We asked you to create a story based upon the photo or, simply to use for inspiration and we had many fantastic entries. The theme this time was betrayal.
We are pleased to announce the winners and send warm congratulations to the winners.
1st Prize: £200.00 Alex Pearce
2nd Prize: £150.00 Tommy Richards
3rd Prize: £100.00 Tessa Wright
The Third Wheel
by Alex Pearce
It’s cold. The flames have greedily devoured the logs, their appetite satiated; I know that they will die when there is nothing left to burn. This is how I feel. Burned out. Like my insides have been emptied, and now, the shell that is me is sitting in a darkened room trying to make sense of it all. But how do you make sense of betrayal? The act of a third person in a relationship. How can one indiscretion turn to an affair that had the power to destroy?
The light from the fire is fading. I turn my attention to the window and the stars beyond. In a cloudless sky the stars twinkle and shine down on us all. I am glad of their cold comfort and their consistency. I know in the coming days and weeks I will be looking for something consistent in my life. Isn’t that what people do when every aspect of familiarity has been torn to shreds? A silver photo frame lies broken in the corner, the glass is fragmented across our wedding picture. A day that meant so much meant so little in the end.
The end was fairly spectacular. A violent row, torrid name calling, the usual smashing of crockery. But the physicality’s didn’t bother me. In a way, it was a relief. A chance to clear the air from the scent of suspicion that had been wafting around for weeks. I had never embraced the head in the sand way of thinking but now at least I could understand why people did so. When it came to the fear of losing the person you love, why tempt reality to come crashing down? Reality cuts like a knife and it fragments your very core, disconnecting you from each other, separating love and emotion with the stark truth. Reality is the proverbial bucket of cold water. It drenches you, shakes you into submission and you eventually crawl into a very small dark place to recover.
So here I am. Hugging the last remnants of fire as the flame flickers and dies and the shadows around me grow chilled, moving ever closer towards me. I am undecided. I do not know what to do. I don’t want to climb the long stairs to the bedroom, our bedroom and I dreaded the thought of clambering between those cold sheets, the king-size bed now taunting. How was it possible to feel so alone inside? The revelations of the night ring in my ears. I had been a fool, the biggest fool ever. The love of my life was gone and was never coming back.
Pain welled up inside of me. It felt like a stabbing sensation ripping through my guts. Hot tears pour from my eyes and drip on the wooden floorboards. We had stripped and polished these boards together. The memory sucks the breath out of me and I brace myself for the rising angst. It doesn’t disappoint. I remember us laughing when we had finished and running into the other room in front of the log fire, discarding our clothes to celebrate as we explored each other’s bodies. We had no money in those days to go out. The mortgage crippled us each month, so we spent much of our time in bed, rekindling our love and then re-investing in the house with any spare cash. Our dream to renovate this big old cottage.
I don’t know what to do. I have never felt so indecisive. I had forced this decision, pushed and begged and in the end, had made Sasha do as I wanted, but she hadn’t been willing – not really. My need to extend our love-making – give it a bit of a sparkle – was enough to tear us apart. That night, the night that we invited Jeni into our bed, I had sensed Sasha’s reluctance but she had entered into it gamely, hoping that once we had tried this experiment, that life would go back to normal. I could see it all so clearly now, even picture her face, tears behind the bravery and willingness to please me. I wish I had wanted to please her more and to have never turned to Jeni. But now it is too late.
Sasha left with Jeni tonight. I watched them walk away hand in hand -their connection seemingly about more than the physical. Both dragged a suitcase filled with Sasha’s clothes, starting a new life together and me, the third wheel. Discarded. I suppose, as I reach for my whisky, that it was all my fault. Because of me, Sasha had realized that men were selfish and that we took what we needed. What she needed was the gentle and caring touch of Jeni, who understand her more than I ever would.
The whisky burns my throat but it tastes so good. It will keep me comfort on this cold lonely night as I contemplate how I drove my wife into the arms of a woman. I took another sip of whisky feeling warmth flooding back into me, somehow, the sexual frisson became muddied, the edges blurred. It hadn’t turned out to be quite the experience I had imagined and now I know why fantasies should remain so – untried, untested, just relished.