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Friday, December 02, 2011

#FridayFlash: The Other Woman

I’ve had the idea for this one kicking around in my head since September 29. To avoid spoilers, the explanation is below.


“Hi… Cathy?”

“Yes. Um, who’s calling?”

“This is Ann. Tony’s wife?”

Long pause. “Oh. He really told you then? He said he did, but I didn’t believe it.”

“Yes. He did.”

“And… and you’re okay with this?”

“Not really. But if he takes care of my needs first, I suppose… anyway. Is he with you?”

“No! He said he needed to spend some time with you this week!”

“Really?” Ann’s voice softened. “He said he was going to see you this evening.”

“God. I hope he’s not hurt or something!”

“Or… you don’t suppose?”

Cathy sighed. “To be honest, when he’s been here lately, he’s been spending more time on his laptop than… you know.”

“Hmph. Cathy, I’m not comfortable discussing this over the phone. Could you meet me at Jolt Coffee? It’s in the strip, down from the Saver-Mart.”

“Um… sure. I guess.”

“Good. Park over at the insurance office, two doors down. There’s always a few spots open there. I’ll meet you there.”

After leaving a detailed note, just in case the wife had foul play in mind, Cathy left her apartment. She knew Jolt Coffee well — she and Tony found each other on Facebook, then met in person at Jolt the first couple times. He’d been upfront about things: he had no intention of leaving his wife, but needed to get away from her coldness and demands from time to time. She didn’t want a commitment, so the arrangement worked for her too.

Until now. All month he’d been distant and moody, making her wonder if he had S.A.D. issues. And now, she was meeting his wife. This was just weird.

She recognized Ann from a photo that Tony kept in his wallet: a statuesque woman, one who looked used to getting her way. Not for the first time, she felt like she understood Tony’s need to get away…

Ann smiled a thin smile as she closed her car door. “You must be Cathy,” she said. “Let’s get inside, this wind is cutting.” Indeed it was, as befit late November. “You seem like a nice young woman — oh my.” She looked into the coffee house window, then thrust out an arm and stepped back, pulling Cathy with her.

“What is it?”

Ann stole another glance. “I think we found him.” She gestured toward the window.

“It is him!” she whispered, peeking in. “But I don’t see anyone with him.”

Ann’s shoulders slumped as she looked skyward, lips pressed together tight. “That doesn’t mean anything,” she said, tugging at Cathy’s jacket. “Let’s go in.”

Cathy inhaled the heady smell of espresso and vanilla as they entered. The usual soundtrack, Italian folk music, played in the background. Tony sat at a table, back to the entrance, hunched over his laptop like they had both seen so often this month. Ann nudged her and pointed: you go left, I’ll go right.

They flanked Tony, but he paid them no mind, typing away. Suddenly, he slapped the table and leaned back. “Yes! Fifty thousand! I made it —” Then he looked up, his wife on one side and his mistress on the other. “Uh…” he looked back and forth between the two.

Ann and Cathy looked at each other above him. “Let’s get a coffee,” said Ann. “We know who — or what — Tony’s real love is.”

So… why September 29? That’s when Tony Noland posted his handy guide, 7 Easy Ways To Give You Time To Write™. The first way was (summarized): start an affair, tell your wife you’re visiting your mistress, tell your mistress you’re staying with your wife, go to a coffee house and write. Since Tony gave me the idea, I thought it was fitting that I name the hapless male character after him. (I just hope his wife isn’t named Ann!!!) Seeing as November just went past, I put a NaNoWriMo spin on it.


  1. HA! Outstanding, FAR, just perfect! Being moody and distracted all month... all of NOVEMBER?! Loved it. 8-)

    p.s. No, my wife's name isn't Ann, nor is my mistress named Cathy. ;-)

  2. I love it! Great job, and the NaNo twist is excellent.

  3. Great little piece around some of the strangest-and funniest-writing advice I've heard.

  4. Well, we are good at making up stories :)

  5. I was hoping he was cheating on them with himself. Even the worst himbo needs time in his own mind. Writing's a good method.

  6. Cute! Of course Tony needs to find a more understanding wife/mistress. That coffee place sounds way too noisy to write easily in!

  7. fiendishly constructed, like unravelling a kinder egg!

    marc nash

  8. Fun story. I suspected the ending, just because of it being NaNo month, but you played it all well.

  9. Wow, I feel stupid right now. I need the explanation to get the punch line, and I participated this year...lol.

    Well done.

  10. Hi all!

    Tony, whew! … maybe it's the other way around, right?

    Thanks, Cherie.

    Quinn, my thought was to just say you're having the affair. Keeping a mistress happy can cut into writing time too!

    Danielle, LOL!!!

    John, you got your wish then.

    Peter, I think Tony is going to find himself with a LOT more time to write…

    Marc, thanks!

    Maryann, welcome to the free-range insane asylum! Glad you enjoyed it even if you guessed.

    Michael, I figure you're just frazzled after NaNo.

    Thanks, Sonia!

  11. A fun fictionalization of getting time. I like the sense of unease the mistress has as she prepares to meet the wife for the first time.

  12. Great fun. I expect this advice to be adopted by the official nanowrimo site any day now.

  13. Great story Far.. tight and precise dialogue, with a super twist. Sometimes us writers don't deserve relationships.

  14. I thought it was on-line gambling. Duh! Thanks for the explanation for dunces.
    I wonder if Anne and Cathy enjoyed their coffee.

  15. This guy's just greedy, not just ONE NaNo widow to neglect, but TWO!! :)

  16. Hi all!

    Aidan, I would think any time the wife contacts the mistress, she'd better have her guard up. :-)

    Tim, I just hope it comes with the usual disclaimers!

    Thanks, Tom. And sometimes, the relationships don't deserve us. :-D

    Flyingscribbler, I imagine that Ann and Cathy will have all sorts of fun coming up with inventive means of payback… like having Cathy move in so they can both keep an eye on him!

    Steve, that's an angle I didn't even think about!

  17. Very cool and quirky. Winner!
    Adam B @revhappiness

  18. Ha, I know the feeling well, just not for writing. Very well done, Far. I really like this story.

  19. Very good! Brought a smile to my face. ^__^

  20. Very clever!

    i didn't catch it until the end. You had me fooled the whole time :)

  21. This is a great laugh. Though I imagine it's actually hard to juggle three loves. Why not skip the step of having a mistress, and just tell the wife you have one?

  22. Thanks, Adam!

    Sorry Boran, but I first read that as having your wife & mistress catch you not being with either one. :-/

    Thanks, Helen — I wrote it for the humor & I seem to have hit the mark.

    Craig, like I told Michael, you were probably just too frazzled to catch it. ;-)

    Thanks Chuck!

    Raven, that's what I suggested in Tony's post originally — I expect a mistress would require a lot of time that you'd could otherwise spend writing…

  23. Hehe, I was expecting another woman, or maybe some kind of gambling problem, but that was just genius.


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