*sighs* So much for an early night.
Helena peaked out the window from behind the curtains, anxiety a knot in the pit of her stomach. The beam of the solitary street lamp showed nothing aside from the neighbour’s cat licking its arse on the hood of a parked car. She swallowed, the motion painful in her suddenly dry throat. She threw a glance at the clock on the wall and began to pace nervously, up and down, up and down. Where was he? He should have been there ten minutes ago and her husband, Greg, was due home in the next fifteen. Even if he arrived now she’d have to bundle him into the back yard and through the kitchen door. She simply couldn’t risk Greg seeing him. The truth would destroy the foundation of trust their fifteen years of marriage had been built upon. Well, initially anyway.
Another glance at the clock. Two minutes had passed. Helena could feel the heat rising in her face, no doubt colouring her cheeks in spatters of pink. This always happened when she was angry, scared or frustrated. Or all three, as she was now. She needed this, though. This…this bit on the side. This release. It was the only thing that kept her sane in the humdrum of the everyday life she shared with Greg.
Was that the purr of an engine? She raced to the front door, yanking it open before the car had even come to a stop outside the house. The engine cut out and the driver’s door opened. The man who emerged had guilt scrawled upon his face. He knew – goddamn it, he knew – how important punctuality was, especially tonight, a Friday night, when Greg might have left work early. He mouthed “Sorry!” as he jogged up the drive, his bag bouncing against his hip with the movement.
Helena opened her mouth to speak, to tell him to shut up and quit wasting more time…but before the words could pass her lips, there was a flash of headlights as another car came rolling up the street. No, she shook her head, backing up towards the house. No!
His car, a beat up old thing that had barely passed its MOT, came to a halt in the middle of the street. With its engine still running and headlights still beaming, the door creaked open and Greg, almost as creaky himself, hoisted himself upwards and out of his seat. The look on his face said it all. He knew. There was no lying her way out of this. They’d been discovered. There’d be no more secret rendezvous. There’d be no more bi-weekly fifteen minutes of illicit pleasure.
“Helena?” said Greg, his tone scorched by disbelief, “What is this? What are you doing? I knew something wasn’t right between us but…but I never imagined this!”
She surveyed her husband, a portly, ruddy-faced man who could have graced the cover of GQ when they had first met all those years ago. Guilt gnawed away at her but she couldn’t deny her feelings. She glanced up at the comparatively taller, much leaner man before her.
“Just give it to me,” she said, her voice a husky murmur, “Just give it to me dammit.”
“How long, Helena?” Greg cried, barrelling towards them and shoving himself between their bodies, “Weeks, months? Tell me! How could you do this? We were meant to be in this together!”
She gazed into his glistening eyes sadly and raised her hand to cup his cheek. He jerked away with a hiss, almost as though her almost touch had burnt. She curled the offending hand, using her fist to muffle the anguished cry that erupted from her soul.
“A year!” she sobbed, “A whole year! I needed it. I was weak. I couldn’t help myself!”
Greg whirled around and grappled with the man behind him. After a tense few seconds of shouting and slapping, the man’s bag fell to the pavement and its contents spilled out for all to see.
“Pizza! Pizza!” Greg shrieked as he stamped upon the offending box furiously, spittle flying from his mouth. The delivery man backed away, his hands raised in surrender.
“Go!” Helena wailed, “Flee while you can!”
He didn’t need telling twice as he promptly swivelled and dived head first into his car. The engine roared into life and the squeal of tires upon tarmac announced his departure.
“All this time,” Greg hissed, still kicking at the pizza box, “All this time you’ve been making me salads and grilled fish and lecturing me about diabetes and you’ve been munching down secret takeaway pizzas for a year!”
Helena, tears coursing down her cheeks, knelt down and tried to pull the box out from beneath his feet. It was too tortuous to watch. It had cost her a fiver! She wrenched it free, peeling back the lid as Greg raged on. She sighed. Slightly smushed but edible. His boots hadn’t infiltrated the cardboard.
She shrieked as the box was pulled from her grasp and watched in horror as Greg began tearing the pizza apart, piece by piece, and shovelling it into his mouth. Stringy cheese coated his face and the sauce, barbecue – her favourite – smeared itself around his lips like a grotesque imitation of lipstick.
Helena stared at her husband, hoping to God that marriage counsellors were as cheap as pizzas.