That morning Jenny awoke unaware.
Her skin dulled icteric in the bathroom light. Reminiscent of Jaundice; still she, needing less makeup, applied more mascara. One final glance of gaunt face, a spritz on wrist from golden bottle over powered the room with strong floral scents. Inhaling, her chest quivered in release, as did her hand placing perfume on sink’s edge. She needed a cigarette. She needed to eat. She needed a cup of coffee. She needed validation. Validation from a little boy, underage perhaps, but she didn’t care; though he wasn’t and they both knew. Validation from the things he gave her, and they were many.Things he didn’t want, didn’t need, never used. Things shared between them on hot summer nights, air thick–stale. A ring here, a bracelet there, every now and then they’d venture out for dinner or drinks. She never ate, he drank too much. Things reserved for a wife, places reserved for a wife, feelings he never reserved for his wife; and not even this girl. Underage, perhaps, but he didn’t care. Though she wasn’t and they both knew.
When John got home that night he kissed his wife. She smiled. She had been reading a book in bed, waiting up for him. John’s wife was named Barbara, but everyone called her Barb. She was five seven with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a curvy body that curved even more now that she’d had two kids. They’d met when John’s parents dragged him to see his cousin in a beauty pageant, Ms. Sunflower State. He doesn’t remember how his cousin did in the pageant, or even how Barb did for that matter. What he does remember is his one night stand turning into, “John, I’m pregnant.”
They’ve been married for eleven years now, give or take a few, who can remember these things? When John kissed his wife she smelled flowers. “Honey, have you seen the earrings you bought me last Christmas?” “No. Maybe Ellie was playing dress up again.” John new his daughter didn’t take them; instead he had given them to his girlfriend, the one who smelled like flowers.
John’s other girlfriend didn’t smell like flowers. In fact, John didn’t know how she smelled because she wasn’t his girlfriend. She was just the girl who made his coffee in the mornings. He never learned her name, still he loved her. He loved her more than he loved his wife and more than he loved his girlfriend. His wife never made him coffee, just dinner; the same crappy dinner every night of the week. Sunday chicken, Monday roast beef, Tuesday hamburgers, Wednesday they ate something and Thursday they ate something and on the weekends they ate too, he just didn’t remember what. It never involved coffee though, not even with breakfast. That’s why he went to the coffee shop. His girlfriend never made him anything either, at least not coffee. She didn’t like cream in her coffee—