2015 Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition – Second Place

The A-Z of Adultery


Jacqueline Cooper

A is for my no longer secret admirer. A is for attraction. For anticipation. It is also for affair. And for Andrew, my husband.

B is for boss. For the buzz I felt when I first saw him. For the butterflies in my tummy right now as I wait for him. It is also for betrayal.

C is for the chase. How long has it been since anyone looked at me the way he does? C is for my curves which he says he loves. It’s for the control I feel slipping away as I nervously pace the floor. C is for the curtains I half close in case he’s lying about my curves. It’s for the clock I can’t help watching. It is also for cheating. 

D is for daring. Who’d have thought I’d ever be in this position?  D is for discretion, of course – that goes without saying.  And for desire. Dear god the desire! After twenty years of marriage I thought this giddiness was behind me. My mouth is dry. Should I open the wine? I have no idea how to behave. D is also for doubts. And dishonesty.

E is for experienced, which I most definitely am not. For twenty years there has only been one man. It is also for expectations but, truly, I’m so far out of my depth I have none. E is for Andy’s expression this morning when he quietly asked me where I was going and I couldn’t answer him. E is for excuse. Even a lame one would surely have been better than none. I’m no good at this. 

F is for flirting. And fun. How I’ve missed fun. When did we lose that, Andy and I? F is for forever, the promise I made on my wedding day. I fiddle with my wedding ring, even now oddly reluctant to take it off. F is for the family Andy and I never had. Maybe if we had, things would have been different. F is for forgiveness – an emotion that has no place in my life right now. 

G is for gorgeous which is how he makes me feel. G is for generous and glamorous – this room is way better than anything Andy and I could afford. G is also for genuine and I know the man I am here to meet is anything but. We don’t love each other. That’s not what today is about. G is for good time.  

H is for hotel room. It is also for honesty. For hurting. For hasty. I can’t do this. I grab my bag, head for the door. 

Then stop. I is for impulsive. Which I am not. I’m not here on a whim. I’ve thought this through.  I know what I’m doing. This is what I want, what I need to salvage my pride.

J is for justice. I deserve that, don’t I? I sit back down on the bed. It’s also for jealous, an emotion, sadly, I know only too well. 

K is for the kick ass underwear I’m wearing under my dress. 

L is for love, of course, but also for lust. Andy explained the difference . Or tried to. As I sit here waiting, do I finally understand what he means? L is for loyalty. It is also for late.  Disappointment wars with relief inside me.  Has he changed his mind?

M is for mate. Not so very long ago that would have been Andy. My soul mate. M is for marriage guidance. But if that worked I wouldn’t be here, would I? 

N is for nice. That’s how people describe me. I’m sick of being nice.  N is for naughty. Like my underwear. And for nervous.

O is for obsess. Where is he? He said two o’clock.

P is for perfect. Which is what I thought my life was. Clearly I was wrong. P is also for passion. Bring it on!

Q is for quiet. The room is completely silent apart from my wildly thumping heart. 

R is for rage. Another emotion I know all too well. R is for ridiculous which is suddenly how I feel in my sexy new underwear. It occurs to me that maybe if I’d bought it years ago I wouldn’t be here now? Who knows. I do know R is for revenge. And retribution.

S is for secrets that perhaps should never be told. I’m sure Andy would agree. S is for sorry. S is also for sure. And I’m not… 

T is for tit for tat. Also for tawdry. I look around at the king sized bed. The ice bucket. No matter how pricey the hotel is, I can’t help feeling cheap. T is for trust. For torn.  And tears.

U is for unnoticed – all those signs I missed that something was wrong. U is for unburdening when Andy finally admitted his guilt. And for my reaction: unbelieving. Unforgiving .  

V is for the vengeance that brings me here today.  

W is for weight loss. He is right, I do look great. Even better in my new underwear. But I lost the weight through worry and heartache, not diet and exercise. This is wrong. I have no appetite for this.

X is for ex. Me. Andrew. Am I ready for that? 

Y is for youth and a lifetime of shared memories. Y is for the yearning I feel when I think of Andy’s face as I walked out. 

 Z is for zero hour. I check my watch and it has come and gone. Is he having second thoughts too? I race out the door, and take the stairs, running to my car. At home Andy stands up shakily when he hears my key, his face pale.  Zoe…you came back. Does this mean we have a chance? 

The End