An Affair to Forget

‘Do you have to go?’ I don’t really want him to stay, but I always say it. ‘I miss you when you’re not here.’

He rewards my falsehood with a sad smile. ‘I have to get home. The kids.’

‘You could stay the night.’ Please no. I worry my husband will phone while he’s here. ‘We could stay here forever.’ I gesture at the plush suite my company pays for whenever I am on the coast.

‘Don’t say that,’ he says.

‘Why? Imagine if we could just stay together forever, just you and me.’

‘Don’t be silly,’ he says. He casts about for his wallet and keys and heads for the door. ‘It would be nice. I’ll see you soon.’ He looks back and gives me a little wave. He grabs the door handle, checks the lock and pulls the handle down again. I sit up in the bed.

‘It’s stuck,’ he says, punishing me for my joke.

‘Who’s being silly now?’ I lie back on the pillow. ‘Oh well, you’ll just have to come back to bed.’

He rattles the door handle again, fiddles with the lock. ‘This isn’t funny,’ he says. ‘Do something.’

‘Okay, calm down,’ I say and grab the phone from beside the bed. ‘Hi. Yes. Suite 519. There’s something wrong with my door. Thanks so much.’

‘You shouldn’t have made that joke.’ He checks his phone.

I pull my robe on and check my reflection. Tousled hair, messy makeup. ‘You’re not superstitious, are you?’

He shrugs and I smile indulgently. There’s a knock. He spins round and tries the door again, bashes on it with both fists.

‘Dramatic much?’ I mumble and plonk on the sofa with the view of the ocean. ‘Stop yelling.’

He peers through the peephole.

‘Help!’ he whispers.

The phone rings. He’s boring me now. ‘Yes, this is Ms Jones. Yes, I understand. Thank you.’

‘What did they say?’ He’s beside me, hands anxiously clasped in front of him.

‘They said it must be stuck.’ I grab a bottle of wine from the mini-bar and pour myself a glass. ‘They’ll get a tradesperson in the morning.’

‘Happy now?’ he says, hands on his hips in exasperation.

‘I’m not unhappy.’ I raise an eyebrow at him.

‘My wife. My kids…’

‘Forget your wife and kids.’ I sigh.

He glares at me, tears in his eyes. ‘Oh God, if only we’d never met.’

Then his face softens. He rubs the stubble on his chin and smiles.

‘Sorry, what was I saying?’

I pull my robe around me and stand, edge toward the phone on the bedside.

‘I don’t know what you were saying, but I’d like to know who you are and why you’re in my room.’

His eyes widen, puts both hands up to show he means no harm.

‘I’m sorry. I don’t know. I’ll leave.’ He retreats to find a smooth wall where the door should be. Only the peephole remains, looking out into nothingness.

An Affair to Forget was my entry for a Surrealist short story competition. Click here to read the winning entry. You can also click here to read my winning entry from November 2021.