By Imperatrix Aenigma
"Hello everybody, I'm home!" said Mark as he closed the front door to his apartment and put his bags down on the floor, he would take them up to his bedroom later. He continued on to the kitchen for a glass of water, he was parched. When he remember why he was so thirsty he closed his eyes, smiled a dreamy smile and his mind wandered to where he had spent the weekend. A plaintive meow brought him back from his reverie and looking down he was reminded of where he was and of where he wouldn't be anymore, the soft perfumed embrace of his long time mistress, Vriana.
Images tumbled through his mind of soft white skin and even softer blonde curls. Of hands, lips, tongues everywhere. Of lace, satin and leather covering his body and hers. Of naughty little games, some deliciously and wickedly dangerous at times. He loved his wife and he enjoyed a good sex life with her. But the moment he met Vriana six years ago at a business convention, he was lost. They had been having a lunch break after some very boring lectures when he saw her at the buffet table, trying to decide what to have. He never knew what possessed him to walk up to her and say, "Can I buy you lunch?" She began turning to him with an annoyed expression on her face and an angry retort on her lips when she saw him. His boyish good looks won her over and she replied,
"Lunch is free, smartass."
"Really? I think I'll let you buy me lunch then."
She couldn't help but laugh and they had their lunch together. When the break ended, they sat together for the remainder of the afternoon and before the last of the lectures was over, he knew he would take this woman to bed. He forgot about his wife and gave himself over to the pleasures of a new body. They spent that night and the next day in his hotel room, even ordering room service so they didn't have to go out for anything. And when the weekend was over they had agreed to see each other again. They had discovered they lived in the same city, surprisingly close and why they hadn't seen each other at some point or other was beyond them. But now that he had found her, he wasn't about to give her up. Vriana woke up in him desires and cravings he didn't knew existed in him. Things he wouldn't ever think about doing with or asking his wife.
He went hard just remembering and he found himself stroking his member through his clothes. Now he couldn't wait for Fran to get home. She would think that he was so eager for her because he hadn't seen her in three days, but in truth he knew he would make love to her because Vriana always left him hungry for more. In fact, he was convinced that since he met Vriana, his marital sex life had improved, he found himself taking his wife more frequently than before. Surely Fran was enjoying herself now. Sometimes he thought morbidly of telling her about the other woman, but he knew that to do so would instantly destroy his marriage. And truth be told, he loved her. He told himself he loved her as much as the day they met. And their children were the light of his life.
It was then that he noticed how silent was the apartment, that neither one of his children had come to welcome him home, "Hey! Where IS everyone?" Then to himself, "I didn't know the kids had any activities on Mondays... Hmmm, Fran must be visiting somebody." He was annoyed that they weren't there when he came back and instantly felt guilty because he had lied about where he was going... again. He went to the pantry and opened a can of cat food, finding it strange that Anubis hadn't been fed already, strange indeed. He always joked about how he sometimes had to shut up and wait for his food but the big calico was given royal treatment if he so much as made a sound. So he served the cat his food and filled his water bowl, noticing also that it was dry, not a single drop remained. "They must have left early and Fran and the kids forgot to check the cat's bowls," he said to himself, as if to somehow take away the feeling of ominousness that so simple a detail as a cat's empty bowls brought in him.
Mark went to the fridge, absently filled a glass on the water dispenser on the door and brought the glass to his lips to quench his thirst, which all of a sudden had become unbearable. He was halfway through when he saw the note held on the fridge door by two angel magnets. He almost choked as he saw it, but not because he recognized his wife Francheska's handwriting, but because he saw that the note was written on one of her precious handmade stationery. Now he knew that his wife never put this particular paper to such mundane use, he still remembered how upset she was when one of the kids had used some of it to draw on. She saved it only for letters and then, only for certain people. Making paper by hand was one of her most cherished hobbies and one of the few things she was fastidious with. So, his water and thirst forgotten, he plucked the beautiful paper off the fridge door and began to read...
