Two Months

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

A woman remembers an affair she had over 20 years ago on the night before her daughter's wedding.

“Mom, I’m freaking out.” Tess paced back and forth in her hotel room with her mother watching.

“Can you please just sit down and tell me what is going on?” It was the night before her daughter’s wedding. “Has something happened? Did you have a fight?”

“No, it’s just that, what happens after tomorrow? Am I done with living?”

“What? No of course not!”

Then Tess finally sat down and grabbed her mother’s hands and asked her straight in the eyes:

 “Mom, did you ever have an affair?”

“Why would you ask such a question?”

The truth was Marla did have a 2 month love affair over 30 years ago but she wasn’t about to let her daughter know that, not on the eve her wedding. There was no tragedy, no real heartbreak, just a fondness, caring relationship she desperately needed. Those two months was some of her favorite times in her life.

When she first moved from America to Bath, England she was a newlywed with a brand new baby, Liam. Her English husband, Tom was traveling a lot as usual but he made it home every three weeks. However, he had a two-month deal in Los Angeles that required his full and immediate attention. Knowing how much Marla hated it there, he had to be absent two months so she was virtually on her own with Liam in a new home, a new town, and a new continent.

She began forming a routine, walking with Liam to a café near Abby Church. Since they moved four months prior, she noticed a man there with his laptop clicking away but never furiously, more inspired. The morning her husband left, it was particularly sunny, unusual for England so Marla took advantage and left her jacket and umbrella at home. There were a lot of people today at her café but instead of trying somewhere new, she was compelled to go in and ask the man she noticed if they could share his table. He replied, “Of course,” and moved his work closer to him to make space. They sat in silence, a comfortable silence, almost as if they were a long time couple enjoying their silent time. All of a sudden there was thunder that started everyone and caused baby Liam to cry.

“Shit, it’s raining.” Marla said, breaking the balance of silence and comfort.

“Pouring and by the looks of it, it’ll be like this for a while.”

“We walked, I guess we will have lunch here and wait.”

“I drove, my car is around the corner.”

“Oh no, I don’t want to be a bother, you’re working.”

“Nonsense, no bother at all plus we can’t have the little guy gets caught in the rain. Watch my stuff, I’ll get the car.”

They left and on the short drive over, exchanged names. His name was Tom as well and he was a writer working on his fourth novel. Marla too was a writer but mostly blogging; she was a travel blogger when she met her husband who bought some of the websites she wrote for. Staying in one place was new for her, she wasn’t sure she liked it and not sure if she can handle it for much longer. Meeting a fellow writer though gave her a new sense of hope that she may have found a new friend. He dropped them off and left saying, “Seeing you tomorrow,” as if he was part of her routine and indeed a friend.

The next day, sure enough Tom was at the café and invited her and Liam to join him.

“A travel writer? That sounds exciting.”

“Well, blogger.”

“If you had to form sentence to bring the reader an experience, you’re a writer.”

“What kind of books do you write? I’m sorry I haven’t read any yet.”

“Don’t worry about it. I publish under.” Tom smiles and winks at her.

“So what are the books called?”

“One was titled, ‘A Time For Killing,” another was, ‘The Spy Who Went Nowhere,’ all very cheesy titles but I promise, it’s good.”

“Wait a minute, I think my father reads your books! Yes I’m almost certain.”

“There you have it.”

“You’re pretty famous.”

“No, not really.”

“Is that why you use a pseudonym?”

“One of the reasons.” He drinks his coffee and she notices a wedding band. He sees her observing the ring. “The missus travels a lot. She’s an actress, theater mostly.”

“Any kids?”

“One, from a previous relationship. That’s why I moved her from London; my ex loved the school for John, that’s my son. He’s nine.”

“Wow, you have a nine year old?”

“Yes, when your young and stupid, you’re not so careful about things. He’s the best unexpectanced I could even hope for though.”

“I get that.” She looks at Liam as he looks back and forth from Tom to his mother, his big eyes full of joy and wonder.

“How long have you been here, in Bath?” She asks.

“Almost a year. Yeah, I come here in the mornings to write, see John for a bit after school then he usually goes back to his mums. I admit I hate an empty house; I avoid it when my wife’s away. And you?”

“We moved four months ago. Now that we are all moved in and settled and Tom, my husband left for business, it’s just Liam and me. It’s sort of boring.”

“How long is he away for?”

“Two months.”

“Wow, that is a long time, especially with a newborn. They change so much, you blink and miss something.”

This saddens Marla, realizing she despite have a husband and financial stability, will for the most part be a single parent. Tom notices her sadness so he claps.

“Well Bath is a very lovely place so if you two have nothing going on, I would love to show you around.”

