Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)
TITLE: Affairs of the Heart
By Gregory Kane
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The daily routine was simply that – routine. Roger couldn’t remember the last time he had enjoyed a stimulating conversation with his wife. As far as he could tell, Lucy was letting herself go. She wore frumpy dresses, used the minimum of makeup, and it had been years since she had surprised him with a risqué piece of lingerie. Moreover, with the added pressure of both of them working and the constant demands of the kids, their love making of late had been hurried and left both of them unsatisfied.
Linda was another matter entirely. She always wore the most provocative mini-skirts possible and her plunging necklines left nothing to the imagination. For the past three years Roger had ignored her less than subtle flirtations, fixing his gaze on Lucy’s photograph every time Linda’s perfume tugged and teased at his senses. But in the past few months he had been aware that he was no longer so quick to look away. Several times now she had caught his eye lingering on her décolletage and Linda’s smile had made it clear that much more was on offer.
Then there was Monica. Clearly in a different class from Linda, she was sophisticated, suave, erudite and, if rumours were to be believed, a veritable tiger in bed. Several of Roger’s fellow executives had boasted of exhausting trysts with Monica at the various trade fairs they attended together. He and Monica were scheduled to attend a weekend conference at the end of the coming month. All Roger had to do was signal that he was once again available.
It wasn’t that Roger wanted to leave his wife. He just felt the need for a bit of excitement. Two weeks later he found himself locked in an intimate embrace with Linda, an encounter that would have gone further had not the janitor arrived to take away the rubbish. And Roger’s slipping a double entendre into his conversation with Monica was rewarded with a lascivious wink that left him panting for the approaching conference. But then, just as Roger was teetering on the precipice of outright marital betrayal, his brother Alan came unexpectedly back into his life.
“It’s all that fat cow’s fault.” Alan’s voice was slurred and reeked of malt. “She was the one who talked me into leaving me boys. Won’t even look at me now, they won’t. And the missus, bah. Fourteen years of marriage and you would think she’d at least give me the time of day.”
The bar slowly filled as Roger listened half-attentively to his older brother’s woes. He had left his wife for a younger woman who had in turn dumped him six months later. Alan had turned to the bottle in a futile attempt to paper over his growing sense of guilt and self-disgust. He lost his job and eventually, as the demon of drink sank its talons deeper into his soul, Alan abandoned himself to despair.
It was the cracked mirror behind the bar that granted Roger his epiphany. The brothers were a study in opposites, one smartly dressed, the other a dishevelled vagrant. Yet both men’s eyes wore the same haunted look. Roger shifted his head to one side and allowed the misplaced glass to superimpose the two images. The spectre was appalling, a vision of what he could so easily end up like. All he had to do was follow Alan down that same road to perdition, forsaking all he held dear for the sake of a few momentary pleasures...
Monica went to the conference alone, although she soon enough found another victim to ravage. Linda appreciated the flowers but the note left her completely baffled. She never had understood men and reckoned that she probably never would. Lucy and Roger went away without the kids to talk through the problems in their marriage. But, after three days of soul-searching and painful confession, their peace summit turned into a glorious second honeymoon.
Roger discovered that he needn’t search outside his marriage for lasting fulfilment. No man does. He only has to know where to look.
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