"My dearest Mark, I hope this note finds you well. I know it will, because you always come back from your 'boring' business trips very refreshed, as you have been of late. I have always found it amazing that the same thing that at one time caused you so much stress now seems to revive you. You even look forward to such trips now! How people change...
"But I have changed too, my love and you'll see how much. In fact, if you had been paying attention, you would have noticed when exactly it happened. Remember when you came back from that weekend long seminar, six years ago? I know you do and I haven't been able to forget. And you know why? Because you keep reminding me all the time, more frequently as time passes.
"Yes dearest, I know about your mistress, Vriana. See? I even know her name. I also know what she looks like, kinda like me, only cheaper. And no, I'm not being bitter about it; it's the truth. But then, at the beginning of our marriage you always liked it when I pretended to be a whore, it excited you no end. So I'm not really surprised about your choice of mistress. At least you didn't spend your kid's money on her, for that I'm thankful. But you two took something from me that I don't think I'll be able to get back and that's my dignity. I hate you for that and I'll never forgive you.
"Now back to how I found out her name and some other things I do know about her. Did you know you talk in your sleep? Yes darling, you do. And I used to secretly enjoy it before because you were so funny, telling me all about your deals at work, sometimes telling me all those things you never told me while you were awake, how you wanted me to do this or that. That's how I used to surprise you by acting out some of your fantasies. Those were good times.
"Then came the night after you returned from the seminar. I was reading when you started to talk in your sleep. I was too engrossed in my book at first to notice what you were saying until I caught a name, her name. You have mentioned names before but not the way you said her name, so intimately, so proprietarily. I at once put down my book and listened as you relived, yes relived your encounter with her. I don't know if you will find amusing that you actually had an erection and even had an orgasm right there and then, while I watched stupefied, not believing what I was seeing and hearing, wanting to choke you but too hurt to even move. And what did I do after it was over? Cry like an idiot and tell myself that this had been a one-night stand, that all men did it and that you would come back to me and forget about her. Been waiting for six years. And instead of going away, looks like she's here to stay.
"I know you think you had me fooled by your increased interest in having sex with me and I know you pat yourself in the back when you tell yourself that you keep your mistress and your wife happy and contented. You're wrong Mark, dead wrong. I'm miserable. Oh yes, I admit that I greatly enjoy our lovemaking, but it's only because, first, I love you and second, I go to great efforts to forget that I'm just an afterthought, that you have to do it because I'm your wife and you're supposed to do it. If only you knew how many times you've called me Vriana when we're making love.Believe me when I say that I wish you'd rather not touch me anymore.
"But what am I saying? What would I do if I didn't have at least a scrap of your affection? I'd rather be dead. Look what you have reduced me to, to settle for whatever you want to give me. Is it any wonder I hate you as much as I love you? I'm going crazy my love. Thank God I have my children to keep what's left of my sanity intact. At least they're a part of you that still loves me, that doesn't need a substitute for my affection, that still believes I'm important. Do you ever think of them when you're with her? I think not.
"So I have reached a decision, after years of waiting and considering, I have finally reached my decision. I'm leaving you. I'm taking my children with me and I'm leaving this mockery of a marriage I live in. And there's nothing you can do to stop me. In fact, by the time you find this note, made especially for you in my most carefully hand-made paper, we'll be gone.
"But I will give you a final chance to decide if you want to be with us or stay with her. No compromises, your mistress or us. This is going to be the most important decision you make in your life and you know why? Because either way you choose, there is no coming back, you have to stick with it.
"Now after you finish reading this, go to our bedroom, where we were so happy for so many years, before she appeared to ruin my life. There you will make your decision. I love you Mark, more than anything in the world, but I refuse to be hurt anymore, I refuse to shed another tear. Hoping this is not goodbye forever,
Mark stood there for what seemed a lifetime, but where mere seconds. He couldn't believe it. His wife, the woman he had loved since the moment he saw her at the counter of that gift shop eons ago when he went to buy his mother a birthday present. The girl who had timidly given him her virginity on their wedding night after three years of delicious teasing and holding back, because he loved her so much he could wait. The wonderful, imaginative and wanton lover she had turned out to be once her inhibitions were cast to the winds. The wonderful mother, both to him and his children, so loving, so understanding, so precious.
