The Sunday Serial

The Lie

He stared incredulously at the screen. His right hand was shaking. Jesus, what kind of woman is she to have this effect on me? he thought to himself.

The kind who hasn’t had sex for how many years now, Tom? answered his subconscious.

Right, he thought. You need to shut up because I’m going to go over there and tell her how I feel.

He clicked the button on his phone to turn the screen off and slipped it into his pocket.

Grabbing his keys from the hook above his desk he tiptoed down the stairs, cursing silently when he stepped on the one that always creaked.

“Tom,” his wife called out. “Have you finally finished? Are you coming to bed now?”

Damn it, he thought. Why is she still awake? And how was he going to explain why he suddenly needed to go out at this time of the night?

“Um, yeah, I’ve finished, but, ah, I have to go out for a bit. Kevin just called and has a bit of an emergency. Nothing serious, of course, but I said I’d go over and see him.”

Where had that lie come from? He’d never been any good at lying to anyone, yet this one had just rolled off his tongue.

“Oh, is everything alright?” she said. “Do you want me to come with you?”

“NO NO!” he said, a little louder than was necessary. He gritted his teeth. God, he could hear the guilt in his own voice. Surely she could too.

She suddenly emerged from their bedroom, wrapping her nightgown around her. She reached out a hand and rubbed his shoulder.

“Tell him I hope everything is okay and if he needs anything to let us know,” she said, yawning. She leaned over and kissed his cheek.

Tom was in shock. She hadn’t shown any affection towards him in years. Where was this coming from? He felt a twinge in his stomach that he could only describe as guilt.

“I will,” he said pulling away abruptly.

He could feel her watching him as he went down the last few stairs and wondered if she believed him.

At the bottom he realised he hadn’t replied to Jennie’s last message.

“I’m on my way,” he typed.

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