The Balancing Act

January 12, 2009
By Aaron Arkin, Los Angeles, CA

The phone rang a total of three times before Victoria answered it. She rushed back from the bathroom and took a seat on her worn swivel chair.
“Mr. Franklins office.” she said.
In an instant, she dialed a three digit extension and transferred the call to Sam’s office. Sam was an attorney at law. He liked his job, and had a number of loyal clients. Sam, feet up on his desk, picked up his corded phone and was greeted by his wife of eight years. The two asked how each other’s days were going. He kept it simples and replied “fine” while his wife ranted and raved about the mess the kids made in the kitchen when they had gotten picked up from school. She then gave him instructions on what to pick up at the grocery store for the dinner she would be cooking later that night. She was a stay at home mother, and loved caring for a family. Her kids were her life, and they meant the world to her. The conversation was quick, and to the point. It lasted no longer then two minutes. Only seconds after Sam hung up the phone, Victoria came into his office without knocking first; something she always did. She had in her hands a fax from one of Sam’s clients. She bent over slowly and slid the paper across the desk to grab Sam’s attention. Victoria always had to put on a show. Nothing was ever ordinary; everything she did had to be done in a “sexy” manner. He thanked her, and she winked as she closed the door behind her. Sam put on his reading glasses, and read over the fax. He sighed deeply and opened up a blank e-mail on his computer. He remained at the office for another hour or so, and packed up his briefcase and put on his coat. He shut of the lights, and exited his office. The largest office on the floor.
“Leaving already Sam?” Victoria asked as she lifted her head from a game of beginners Sudoku.
“Yeah, I guess so. I have to pick up a few things at the market and Lisa wants me home early tonight.” he responded in a dreary tone.
“Oh, well I’ll see you tomorrow Sammy…” she said with a seductive smile etched on her face.
He traveled down to the garage underneath the office building. His 06’ Audi A8 sat in his reserved spot, right next to the elevator. Sam always got what he wanted, and he didn’t ever show any remorse for anyone else. His parking spot used to be a handicap spot, but he demanded it be converted to a reserved spot for himself. That’s the kind of selfish person he was. He started up the engine, and made his way to the market. Entering the market he stopped in place when he realized he had forgotten Lisa’s grocery list on his desk. He whispered a colorful explicit sentence under his breath and did his best to remember what she wanted. After achieving to find two out of the four things he needed to buy, he got back into his car that was parked in the red, and left the packed parking lot. Leaving the parking lot, he received nasty looks from angry customers looking for a spot. He pulled up to his home after a short five minute drive home. His house was a modest home, ideal for raising a family. A white picket fence lined the front lawn, and the roses were in full bloom. He entered through the front door, put the bags of food on the counter, greeted his two children, and kissed his wife gently on the cheek. The dinner was prepared as Sam watched the local news station. He did this every night when he came home. He would take off his lovers, sit down in his favorite chair, and would watch the local news. His wife would occasionally ask him to set the table, but he would pretend not to hear her. Dinner began, and he didn’t touch the garden salad. He ate the garlic bread, fiddled with his pasta, and then cleared his spot. He and his wife would clean up the kitchen and put the kids to sleep every night. When their nightly chores were complete, the two would make their way to their bedroom to read, watch TV, or talk. They were never an intimate couple, special occasions like anniversaries were the only time the two would show any type of passion towards each other. Lisa didn’t mind, as much as she noticed Sam was desperate for physical contact with her. Lisa would be out cold by 8 pm. Sam frequently made fun of her, saying that she could sleep through an air strike or an atomic bomb. Their bedroom was the one place they could be alone however, in total and complete privacy. Unfortunately, they chose not to take advantage of that. The next morning, Sam got out of bed, after hitting the snooze button on his alarm clock twice. He showered, ate his bowl of soppy oatmeal, and got ready for another day at the office. After saying goodbye to his wife, and taking his sons to school, he drove back to the office building. He exited the elevator, and walked passed Victoria who greeted him with a pleasant hello. When he walked by her however, he noticed something he had never noticed before. Victoria was a gorgeous woman, with a perky face and perfect body. Sam had always found her attractive, but for some reason he never took the time to really examine her like he did that morning. Sam moved his eyes up and down and looked at her perfect curves, and soft dark skin. He quickly snapped out of this trance, and sat down at his desk. For the rest of the day, every time he saw Victoria his interest in her grew. She was always flirtatious, but Sam had always chosen to not fall into her trap. He knew he was a married man of eight years, and he knew he had two young children. He was a family man, and the thought of becoming romantically involved with another woman was forbidden. If he wanted to however, no doubt would Victoria be willing to have relations with him.

