I Don't Think I Should Do That, page 1
nk I Should Do That?
Mario V. Farina
Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina
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Mario V. Farina
"Mr. Mason, may I sit with you?"
He looked up from his book. She was young, pretty, blond, with deep hazel eyes. She was wearing a plain white blouse above a dark skirt. Balancing it carefully, she was holding a tray with a sandwich, a small salad, and a steaming cup of a tea on it.
"Of course!" he replied. "I'd love to have company."
She placed the tray on the small table where he was sitting and sat opposite him. "I'm Mary Dolan," she said. "I've noticed you, sitting here alone with a book. I wondered whether you'd welcome some conversation for a change."
"Yes, I think I would like that. I'm happy to meet you, Ms. Dolan."
"Call me Mary," she said.
"I'm Andy," he replied, "but, you probably already knew this."
"Yes, I've known your name for a long time. I've observed you working at your desk, oblivious to most of what's going on around you. I don't believe you know many of your co-workers by name. Here, in the company's cafeteria, I see you reading a book with a salad and a cup of coffee on your table."
"I'm flattered that you have felt that much interest in me," said Andy. "You're right, at work, the job is everything. I bear down hard on it. It makes the time go faster."
"Do you have other interests? Are you married? Children?"
"I'm interested in astronomy, politics, and word origins. I'm married. My wife and I have celebrated our fourteenth anniversary. We don't have children, but we've talked about adopting. I'm thirty-five. How about you?"
"I'm twenty-three, just out of college. I've been with the company about a year. Like you, I feel my first obligation is to the company. I haven't thought, a great deal, about dating, or getting married. I know I should. Time has no compassion for stragglers. Most of the men I know have a frivolous nature. I haven't warmed up to any of them."
"Choosing the right person is important," he said. " I know this from experience. I married too young, I think. Emily and I get along pretty well, but there was a thing that happened between us around our seventh anniversary that is still haunting us in the background."
"I'm sorry to hear that," she said. "You seem to be a very serious person, the kind of person that would make a good husband, probably the kind I'm looking for."
"Thank you for your kind words," he said, "but I'm nothing special." They continued to talk, exchanging views and pleasantries. When it came time to return to work, he said, "I've enjoyed this conversation with you. Shall we continue tomorrow?"
"I'd love that," she said. "Though you're too modest to admit it, I think the waters of your rivers run deep. I'd like to know more about you."
At home, Andy parked in the driveway, and entered his home through the side door. Emily had dinner on the table. He removed his jacket, flung it to a vacant chair in the kitchen, kissed his wife on the cheek, rapidly rinsed his hands at the sink, then sat in his usual place at the dinner table. Emily sat opposite him.
He studied her face. She looked tired, he thought. Her hair was tousled, and she was wearing a housecoat. Normally, her appearance would not have bothered him, but it did tonight. Mary had had her hair nicely arranged, and was wearing lipstick. She had been attractively dressed. She had stirred feelings in him that he had not experienced for a long time. He dared not put those thoughts into words.
Tonight, dinner was the usual Thursday fare, meatloaf and salad. "At one time, we were talking about adopting," he said during a quiet moment after Emily had told him about the bird that had inadvertently entered the house through the open kitchen window, and how she had made sure to guide it safely out of the house.
"I remember we were talking about it," she responded, "but I don't think either of us felt strongly enough to follow up on the idea."
He didn't respond. "Would it have done any good?" he wondered.
After dinner, Andy went into the den and watched the news on TV while Emily did the dishes. "Shouldn't he be helping her?" he asked himself. However, his mind did not dwell on this thought for any great length of time. He stared at the television screen but none of the images focused. His mind was on Mary. He knew it was dangerous to do this. Seven years earlier, when the same kind of thoughts had come into his mind, they had almost cost him his marriage. She had taken him back, but an important part of their relationship had immediately been lost.
The first time he had strayed had been seven years into his marriage. Since then, another seven years had elapsed. He had heard about the seven year itch. Was it possible, this phenomenon might be a built-in characteristic in every man's life? Mary had shown an interest in him. Could he risk another affair? What would it cost? The last one had set him back a bundle. He was in no mood to lose that kind of money at this point in his life!
The next day, Andy happily welcomed Mary as she came to his table for lunch. On this day, his book had not been opened. He had purchased his usual salad and coffee. Mary arrived with her tray.
"Are you going to the office party tonight," she asked.
"I didn't know there was a party," he responded.
She laughed. "I should have expected you'd say that," she commented. "Don't I look a little different than I did yesterday?"
"Oh, yes," he said. "Your shoulders are bare. Are you wearing party clothes?"
"Yes," she said. "My top is a little more daring and I'm wearing a shorter skirt than usual. There will be dancing. I wish you had known about the party. It would have been fun having you there."
"Where is it going to be?" he asked.
