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This is for Katy Read whose blog I follow. I hope we can continue to challenge each other further in our creative writing process. I loved your story. Now read mine!

2 A.M – The Challenge

It’s 2AM and your phone has just buzzed you awake, filling the room in white-blue LED light. You have a message. It’s a photo. No words, no explanation. Just a photo. Tell us all about it. And what happens next.

Always an insomniac, I had just drifted off to sleep. I heard buzzing. Lost in REM sleep, I drifted on. But then there was more buzzing. I knew it was my phone. I let it buzz and fell back to sleep, but the buzzing was relentless. It must be an emergency. I squinted my eyes open to reach for the phone but the LED light was glaring and I had to put my hand over my eyes. Password. Unlock. 1 message. I tapped the little envelope on my touch-screen and up came a photograph so shocking I immediately sat up in bed sober from any remnants of sleep.

Our 2-year old had earlier cried for mommy while in her room, and my husband had brought her to our bed. When I shot up and started to pull slowly out of the bed, she started to rouse from her sleep.  Terrified she’d wake up and then wake up my husband I hushed her back to sleep while rubbing her back.

Unfortunately it was too late and Jim tossed around to face me. “Is everything OK?”

“Oh yeah. I’m just feeling restless as usual, can’t sleep. I’m going to go to the living room and watch some TV,” I said. I was nervous and my voice was shaky but I hoped that he couldn’t make it out through the whispering.

I quickly wore my sweat pants and dashed out the room. As soon as I got to the living room I collapsed in fear. How could this be? Was it a cruel joke? Was it for ransom? I looked at the picture again. No, this was for real. I could see by the look of terror in Travis’ eyes that this was no prank. Did somebody know about us? Who could know? We were so careful.

I had met Travis 3 months ago at an engagement party at my girlfriend’s house. My husband and I were going through a rough patch. We barely spoke anymore. We barely looked at each other, or touched. Travis was everything I’d been looking for in that moment. He had an intensity I found intoxicating. He was reflective but easy. His dancing around the room was casual and carefree. It was like he didn’t care that people watched. Later, I was making casual chit chat with him and asked him where he was from and without skipping a beat he said, “I’m German, but I hate Germans.” Both amused and intrigued by this, I went on to ask him a ton of questions about his family and his past. His grandfather was Nazi, and he had lived with the burden his whole life.

“When I walk on the street, I know that no one knows about my history, because I don’t have the Swastika branded on my forehead, but I still have such a heavy shame about it – sometimes I feel like people know my secret, just by looking at me.”

He talked slowly, heartedly like he searched for forgiveness. He told me that back in 1995, he couldn’t wait to get done with high school so he could leave Germany. He had moved to Switzerland to study, then taken time off to back pack through Africa, and finally settled in Cape Town where he completed his PhD and found work as a university lecturer. He never went back to Germany. He was single. I wasn’t. But I didn’t care. I asked him for his number saying that I wanted to meet up for coffee and connect more on our careers, adding that I wanted to pursue a PhD. But I knew exactly what I wanted and from the look on his face, he knew too. When I called him, there was no pretense. No coffee, no lunch, no wasted superficialities. He asked me to come to his home, a small but quaint flat that was walking distance to the beach. We didn’t care about the beach. I walked in and immediately flew to his arms. It was like I had been there before, been there forever. The passion was insatiable. I exploded in ripping orgasms, one after another, half-clothed on a leather couch in his living room. It wasn’t anything I’d ever experienced before. Afterwards we undressed each other slowly and made love patiently and gently for what seemed like hours. We lay on the couch, talking about everything and nothing. I looked at my watch and screamed out realizing it was 3 p.m. My kids! All afternoon I couldn’t wipe off the smile on my face. I cut up carrots and cucumbers robotically but my mind was somewhere else.

I burned my hand while removing the roast chicken from the oven, but I hardly reacted. Every now and then my three kids would awaken me from my dreamy state with nagging questions, or a waging war between the two older ones. I had deliberately not taken a shower after getting home, so I could carry his scent with me. But at dinner I felt so happy, so carefree that I didn’t care my husband was sitting right next to me and might get a whiff, or perhaps a sense of my ethereal state.  My mind would flash back to my body writhing in Travis’ arms, and my neck and cheek would flush with so much heat it burned.

I was unstoppable. Every couple of days, I was in his apartment getting the therapy I needed to survive my marriage. At night I would lie awake thinking about him, about us. I knew it would never go anywhere but wondered why I would feel so strongly for something so fleeting. I looked over at my husband every night. There was such a distance between us and I didn’t know why; when did we get here? I used to be in love with this man. We were inseparable, mind and body. Now all we talked about was the kids, bills, and our investment plan. When we had nothing to break the over ripe air of silence, we would create superficial topics – me, I would talk about the latest gossip out of Hollywood, and he, mostly would talk about politics. The sex was machine-operable. It was satisfying but so routine, so programmed. I was so numb with boredom, mundane, and lack of chemistry. I was paralyzed in this marriage and I could barely feel my legs.

Now, three months later, this phone message. What could it mean? I was just about to dial the number, when another message popped up. “You know what you did. Now you must pay.”

I tried to call the number but it was a dead number. How could that be when I had just received 2 messages from this same number? I called Travis’ number this time, hoping for the best, but the call went straight to voice mail.

Then I got the third message. “No calls. Meet at 5 a.m., Bakoven Bay. No cops. I’m watching you always.”

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