Shall I shan’t I? Shall I shan’t I? This is how it goes, on and on, round and round. It’s that time of year again when madness takes over and people make terrible mistakes.
It’s almost a year to the day since I made mine and yet here I am contemplating going down the same road again. Didn’t somebody once say that was the true definition of madness – making the same mistake over and over again? The trouble is now that I’ve entertained the thought that I might go, I can’t get the idea out of my head.
It’s the Christmas ‘do’ see, tomorrow night at the big hotel on the outskirts of town. We have it there every year; it means people can have a drink without having to worry about driving home. It’s never really been my thing but you know what it’s like, you have to show your face or you never hear the end of it. Before last year I’d never stayed over. I’d never had the need - moderate drinking and sensible shoes that’s more me.
At least I thought that was me until Mark Grantham. He transferred to our company when we merged with a smaller rival and I was meant to help him make the transition. It can’t be easy moving to a new job in a new town – not that I’d know given that I’ve worked at the same place since leaving school. It’s good money and secure which in this day and age counts for a lot. I’d be a fool to let it go for something more...
More, that’s always been my problem. Everyone says so, my mum, sister, friends and even Lee. I’ve never been able to shake the nagging feeling that there must be something more. “More what?” my sister snapped at me the last time I brought it up. She was furious that I couldn’t be satisfied with a hardworking husband who provides us with everything we could want while she’s struggling on her own with two kids. I help out as much as I can, of course I do, but it’s not the same. She misses the man who used to treat her like dirt before he ran off with the woman who worked in the bookies.
He’s got a new life now with not much time for his old one and now and then I can’t help but wonder if he too was looking for something more. I’m playing with fire I know, Lee and I have been together since school we’re best friends as well as husband and wife. I genuinely can’t imagine my life without him in it so why do I crave this elusive concept of more?
It’s always been there, beneath the surface, that dull sickly feeling of being trapped. Some days the thought of spending the rest of my life sorting out other people’s mortgages, living in our lovely detached house, three streets away from mum’s neat little semi, makes me want to claw my own skin off. I have to keep reminding myself how lucky I am. My sister would kill for what I have, I’ve no right to feel trapped, no right to long for something more.
What more could there be any way, I’ve got everything, hit the jackpot? I think maybe I would have carried on believing that if I’d never set eyes on Mark Grantham. I had to go and collect him from the HR office and show him around. He’d smiled and my chest felt constricted, my breathing jagged and out of rhythm. I felt awkward and ridiculous for weeks as he worked alongside me seemingly unaware of the effect his presence was having.
By the time last year’s Christmas ‘do’ came around I was spending almost every waking moment fantasising about being with Mark Grantham. Being his lover, his wife, his mistress, I didn’t care. I just wanted to feel his skin on mine, to acknowledge the charge that he must surely feel as it totally consumed me. Even though we had not exchanged a word about what was going on I knew exactly what would happen at the party. It had to; I couldn’t live in such a heightened state of excitement. It was driving me insane.
Lee had been asking me what was going on for weeks. Just the very sight of him made my flesh crawl as I thought of nothing other than Mark’s lips on mine, his hands all over my body, him inside me. Thinking about it pushed me to the brink of desire in such a way that I’d never felt with Lee. By the time the party came around I knew that Mark and I had to be together.
If my colleagues had been surprised by the fact that I’d spent half my monthly salary on a new outfit and was drinking vodka and tonics like they were going out of style, none of them mentioned it. The only person who commented on my sleek new bob and decidedly non-sensible shoes was Mark as I attached myself to him the second he came through the door.
If I’m being honest the night was a bit of a blur but it predictably culminated with Mark in my bed. His hands weren’t all over me in the fevered rush I’d anticipated and I can’t remember if we kissed. The whole thing was over in minutes and then Mark was getting dressed and calling a cab. His wife was waiting for him at their new house and as she was pregnant he didn’t want to stay out too late.
The vodka buzz had left my system as he’d thrust mechanically into my body, taking with it the thrill of my fantasy. The thrill that had made me happier than I could ever remember feeling. After an uncomfortable goodbye, I’d sobbed out all my disappointment and failure. What kind of person was I to risk everything I had for sordid sex? I was no better than a cheap tramp.
I promised myself I was going to cherish my life with Lee after such a horrible near miss. I did, I have, and now here we are a year later. Mark Grantham was never the kind of man to stay long. By February he’d been promoted to regional manager so there’s no fear of seeing him at this year’s party. But still ... should I go?
My dress and shoes are in the back of the wardrobe and I’m sure Debbie could fit me in for a blow dry and manicure. It might be nice to dress up for a change and then there’s Colin in sales who I’ve been thinking a lot about lately...