I woke up later that night, having gone to bed in my own bed at my own house and put my own children in their beds and with my own husband sleeping next to me. I heard nothing in the night, I was alone with my skin, burnished by his touch and his tongue and his lips, and the sound and swell of my own deep, sleepy breathing. I luxuriated in the memory of being with him that afternoon. I could smell his skin on the tender insides of my wrists and I could feel the faint tingle of his lips on mine. I stretched and then curled back up, imagining he was there with me, and that I could curl up next to him, entangle myself with him.
I turned over and noticed that my sheets didn’t have quite the snap that his did. His sheets were crisp and cool and, I realized, ironed. Ironed!
Who irons their sheets?
It had to be her, right? His wife must have ironed the sheets we made out on, that we almost made love on. That’s twisted and wrong and even if it wasthe guest room, we were still partially unclothed, saying things we shouldn’t have been saying, touching each other in ways we shouldn’t have been, on sheets that she ironed. I had to stop this, I couldn’t. I couldn’t ask him to betray his vows, no matter how willing he was; no matter how willing I was to break my own. This couldn’t go any further.
He had made a promise to her. He had also made a promise to me, but even in my bed, drunk with desire for a man I was not married to, a man in his bed with his wife, sleeping together on crisp, cool, ironed sheets that she had ironed with her own hands, I knew that her promise trumped mine. I had no place there.
No matter how badly I wanted him to make one for me, I had no place there. I said it over and over, a mantra to woo myself back to sleep and away from him. Away from his sweet kisses and his need to know me and his unwillingness to climb my walls.
I slept badly, awoke early, awoke irritable and unfulfilled, unrested, having dreamt of him all night; having been unsuccessful in outrunning my desire for him.
I pulled the sheets off my bed. I washed them, I dried them, I ironed them. I needed to know I could be as good as she was, that I could deserve him too.