The Pain of Summer Lovin’
The two lovers lay wrapped in the sheets, their bodies heaving with breathlessness. Dissipating pleasure collected on their skin along with the beads of sweat that evaporated into the air. The woman lay on her stomach, her left leg lifted under the satin covers so that her freckled knee stuck out. Streaming brunette curls fell across her pillow; her eyes were closed. The man lay on his back, the light blue sheet strewn haphazardly across his right shoulder as it scooped and fell on his lower abdomen like a cresting wave breaking at the ocean’s edge. Unlike the woman, his eyes were open, plastered to the ceiling as if in deep concentration as he gazed at the swirls of the cream-colored spackling and ornate carvings along the crown molding.
The woman stirred from her calm, rolling onto her back, covering herself with the light-weight sheet before she reached for him and nestled her head into the crook of his shoulder. The two lay in this position for a few moments, the only sound being the lawn care machinery outside, sawing and nipping at branches and blades of grass.
“We do good work,” the woman said, her eyes still closed while she lay on his chest.
Her words hung in the air a few seconds before the man’s tight lips loosened into a grin, and the woman began to laugh, small creases coming to surface around the corners of her eyes.
“Yes, yes we do,” the man responded as he lifted his hand to run his fingers through her silky mane of curls. “You know, I would much rather be out with my team right now working on your hedges and flowerbeds.”
The woman laughed mildly, snuggling her head deeper into his chest as she replied, “Your bed is right here. Anyways, I’ve been begging Martin to take those hedges out for years, and he refuses to do it. Says they allow us to have privacy; for God’s sake, our neighbors are eighty years old. They can’t see more than ten feet in front of themselves with their glasses.”
“Maybe instead of getting rid of the hedges you should get rid of Martin,” the man said.
“Really?” The woman rolled onto her stomach again, her leg still in between his. She lifted her head to finally make eye contact with him, her face only a few inches away from his tanned one. “What’s the good of me leaving Martin if you’re not leaving Deb?”
The man maintained the gaze for a few more moments before relinquishing, letting his head hit the pillow. “Touché,” he said as the two began to laugh again, his cavernous laugh matching her vivacious one only in lower tones. The roar of the lawn mower passing a story below made the room buzz with noise as the two lay silently in each others’ arms after their amusement had subsided. The woman took a deep breath as if in preparation to say something, but she voiced nothing.
“Now you have to say it,” the man said, a halfsmile creeping to his lips causing boyish dimples to pop up that far preceded his age. “What do you want to know, sweetheart?”
“Why do you cheat on Deb?”
“Probably for the same reason you cheat on Martin.”
She snorted, a sound of disbelief and humor mixed together. “Please. Men and women cheat for different reasons.”
He sighed. “I know what you expect me to say. You expect me to say something macho, something like she sucks at sex, can’t cook for hell, or doesn’t try to impress me with makeup or lingerie anymore.” He smiled, something sad flickering behind his hazel eyes. “Really, she just doesn’t love me. She never did. We got married at a young age when we thought we knew what love was. Turns out, neither of us really truly loved each other.” He looked away, turning his head slightly as if he wanted the woman at his side out of even his peripheral vision.
The woman kept her head propped up on her hand while she gazed at him.
When he didn’t continue speaking, she began, “I’m sorry. You’re right. I thought you were going to say something macho and tough. I’m sorry. And you hit the nail on the head.” Her hand went to his honey colored hair, pulling his face back toward hers. “I never loved him. I thought I loved him at one point, but work became his lover along with the alcohol almost right after we got married. He’d rather kiss the rim of a bottle than me,” she said with a sad smile. Tears began to rush to the lids of her eyes as she continued. “And then I met you…” her voice trailed off, her dark brown eyes locked with his.
“What do you think your husband would do if he knew you were cheating?”
The woman smiled and said, “Kill me” with a wink before alarm could come over her lover. The two chuckled a little. “No,” the woman continued, “he would probably leave. I mean, he’s never here anyways. He’s always at work.”
“I wish Debbie were always at work. When she’s home, talk about a complete bitch,” the man said as he laughed. “It’s like she doesn’t realize that I bust my ass out in the sun all day long. For Christ’s sake, we live in Orlando; it’s not 50 degrees here when people want yard work done.”
“Aw, poor baby,” she replied, rumpling his hair as she leaned in and kissed his neck. “You work hard in the air conditioned house of one woman whose husband hires you, that’s for sure.”
He smiled as he lifted her chin, kissing her full mouth.
A knock came at the door breaking their kiss.
“Goddamn it, Marcus, I told you not to bug me up here the last time you knocked on the door. Did the sprinkler system go down again?” The man jumped out of bed, putting on his boxers hastily as he started to go for the door.
“I just wanted to see my wife.” The door swung open slowly as a man in business attire walked into the room. “I see you’re busy, hunny,” the man began his bloodshot eyes locked on his wife, his voice cold. “I guess it slipped your mind that today was my birthday and you promised to go out to lunch with me, but I guess if someone were fucking my brains out, I’d forget, too.”
The woman clutched at the sheets, her eyes unable to look away from her husband. Her lover stood at the side of the bed paralyzed.
The suited man continued, now glancing at the other man in the room. “Good to see you, Don. I just heard from my wife you do nice work. Glad to see someone is getting some satisfaction.” His voice sarcastically flitted over satisfaction as his slurred words exited his mouth.
“M-Martin, I know this looks terrible. It is terrible. But you’ve been drinking, sweetie...” The woman’s voice died as if she could not think of something more comforting.
“You’d be drinking too if you had known I was screwing some other woman for the past month.” Sweat beaded at his forehead causing his glasses to slip a bit from the bridge of his nose. He angrily shoved his hand into his pants pocket as color boiled to his cheeks. “I’ve tried. I’ve given you everything, Grace! You hear me? Everything! I gave you this house! I gave you access to my bank accounts! Without me you’d be living in rags and not designer shoes. And you repay me by sleeping with some scum that works in the dirt all day!”
At this, the woman burst into tears as Don interrupted her husband’s rage. “You think you gave her everything, but obviously you haven’t; for Christ’s sake, you missed your anniversary last month!”
“Well, I’m sure she celebrated just fine with you,” Martin spat, his voice shaking along with his limbs.
“Martin, honey,” the woman started, “please, I love you. Can we please talk about this?”
“You’ve already said enough! I’ve heard everything I need to hear.” The man sighed deeply. “You always think you’re right, Grace. You almost ‘hit the nail on the head’ earlier,” Martin said, his words slightly flowing together through his intoxication.
“Martin, I can leave. I swear I’ll never see your wife again,” Don said, bending over to gather his clothes that were bunched together on the Oriental rug.
“No. You’re going to stay here until I finish this!” The man yelled as if he had forgotten his wife’s lover had been standing in the room. “Grace, you always have to have things your way; you always think you’re right. I’m sorry to tell you this, honey, but you’re wrong.”
“What do you mean, Martin?” The woman’s slight sobs had subsided; she sat curled up in a ball under the thin sheets.
“You were right about the fact that I would leave,” Martin said, his voice becoming somewhat calm. “You were just wrong about the fact that I would kill you.”
The woman’s eyes filled with tears again as she locked her gaze on her husband. Something snapped behind his eyes causing them to go dark: a fuse fizzling out. The man fiddled with something in his coat pocket. “You should have known I’d kill you both.”