This Isn't Me Added£2.49
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(A short story of 8913 words)

This Isn't Me

Literary

by Paul Lahert


A married woman sits in a hotel bar on the verge of starting an affair. The rest should be simple.


Beneath the table, where nobody could see, Beth slipped off her right shoe and tentatively tried to move her big toe. She felt the pain spike for a few seconds before slowly settling back down to the steady pulse that had dogged her throughout the day. Dan had left an old wooden toolbox in the hallway, another refugee from his half-hearted bid to clear out a storage unit that had belonged to his late grandfather. It was just the latest addition to the long line of crap that was now being “temporarily” stored in their flat, further reducing the already limited floor space. He’d left it there the night before, and she’d seen it, complained about it, and was to all intents and purposes thoroughly aware of its location. Yet in the hurried fog of a morning that had followed a night of troubled sleep, she’d forgotten about it, just for an instant. In the seconds after cracking her big toe on its bracketed corner she felt pain rush up her leg, a screaming dull burn. And though she had technically done it to herself, she was in no doubt as to where the blame lay. Dan had been still asleep, cocooned and oblivious under the covers, until the moment he was woken by a torrent of invective the like of which he had never heard from his wife before. She let it all hang out, all the wretchedness and frustration that had built up inside her over the past few months. Every bitter passing thought, sharpened to a dagger and spat out at her hitherto sleeping husband. Dan had just stared at her, bemused and drowsy. He didn’t know what had happened or where this was coming from. But then there was a lot that Dan didn’t know.
She left the shoe off and gently rested her heel on her overnight bag, toes pointed upward. Satisfied that no further knocks were likely, she let her eyes wander around the hotel bar. The place was about three quarters full, the rumble of conversation two drinks louder than when she’d sat down. There was a business park nearby, the scene of a conveniently scheduled out of office meeting that afternoon, and she wondered how many of the drinkers were actually guests. She couldn’t really tell, and this was fine as it meant the same applied to her, as long as the bag wasn’t in view. Sean had checked in earlier and had no such qualms about being noticed. He was at the bar, making small talk with the girl serving him. Beth observed her reaction with interest – the involuntary grin, the widening of the eyes, the slight adjustment of the hair. Beth had seen it before. Hell, she’d done it before. And recently, as far as he was concerned. And despite the long hiatus the old steps had come to her again easily, as if she were a resting dancer waiting to hear the right notes...
 

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