They’d only met once yet she felt as if she’d known him for longer than their three week on-line acquaintance. He was handsome with kind brown eyes, short wavy brown hair and a neatly groomed beard just showing hints of gray at the chin and sideburns. In a word, he was delicious.
His smile when he’s met her at the parking lot of a park midway between the two of them, had eased her nerves and lightened her day, but his hug, a lingering, warm hello, had recalled her to the excitement of youth and the stirring of long dormant passions.
“I wondered if you’d called me out here to stage some kind of chainsaw massacre,” he joked, as they walked along a groomed trail by a hidden lake in the middle of rural farmland. It was twilight and the sun winked off the water lending an enchanted element to their evening stroll.
They walked to the edge of the trail before exploring a path off the main trail, walking down a hill to a canopied lane of green leafy branches stretching above them in a bower made for intimacy. They linked fingers as they talked, and she snuck several peeks at his profile when she noticed he was doing the same. Once they were hidden enough from the main trail, he spun her around and kissed her, a gentle meeting of lips, their hot breaths mating in the cooler air found below the level of the lake.
“That was nice,” she whispered against his lips.
“I wanted to get to know you first before I did that.” She felt, rather than saw, his answering smile curve against her mouth. “Was that ok? Not too fast?”
She shook her head. “No, just right.”
They entwined their hands this time and rejoined the main path, the sun just beginning to dip below the lake’s horizon.
He knew she was married and that her relationship was strained, so he asked her about it and she talked in halting phrases of how their marriage had drifted apart, how the love they had once shared had faded because of anger and distrust. He shared his own past relationship, and she discovered in him a thoughtful, caring companion.
They shared one final kiss as the sun disappeared completely behind the lake. She knew nothing beyond the gentle pressure of his lips and the tightening in her lower abdomen. His farewell hug lingered and his strength secured her to him. It was with some reluctance they parted in the parking lot, but they had made plans to meet again next week. Their parting would not be for long.
Happiness bubbled within her for the first time in almost two years. She had a companion to talk to, a friend to share with, a lover to explore their mutual passion. That night she slept more soundly than she had in years.
The next morning, there was a text waiting for her.
I kept thinking about what you said when the therapist asked you if you wanted to stay married to your husband. You said yes. I don’t want to be hurt if you eventually find you want to remain with your husband, and I can’t be the man to break up your marriage. Call me if you’re ever single.
She wrote back, assuring him she understood and wishing him a good life, but inside she died a little. For while they had talked the previous evening about their marriages, she had said to him she’d told her therapist she wanted to remain married to her husband, but that had been several months previous before she understood their trust to be completely broken. But he was a good man, an honorable man and he was doing what was right. So she lied and said good-bye. She was the married one. She was the one hoping for a relationship where none was possible. She was the one pretending.
She returned to the secluded lake the next night, knowing he was gone from her life and most likely for good. The sun dipped behind the lake as it had the night before, but this time, the water didn’t shimmer like diamonds on glass. This time, it was her falling tears which caught and shimmered on her damp cheeks. But no one was there to see it.
As always, she was alone.
(C) Sara Ackerman, 2019