The weeks went on, and Sam was becoming more and more interested in Victoria. They talked more, and he would even invite her to sit down in his office when she would bring in a fax. The month was December, and another lawyer in the office was throwing a holiday party at his home. Victoria and Sam agreed to go together after work, to save two trips with two separate cars. Victoria made arrangements to carpool the next morning with Sandra, another woman in the office. Sam phoned his wife, and told her that he was going to the holiday party and that he was going to be home late. The day went on, until it came time to close down the office and leave for the party. He went into the reception area and waited for Victoria to gather her belongings. The two then swiftly made in down to Sam’s car where they then left for the house. After a talkative car ride about politics Sam’s marriage, and Victoria’s failed relationships, the two had arrived. They mingled with their fellow co-workers, and snacked on the food that was spread out. When the hour became late, and people began to leave, he and Victoria agreed it was time to go. Sam told Victoria he would take her home, and that’s exactly what he did. When they pulled up to the small house on the other side of town where she lived, he said good night, and what she did in return would change his life, as he knew it. She leaned in for a kiss, and he kissed back. His heart was pounding…he wanted this for so long, but he knew how damaging it could be. She whispered “bye” and she closed the door behind her. He drove home while his mind was spinning with confusion, regret, and shock. His marriage would be over if he were to ever tell Lisa, so he didn’t. He entered the front door, and made it appear that nothing had happened at all. He couldn’t sleep that night. The moment he and Victoria shared that prohibited kiss kept replaying over and over in his head. The next morning, he would have to figure out something to tell Victoria. But before he did that, he would have to figure out if he wanted it to continue or not. He tried to convince himself to end the affair right then and there, but when he greeted Victoria that morning, he pulled her aside and whispered,
“What happened last night confused the s*** out of me. You’re a beautiful girl Victoria, and if we want this to continue, no one can find out. You know I have a family…”
She complied, and convinced him that their relationship was going to be discreet and unnoticeable. She told him she had wanted to that for a long time, and all Sam could do was nod a nervous nod.

As the months went on, Sam kept on returning home late. His wife never suspected anything, seeing that she thought Sam was staying late simply because he was working harder. When he would continue to miss dinners, she would tell her sons that “Daddy is working late so he can buy more toys for you!” But she was very wrong. If she only knew Sam was sleeping with his secretary, the woman she speaks to every day to get transferred to her husband, she would be devastated. If she only knew Victoria was pregnant with Sam’s child, she would be devastated. Sam found living doubles lives with two different women easy to do. He never felt bad for his wife, at least not after the first few months it was going on. When Victoria gave birth, Sam found himself balancing two families in his life. There were infinite amount of excuses Sam had to excuse himself from his family with Lisa on many occasions. In the very beginning, Sam felt bad about being unfaithful, but at this point, it had become second nature to him. There was always a business trip to go on, or another deposition to attend downtown. He had two sons with Lisa, and a newborn baby daughter with Victoria. On Thanksgivings, Sam would have dinner with Lisa and his sons, and the next night he would manage to drive across town to have another Thanksgiving dinner with Victoria and his infant daughter. He and Victoria had it down to a system. Lisa didn’t suspect anything, and Victoria and Sam were able to hide their relationship at work.

Sam’s affair with Victoria continued for three more years, even after Victoria took a new job answering phones at a car dealership. Sam and Lisa’s
marriage however was beginning to fall apart. Communication between the two was
absent, according to Lisa, but all Sam could say in return was that he was
working hard and that she can’t blame him for that. Victoria now had two children with Sam, and although she didn’t spend the ideal amount of time with him, she managed. It was a cold October afternoon when Victoria got into the accident. She was speeding home to pay the nanny and to make dinner for her kids when her car sped out of control and slammed into the light post. She died on impact, and left behind two young children, and a secret relationship with a married man. Sam was obviously upset and horrified with the death of Victoria. His grief was so visible, and Lisa knew why. Two months before Victoria’s death, Lisa found a picture of Victoria, Sam, and Sam’s two illegitimate daughters in his wallet. She made a deal with herself to wait until the right time to notify Sam that she knew of his cheating ways. Sam was a mess. He had lost what some could call a second wife. He knew he would have to tell Lisa, but when composed himself later that evening, Lisa hugged her husband and said softly,
“I’ll come with you to pick up your kids.”
Sam never had to tell Lisa anything.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jan. 31 2009 at 8:12 pm
I like the idea of the wife already knowing, and how forgiving she is. i would have liked to see a little bit more detail near the end though. It was an overall really good piece.


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