pages Kept

by Kirsten Clodfelter

Published in Issue No. 131 ~ April, 2008

The girl was wearing one of his undershirts and nothing else, and the wooden
seat of the kitchen chair felt cool against the back of her thighs. She watched
the man fix her hot tea with sugar. He no longer needed to ask her how many
spoonfuls. The man’s wife would be home in an hour, and the girl imagined what
the expression on his face would be if they heard the garage door open just
then, thought of the urgent way he would kiss her before she grabbed her jeans
and slipped out through the back door. She grinned into her cup.

She had skipped her biology lecture to let the man shave her legs and then have
sex with her in the Jacuzzi tub. When he came, he bit down hard on her left
shoulder, and afterward, she studied the indentations his teeth left in her skin
while he dressed. Whether or not they were at his home, he always dressed as
soon as they finished.

The girl liked that they talked a lot after sex, trying to crowd all of their
words into the minutes they had left before it was time to leave. He always had
kind things to say. He told her how much he looked forward to their weekly
meetings, that she opened something up in him. He never talked about his wife.

The girl listened to the man swallow tea, and for the first time she considered
asking him if they could start seeing each other twice a week. Even when she was
doing other things, the girl had begun to think about lying with the man in his
bed, her head against the rounded bone of his shoulder, their fingers
intertwined, asking each other questions. She was careful to never mention him
when she talked about the future.

The man glanced again at the clock and said, “I don’t think there’s anything more
beautiful than you in my t-shirt,” and the girl laughed and said, “I’m keeping
it, then.” She would never tell the man, but she kept reminders of him in a box
on her dresser: a flower, now dried, that he plucked from a planter outside of
the drug store where they had run in to buy condoms, a short list of groceries
he had jotted down on a napkin, a keycard to their motel room that she had taken
from his jacket pocket.

The man walked to the bathroom. The girl pushed her chair back from the table
and rose to get a soda. She stopped to refold the hand-towel hanging from the
refrigerator door, where a magnet for a dentist’s office held a picture of the
man and his pretty wife. In the picture, his arms were wrapped around her waist,
and they stood in front of a sign for a bed and breakfast. The girl wondered if
they used real keys at the bed and breakfast, instead of keycards like at the
motel. She heard the man run the faucet in the bathroom and she slipped the
picture out from under the magnet and crossed the kitchen to tuck it into her

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Kirsten Clodfelter is currently an MFA (Fiction) candidate at George Mason University. She is the Assistant Editor of AWP's the Writer's Chronicle.