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Before you send me the name of your divorce lawyer, therapist, or favorite single’s bar, read on.

Do you remember the first piece you wrote that made you push away from your computer (or paper) and say, “Hey! That is pretty good!”? And can you remember your shaking hands when you gave it to someone to read and then holding your breath while waiting for their response?

I do.

This short story, “My Husband’s Mistress” was that piece of writing for me. In my professional life, I had been writing for years but it was boring business documents, grants, annual reports and the like. Writing this piece was the first time I let my creativity out of its cage and the words bounded onto the page like puppies after a good nap.

My Husband’s Mistress

By Robin Coyle

My husband has taken a mistress. And I, the ever-supportive wife, unwittingly encouraged him to do so.

It started out innocent enough. Our neighbor mentioned that my husband should meet his friend. He described the friend as athletic, outdoorsy, and quite fun. He thought they would have a lot in common and he was right.

An introduction was made and they hit it off right away. A serious friendship was slow to develop however. They would get together for occasional outings; sometimes in a group and sometimes just one-on-one. As my husband and his new friend got to know each other, they started to spend more time together. My husband is an attentive spouse and devoted father. Because he doesn’t like to take time away from the family, he doesn’t go out with friends much. So I, again the ever-supportive wife, encouraged him to branch out and spend quality time with his new friend.

They find interesting places to explore together. Roads less traveled and favorite old haunts beckon them. This new friend is strong, as is my husband, and they push each other to embrace higher levels of fitness, better technique, and endurance. They like to test the outer edges of their physical limits so it is a perfect match. The more they push each other, the more drawn they are to each other. It is all about competition, the challenge, and the next extreme adventure. My husband reached his new fitness level because of this attraction to his friend.

The new friend is eye-catching and alluring. The Italian heritage, with a bit of Japanese mixed in, gives this friend an intercontinental, sleek, and exotic aura. The friend is provocative with sex appeal that is a blend of coquette and siren. Animal magnetism and seduction wrapped up in a glamorous package. With a tight body and frame engineered by an angel, the friend has an element of beauty and intensity most men could never dream of having in a companion . . . expensive and unattainable for most.

When they go out together people want to talk about my husband’s friend. They ask how they met and how they spend their time together in training. They get noticed. They turn heads.  They make a statement. No wonder. My handsome husband and his sexy partner look like they could grace the cover of a magazine.

I should have noticed things were serious with their relationship when my husband began to buy new clothes to wear when they went out together. These clothes are not run-of-the-mill outfits, but expensive European numbers that show off his new muscular physic. These items were things he never would have been caught dead in before. Gone were the safe businessman’s navy, brown, or black socks he usually wore. The socks he now buys have bold patterns and match his outfits. Then came new shoes too – fancy Italian models with intricate buckles and straps. He bought a hat to go along with the more racy outfits. It mattered how he looked when they went out on their adventures. This was from a guy who was most comfortable in broken-in blue jeans and a tee shirt soft with age. I knew I was in trouble when he bought his friend gifts of expensive accessories and high-tech gadgetry. He would do this without a word to me. I got new pots and pans for my birthday. Oh dear.

My husband’s eating habits changed. He now craves Italian food, in particular, pasta. He says he is “carbo-loading,” but I now know better. I’m sure it was his Italian friend’s influence. Mysterious supplements, energy bars, and disgusting sounding gel-packs appear on our garage workbench. The spur-of-the-moment-run to the ice cream parlor to stave off his powerful after-dinner sweet tooth has been replaced with a yogurt and banana in front of the television. Where food had been his guilty-pleasure, his eating energy is now focused on nutrition, power, speed, and performance. He turns his nose up if my meals have butter, sour cream, or velvety sauces. He used to love my comfort-food-dinners, but my husband is now a health-conscience food snob. You know, I think he is a hypocrite. I overheard him saying that he ate six peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the last time he was out with his friend on a daylong adventure. Was he bragging or astonished by the number of calories he consumed?

For a time, all of this was fine with me. My husband was happy, in great shape, and the day’s stress melted away when he was with his friend. However, the amount of time they wanted to spend together escalated. They did their best to not let it interfere with family time, but after a while it did. As a result, my husband decided to take his friend to work with him so they could be together during the workweek. He coerced a work colleague to abet in this tryst by driving them to work. His email was filled with messages about things they could do together. Our dinner table conversation centered on what was new in their friendship. My husband would disappear into the garage for hours to get ready for each new excursion. They joined a club that centered on their common interests, held meetings, offered advice, and organized events. The club even traveled and ate together as a group. My husband’s relationship with this friend became all consuming . . . an obsession. I should have seen the handwriting on the wall.

It all came to a head and I exploded in a fit of jealous rage when my husband surreptitiously cut a romantic weekend away with me short. I discovered he did it so he could be with this friend.

So you ask, who is my husband’s mistress?  Who is this seductress that stole his heart, mind, body, and soul? 

His bicycle.

The irony is I am happy for them. She makes him happy, healthy, and fit. How could I be mad about something that brings such unadulterated pleasure to the man I love. And, it’s not another woman. Ride on honey . . .

What are your memories of your first creative-writing experience?

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