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As Sunday dawned the sun began to beam in through a small gap in Karen’s bedroom curtains. Over the course of 30 minutes or so, the small beam made its way across her pillow, over her tightly curled dark blonde hair, past her ear and onto her right temple before reaching her right eyelid. It woke her. “Oh Jesus. My fucking head.”
The day before, her husband Greg had to leave for a last minute work related issue. The new headquarters that he was charged with overseeing was falling behind because of contractor hold ups so he was going to be gone until at least Tuesday. His brother Kev and sister in law Julie were coming to visit from Australia so he felt really bad that he had to leave Karen to entertain them but he had no choice.
It wasn’t the first project he had problems with and it wouldn’t be the last. Karen was becoming accustomed with these little disappointments, but his job had provided them with a nice home, cars, and lots of vacations so she couldn’t complain too harshly.
It was 8:30 and rather than having a few hours in bed they were up earlier than they had expected so that Greg could shower, dress and eat some breakfast before leaving for the meeting with the contractors nearly 700 miles away. By 10:30 Karen had cleaned the house and was enjoying a nice relaxed cup of tea before her in-laws arrived at the airport in 4 hours time. She sat out on her deck. It was a beautiful warm day. It had been some of the best weather the UK had ever had. Long spells of warm dry weather with the odd shower thrown in to keep things British.
She sat on the bench enjoying the view. The house was set in a large lawned garden with flat fields adjacent. A road ran along at the front of the house at the end of their 50metre drive. It was quiet road with very little traffic so it was pretty much always peaceful. She listened as the birds tweeted and the crickets chirped. It really was an idyllic spot.
As she drank her coffee the postman pulled in to the drive. He got out and waved “hi Karen.”
Karen waved back “hi Jack. Got anything nice for me today?”
“If I had a pound for everyone who asked me that” said Jack with a chuckle “I’d be retired by now.”
“I’m sorry hunny” she said as she started to walk over to him “I forget that you hear that kind of thing all the time. I’m a walking cliche in a summer dress.”
“And a beautiful summer dress it is too.” he observed.
Jack and Karen had grown up living close by each other and had gone through school together. They knew a lot about each other’s lives, they knew a lot about everyone’s lives in the local town. That’s how it is in a small community. You couldn’t fart without Mr Robbins the butcher knowing 30 seconds later. That’s why she liked living away from the town these days. Jack and Karen had been very close friends in their early years and had made that old friendship pact. If neither of them were married by the time they turned thirty, they would marry each other, but as it often does, life got in the way.
Karen held her coffee up and asked “time for a brew?”
“You know, I think I have got 10 minutes to spare” Jack said lifting his cap to air his head “it’s been hectic today.”
“Come on in I’ll pour you a strong one” she said holding the door for him.
He walked in and put the mail on the kitchen table as he sat down next to it. He sighed as he relaxed “no Greg? Have you killed him and buried him under the decking?”
“Ha. No chance. He keeps me in the life to which I have become accustomed, so killing him off wouldn’t make any sense” Karen said truthfully “he’s been called away on his new project at work and won’t be home until Tuesday.”
“Really” asked Jack with an eyebrow raised “while the cat’s away…”
Karen set Jack’s coffee down on a coaster in front of him “behave yourself. That was one time and I was very drunk. Besides your wife wouldn’t be very happy if she knew we’d had a drunken fling either!”
Jack sat reminiscing about the night he and Karen had coalesced. His dreamy face gave him away “hey!” Said Karen “stop thinking about it. It was a mistake!”
“I’m sorry Karen, I know it was a ‘mistake’ but honestly it was one of the best mistakes of my life” said Jack with a smile.
“It was fun at the time” Karen said with a very staight face “but that little bit of fun could have ruined both our lives. You know it could. This town sees and knows everything. How we got away with it is beyond coincidence. Now drink your coffee and never mention it again!”
“You’re right. I took it too far. I should think more about the consequences.” He said remorsefully “I’m sorry I put both of our relationships at risk but you have always been, and always will be one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. I know I shouldn’t bring it up but that night we spent together was special.”
Karen sat down next to him “it was special, but it’s done, it’s something we need to leave in memory.”
