1 About 2000 words

Lonely By Renee Miller

2

LONELY

As Caleb rushes through the house, he breezes past Carly without a glance. She yawns, shuffles over to the coffee pot and lifts it up. Not even enough for a cup. “Sorry hon,” Caleb says, grabbing his keys from the hook by the door. “I filled my thermos. You can make another pot.” “Sure,” it comes out as a growl. “When will you be home?” Caleb flushes and pauses. He will tell her something he thinks she doesn’t want to hear. “I’m not sure,” his hand is on the door, ready for a quick escape. “Maybe in time for dinner; could be a bit later.” “Fine,” she dumps the coffee filter into the garbage and avoids his eyes. “Jacob has a game tonight. You said you’d be there.” “Shit,” he leans on the doorjamb. He’ll try to pacify her with more promises he can’t keep. “Listen, I know I said I would, but I didn’t know we’d be so busy, and I’ve got practice at five.” “I’ll tell him something.” She always does. Apparently a bunch of middle aged men

3 struggling around with sticks and pucks was more important than his son’s game. When they signed him up, hadn’t he said he’d do it? “I’m sorry Carly.” He’s mad. Of course he is. What does she do all day anyway? She knows how he thinks. It’s not like she does anything except clean and cook. Why can’t she take Jacob to his game? “Don’t be.” She runs water to pour into the coffee maker, still not looking his way. “You’ll be late.” “Yeah,” he opens the door and stops. Finally she looks up. Caleb lowers his gaze and steps outside without a word. Carly pushes the start button and soon the soothing noise of coffee percolating fills the kitchen. They used to kiss before he left, hating that they would be apart. She doesn’t remember the last time he kissed her good-bye, or the last time he approached her at all. Sure, if she gave him the right signals, he’d humor her, though making it clear how tired he was. Often she wondered if there was someone else. Could a man really have no desire left? She worries it might be her. Since Mallory, their daughter, came along, he no longer seems interested. It’s not Carly’s fault her body isn’t as attractive as it used to be. Caleb has forced her to do what she swore she never would; to keep secrets, to lie and to cheat. If he’d look at her like he used to; a touch, a word, something to show he still cared, wanted her. She wouldn’t need Marc if her husband gave her what she needed. Marc. Smiling she fills her cup. She has an entire day alone with Marc. If Caleb ever found out…no, he would never do. Carly planned each encounter meticulously. She doesn’t like cheating, but her body has needs. She has needs. Carly closes her eyes and thinks of Marc, his hard body, his undying devotion to pleasing her. Marc places Carly above all else. She likes when he nuzzles her ear and murmurs sweet nothings, and purrs against that sensitive spot just below.

4 She shakes her head and pours another cup of coffee. The kids will be up soon. Carly won’t think about Marc until then. Kids are very perceptive. She doesn’t want them to sense anything wrong. Two long hours later, she can barely stand the anticipation any longer. The kids get on the bus, after a minor meltdown from Mallory delays her meeting. Sweet, stubborn Mallory. She doesn’t want to leave Mama all alone. Reassuring her daughter that Mama has lots of work to do, and that she will miss her too, Carly gently pushes her onto the bus. She watches them wave as the bus pulls away, her thoughts already with Marc. She hurries back to the house and strips off her clothes in the bathroom before turning on the shower. She wants to look her best; two babies and thirty years are hard on a body. Marc doesn’t care, but she likes to look nice. Carly pauses before the mirror; not bad from the side, as long as she leaves her bra on. With Caleb, it always stays on. He doesn’t seem to notice and if he does, he’s never commented. With Marc she strips, so that he can appreciate her body, all of it. She also leaves the lights on, something she’s never done with Caleb. It saddens her that she can be so open with Marc, but not with her husband. Turning to face the mirror, Carly grimaces. Is this what he will see? Her hips have rounded since giving birth, her belly softened. She runs a hand over her loose skin and sighs. Will the tight tummy of her youth ever return? Not likely. When was the last time her husband trailed kisses down her body, to focus on that sweet spot just below her belly button? She can’t remember. John loved to explore her body, every inch of it, but she had to send him away. She became far too fond of him, even calling her husband by his name once. Of course Caleb said nothing, he never said anything. She removes her bra and averts her eyes from the mirror. Carly hates to look at what

