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A Waking Guilt
Daisy bolts upright, feeling the rush leaving her body, like electricity caught in a power cord after being been unplugged. A guilt takes hold as she blinks her eyes, embracing her as she focuses on the room. She glances towards her husband, peacefully asleep with a look of quiet contempt on his face. For a moment she watches him, the familiar mole on his shoulder rising and falling with each breath.
She turns the cover and steps out of bed, quietly, careful not to wake him, afraid that her face may betray the illicit affair she had thoroughly enjoyed in her slumber. Walking down the hall and into the den, the sun is slowly climbing over the trees, bringing with it the early morning promise of a new day. The coffee maker strokes to life in the kitchen as scheduled. She hears small footsteps pattering down the hall.
It was only a dream she reminds herself.
“Good morning Aiden.” The small boy rubs his eyes sheepishly, his hair a tangled mess from the aerobics of the night. Daisy holds out her arms as he climbs into her lap without as much as a grunt. She stokes his back, enjoying the softness of his fuzzy dinosaur pajamas.
The guilt rings again, banging like a bell from within her chest as it lashes her with remorse. She holds her fist born son in her arms, closing her eyes, fighting the seduction that had appeared in the night and gripped her thoughts with such graphic detail. She pushes it from her mind, now hearing her husband--the man with whom she had exchanged vows--walk into the kitchen.
She prepares for him to walk into the room, wearing his faded jogging pants and holding his chipped UNCW coffee mug. He’ll stop at the doorway, with one arm casually behind his head, smiling proudly at his son curled up in his mother’s lap, saying something to the effect of, Can you believe that’s the same kid as last night?
Why had I dreamed it? Is there something missing in my life? I have everything I could want and need here in this house. Why can’t that be enough?
“How can all of that fuss come from such a little guy?”
Jeff stands in the doorway, his tousled hair a longer version of his son’s. Daisy smiles, looking down at the sleeping menace in her arms, still stinging with guilt.
Last night had been a tantrum for the books; Aiden had fought off his bedtime with a hail of tears and screams that was every bit as powerful as it was enduring.
Afterwards, taking a moment to regain her sanity, she had fallen asleep on the couch, waking up to a fast talking sales pitch on television advertising a revolutionary new cleaning product that was promised, no, guaranteed to clean those tough hard to reach grease spots or your money back. Climbing in bed, she had wrestled a corner of the bedspread from her husband’s grasp, exhausted, listening to his deep sturdy breaths as she lie awake in the night.
Drifting off to sleep, her selfish desires had flickered to life. She awoke on a beach, the blue water vivid and clear as the skies overhead. The waves crashed softly, buffered by the ivory foam that crawled delicately to her feet. In the distance, the sunlight sparkled on the rippling water as the seagulls flew overhead. Breathing in the nautical smells of the ocean air, she basked in the beautiful simplicity of her surroundings.
A faint breeze lifted her hair and she thought about taking a swim. She could do whatever she pleased, she was completely alone, without a chore in her life except to roll over to tan. There were no diapers to change, no daily naptime fights, and there was no schedule. She read a complete, uninterrupted chapter of a book and fell asleep.
Daisy looks up, hoping not to betray her thoughts.
“Are you going to be okay with the kids today? I’ve got that 9am tee time.”
“Oh. Yeah, it’s fine. Go have fun.”
“Thanks honey, you’re the best.”
Kissing her on the cheek, he starts down the hallway.
Daisy looks down at her waking son, so sweet and peaceful in these waking moments. Before the battles of the day were waged, before the compromises of lunch and the crankiness of the evening, before the exhaustion.
Now, if only she could remember just what book she was reading on that beach.