Here's the winner (A well-deserved win, great story!): A league of pity
My story went to the dark side. I as I alluded in my lessons learned post, the editors liked the story, but had a couple main issues with it. When I get the time, I'll try to incorporate their suggestions and dust it off. In the meantime, feel free to let me know what you think!
"Confessions of a Homewrecker"
The thought buzzed in my head like a parched mosquito. While the kids shrieked as they passed through the sprinkler’s icy fingers and the adults chomped on scorched hotdogs and sipped margaritas, I was trying not to think about sleeping with my sister’s husband.
Normally, when I feel the impulse to pursue a man, nothing holds me back. I only hesitated because of Lucy. I took my sister out for a celebratory drink the day she fell in love. I walked her down the aisle. I sat with her on the bathroom floor when the blue line showed up on the first pregnancy test. For her part, she listened to my irrational rants, served as personal taxi service on more than one occasion, and had a knack for knowing when I needed a freshly baked brownie. After a litany of rationalizations, I still couldn’t shake the pesky thought, so I caved, consequences be damned. After all, I can’t deny what I am.
I first recognized my “talents” in high school. Danny Lambert and Lisa Pearlman were the stereotypical sweethearts. Danny, as fate would have it, lived next to me and had a car, so he took me home from school each day. One ride home, he confessed he had a thing for me. We ended up fooling around in his room under his Guns ‘n Roses poster. It didn’t take long for little Lisa to catch wind of her sweetie’s adultery and I don’t think either of them found a date to prom.
When the whole incident ended, I did not feel remorseful, guilty, or ashamed about what I did. Instead, it thrilled me. The excitement I felt as Danny-boy pawed my breasts was trivial compared to the pleasure of knowing that I turned Danny and Lisa’s world upside down. The secrecy and the scandal combined into a rapturous high I completely submitted to.
I lost the ability to enjoy casual dating. It was like hopping on bicycle after screaming down the highway on a Harley. I became a predator, constantly scanning for my next victim. I successfully ruined a dozen more relationships during the rest of high school. In college, I found out that the stereotypes really were true, older professors were horny perverts. With each conquest, I honed my skills. One of my favorite fiascos didn’t even require physical contact.
I was checking the mail, and the postman was still there. We got to chatting and I found out his name was Larry and some other mundane nuances about his life. He made some flirtatious comment about how my shirt brought out the color in my eyes. I told him he should see me with my shirt off. This caused him to blush and he started to leave, but I smelled blood. Before he went, I asked him to think about me the next time he slept with his wife.
About a week later I saw a mail truck in my driveway, but Larry wasn’t in it, it was some old guy. I inquired about Larry and he shook his head as he told me that Larry’s wife made him drop this route, but even after that she couldn’t trust him and they are getting divorced. My fingers still tingle when I think about it.
The next time I felt that tingle was the following summer, in the backyard of my sister’s house, as I set my sights on Jeremy, her husband.
My first attempt transpired during a game after Thanksgiving dinner. Lucy had to tend to the newborn, leaving Jeremy at my disposal. I put on a little drunk and ditzy act as an excuse to snuggle up to him, sit on his lap, and smack his ass when we scored a point. I slowly slid my hand inside his thigh, but that was too much. He shot out of the chair and explained that he wanted to see if Lucy needed help with the baby. He came back with a cup of coffee to ‘keep me from doing something foolish.’
After that night, I had a new respect for Jeremy. He wasn’t like my usual victims; castrated husbands who find it way too easy to let their eyes wander while they’re being dragged through the mall. That evening taught me a valuable lesson. If I was to be successful, I had to elevate my game and cloak my predation so it is untraceable.
I needed a way to study my target, to infiltrate his intimate moments, to know what really made him tick. I needed a way to live in his house. Luckily, I was in the middle of another plot involving a sexual harassment suit against my boss. A quick change of tactic, and I had my way in. I called human resources and admitted that my allegations were complete fabrications of a personal vendetta. They were forced to let me go. I called my sister to let her know I was out of a job, obviously omitting certain details. In my most desperate voice, I pleaded with her to take me in until I could get back on my feet again. In return for her hospitality, I promised to take care of the kids and help around the house. She eagerly accepted.
Over the next months, I did not make a single advance on Jeremy. I just did exactly what I told Lucy I would. I tolerated the little gremlins and washed their soiled underwear. The whole time I looked for vulnerabilities in the fortress of my sister’s home.
One night at dinner, one of the kids set me up perfectly. She asked me if not being married made me lonely. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jeremy stop eating and focus his attention on me. I replied in a hushed voice, making note as he leaned forward to listen, that indeed I really was lonely and that I hoped I could find someone someday. I lifted my eyes toward Jeremy, concern tightened his face. I held his rapt attention for a quiet moment until he cleared his throat and made some cliché comment about fishing in the ocean. The metaphor was appropriate because I finally found my bait.
The next morning, I wrote a note and slipped it in his briefcase, inviting him to a confidential conversation over his lunch break. I told him to meet me in the park near his office.
