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Snapshot Lies

October 19, 2010

Window in the South Gallery of Lacock Abbey 1835

Before she could reach for the telephone the man wrapped around Sam’s legs ran his hands across the front of her dress and pulled her away. The phone rang once more and ceased. She knew it was Kevin. He was home early from his weekend ski trip with his boss. Three whole days without tending to his every need and Sam felt a weight had been lifted. She could leave the unbearable silence of the house behind her and enter the city. Alone and without supervision. What she found was a man willing to indulge in the passion of secrecy. A hotel room for two. Two open windows. The noise of the city below them as the man’s kisses reminded her of an earlier time; before she married Kevin and entered a world filled with pretense and unforgiving expectations.

The man continued to kiss her as she unbuttoned his shirt and slid slender fingers past his shoulders. The sensations of his touch drifting through her body were losing their vivacity. Instead, what emerged were old memories. Kevin the morning of their honeymoon. Cooking in a tuxedo, barefoot, and over caffeinated. It was an image she involuntarily recalled whenever the guilt arose. If he knew, she had another year or two before Kevin broached the topic. If he was oblivious, she had an indefinite period of time to elongate the shadow of their marriage. Either way, it would half a decade for either of them to sever the last twelve years. It was easier to ignore the awkward glances, the routine of sharing the same bed with the unmistakable center divider and the sloppy goodbye kisses, all for the neighbors who watered their lawns on Saturday mornings. It seemed almost natural to lie about where she’d been.

She moved her head from side to side as if to shake away Kevin’s face from her mind. The man continued to discover the intricacies of her outfit. He folded her skirt and climbed over her, still covering her with kisses. The fantasy was falling apart. She shut her eyes tightly and began again. The new man is still here. His hands are warm and firm. Not like Kevin. Every gesture is meaningful. The kisses resume over her shoulders and down her back. Still here, she thought.

The heat of the room became still. She opened her eyes and recognized the grainy ceiling above her. She’d wanted to smooth it out, but Kevin insisted in keeping it. He said some things were meant to be kept pure. Her eyes moved down her legs and noticed the other pair of feet beside her. Much larger than hers and all too familiar. A birth scar over his toes. The odor of unopened windows, dusty curtains and unwashed bed sheets. Kevin wrapped his arms around Sam and held her close. The forceful break of the fantasy left her stunned, unmoving. She waited until Kevin fell asleep and slide over to the other side of the bed. The sheets were cold, but soothing over the skin.  She stared at herself in the mirror and examined the lines across the eyes. No matter how much she’d wanted her internal world to hold shape, it had taken nearly a decade to admit the truth; her fantasies would never leave the confines of this room.

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