His wife walked in from work the way she often did: huried and frustrated. She had a list of what he hadn't done already spewing from her mouth before she ever asked about his day. It made it hard to start his evening's work.
"Did you call the financial planner, like I asked?" she pecked.
He didn't get a chance to answer before she went on. "I heard from the life insurance carrier. Remember how I said the company's going backrupt? Well, I'm figuring out where to get your insurance from now and so you'll probably have to have a physical. You'll also need to stop smoking pot since they usually ask for a drug test."
Pot helped him weather their relationship he thought, (now high.) He was mainly just there as a target for her frustration, a blank sounding board that she read her own thoughts aloud to without regard for a response. That, and an occasional prop in her search for an orgasm. She was too busy to cheat, too focused and functional for an affair, but he wished she would have one just the same.
He rarely interrupted but she'd gotten home late and he had a new student arriving. "Can we talk about this later, I have a student arriving any minute."
She glared at him a moment before going upstairs to whatever it was she did while he taught.
He looked at the pile she'd left by the front door and exhaled before hanging her jacket and putting her shoes in the mud room. He considered chucking her briefcase out the door for a fleeting moment and then set it inside the entryway closet. No mud to sweep up, that was good. He sat at the piano and played arpeggios to the ticking of the metronome. It was a kind of meditation for him, like a buddhist digging a hole, then filling it up. His fingers travelled steadily up, thumbs curving under, then down, middle finger crossing over. Up and down his fingers plinked, easily. Tick, tick, tick, tick the metronome went through his method. The doorbell rang in rhythm with his playing so he waited until he finished and got back to middle C before answering.
"Well, actually I took her out on my way in. I'm actually the serial killer here to take her place. What was she here for again?"
His eyes popped.
She laughed, loud and long. She held her stomach, she laughed so hard. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't say things like that when you don't know me. It's just, you should have seen your face!"
He wasn't used to this kind of student. Her emails had been like this as well. Light, full of jokes and personal tangents. Not at all like his usual email which went something like "I'm looking for a new teacher for my nine year old. Hers is moving to Houston. She's had three years of lessons..." etc.
Ashley would say that she just realized while typing that she had put on two different shoes that day and OMG, it's 4:00, how has no one said anything?
She had never played an instrument, much less the piano. She couldn't carry a tune but had inherrited a Steinway baby grand so felt the piano needed the love of someone's fingers.
Their first lesson, she got him to laugh aloud several times. She laughed often and easily. She had a graceful long neck she revealed when she threw back her head to set her laugh loose. There was a thin scar that ran from behind her left ear down to about an inch above her voicebox.
Hours and several other students later, he found himself thinking about that scar. Wondering what it would feel like to run his index finger along it.
He sat down at the bench and slurred some notes out, picturing her laugh. Away he tapped plinking out nothing in particular, until his wife interrupted him.
"Could you start the dishwasher before you go to bed?"
Then, "wanna fool around before it gets too late?" an eyebrow raised.
He nodded and found himself upstairs. He lay on his back while she chewed away at his manhood. He moaned and pulled her up toward his face. She turned her head to the side and said "Fuck me, daddy." He hated when she did this. Hated the dirty talk that made them other than who they were. The separation between their real selves that meant they were never closer, even when they were one. They weren't one. He caressed her and pictured kissing Ashley's neck. Running his tongue along that magnificent scar. He traced that line on his wife's neck and felt her adjust herself, her pelvic bone grinding into his, using him to come. He let her, of course. He relaxed back and thought of the metronome, the arpeggios. He moved methodically now with his body. But his mind was dancing around the keys, thinking of something different. Moments later, the point of no return and he was pulsing.
"No, no, NO!" His wife. "Damnit! I was so close!"
He'd been close too. He'd nearly said, "Ashley."