The Season

 

I’d gone over it so many times, I thought my head would split. Johnny just standing there in my driveway last night when I got home from work? So dejected, he said, something about some girl at school? As soon as I gave him a half-concerned look, he hugged me till I awkwardly hugged him back. Pubescent lust? A teenage boy ploy to feel up an adult woman? I shook my head, took another deep breath. Nothing was making any sense.
     All night I woke up sweating, panting, aching as Alan snoozed next to me like a baby. Alan, my lover throughout grad school, my loving husband for the past four years. Yet I couldn’t get Johnny out of my mind, my dreams. Johnny, the boy from across the street, the thirteen-year-old kid? I could still smell his shaggy hair, feel his warm, moist breath on my neck, his bony young chest pressed against my breasts. And the things I kept imagining! What was wrong with me? I was a no-nonsense professional, an accountant even. I wasn’t one of those pathetic teachers or nannies who gets sick sexual cravings for a child, who finds herself in the news, then prison. I hardly even knew Johnny.
     At work the next day I scrunched over my desk, hugged myself as I tried to concentrate on the rows and columns of numbers glowing on my desktop’s screen. My passion had always been numbers, their precision and certainty, the thrill of seeing them play out to their final decimal-point perfection, balancing every account to the last cent. But now I couldn’t care less about the awe of numbers. It was tax season, crunch time for me, but I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t think about anything but Johnny. How would I get my work done, take care of my clients, keep my business running?
     By nine p.m. all six of my employees had trickled home. I should have been out the door myself after glancing into each cubicle to make sure all was tidy and secure. Instead I left the hallway lights on, crept back to my corner office, closed the door but for a crack. After snatching the window blinds shut to dim the garish glare from the towering parking lot lamps, I slipped off my patent pumps and stretched out face down on the sofa across from my desk. Clutching a throw pillow to my chest, I ground myself, body, mind, soul, against the sofa’s taut leather cushions. After a full day of craving Johnny, I climaxed faster than I ever had before, faster than I’d ever thought possible.
     Sitting upright again, still panting in the faint glow from the hallway, I gazed at my wrinkled satin blouse, the splayed fly of my wool trousers, my sensible patent pumps orphaned on the tan Berber carpet, when a sly, accusing glint from my wedding band suddenly caught my eye. As much as I loved Alan, had he ever turned me on as much as the merest thought of Johnny did now? How could I go home, spend another night in bed beside Alan, knowing Johnny was just across the street? Johnny sprawled on his bed, maybe in only his jockey shorts, maybe even naked!
     Alan would understand if I didn’t come home tonight, I told myself. He was plenty used to me working late during tax season, me at twenty-eight the workaholic owner of my own accounting firm. After all, Alan was a rising star in his law firm. His work was his passion too. I flicked my desk lamp on to clear my mind, to decide what I’d say, and what not to. When I was ready, I picked up my phone. Alan answered on the second ring, “Hey, still at work?”
     “Alan, I’m so sorry,” I started. Then I reminded him about the Chinese leftovers in the fridge from last night. I explained how I’d found discrepancies in one of my biggest corporate accounts. I’d have to work late tonight, maybe even pull an all-nighter this time. I had to double-check every line, every item. It all had to be ready for presentation to the client tomorrow morning.
     Thank God, Alan bought it! Maybe my nerves and desperation even gave my lies the ring of truth. My loving husband — God, I felt so guilty! — assured me he understood. It was all right, he told me. It was my busy time. I had to do what I had to do. Before he hung up, he added, “Oh, you know that weird kid across the street, Johnny what’s-his-name? He was looking for you tonight. Said something about you helping him with his math?”
     “M—math?”
     Alan snorted. “Like you have time to do his homework for him. I think the little prick’s got a thing for you, babe. If you want, I can get a restraining order.” Alan chuckled.
     “Okay, honey, I, uh, gotta get back to work. Seeya tomorrow, okay?” I hung up on the verge of tears. What now? I planted my elbows on the desktop, cradled my head in my palms, felt my heart racing as Alan’s words reverberated in my head. Johnny! A thing for me!
     I flinched when the phone rang a moment later. Alan calling back! Of course it was Alan, I realized without even glancing at the caller ID. Alan was no fool. Something in my voice must have given me away. Alan sensed my deceit, my sexual tension, the adultery oozing from my every pore. I had to tell him everything, I realized. My mind raced. But even with all his liberal understanding and compassion, what would Alan think? What could he think? He was still a man. What might his male ego even drive him to do? My mind convulsed with lurid pictures of the things that men crazed by jealousy and humiliation do all the time.
     Get a grip, I told myself. Alan wasn’t like that. I couldn’t hide this from him. I had to bare my soul, admit everything. As hard as it would be, somehow Alan would understand. He had to. Johnny was the only person I could think about now. I had to have him as much as I had to eat and breathe. I hoisted the phone to my ear. I felt so guilty and ashamed, yet so sure of what I wanted, the only thing I wanted, Johnny.
     “Hi — honey,” I mumbled.
     There was silence. Then, after several seconds, a woman said, “This is Stella — your neighbor from across the street. We have to talk.”
     I paused to catch my breath, to clear my stunned mind. “Oh, uh — I thought you were my...” Then I gulped. “Johnny’s mother?”...

 

Copyright 2020 A. R. Gregory