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Subject: Flowers For Penny
Author: Billina   (Authenticated as Billina)
Date: October 13, 2012 at 11:18:13 AM
Reply to: Duel Prompts Game by Siân
Alex held Penny close to him and breathed in her scent, allowing himself to feel giddy over what had happened between them. He knew guilt and shame were the appropriate emotions, but he only felt a slight twinge of both, buried deep inside him. His happiness was overriding everything else, and he hoped Penny felt the same way.
He kissed her neck and she giggled.
"Man, you don't quit," she said. "You know I have to leave soon."
"Why?" he asked. "Why can't you just stay here with me, forever?"
"You know why ," said Penny. "Doing this doesn't make Will disappear."
"I wish it did."
"Don't say that! Will is one of your best friends."
"Yes, I know," said Alex, the guilt becoming more than just a twinge. "It's just that...I didn't plan for this to happen, it just did."
"Really? You had a bouquet of flowers waiting for me when I got here, Alex. Sounds like planning to me."
He stirred. It was true he had purchased the flowers after Penny had called him, crying that Will was working late again, that he was treating her more like a roommate than a wife. He had told himself it was only to cheer her up, but deep down, he recognized the gesture for what it was.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I mean, if you felt like I was pressuring you in any way- "
"No pressure," she said, turning so that they were belly-to-belly. "The truth is, I've wanted this for a long time."
She kissed him, hard. He responded by reaching for the box of Trojans on his night table.
"I really can't," she said, breathless after their kiss finally broke. "Will will be home soon. I have to leave."
With that, she got up and found her clothes on the floor. Alex felt the heat that was rising in him only moments before retreat, leaving him with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"Why are you with him?" The question cut through the silence like a knife. Penny pulled her shirt over her head and turned to face Alex, a look of contemplation on her face.
"I guess it's because we're supposed to be together," she said. "We've been together since high school. No one had ever questioned it before."
"Not even you?" Alex wanted answers. He wanted to know how a bright, insightful woman like Penny could go through the motions with a man like Will, who was nice enough, but had no spark.
"Of course I did ," she said. "but my parents loved him, my friends loved him, and I could have done a lot worse."
"You also could have done a lot better."
"Well, why are you friends with him?" Penny turned it back on Alex with a challenging look in her eyes. "You've known him longer than I have. What do you see in him?"
Alex thought for a moment.
"He lived next door to me," he said. "We liked to ride bikes together. I don't know, childhood friendships rarely make sense. This one just kept going."
"Do you care about him at all?"
"Sure I do."
"So, we're in agreement," said Penny. "We both don't want to hurt Will, so we won't tell him what happened. We'll go on with our lives."
"What? We're going to pretend like there is nothing between us?"
"What do you mean?"
"Pen, I love you." There it was. The words he had longed to say for years, tumbling out in a state of post-coital bliss. He face was hot, and his mouth felt dry. He hoped she would be kind.
Penny sighed and sat on the edge of the bed.
"Alex, I don't regret this," she explained. "I had fun, I felt appreciated for the first time in years, but it still doesn't change the fact that I'm Will's wife. People make mistakes, they move on."
"Mistake?" He felt nauseous. "That's... not what I would call it."
She kissed him softly on the forehead.
"You'll see," she said. "In time, it will be like nothing ever happened...but I don't think it would be a bad idea if we avoid each other for a while, just 'til things cool off a bit."
Alex glanced down at her bare ring finger.
"Did you take off your ring? Maybe you left it on the kitchen table, or something."
"Oh, I left it at home," she said. "Don't worry, Will won't even notice."
She picked her purse up off the floor and Alex still sat in bed, naked and humbled. He held his head in his hands.
"You don't have to do this," he said. "You could go after the life you want instead of the life everyone else thinks you should have."
"Alex, just drop it," she said. "Trust me, this is for the best."
With that, she shut the bedroom door behind her and left Alex alone with a million thoughts racing through his head. An hour passed before he could pick himself up and take a shower.

"An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way."
-Charles Bukowski

"And by the way, dearie, your punctuation sucks canal water!"
-The ghost of Vivian Vance

This message was edited by the author on October 13, 2012 at 11:31:11 AM

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