This is a flash story that came to me while I was driving home the other day. It's also the first story I've finished that I thought worth posting for others to see. There is no explicit sex, I'm afraid. Comments and feedback are welcome. And please don't forget to vote.
Miranda and I were basking in the late-afternoon sun on the sheltered terrace of a villa in Corsica that we were leasing with an option to buy. It wasn't all that fancy: two bedrooms, a kitchen, a combination lounge and dining room. The terrace faced southwest, overlooking the sea, with a decent outdoor kitchen and a small plunge pool. I liked the place a lot, and I was seriously considering exercising that option. The terms were decent (speaking the local patois does not hurt when one is negotiating,) and wintering in Corsica beats the hell out of spending the same season in Cleveland. It wasn't as though money was going to be a problem, what with the premium price I'd gotten for my stock and the generous golden handshake I'd been given when a much larger firm decided that it really wanted to acquire the company I'd founded.
I was in my early sixties by then, and Miranda was eight years younger. We'd been married more than thirty years, and had seen the youngest of our kids finally married just two years previously. Now we had enough put by that I would never need to work again, and we could think seriously about living in the villa for part of the year, or maybe even the whole year 'round. If push came to shove I thought I might still be able to redeem that old pledge of French citizenship. The local red was a little rough, but it still made tolerable sangria, even without the addition of brandy, and the remnants of a pitcher of the stuff was sitting on the table between us. I was beginning to consider what I might put together for our supper from what was in the house. At our ages we had no business trying to drive into town given how much we had drunk, and a ride in the local taxi is best not described. I was pretty sure we had the makings of a decent vegetable frittata, and I was about go in and start on it when Miranda spoke:
"John, I had an affair." I just sat there and didn't say anything. "It wasn't much," she went on. "It was years and years ago, long before the kids were born. You were so busy getting the company started, and I guess I convinced myself that I was being neglected. He was a bachelor who was renting the McCleary's house, across the street from the Lutheran church. We got together two or three times while you were at work, and that was all. He just vanished one day, and I never heard from him or saw him ever again." She stopped for a moment, as if to collect herself, and then continued. "I finally realized he was just using me, and I've felt guilty ever since for having been so stupid as to fall for his lies. And then I felt guilty because I wasn't strong enough to come to you and confess what I had done. I'm sorry, so sorry for everything." We sat there for a time, just looking at each other but not saying anything. Finally, Miranda broke the silence: "Please, John, say something. Please! Even if it's to tell me to pack my bags and leave!"
I rubbed my forearm before I replied. The old tattoo of the badge of 2e REP had faded over the years, but one could still make it out. "I knew all about it," I said to her quietly. "Why did you think he disappeared so suddenly?" Her eyes got wide, and she shrank back slightly.
I extended my hand to her, palm up, and shrugged. "As you said, it was a long time ago. A young man will get angry about things that an old man is wise enough to just let go by. So, now that you have confessed to me, and offered me an apology, do you feel better?"
She nodded. "Somewhat. But I'm all on tenterhooks now for not knowing what you are going to do."
"Well," I said, "I thought I'd start by making you dinner. Then, after we've eaten, I thought I'd forgive you, and then, assuming that we can stay awake long enough, we can see about the kissing and making up. How does that sound?"
She cocked her head and looked at me. I nodded slowly, just once. A smile came to her face, and she reached out and took my hand. "I think that sounds wonderful," she said. "And I think I have a few things I could show you that ought to keep you awake and interested until we get around to the kissing and making up."
"Really?" I raised an eyebrow.
"Really. And John? I really do love you."
"I know," I told her. And hand-in-hand, we walked back into the house.