“You’re different, today,” Alice said.

There was no way for her to know that. Robert had just gotten home, hadn’t even spoken to her yet.

“I had an affair. That’s why.”

He loosened his tie, took off his shoes.

“Wow. Just today? That was short.”

“Well, it’s been going on for a while. But today was especially good.”

He stripped, hung up his suit, threw his socks in the hamper.

“Whatever it is, I like it,” Alice said. “You look good.”

In the shower, it occurred to Robert that he should tell her the truth.

But then, he had, hadn’t he?

Yes. He had.

When he got out of the shower, Alice was in the kitchen, talking.

“Right,” she said. “Oh no, it’s definitely for the better. I can tell.”

Robert threw on some pants and a t-shirt, looked around for something, and then headed into the kitchen.

“Is that my cell?” he asked.

Alice held up her finger. “So…three o’clock works? That would be perfect…. Excellent. Have a good time!”

She hung up.

“I hope you don’t mind,” she said. “I made you an appointment with your mistress. Saturday at three. Does that work for you?”

“I guess so. What will you do?”

“Oh, don’t worry. I thought I might learn to fly. They offer weekend classes at the municipal airport.”

And so she learned to fly and eventually became a flight instructor. In fact, she was my flight instructor, but that’s not where I met her. I met her on a friend’s deck in Tujunga where she told me all about her ex-husband’s affair and her avid obsession with managing it.

“It was exciting!” she told me, not so drunk that she was slurring her words, but she was definitely wide-eyed. “There I was, MASTER…of his affair!”

“How genius,” I said. It was a boring thing to say. I blame the fact that I’m boring.

Alice thought so, too, so we didn’t hook up that night.

Three years later, I decided to become a pilot, and she was my first flight instructor, and our first fling began in the cockpit. In fact, it never left the cockpit.

She liked all manner of positions, so long as they were her idea. She also liked mutual masturbation because it could be done without taking the seatbelts off.

“Isn’t it exciting to do it while we’re flying?” she’d say.

But we weren’t flying. We were still on the runway. We never made it off the ground.

One afternoon, after we almost took off, I was trying to figure out if there was a new mole on my hand or if it was something that would wash off, when Alice asked me, “So, have any big plans this weekend?”

I let it slip that my future self was coming to visit. Suddenly I was far too interesting to waste time in the cockpit with.

Of course, Alice only slept with me because she wanted to be in a threesome with me and my future self (well, okay—not necessarily me and my future self specifically—with anyone and their future self, really). She wanted the experience and she was also keen on being the first to do it—the first to be the meat in a person-and-their-future-self sandwich. So that’s what we told her, that we’d never had a threesome with anyone before.

Not long afterward, my future self moved in with me and then Alice moved in with us and my future self took a night job which left me and Alice alone most evenings. We played Scrabble. Eventually Alice decided we could have sex without the future self because she could still fantasize about him while we did it. Then, we got bored of having sex and went back to flight school. She, as an instructor, and me, as a janitor. I went into the custodial arts because my future self predicted only failure if I tried to become a pilot. Like it or not, I trusted my future self.

I wiped up the halls and the toilets and eventually my future self found us both boring and decided to go hang out with my childhood.

Alice moved out. I took up league bowling. I was put on a team with Bob, whom I bowled with for two years before I figured out he was Alice’s ex-husband.

He was interesting.

AARON DIETZ is the author of Super, a novel from Emergency Press about commitment, crisis, paperwork, and heartbreak. Dietz's super powers include a high metabolism and the ability to put things back where he got them. He's also pretty good at math. As an instructional designer, Dietz has written online high school courses on computer programming, green design, and 3-D video game creation. It’s natural for him to write quizzes. He’s worked a decade in libraries. He’s also been paid to count traffic and once failed a personality test. Dietz writes for TheNervousBreakdown.com, blogs at aarondietz.us, and is an advisory editor of KNOCK Magazine.

14 responses to “The Affair”

  1. Art Edwards says:

    This is great, Aaron. A story of misdirection. It kind of begs to be re-read, which I’ll do right now.

    Do you remember that Scorsese move After Hours? I always loved the way the plot–if that’s what it was–kept switching from here to there, this to that. Your story reminds me of it.

    • Aaron Dietz says:

      Thanks so much Art – I don’t remember that movie because I didn’t see it! A problem I will soon change. Netflix once tried to recommend that to me a billion times. And I still didn’t see it. Now it’s in the queue.

  2. Gloria says:

    So much just happened in such a short period of time! And no one was upset about anything. What a weird, fun story. 🙂

    • Aaron Dietz says:

      I really really try to just make the story fun, so your comment is especially appreciated. Sean Beaudoin is someone I greatly admire for his fun-making. I’m always jealous of his stuff. Thanks for reading, Gloria!

  3. Gregory Messina says:

    Entertaining, original, weird, funny, kind of sad…nicely done. I like how you invented the future self and it’s completely normal for your story, and works.

    • Aaron Dietz says:

      Thanks so much, Gregory! Yeah, it’s a little sad for me, too. I think it comes from characters who aren’t really upset by anything. But then they’re generally just out there having fun, which can be a plus. There’s a trade-off, maybe. I’m glad the future self worked for you. I always feel nervous adding a future self midway through a story. 😉

  4. Janine Adair Kohanim says:

    Wow. I have this weird feeling that my future self is going to dream this soon. All except for the part about Bob. My future self is too boring to come up with that twist. (Nice story, Aaron;)

    • Aaron Dietz says:

      Janine, I’m actually surprised at how interesting my future self is, until I realize he’s just learned three more tricks than me. We’re all boring at heart. Thanks for reading!

  5. Tom Hansen says:

    Ha Dietz that’s awesome.

  6. Sharanya says:

    Very original – enjoyed this! This phrase especially – “went into the custodial arts”

    • Aaron Dietz says:

      Thanks so much, Sharanya! In full disclosure, I think I’ve been using that phrase throughout my life ever since I heard it in Breakfast Club, that 1980s film. I guess I shamefully stole it!

  7. Clint says:

    Great piece!

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