Jack drank his coffee “thank you Karen, for everything.” He kissed her taksim elit escort cheek, walked out of the house, got in his red van and drove away.
Karen felt her throat constrict and a tear welled up in her eye. She took a long deep breath and swallowed hard to compose herself. She managed to absorb the tear to avoid it trickling down her cheek. She justified the action as not having cried for what could have been. If the tear had found its way from her eye it would have meant something entirely different and she didn’t want to have to deal with the consequences of that.
She opened her mail. Bank statement, gas bill, club card vouchers and coupons for dinner at Gino’s. The coupons might come in handy if she went out with Kev and Julie, not that she needed coupons, but money off is money off.
Karen was still feeling hurt about the path not taken with Jack. She did love him and it wasn’t a brotherly love. But it wasn’t like the love for Greg either. Greg had provided a very good life for Karen and she more than appreciated it but there was no excitement, no spark, no pazzaz.
She spend her whole life with Jack close by and although he was just a postman he had more life in him than Greg ever would. Her thoughts went from thinking about things she and jack might have done to weighing up the pros and cons of both relationships. The real one with Greg and the fantasy one with Jack. Greg earned great money but there were no kids in his future. He didn’t want them. He wanted things and stuff to fill his life. Jack was on a middle of the road wage but would have happily had kids if his wife had been able to conceive. Greg scored one for the money, jack scored one for wanting kids.
Greg liked to buy things for Karen but his affections were lacking. Jack would probably never be able to afford the kinds of things Greg bought her but his affections had always been there. They were level at 2 each. She loved them both in similar ways and it hurt to think of hurting either of them but she made her mind up years ago when she said she would marry Greg leaving Jack broken hearted.
The last thing to consider was, who wanted her more? Greg, or jack?
She felt the tear well up again and fought it back. She had to pull herself together. Her in-laws would be here soon and it was only going to cause problems if they started asking why she had been crying.
She went to the bathroom to check she was presentable. She tidied her makeup and took some deep breaths. The doors were locked and the journey to the airport was underway. It was a 90minute drive to the airport so she left at 12:30 to give her time to find a place to park and then time to walk to their gate. It was an uneventful drive and the traffic was light so she made good time. She parked up and was in the airport with 30 minutes to spare.
The place was like a glorified shopping mall with booze shops, fragrance shops, tobacco shops and cafes. She decided to get a coffee in one of the cafes before heading to the gate to collect Kev and Julie. She sat down and watched people. One of her favourite pastimes was people watching. She loved to empathise with them during their interactions. Like watching a soap opera but the real thing instead of a dramatisation.
She saw a young couple standing over by a magazine stand. They were hugging tightly. He was wearing a big rucksack, a T-shirt, cargo pants and walking boots. Karen imagined him going somewhere like Nepal to walk the Himalayas. The girl was crying and didn’t want to let go of him. Karen felt the girl’s anguish as she tried to hold on to him for just another few precious seconds but it was in vain as he had to board his flight. The look on his face was of conflict. He knew he should go but he wanted to stay. He wanted the girl to be ok but he couldn’t be the one to make her feel ok by staying. They waved at each other as he walked backwards.
Karen thought about Greg leaving for his work trips and couldn’t remember a single time when he had ever felt as conflicted as this young man was to leave his love. The day of their wedding, they left in a car for their honeymoon and she saw Jack give her a similar wave as he stood watching her leave.
The tear welled up again but this time she didn’t have the strength to hold it back. It rolled out of her eye and dropped into her coffee. “Shit!” Kev and Julie would be there any moment and she was going to be puffy eyed. She drank her coffee and found a bathroom. She got some tissue, walked to a mirror and sorted her eyes out as best she could. More deep breaths and she was calm again, but that tear meant something.
She walked out of the bathroom and over to the gate. She waited for 15 minutes until she saw Julie. Then she saw Kev. They were walking arm in arm. She wished Greg would show her that small amount of affection in public. As Julie and Kev saw Karen their faces all lit up as they walked quickly towards each other. They hugged hard. Karen asked how the flight had been, Kev taksim escort said it was long and boring while Julie said she enjoyed the movies.