"At the Plaza Restaurant next door," she replied. "Right after work. There will be dinner and dancing until midnight. The company is paying for it. It was announced on the bulletin board. You probably didn't see it."
"You're right. I didn't see it. I'm not dressed for a party, not even wearing a tie."
"It's informal!" she said. "But I'm probably being selfish. If you had known, you probably would have brought your wife."
"Perhaps, but it's too late to tell her about it now. Still, I'd love to go. I'll call Emily and tell her I'm working late, or something."
"That might work," she said. "But I don't want to be the cause any trouble. Are you sure it would be okay to do that?"
"I'm sure." he declared.
Back in the office, Andy dialed his home number. Emily responded, "Hello dear." The Caller ID display had showed a number she recognized.
"I'll be home late tonight," he began. "Were doing something special at work, and I should have told you. The company will be feeding us while we work. Don't worry about me. I should be home soon after midnight."
"Yes, I wish you had told me," she said. "Tonight's meal was stew the way you like it. I can make it anyway and serve it to you tomorrow."
"Yes, tomorrow would be fine. I'll be looking forward to it." They hung up.
Andy had not been to a dance in a long time and he had gotten rusty at the art. However, under Mary's guidance, he regained some of his former skill. Holding Mary in his arms and smelling her perfume had a profound effect on his brain. In his mind, he was no longer thirty-five with fourteen years of marriage behind him. He was eighteen, on a first date. Love, with all its charm
The company photographer took a picture of the two. It's on the cover of this story.
At midnight neither he nor she was in a mood to end their evening of bliss. "I wish you were not married," she said. "I'd be looking forward to going home with you!"
Encouraged by her blunt comment, he responded, "I want to kiss you."
"Not here," she said. Then, she added, "Where?"
"My car," he suggested.
In the car, they kissed as if to make up for years of lost time. They had decided that, in order to better control the rush of their emotions, the front seat of the vehicle would be a better place to display their ardor than the back.
After several minutes, short of breath, they decided to rest for a few moments. "Mary, I love you," he whispered.
"And, I, you," she murmured. "May I ask you something?"
"Yes, anything at all," he responded.
"You mentioned a thing that had happened during your marriage with Emily," she said. "Would you tell me more about that."
"Emily and I had been married for seven years," Andy began. "At first, it had been exciting, but then it became humdrum. We had learned that we couldn't have children, but were talking about adopting. Neither she nor I felt that the time was right, and nothing came of this. My life changed when a young woman named Marge came into my life. She was a few years younger than me and we became involved. I began dating her secretly. After a few dates, I committed the sin of unfaithfulness. Once the ice had been broken, I fell into a trap from which I could not escape. I knew Emily suspected, but she didn't say anything."
"One day Marge told me that she had been to Apex Jewelry and had seen a ring that she had fallen in love with. She asked whether I would mind checking it out to see whether she should purchase it. I knew what that meant. Without hesitation, I purchased it for her."
"A few days later, she told me that she needed to make a payment on her credit card but didn't have the money. He asked whether she could borrow some money from me for a short time. I did give her the money she needed, but she never repaid it. A few days later, she said that her living room furniture needed replacement. I was able to scrape together enough money to pay for that."
"Emily, finally, asked me if I was seeing someone, and I admitted that I was. She started divorce proceedings. It wasn't going to be cheap unraveling myself from the embroilment that I had put myself in. As a consequence, I broke up with Marge, but not before a certain amount of pain had been inflicted upon myself and Emily. I promised my wife that if she took me back, I would never stray again. I agreed and she did take me back."
He had come to the end of the story. There was a long silence. "Take me to my car," Mary said.
The next day was a Saturday. Andy was in the den meditating over the events of the previous evening. Emily was grocery shopping.
The phone rang. He picked up the receiver. It was Mary.
"Are you free to talk? she asked. "If not, just say it's a wrong number."
"I can talk. Emily is not home."
"Andy," she said. "I've just come from the jewelry store. I saw a ring there that was to die for. I wanted to buy it, but didn't know whether I should. I'm wondering if you'd mind going there to see whether it's worth the money they're asking." She began quietly sobbing.
He did not respond.
"Andy, did you hear what I asked? It's an important question." Her crying remained unabated.
"Yes, Mary, I heard. I don't think I should do what you're asking," he said.
There was nothing on the other end except the soft sound of tears.
"But I do want to tell you," Andy continued, that, by asking me this, you have restored a sense of sanity in me that I was about to lose. Though you are much younger than I, you are, by far, the wiser. Though the paths of our lives must now diverge, I will never forget you."
Though she didn't speak, he knew her tears were heavily flowing. He waited until he detected a click at the other end, then, sadly, hung up.
He heard the side door opening. There was a loud call, "I'm back!" It was Emily announcing her return from shopping. "Emily, dear," he yelled back. "I'm in the den. Wait till I come down to help you with the groceries. Then, I'd like to talk to you!"
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