failed to conjure the right metaphor—another of her numerous inadequacies. Her deadline loomed, she was only one story away from completing her manuscript.
Write about infidelity.
Maya paced back and forth in the Writing Room, eyes on the peeling sky-blue paint, then to the congested bookcase. She moved to the window, deciding to check out her stalker. He usually lurked over there, on the opposite side of the street facing the garage. She should confront him, maybe that would give her the story she needed.
Her mother once told her that growing up meant putting up with the world’s crap. Words like subdued, drama- trauma, flashed in her head. She rushed down the stairs feeling lightness in her steps. She let the imagined but possibly, oblivious, lovers upstairs have the house to themselves.
“Hey!” She started running across the street. Her stalker, seeing her coming towards him, took off on his bicycle. He wasn’t exactly speeding with that violin case strapped to his back. She chased him all the way to Belling Street near the St John’s Retail Park. He parked outside Harris Café, a nice hangout that let local bands perform on weekends. Her stalker walked in, not bothering to take off his coat. He shook some hands before dragging a stool up front then pulled the violin from its case wedging it between chin and shoulder.
She found out her stalker’s name was David. The sign near the entrance said he only performed mornings, Mondays, and Fridays.
David smiled when she walked up to him. She noticed missing buttons from his… drab, shapeless coat. He looked at least ten years her senior, but probably one with…latent maturity. His face reminded her of that…impecunious agitation she felt the time she pitched her first book to an agent. She liked him.
The stalking would continue, which she didn’t mind.
David took regular trips to the supermarket only to buy butter. He dutifully sent his coat to the laundry every Thursday. He liked to stare at the same flower shop her guilty husband bought tulips from.
She imagined their life together. They had dinners—Chinese takeout—in the basement of his house, sometimes pretending they were in a bunker, safe from raids. When they weren’t in the bunker/basement, they spent time in his bedroom. She liked to watch herself in the mirror when he touched her. Thin hands squeezed drooping breasts that looked like wilting flowers. When his lanky arms circled her, she noticed her slack belly, bulging buttocks and her sagging arms. The word flaccid flashed in her head, another good adjective that could work as a title.
The flowers she arranged every morning in the bedroom refused to fall into the neatness she was used to, instead they swung round, almost slipping from her fingers, she wrote down in her notebook before reaching for a menthol cigarette from the pack that belonged to David, her now stalker/possible lover. Would her husband suspect anything if she back home smelling like mint and nicotine?
Months later, David told her he couldn’t take it anymore. The time she didn’t spend with him, hurt him, tortured him, agonized him. The way he said it made the words, unoriginal as they were, forgivable, even inspiring. He inhabited an ill-defined state of insatiable lust that made his predictability all the more appealing.
“I have a plan,” he started. “If we both die at the same time, we’ll belong to each other forever…in the afterlife.”
“You think so?” Maya wasn’t convinced.
He wanted each of them to drive her car/his bicycle down the edge of the cliff, leaving behind—in his apartment—their wallets and anything that might help identify them. She wondered if all illicit romance had to involve dying and/or painful separation. There was a picture of her in one of David’s pockets. Would he leave that behind? Her husband kept a photo of her sister in his wallet, too.
Where was her sister right now? In that bar where she and HER own husband first met? There was something funny/ridiculous/scary about it. What was it? Maya pleaded with her weary mind to remember THAT story.
Riham Adly is an Egyptian writer/blogger/translator. Her fiction has appeared in over forty online journals such as The Citron Review, Flash Frontier, Flash Back, Ellipsis Zine, Okay Donkey, Bending Genres, Afreada, Connotation Press, Spelk, The Cabinet of Heed, Vestal Review, Five:2:One, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Gingerbread House lit, Writing in a Woman’s voice, and Danse Macabre, among others. She has forthcoming stories in Sunlight Press. Riham recently received two Best of the Net nominations. She lives with her family in Giza, Egypt.