© Orla Donoghue
The wine at the fundraiser was free that night. Glasses never ran empty. I was two thirds of the way through dessert before I managed to slip away unnoticed. A car parked near mine rocked back and forth with the energetic activities of its inhabitants. From my driver’s seat, I could see he had his jacket on, with his shirt undone. If they had been lying down I wouldn’t have recognised him but there he was, acting like a rodeo rider, his chest puffed out. Always a show-off. I could have pretended I didn’t see them but I knew his wife. I drove away before he saw me.
There was very little traffic on the freeway and I had plenty of time to call to his house, tell her and leave before he got back. My relationship with his wife was complicated. Looking at the white band where my own my wedding ring used to be, I knew what strain was like in a marriage. At their front door I hesitated. The curtains in the sitting room were open, the lights on full. A couple inside were locked in an embrace. They pulled apart. The woman looked like his wife. I walked back to my car and lit a cigarette. As I inhaled the smoke deep into my lungs, I wished I hadn’t gone to that dinner. This was their mess. I fought hard not to stop at every liquor store on the drive home. I missed whiskey, its taste, smell, the numbness, the way it made all my pain disappear. The next day I went back to my AA meetings. I needed a new sponsor, a fresh start. We had just gotten too close. It happens.
The Rodeo Rider’s Wife was first published in the online Flash Flood journal as part of the 2016 Flash Fiction day.