They walked to Abbey Church and toward the Roman Baths. Liam being such an easy baby didn’t cry just napped for most of it. Tom dropped them home before going to see his son. Before they separated, they agree d he will pick them up and they would go to Sally’s House, famous for the recipe of buns with delicate spreads

That week was full of sightseeing and trying out places. They went bike riding with John, took a Jane Austin walking tour and by the end of the week, Tom stayed for dinner, once with John too,

Every other day, Marla would Skype with her husband; she told him about her sightseeing and that she made some friends but never mentioned Tom himself. Her husband wasn’t particularly a very jealous person but she didn’t want to put ideas in his head. In actuality, she had a dream about Tom that they had sex during a thunderstorm. She pushed it aside; she finally had a friend and didn’t want to lose that.

By their second week, they had seen all that Bath had to offer and more that they usually stayed at her place, Tom working as Marla took care of Liam, the house and even started writing about Bath. After a couple of hours, Tom did something unexpected:

“Where’s Liam?” He asked.

“In his room, sleeping.”

“How long will he be asleep?”

“I think another hour, hour and a half.”

Tom nods approvingly then walks over to where Marla’s sitting and in one swift movement holds her face and kisses her the softest and most earnest. It felt the most natural thing in the world, them holding each other.

For the next two weeks, it became a routine, breakfast at the café, walk, work, talk, see John, dinner, make love, start over. He even spent the night on several occasions. It was like a second honeymoon. No care for the world, Marla had an acute sense it will not last so she enjoyed these times for what it was.

One day, Tom optioned they get tattoos. He had several already, on his shoulder, chest and back. They spent time lying in bed naked as he told the story of each one to her. She always wanted to get one so on a cloudy Tuesday after lunch; they went with Liam in the stroller. His eye widened when they entered the loud tattoo parlor but never cried, just sat in the stroller, patient and observing. Tom kept him looking at the wall and now at Marla when she was actually getting the tattoo so he doesn’t see his mother being punctured. Liam was such a good baby, patient and a keen observer. He would later become a professional photographer going all over the world, inside volcanoes, spying on wildlife. He never lost his curiosity and quietness.

Marla decided on a compass to be tattooed on her right ribs, easily hidden but she could see it. She associated the compass with travel and journeys, experiences, and stories that came from it. The pain was there but nothing excruciating, after giving birth, nothing is quite as painful.

Tom then got the start of a typewriter tattooed on his left lower arm, he would need to come back but he spent a good hour in the chair. Marla had to feed Liam at the tattoo parlor causing Tom, her and even the tattooist to laugh.

Soon after that, at about a month since her husband Tom requested they meet in NYC for the weekend.

“I miss you both so much, I really, I cant stand it. NYC is roughly ½ point between us. Whaddya say?”

“Can you even take two days off?”

“Well not really but I can work on the plane and for a few hours but at least we will be together.”

“Los Angeles is really getting to you, eh?”

“I see why you didn’t want to come.”

“Okay, lets meet, when? Next weekend?”

“No, this.”

“But that’s in three days!”

“Come on, please?”

“Well of course, but we have to look at tickets and hotels and –“

“All of it is taken care of, I planned it all out, just in case you said yes.”

 That night she packed everything and the next day, Tom and John came over for dinner. They both had a pang of sadness; their fantasy was being interrupted for reality. They knew it would happen but her trip was coming earlier then what was expected.

Tom spoke with his wife, she knew about Marla but didn’t suspect anything most likely because John told his version of their friendship, which had that adolescent, innocent perspective. Tom mostly wanted to hear about her play, which after the tour might go on to the West End. That could mean another year or two apart.

Marla and Liam were my by her anxious husband, hugging them so tightly, the baby started to cry from the pressure and new surroundings. They took a stroll through the city then Liam fell fast asleep and with Tom’s eagerness, they rushed to the hotel for the reunion they wanted.

It was faster with her husband, quick and simple, it never bothered her before but with the other Tom, he took his time and concentrated on her more.

Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t seen me for a while that his is why it was so quick and a bit rough, she thought. At least that’s what she hoped.

“I’ve missed you so much,” He broke her thoughts. She did love his English accent. His was particularly commanding and charming.

“Let’s have another baby.”

“What? Now he had her full attention.”

“Let’s try for a girl.”

“And if it’s another boy?”

“We will just have to try again. I could fuck you everyday for the rest of my life.”

Marla laughed, “That’s sweet but personally, I think we should wait before I get pregnant again.”

“Why? Is everything okay?”

“Yes but,” The truth was she didn’t want to risk getting pregnant with the other Tom’s baby. She suspected she would need two months from tom to be able to safely have sex with her husband to be sure.

“But what? Mar?”

“Let’s wait at least till Liam’s first birthday.”

“That’s four months away.”

“Well we can still have sex, I just want to continue birth control for a little while longer.”

“Yeah, you make sense, you always do.” He kissed her and slept soon after. But she lied awake wondering if she really had any sense.

