For high flier Debra, there could only be one option
I take the corner at speed, joining the slip road that takes me to the motorway. Ignoring the ringing of my mobile.
I know it’s him, but it’s over. I need to get to the hospital.
I merge into traffic to my right, slipping across each designated lane until I reach the fast one.
I put my foot down. Cutting past every driver here in the black of the night.
Speeding ahead, leaving only the metallic glitter of their lights disappearing in the distance.
Whatever had I been thinking?
The flash of memory, the flush of heat provide the answer. The pull is still there, the sense and feel of his lips on mine.
“Mark needs to get the hang of how we do business nationally,” Geoff, my boss, had said. “We need to win new contracts. Good as you are, Debra, there’s only one of you.”
I worked best alone, but the boss was right. With Emily, my daughter, already grown I was able to take on as much work as was necessary.
I’d worked hard to make a good life for us both after her dad walked out.
I knew the company’s needs and requirements better than anyone; if we needed to train someone up, I was the one with the experience.
It wasn’t difficult. Mark was smart, his youthful confidence inspiring me with a surge of motivation.
He enthused on my flair for delivery, my ability to cut to the chase without losing the essence of the products and services we offered.
I buzzed with pride.
Beside me almost twenty-four-seven as we chased a route across the country, Mark was determined to learn as much as possible.
We talked almost non-stop. Well, he did.
I hadn’t laughed so much in years.
He may have been almost half my age but he’d already lived twice my life. Backpacking round the world, seeing and doing more than I guessed I’d ever have time for.
I listened. My own youth so different, a baby at seventeen – I couldn’t always be there for Emily, but it didn’t mean she wasn’t the single most important focus in my life. She still is.
That’s why I need to make things right. The distance has been unbearable. I hadn’t realised how quickly the craving would blot everything out.
I’ve let her down these past months.
Mark caught me unawares. We’d captured the big deal, the contract to save all our jobs. The euphoria, the wine…
I only stalled on the stairway for a moment on the way to my hotel room.
“You OK?” he said. I’d turned. Found his embrace waiting.
That’s how it began.
I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been good. So good I’ve almost lost my mind, my job – maybe even my relationship with my daughter.
I haven’t been there for her at a time when she needed me more than ever.
I’ve been caught up in my own desires and the demands of a handsome young man who has no sense of anyone but himself.
I guess I’ve been no better.
“You’re kidding me,” he said when I told him where I needed to be. “Weekends are important to me.”
I’d listened to the silence that followed, refusing to break it with the anger erupting like a volcano in my chest.
I thought of how I’d let go of almost everything important to have him continue wanting me. but I wasn’t letting go of this chance I was being offered.
“You need to make a choice,” he said.
So I did.
Less than six miles to my destination. I return my thoughts to the present. Consider how far I’ve travelled.
Mark reminded me I’m still a woman, but he’s not the man for me.
The road is slick with rain, the tears tracing the curve of my cheek a thankful release.
With luck, l’ll make it in time. For my daughter and my first grandchild – already on his or her way into the world tonight.
We’re sharing another tender short story from our archives every Monday and Thursday throughout July. Look out for the next one!