He showed up shortly after eleven. It was a warm spring day and the park bustled. As we walked, I confessed to him that since I moved in I had been envious of my sister. She had it all: the family, the house, and most of all a perfect husband. I told him that all I wanted was just to live her life for one day. I started the tears as I brought up the fact that because of this, I had to leave. It was just too agonizing to be part of a home I’d never have. He responded as I expected he would, with comforting words about how I was perfectly capable of having that type of life, that it wasn’t too late, and that there were other guys better than him out there for me.
I took a shaky breath and gave him a little smile as I asked him for a hug. I dug my fingers into his shoulders as his warm arms enveloped me. My head rested on his chest and he brought his hand up to pet my hair. I let my head tilt back with his soft stroke. He looked down at me and I slipped my hands around his head and brought him into my awaiting lips. He didn’t fight it. He accepted it. I didn’t want to push it, so I pulled away biting my lower lip. I mouthed ‘I’m sorry’ and turned away. As I left the park, I glanced back to see him sitting on a bench with his face buried in his hands.
I moved out the following week. At my request, Jeremy helped me move my furniture, hauling things up the apartment stairs. When we finished, I offered him a relaxing shoulder rub. I asked him to remove his shirt so I could get deeper into the muscle tissue. My hands lingered on his bare back for a while, then proceeded to wander to his chest, along his abs, and proceeded to creep lower and lower. He stopped me at his waistline. I saw the confusion in his eyes. It was so titillating to watch him attempt to fight the swelling desire. He left without saying anything.
I didn’t hear from him for a couple weeks. The situation was at its most precarious moment, and I had to let it develop at its own pace. The slightest misstep would ruin everything. He called me with a notable quiver in his voice. He wanted to come over. He wanted to talk.
I poured him a scotch and we sat on the corduroy sofa in the center of the apartment. I agreed with him that what we felt was wrong, and that it was definitely inappropriate to act on it. I told him how much I respected the love he had for his family. I didn’t want to jeopardize that, but I couldn’t deny my feelings either. If he didn’t want to, we didn’t have to. If he did, I assured him that I’d be able to keep a secret. No one would have to know. We sat in silence. The room was heavy with his conscience. Finally he looked at me with his gorgeous wet eyes. He nodded his head and I started to undress.
He was gone when I woke up the next morning. He probably never slept. I rolled over, smiling at the memories of the emotion, the lust, and the whole primal ecstasy of it all. The thoughts warmed me, but they were mere foreplay. I went to my phone and fired out a text to Lucy, inviting her for a night out with just us girls.
Lucy met me at a café a week later, and we shared a bottle of wine. We laughed as we talked about our childhood memories. But the conversation was a little forced, and since she was my sister, Lucy knew something was not quite right.
“Spill it sis, what’s up?”
“Lucy, I’m just going to come clean. I had an affair with Jeremy. It was my fault, I seduced him. I’m so sorry.”
The words hung in the air while Lucy swirled the cabernet, brought her wine glass to her lips, and slowly swallowed the news. There were no other sounds as she just stared at the table for a few moments. My insides buzzed with the anticipation of her reaction, her sadness, her rage, her disbelief. Everything hung on his moment.
“Thank you.” She looked up at me, her mouth in a thin grin.
What was this? Where were the tears, the shaking hands, the screams of agony? Thank you? It made no sense.
“Thank you for freeing me.” Lucy reached across the table for my hand. “My God sis, I can’t tell you how boring it’s been lately. I love the kids, but Jeremy is just so dang predictable, so routine, so dull. I’ve been trying to find a way out for some time. I even told Jeremy that I wasn’t interested him anymore, but he said he’d never give up on us, that even if I held a gun to his head he would never sign a divorce paper. In his mind, there’s nothing we couldn’t work through.”
I sat there wanting to say something, but couldn’t even open my mouth.
“Do you remember Thanksgiving? I saw you flirting with Jeremy, and I thought there might actually be a glimmer of hope. I know your past, and I thought if anyone could make him unfaithful, it would be you. Even though he shot you down that night, I kept trying to find a way to get you and him together. Then you called me and needed a place to stay, and I couldn’t believe my luck. I was cold to Jeremy the entire time, hoping he’d look elsewhere for consolation. When you moved out, I thought for sure I was stuck, that I’d never be able to shake this guy. When he came home last week, all frazzled and weepy, I almost started dancing. It’s finally done. We signed the papers last night.”
I sat there falling through a kaleidoscope of emotion as I stared at my sister. At first her disclosure shocked me, I had no idea she felt that way. Then I felt pangs of anger, I had just been a tool, a means to her end, which meant that she stole the collapse of the relationship from me. But the thing that crept through it all was a new feeling of warmth. I felt closer to my sister than ever before.
“Lucy, I had no idea. Quite frankly, I’m impressed. ”
“I can’t take all the credit.” She winked at me.
“Now what?” I asked.
“I assume Jeremy will be down for a bit, but I believe he will recover. After all, he will still get to see the kids. As for me, well, I’ve been chatting online with a divorced guy name Larry, he used to be a postman, but drives limos now. He’s just looking to be part of a family again. I figure he can be part of ours, at least for a little while.”
“Larry the ex-postman?” I refilled her wine glass. “Sis, I’ve got a story to tell you, you’ll love it.”