5 her breasts have become; golf balls hanging in a pair of panty hose. Her once pert little breasts are droopy and limp, her nipples enlarged from nursing very hungry babies. She can imagine what Caleb must think of them. He knew them when they were perfect. Does he miss the way they used to be? Looking down she thinks they don’t look so bad, from this angle you really can’t tell how much they have drooped. Eyes closed, Carly moves her hands up her abdomen to her breasts and lifts them, feeling their weight. They feel normal, full. Her nipples harden as Carly imagines Marc pressing against them, murmuring his approval. She loves it when he nuzzles each nipple. She turns on the shower and sighs. If she doesn’t hurry up, she won’t have enough time for him. Marc hates to be rushed. Under the hot spray Carly gasps, water sears her skin and she moans as her body relaxes. Steam fills the small bathroom, casting a haze over her. Carly imagines she’d look passable in the fog; lines blurred and edges softened; she would look as good as she once did. Caleb doesn’t like showering together though, the kids might come in. He always worries the kids will come in. A long time ago Carly set up a romantic evening, scattered candles around the room and wore a lacy blue teddy, Caleb’s favorite color. When he came home from hockey, she waited for him on the bed, a glass of wine in her hand. He entered the room, frowned and switched on the light. “What are you doing?” “What does it look like?” “Those candles are too close to the bed. You want to start a fire?” “I’m trying to set the mood.” She set her glass down and sat up. Caleb didn’t look at her as he rushed to blow out her candles. “Can’t you just enjoy it?” “The kids just went to bed,” he moved toward the bathroom. “They’ll hear us.”

6 “No, I sent them to bed early,” she spoke to his back as he moved around the bathroom. He didn’t bother to close the door; apparently he thought she would enjoy watching him. “Look, if you want to have sex that’s fine.” He flushed the toilet, left the seat up, and stepped back into the room. “You don’t have to do all this.” “I just wanted it to be romantic,” she stood and began unbuttoning his shirt. Caleb stared at her for a moment before gently swatting her hands away. “Okay, but I’ve got to be up early.” After removing his pants and socks he walked around her to the bed. “Let’s not get too fancy.” Stifling the urge to scream, she straddled him as he lay back. He smiled and Carly thought maybe he was getting the point. “Shit, the light.” Then Caleb pushed her off and stepped over toward the switch. Carly waited for him to return. When he did, Caleb launched into the same old routine; a quick rub and tickle before the main event. “Can’t we just enjoy each other first?” she asked. “Like we used to?” “Sure, if you want to get interrupted before we finish,” he laughed. “Does this thing have buttons or something?” Toying with the crotch of the teddy, he managed to figure out the snaps. Then, squirming at his touch, she arched onto him. But he ignored Carly’s obvious signal, pushed her back on the bed and moved over her. A few minutes later he was asleep, as Carly lay frustrated and tearful next to him. That happened more than six months ago, and she hasn’t bothered since. Now that she had the others, she didn’t need to beg Caleb, though they didn’t fix everything. She met her first lover through Michelle, her best friend. At first, Carly pretended lack

7 of interest, but days later she succumbed and invited him home. Michelle asked later what she thought of John, but, after their brief introduction, Carly denied ever considering an affair. Michelle said lots of women had something on the side, but Carly couldn’t be as open about it as her friend. She felt guilty for cheating on Caleb, for lying to him. If he ever found out, she could never face him again. Marc is in the bedroom. Letting her towel drop, Carly moves toward the bed. He waits patiently for her to lie back and she loves him for that. Soon Marc is all over her, nuzzling her neck, taking his time over her breasts, his body busy, electrifying over her, releasing waves of heat to course down her legs. She wants him inside but not yet, Marc hates to be hurried. Instead she moves so that he’s just against her, barely touching her tender folds. She closes her eyes and imagines his tongue resting there, pulsating, darting, lapping, until she can stand it no more. Colored shafts of light combine into whorls of thick warm air, swimming, rotating into a lazy vortex, becoming denser, tangible, and alive. Drawing him in, she moans. The wrongness of her mad affair flutters briefly in her mind, but as Marc moves in and out of her, she forgets everything but him. Her muscles contract, as he relentlessly moves inside her, she flexes into him and the color eddy tears into ribbons of pure light fanning out from its center. They dance in an orgy of dazzling colors, bursting against her closed eyes. He legs ache. Her muscles knot and quiver with unconscious anticipation. Her back arches. Just as the first waves wash over her—sweat beading her brow and between her breasts—the door slams closed, like a gunshot in her ears. Carly’s eyes fly open to Caleb’s figure standing in the bedroom doorway, flowers in hand, jaw slack, and a shocked expression in his face. Marc carries on, oblivious. Carly grinds her teeth, her body convulsing

8 on the verge of climax, and pushes Marc away from her, hand trembling as she averts Caleb’s gaze. “Carly I—” “Don’t Caleb,” she turns the switch at the base of Marc’s body and his gentle humming ebbs. “You must hate me.” “Why? You’ve done nothing wrong.” Confused, she looks up at her husband. He smiles. “John?” Carly shakes her head. “I threw John away...” Marc waits. She drinks the gleam in his eyes, a spark she hasn’t seen in a long time. “Marc.” Caleb sets the flowers on the nightstand and sits on the edge of the bed. Carly doesn’t know what to say. Caleb takes Marc from her hands and switches him back on again. Then he grins. “You two weren’t finished,” he says. “And then it’s my turn.”

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