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A Night in Memory

This piece emerged from a prompt in my creative writing class, which asked for a story about a man or woman who’s had an affair in a hotel room the night before, only to wake up beside their spouse. The action was to take place entirely inside the hotel room, with no significant back story.

I got through about 3/4 of the writing of this piece while in class and had a decent response to it during the sharing and workshopping session, so I decided I’d go ahead and finish it up. I did that just this evening, along with a little polishing on the first section from the night before, and all in all I’m fairly pleased with it. What I wanted to get at in this piece is the idea that people don’t (usually) cheat merely out of a desire for simple sex or orgasm, but because they have a deep need inside that isn’t being met in their home life. That’s not an indictment of blame, incidentally; sometimes it’s just a matter of how people’s lives evolve, and my take is that mutual understanding and meeting of needs, not blame, guilt and penance, is the more mature way of coping.

I hope you like it; please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think!

–Jason

A Night in Memory

Carl awoke with a start, the unexpected warmth of sunlight playing across his eyes through the half-open blinds of the Prudence Hotel and Bakery. He breathed deeply and smiled, reveling in the warm scent of sex that still permeated the room, a remnant of a night spent entwined with the most passionate, intense woman he had ever met. Still afflicted by the hazy, early afternoon sunlight that danced across his face, he closed his eyes for a moment and remembered, with fondness and an emerging desire for round four, the beautiful, vivacious redhead he pictured sleeping quietly beside him. She was everything his wife had never been: adventurous and experimental, open to touch and be touched in ways and places the mother of his children never had, for hour after hour into the night. The way her body responded to his worship of her every sensual part made him feel, for the first time in years, like a powerful, competent lover, like the man he thought he’d forgotten how to be. This new woman, he thought, was a little piece of bliss.

Eyes still closed, he turned, slid his hand softly up the back of her leg, lovingly caressed her bottom, and gently stroked the small of her back as a soft, happy sigh escaped her. He leaned in to kiss her perfectly proportioned lips, and as they responded to his touch, Carl could not help but smile. He opened his eyes, and his heart leapt. A chill ran up his spine and he cried out, leapt backwards, and fell, backside-first, out of the bed, onto the hard Berber carpeting. His heart pummeled the inside of his ribcage, and he struggled to comprehend why the gleaming blue eyes of his wife, her face framed in medium-length tussled brown hair, stared bemusedly at his panicked face.

“Do I look that bad?” Syndi asked, tugging the covers up over her exposed bosom. She laughed and yawned all at once, her face an expression of delight and loving humor as she spied the terrified and confused look of her husband upon the floor. His jaw quivered as he looked, confused, around the room, mentally fumbling for some sign of familiarity, of continuity, of the amazing night now muddied in his mind. Had it been a dream? It couldn’t be, he thought; he still felt chafed and spent, his jaw ached and his tongue felt just a little numb. He ran his hand across his chin, but there was hardly more than a single night’s stubble, so he reasoned that he hadn’t simply drunk himself stupid and lost a night. A storm of excuses for his memory loss raced through Carl’s brain, then drained away with the color of his face as he realized there was no good explanation for why he’d gone to bed with a new lover and awoken with his wife of more than a decade. He looked into Syndi’s eyes, then swallowed.

“Where are we?” he asked, finally, his mind trying to find the safest way to engage her without admitting anything. The room, he thought, seemed familiar enough; it was definitely the room he remembered sharing with the beautiful redhead from the bar.

“The Prudence Hotel, silly. Don’t you remember last night?” Syndi supplied, yawning again. Carl’s eyes traced the lines of her face, carefully seeking out any betrayal of information or deceit, but he detected nothing. He stood up, still naked, and turned toward the hotel door.

“I think so,” he admitted, “but I think I’m a little hung over. I feel kind of…surreal. How ‘bout you?” He turned back toward Syndi, and as he collected his pants, shoes and shirt from the floor, he thought the conspicuous cleanliness of the carpet seemed a little strange. Syndi smiled, lay backward and stretched out across the bed, her toes tugging the covers down off her breasts. Even spread-out while her back arched, Carl noticed they were more strikingly beautiful than he remembered, and for a moment he wondered how they had ever drifted apart.

“I’m just the right combination of sore, spent, and hungry, my love. Are you gonna get a shower?” Carl scratched his chin and nodded, still wondering at the jarring ease and comfort with which she behaved, in contrast with his own disorientation. Wordlessly, he stepped across the room, opened the bathroom door and dropped his clothes. Carl’s breathe caught in his throat, and a tear slipped silently down his face, warm comprehension swelling in his heart as he saw the glittering green dress of the red-headed woman hung carefully from one of the towel racks, a long, flowing, red wig draped carefully across the shoulders.

As Syndi’s warm fingers entwined with Carl’s and he gazed into the deep, blue pools of her beautiful eyes, she smiled, caressed his face and whispered, “It’s alright, my love; I needed last night every bit as much as you, and I don’t regret a single moment.” Surrounding her in his arms, Carl sank to his knees and softly, happily wept.