The piece of paper fell to the floor as realization of what happened finally hit him, hard. And he started to cry, "What have I done. Oh dear God, what have I done. How could I have been so stupid, so blind? Oh Fran, Mike, Diana, Jerome. What am I gonna do now?"
Then he remembered what she had said at the end of her note, about a last chance to be with her, a decision to be made. He picked up the note and hastily scanned it until he reached the end of it.
"The bedroom? Ok, I'm on my way baby, there is no decision to make, honey. I'm back with you, forever."
And he meant it, with all his heart. He would call Vriana and tell her it was over. He would take Francheska and their children on a long deserved vacation wherever they wanted to go. And after that, he would take the kids to his sister's house so he and Fran could enjoy a second honeymoon.
"It will be perfect this time Fran, I promise you", he said as he made his way to the bedroom.
Mark reached the bedroom door and the first thing he noticed was the scent of his wife's perfume, it still lingered. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, filling his mind with the memories of her as he filled his lungs. He turned the doorknob and opened the door. What he saw made him stop abruptly in his tracks, wide eyed and he almost forgot to breathe. They were here! Asleep! That's why nobody had answered him. They were asleep! Tears of joy ran down his face as he saw his wife lying there surrounded by all of their children. They looked like angels, so beautiful, so peaceful. They must have fallen asleep and that's why they were here still. Well, he was not about to let them go.
He was smiling as he tiptoed to the bed, he would surprise Fran, he would wake her with a kiss as if she were Sleeping Beauty and he her savior come to rescue her. When he reached the bed, he paused to look at them, her arms around them like she was fond to do, Diana's little hand still grabbing a breast as if she still claimed it from her nursing days, not so long ago. Jerome's head lying on her stomach, as if he had fallen asleep listening to the funny sounds that made him laugh. Even Mike, who liked to believe he was so big at thirteen, wasn't beyond claiming a little affection from his mother every now and then. And they were his family and he loved them. Coming so close to lose them had made him realize what a fool he was. Well, daddy's home to stay. He smiled and stooped to kiss Fran.
As his lips came in contact with hers, he felt as if a hole had opened beneath his feet and he was falling, falling into a cold void. He stood up with a jerk and brought a hand to his lips, not noticing he was wiping them, a look of horror distorting his face. It was then that he really looked at Fran, then at the kids.
"Oh my God Fran, what have you done," he moaned.
He looked at each one of them and noticed the deadly pallor that suffused their angelic faces. They weren't sleeping, they were dead. She had left him alright. She had taken their children with her, she hadn't lied on that. Mark felt his grip on his sanity slipping slowly and was about to let go completely when he saw the glass on the night table. There was another note beside it and like an automaton, he walked to it and picked it up. Without realizing it, he read out loud,
"I guess by now you know we're gone. This is when you'll have to reach your decision, stay with her or leave with us. If you decide to stay with her I'll understand and won't begrudge you. At least I'll keep the part of you that still loves me as I said before. Now if you want to join us so we can be a family forever, have a drink on us, my love. It's your children's favorite flavor, with a twist. You won't feel any pain, just drift into sleep and when you wake up, we'll be together. I really hope you decide to come with us because we love you. I love you."
He read it again, looked at his family on the bed and then picked up the glass of juice. It was one of a set of glasses he had bought her on one of his trips long ago that said 'Drink Me' in scroll like letters. She had been delighted when she saw them since Alice in Wonderland was one of her all time favorite stories. How she had kissed him and hugged him that day! So he lifted the glass and downed it all in one gulp. "Strawberry, I hate this flavor," he chuckled.
Mark went back to the bed, kissed each one of the kids on the cheek, kissed Fran lingeringly on the lips then curled at her feet saying over and over "Darling, I'm coming home," as he began to feel drowsy.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
The Note © 2000 by Imperatrix Aenigma
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