Read After the Fall Online

Authors: Kylie Ladd

Tags: #Fiction, #Psychological, #Contemporary Women, #Adultery, #Family Life, #General, #Married people, #Domestic fiction, #Romance

After the Fall

BOOK: After the Fall
13.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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For Craig.
  
Always.
        
And only
.

Contents

Title Page
Dedication
Epigraph
1. Kate
2. Luke
3. Cary
4. Cressida
5. Kate
6. Cary
7. Luke
8. Cressida
9. Kate
10. Cary
11. Kate
12. Luke
13. Cary
14. Cressida
15. Luke
16. Tim
17. Luke
18. Cressida
19. Cary
20. Kate
21. Cary
22. Kate
23. Cressida
24. Kate
25. Luke
26. Cary
27. Cressida
28. Luke
29. Cary
30. Kate
31. Tim
32. Kate
33. Cressida
34. Luke
35. Cressida
36. Cary
37. Kate
38. Cressida
39. Kate
40. Cary
41. Luke
42. Kate
43. Luke
44. Kate
45. Luke
46. Cary
47. Sarah
48. Cressida
49. Luke
50. Cressida
51. Kate
52. Cary
53. Cressida
54. Luke
55. Kate
56. Tim
57. Cressida
58. Cary
59. Luke
60. Kate
61. Cressida
62. Cary
63. Luke
64. Kate
65. Luke
66. Kate
67. Luke
68. Kate
69. Sarah
70. Luke
71. Kate
72. Cressida
73. Luke
74. Kate
75. Cressida
76. Cary
77. Kate
78. Cressida
79. Cary
80. Luke
81. Kate
82. Luke
83. Cressida
84. Cary
85. Kate
86. Luke
87. Cressida
88. Luke
89. Tim
90. Kate
91. Cary
92. Cressida
93. Kate
94. Cary
95. Luke
96. Kate
97. Cary
98. Kate
99. Cressida
100. Luke
101. Cary
102. Cressida
103. Luke
104. Kate
105. Cary
106. Luke
107. Cressida
108. Kate
109. Luke
110. Cressida
111. Kate
112. Cary
Acknowledgments
Copyright
Trip over love, you can get up
.
Fall in love and you fall forever
.
—ANONYMOUS

KATE

I had been married three years when I fell in love. Fell, tripped and landed right in the middle of it. Oh, I already loved my husband, of course, but this was different. That had been a decision; this was out of my control, an impulse as difficult to resist as gravity. Mad love, crazy love, drop, sink, stumble. The kind of love where every little thing is a sign, a portent: the song on the radio, his Christian name staring up at you from a magazine you’re flicking through, your horoscope in the paper. Normally I don’t even believe in horoscopes, for God’s sake. Love without holes or patches or compromises, soft as an easy chair, a many-splendored thing.

At first I enjoyed it. A fall is a surrender; you can’t help it, you didn’t plan it. Maybe you could have been more careful, but it’s too late for that now—you might as well enjoy the swoop and the speed, the unnerving sensation of having your feet higher than your head.

I fell in love with a man who had hair like silk. A man who said my name as if he were taking communion, who looked me in the eye while we made love, and even again afterward. He fell too, and there we were, clutching each other as the hard earth hurtled up to meet us.

That’s the thing about falling. It doesn’t go on indefinitely, and it rarely ends well … plunge, plummet, pain. Even if you get straight back up, even when you regain your footing, after the fall nothing is ever quite the same.

LUKE

Okay, it was the sex. Or, okay, it was love. When Cress insisted we see a counselor I knew the question was bound to arise: Why did I do it? Why had I betrayed her? I couldn’t work out which answer might be better received, so I turned to my best friend, Tim, for advice. Given that Cress was also going to be at the session I had to be careful. Did I say it was love, and appeal to her romantic side? Cress is the most sentimental soul I have ever met, and I had a hunch, ridiculous as it may sound, that pleading love or one of its lesser forms—a crush, infatuation—would be a better defense than straight lust. Then again, given that she was such a romantic, maybe even mentioning the word risked alienating her completely—love, I suppose, being the sort of thing reserved for one’s wife. The alternative was to plump for sex, but would that leave Cress forever paranoid about the hoops she herself wasn’t jumping through in the boudoir?

Either way I was doomed, though I was hoping Tim could come up with something plausible. Predictably, though, he just looked shocked. If Cress is the most sentimental person I have ever met, Tim is the most naive. Or the most moral—I’m not quite sure what the difference is. “Just tell the truth,” he sputtered, looking moist and uncomfortable, checking his watch when he thought I wasn’t looking. “How much longer do you want the lies to go on?”

Well, indefinitely would have been nice. For seven months I was the happiest man in the world. Who wouldn’t have been? Two beautiful women whose faces lit up when they saw me, one always available if the other was elsewhere. I’ll admit it was good for the ego, but that was just the fringe benefit, never the aim. And for that reason I can’t feel guilty about it: nothing was planned or premeditated. I feel guilty enough about the conventional things, of course—guilty as hell for hurting Cress, even some residual Catholic remorse for breaking my vows. Up till then I’d believed in them. But I never felt guilty for loving them both. Parents claim that they love all their children equally, and no one doubts this. Why can’t it be the same for adults? Maybe I’m rationalizing what I did, but in a lot of ways I think everything that happened would have been far more objectionable if I had stopped loving Cress, transferred my affection rather than shared it.

In any event, Tim was no help, and I ended up telling the counselor that the whole thing had just happened. That sounds pretty lame for someone in advertising. I’m meant to be good at making words do as I please, but I could tell no one was fooled. Not Cress, sitting sniffing on one side of the office, eyes skittering away every time I glanced in her direction; not the counselor, mouth narrowing skeptically as she heard me out. Goaded by their disbelief, I abandoned any thought of appeasement and went on the attack. Forget love or sex … I blamed loneliness, frustration, all those long nights that Cress worked, then was too tired to talk, never mind touch, when she finally did get home. Bad move. My wife spent the session in tears and I wondered if I shouldn’t have just gone with lust and been damned.

I don’t know. It
was
love, and it
was
sex, and it was fate and karma and reincarnation too. It was an epiphany and an epitaph. There, I’m making the words work now.

BOOK: After the Fall
13.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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