They went to baggage claim and found the bags in record time. No waiting around to be the last person to find the bags today. Karen led them to the car and they made the 90 minute drive home. Kev fell asleep in the back seat. Julie said “my god flying makes me so horny. I think I might let Kev have anal tonight!” She looked round but he was out for the count “good he can’t hear us, what’s wrong babe? You’re upset.”
“My god is it that obvious?” Karen was looking in the mirror to see if she was a complete mess “did Kev notice?”
“Don’t be daft” said Julie with a huff “he wouldn’t notice if your makeup was all over your face, but a woman knows. What’s up?”
“It’s silly. I was watching a young couple in love at the airport before collecting you both, it was just a bit emotional” Karen was trying to hide the lie behind something real but Julie wasn’t stupid.
“There’s something you’re not saying. Is everything ok with you and Greg?” Julie checked over her shoulder to see Kev snoring “you can tell me babe. It won’t go further than the front seat of this car.”
Karen swallowed and began “I’m not exactly happy with my life. I should be, I have a lovely house in a lovely area and a nice car, a good husband who earns great money but, I’m not happy.”
“Kids?” asked Julie “you want kids! And Greg doesn’t. Maybe there’s some way of compromising?”
Karen gave a weak chuckle “how the hell do you compromise about having kids? Besides, you need to have sex to have kids.”
“I don’t know. Have you talked to Greg? If he’s always busy with work he won’t even know he has kids” Julie had a point. He was rarely home and when he was, it was to shower, eat or sleep.
They drove home talking about the various things that Karen might try to persuade Greg but none really seemed to help with her larger predicament. They arrived at Karen’s house “wow this is your house? You don’t need kids” said Julie with a sarcastic tone.
They women woke Kev and said he should go and sleep his jet lag off so he went up to the guest room where he dropped straight back off.
In the kitchen Julie was looking around and again said “you definitely don’t need kids” this time she was deadly serious “you live in a fucking palace. You have everything you need. You don’t want kids drawing all over your white walls with lipstick!”
“That’s the thing though” Karen had tears in her eyes again “I’d give this all up just to have kids. But I don’t think I want to have them with Greg.” She broke down. Julie put her arms around her and hugged her tight.
Julie and Karen had been very good friends before they married the Simmonds brothers. A fact that carried right through to this day. The fact that they were now sisters in law just made them even closer. They had no secrets from each other even though they did from their husbands. It was a girl bond. One that they promised would never be broken.
Karen sat on a chair sobbing “I slept with Jack.” She announced.
“Holy shit!” Yelled Julie before muzzling herself with her hand “Jack Beck? Your best friend from school? The postie? When? How? And more importantly why?”
Karen’s lips were quivering. She knew she could trust Julie “Yes, yes, and yes, a month ago, we were drunk, and again we were drunk.”
“Jesus Karen. You don’t make things easy for yourself!” Julie was stunned about the revelation “Why would you get yourself into that situation?”
“Greg was away” Karen started to spill her heart out “he hasn’t really shown me any attention in the past couple of months. He’s been so busy with work he hasn’t had time for home life. All he does is leave for work at 7am. He comes home for 8pm. He eats and he sleeps. That’s when he is home, but about 50% of the time he is away sorting out problems. I’m lucky if I get half a day with him. Even on the weekends he’s on the phone or typing emails. I’m not sure I want to be here anymore. I went out one night after he left. I was bored at home so I went to the local pub.
“You remember Cath? She’s working there so at least I could talk to someone. I had a few drinks and then Jack walked in. He sat next to me and we chatted about the old times. We played pool and darts. I had fun. For the first time since I married Greg I had fun, but I had fun with someone else. Not with Greg. We drank, we got drunk, and at the end of the night he got me home in a taxi. He walked me in as the taxi left. He opened the door and saw me in. He was going to leave but I held his hand and told him to come in and keep me company. He said he shouldn’t but I didn’t want to be alone.
“He agreed to come in so I got him a beer and poured another glass of wine. We stayed up for hours laughing and telling stories like little kids. It was so refreshing to have such a juvenile conversation. All I ever get from Greg is ‘what’s for dinner?’ so taksim eve gelen escort talking with Jack made me feel like a real person again.”
“Damn, I didn’t realise things were so bad.” The realisation seemed to hit Julie hard. “I mean I knew you weren’t as happy as maybe you could be, but it sounds like you’re not happy at all. Have you spoken to Greg about how you feel?”
