This story is by D.C. Weigel and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The events of the past two days had been unusual, it was true. Rita sat in the office of her little house, thinking about them. Dave had been having an affair. Her mind reeled a bit at this. Wholly unexpected. She had had no idea he even had friends at work, let alone a lover. She shook her head in disbelief, then turned her attention to the book sitting on her desk. Faulkner. It was what she read every evening.
Every evening for their entire marriage, Rita and Dave had sat together in their home office. He would work and she would read. In fact, every day of their marriage looked virtually the same. This was something that brought Rita a tremendous amount of satisfaction. Her mother had never had such luxury, this stability, she thought smugly to herself.
Dave had been having an affair. Her thoughts went back to this and the anger started to bubble. Dave had been having an affair! What had he been thinking? He had risked their entire routine for a dalliance! This thought put Rita over and the anger exploded out. She slammed her book down and stood up. Pacing the office, she went over the events of the last two days. She had gone to Dave’s office to bring him his lunch, just as she did every day. She had walked into his office and found them. On top of his desk, her straddling him. Rita had dropped the lunch in shock at what she was confronted with. That evening, at home, Dave had explained everything. The boredom, the affair, and his decision. She had been numb with shock. What about their life? What about the structure that she had worked so hard for? How would she keep their routine if he wasn’t there? So, she had made a decision as well. Of course, there was no need to discuss it with Dave. He wouldn’t understand.
After their conversation, she had gotten up off the couch and made dinner, just as she did every evening. She remembered Dave’s sigh of annoyance, but he had still sat down and eaten, just as he always did. She smiled with satisfaction at that thought. Proof that Dave valued their routine just as much as she did. A small frown took the place of her smile. But then he had an affair. He had said he was bored, which she refused to believe. This wasn’t dull. It was stability. This was the life she had worked for and he was part of it. She knew he loved it. She knew it. She would never let his affair take that away from them.
That night, they had sat in the office, him working, her reading, just as they always did. She felt relief that their routine would not be disturbed. The anger that had caused her impatient pacing began to simmer down, and she was able to sit and pick her book back up. She looked over at Dave, sitting in his chair, and smiled a satisfied smile. Her eyes jumped to the clock above his head. 8:00 already!
“I’ll pour you your drink, darling,” she said lightly, her relief at the safety of their life making her feel almost giddy. She walked over to the bar cart and poured Dave the same drink he had had at 8:00 every evening of their marriage. Bourbon neat. The sound of the liquid hitting the cup was familiar and happy. Another smile came to her lips. Walking over to his desk, she put it next to him. “Here you are, love,” she murmured. Running her hand through his hair, she moved to go sit back down at her desk. Her loving caress had caused Dave’s head to fall back.
“Here, let me help you,” she cooed at him and fixed his head. Bending she looked into his lifeless eyes.
“I’m sorry to have to have done this to you,” she murmured as she readjusted his head. “But you know that I just can’t have you messing up our routine.” With a light kiss on his cold forehead, she turned and walked back to her desk. Sitting and picking up her book, she began reading, a small smile on her lips.