In the morning, she gently woke him by straddling him in an effort to have more sensual sex. He woke and it worked, he enjoyed her new way but it still made her worry that it didn’t compare to the other Tom.

Deciding not to think about anything, they ordered room service and a quiet Liam, distracted by his father’s iPod playing some cartoons, they had sex in the bathroom. Her husband wasn’t exactly comfortable with an awake baby seeing them even if he had no idea what they were doing.

They all had lunch and Tom broke the news that work would most likely require them to move to Central London. Marla was relieved, the other Tom would no longer be so close and it would be easier to go back to normal, back to reality. On the flight back, she was actually excited to no longer have an affair but once she saw him waiting to pick them up, she felt like crying and wished she could disappear. She didn’t want to give him up. She couldn’t help her feelings and she couldn’t stop crying in his arms.

“I don’t know what why I’m crying,” she said. Tom didn’t say anything, he held her as she cried and held her hand all the way home. They lied in bed holding each other. No one said anything but both knew, it was time to end things.

That last week, they savored as much as time as they spent together, they had more sex in that one week then they had ever before. It kept them from thinking of the reality. Before they knew it, Tom’s wife was back and her husband was flying in a few days early.

Marla liked to believe that life went back to normal so quickly because she was in love with her husband. For a short time, she lived a different kind of love and she was happy with both. She saw Tom around Bath with his wife but at a distance, they had an unspoken agreement about how to react and live life in Bath when their spouses came back and it worked. John asked about Marla every once in a while o which Tom explains she grew busier and busier, his wife never seemed suspicious or curious. On each other’s birthdays, they sent each other an email, chaste, except for one line, “That café is still my favorite place in Bath.” Innocent enough easily explained as the place they hung out the most but for those two, they meant the whole time they spent together was the best time they lived.

She felt guilty but sometimes, when she was with her husband, as they spent their nights conceiving for the other Tom. By the end of the year, she was pregnant and her husband had been able to work from home more and more. It became rarer for her to think of him but every year, of each other’s birthdays, they never forgot.

A couple of years later, Marla and her husband took the weekend to go to London without the kids. They went to a play and Marla recognized the actress as Tom’s wife. She looked around as discreetly as she could but didn’t see him. She tried to remain calm but couldn’t help her heart racing at the thought that she may be seeing Tom in person.

At the end of the play, they were walking out and she saw him, standing outside speaking with a few others, looking so handsome. He was laughing and looked over at her and they shared a moment, a stolen time that needed nothing more. She went back to her hotel and as her husband got ready for bed, she received an email. It was an email asking if she could meet and catch up tomorrow at a restaurant across from the theater during a matinee showing. As luck would have it, her husband had a meeting during that time so she was able to.

She changed three times before she either was satisfied or gave up on trying to figure out what she wanted to war. She saw Tom who exclaimed, “You look beautiful,” and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“You’re wife, she’s very talented. I enjoyed the play very much.”

“Thank you, I’m glad to hear it. How are you?”

“I’m good. How are you? And John?”

“We’re all fine; John’s doing really well in school. I’m here for a couple of weeks, you know, supporting the wife on the new play, meeting with my publisher.”

“Oh, you’ve got a new book coming out?”

“Yeah, the one I was writing during, our time, together.” He paused and looked down smiling but then quickly changed the subject; “I’ve seen you around with the stroller. Either Liam is a slow learner or he has a sibling.”

“Yeah, her name is Tess. Liam adores her.”

“Well if she’s anything like her mother.”

Marla blushes and takes a sip of her drink to hide her face. “I’ve read your books.”

“Oh shit, really?”

“You’re right, despite the terrible titles, their good, I couldn’t put them down.” It was true and she also couldn’t help but wonder where he was when he wrote them. Was he in a café or in bed like he was when he wrote the new one?

“I’ve got to go, got a train to catch.”

“I’ll walk you out.” He put his hand on her lower back leading her out and to the corner then swiftly like he did the very first time, he kissed her. “One last kiss. Take care of yourself, ok?” She nodded, momentarily speechless and motionless. She couldn’t believe she forgot how well he could do that and she never again forgot.

They never did see each other again after that. Every once in a while they would share emails. Marla would recommend Tom’s books and write reviews online about them, her small way of showing her support. And when Marla felt confident enough and wrote again about traveling and motherhood, even doing her own project on traveling all summer with her two kids all over Europe and then in later years, to Australia, Tom did the same, reading and praising her work.

Now, as her daughter waited for her response, Marla explained, “I’ve had two great loves of my life and I haven’t regretted wither of them. Now if you’re not ready or don’t feel right about any of this, you don’t have to go through with the wedding.”

Tess takes a deep breath, “No, I know I love him and that he’s the one. Thanks Mom for being so honest with me.” Marla smiled and hugged her daughter. Perhaps she can tell Tess more of the truth but now know.


Submitted: July 22, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Rita K Stevens. All rights reserved.

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