Karen told her “I have tried, but he’s too busy to even have an important conversation.”
Julie’s cogs were turning “you deserve better. I know you have all the material things you have ever wanted but if you’re not happy none of it is worth shit!”
Julie pulled Karen in and squeezed her tight “come back to oz with us girl. We’ll find you a proper man who will worship you.”
“I already have one of those here” said Karen wishing she could change history “but that ship has sailed. Were both married and stuck in our own little rutts.”
“Nothing” said Julie in a stern and very philosophical way “in this world is permanent. If you want something you’ve got to make it happen, come hell or high water! Get your glad rags on we are going out. You’re not fucking sulking in this house for one more day!”
Karen reminded Julie “Kev is still asleep though. What about him?”
“I’ll wake him then” said Julie and off she skipped.
Karen loved the way Julie could turn her mood around. She still felt upset but she knew Julie was right. Nothing in this world is permanent. She thought that might make a great tattoo as a life motto. Maybe one day.
Julie walked into the bedroom and sat next to Kev. She stroked his hair and wondered how two brothers could be so different. Kev wasn’t money led. He didn’t care about ‘things’. He wanted to have a full and happy life and knew that there was nothing to be gained from being tied to a desk or a briefcase. Julie gently shook Kev and called him. He was pretty out of it, but she brought him around enough to ask him if he wanted to go to the pub. The mere mention of the word had him sitting up in seconds. He had slept for the whole car journey and about 2 hours while the girls talked so he had managed to catch up with a bit of rest.
They ordered a taxi and went to the pub. At the pub Julie saw Cath and they jumped for joy at seeing each other again. Kev gave Cath a hug and so did Karen even though she saw her often. They ordered beers and sat down to talk. After a while Kev left to visit the bathroom. And Julie suggested Karen should tell him about how rough things are between her and Greg. Maybe he could actually help. It was worth a shot. At this point it was all going downhill anyway.
When Kev came back Karen asked “has Greg spoken to you about us recently?”
Kev shook his head and said “no, why? Is everything ok?”
Karen told him about his lack of affection and the lack of anything in the relationship. She told him that of all the things she wanted a baby was top of the list but Greg didn’t want a child. Kev understood what she was going through to a point. He wanted kids at some point and if Julie didn’t want kids it would be a huge deal. He asked if she had spoken to Greg. Karen told him the same as she told Julie earlier that he didn’t have time to have a conversation so no she hadn’t.
Kev came out and said it “maybe it’s time to move on hun? You can’t stay in a relationship your not happy with. It would be soul destroying.”
Hearing her husband’s own brother say it was what she needed. The relationship was effectively over. She cried, so Kev and Julie supported her. They said regardless of what happened they would always be there for her. She still loved Greg but he wasn’t making her happy so it was time for a change. Julie and Kev bought round after round. They had fun and she felt better about the whole situation.
When they got back to the house they were were borderline paralytic. They were laughing and crying, they could barely stand never mind walk up to bed. They were reduced to crawling up the stairs all the while playfully pulling each other backwards and trying to get themselves further. They all ended up in Karen’s bedroom. Having a tickle fight. Girls against boys. After exhausting themselves like little children they all got onto the bed.
They took a while to catch their breath but after a while Kev and Julie started making out and were slurping at each other faces. Karen said “thanks you two. Make me horny and frustrated all night.”
Kev stopped kissing Julie and moved over to Karen. He gave her a big smooch which sent Karen’s flag straight up her flagpole. Julie giggled as she watched them. Kev pulled away and Karen tried to berate him for kissing her when Julie was lying next to him but she was slurring and only half told him off. She couldn’t believe he would do that. She asked Julie “how could you letting him and do that? He just cheating you!” Almost incomprehensibly.
Julie was dizzy and slurred back that they had a special kind of relationship. Karen asked “are you shwiggers?”
Julie said “kind of. Yeah. Shwiggers. We likes to playing games.”
Karen wasn’t going to cheat on Greg again. It wasn’t fair, but her body was arguing with her brain and in its inebriated state her brain was losing. Julie crawled over to Karen and said “you member when we used to play? We had shum fun.”
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