Mary guided the car along the highway. It was late afternoon and the traffic was starting to build. The sun was beginning to sink towards the western horizon and the autumn sky was starting to change colour. Shadows of vehicles were lengthening as she cruised past them. For the first time in as long as she could remember, her husband Bob had got an assignment within a two hour radius of home. He’d been working as a Photocopier Salesman for the last twenty years. He’d travelled thousands of miles, often spending weeks or even months away from home. Over the years, she had yearned for his company whilst he travelled the country, but she understood. He loved what he did. To many folk, photocopiers were dull – something humdrum and routine with but one simple purpose in the world. But to Bob, they were really something wonderful. They were his passion, his reason for being. He loved what he did. How could she stand in the way of that? She drove onwards, wondering what he’d make of her unannounced visit at the hotel. The drive was inconsequential. She just missed her man and she wanted to surprise him.
Bob turned the menu over in his hands. Somehow, the image on the front didn’t quite fit with the surroundings. The image of a black jacketed chef, spooning sauce from a brass pan onto a delicious looking cut of meat, was rather out of balance with the rather mediocre hotel restaurant he now found himself sitting in. He looked at the woman sat across from him and he felt awkward. In all the years he’d been doing this job, all the times he’d been away, he’d never found himself in this position before. She was twenty five years his junior. Stunningly beautiful. Her eyes were a dark brown and they fixed him with a steady gaze from across the table. Tousled strands from the fringe of her shoulder length brown hair fell across her forehead and she continually pushed it away with delicate, slender fingers. Bob didn’t entirely approve of her clothes. There was nothing overtly provocative about what she was wearing, but he could see the outline of her bra through her white blouse. He absently wondered whether her underwear was on the mind of anyone else in the restaurant this evening. They had met in the hotel bar and chatted. Talk over a drink had turned into dinner for two. He was a middle aged photocopier salesman with a slight paunch and thinning hair. This woman made him feel alive. She could have been anywhere, with anyone, but she was here. With him. He felt a huge sense of gratitude and optimism.
It was dark now. Since she had turned off the highway, headlights of other cars had become more sparse. Ahead in the distance, Mary could see the illuminated sign of the hotel. The SatNav had done a great job in delivering her here. Only one hour fifty minutes since leaving home – not bad. She swung the car into the hotel car park and found a space. She adjusted the mirror so she could check her make up. She touched up her lipstick and took a deep breath. This unannounced trip made her feel a sense of adventure, a twinge of excitement she had not experienced for years.
She walked into the hotel. The young girl on reception directed her to the dining room. Mary walked through the double doors. She stood for a moment and scanned the room. He wouldn’t know she was coming, but she knew him well enough to know that he always liked to eat at 8pm. This whole trip hinged on the fact that he was a creature of habit.
Mary saw the back of Bob’s head on the other side of the room. She heard him laugh out loud at something. Then she saw the younger woman. She felt herself flush, her stomach turned itself in knots. She’d never considered who Bob associated with when on business. This was not how she had foreseen the evening.
She walked across the dining room with her heart in her mouth. She stood behind Bob. The younger woman stared at her. Bob sensed something unusual and turned around.
“Mary!” he exclaimed, his eyes lighting up. He stood and embraced her. She hugged him fiercely.
“Hi Mum,” said the younger woman with a wink “It’s just like we planned.”
“Happy birthday Bob” said Mary and she smiled.
This is my first go at the Mutant 750 writing challenge from Grammar Ghoul Press. I hope you like it.
Andy Ives, Feb 2017.