CIRQUE and Seth’s orgasm exploded with an intensity that reminded him of their first years together, when after sex Martha would sing Cole Porter tunes, as she was doing now, her voice flowing as Seth closed his eyes. There was a time when their marriage contained Seth’s desires, when he and Martha trekked in Nepal and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. But there was his career to build as a King County watershed planner. There was their first child, an accident, Martha swore, but a happy one, didn’t Seth agree? There was his first affair, just before Hunter’s birth, with a friend of Martha’s. There were flirtations and crushes on his or Martha’s coworkers, or on Martha’s friends, who circled his marriage like spring butterflies. There was a second son, for no child does well as an only child, didn’t Seth agree? There was another affair, with a woman Martha knew from the college. Seth’s office filled with inspirational quotes about fatherhood, and pictures of his sons at infancy, at two and three and five years, at eight and ten years. Then Hunter and Ted became teenagers. They no longer wanted to hear Seth’s stories. They no longer wanted Seth to coach soccer. They wanted to snarl and fight. Martha wanted to play music, but she was a community college’s part-time faculty. It was up to Seth to pay for the mortgage on the house Martha chose, purchase the second car Martha wanted, finance the home-shares in France that Martha arranged, and now college tuition loomed; for all he yelled about hiking for six months in Australia, Seth would fall asleep, as he was doing now, a successful man, a good father in a good marriage.
After dinner was the campfire sing-along. “We’re not doing that kid stuff…” scorned Hunter. “We’re here as a family…” retorted Seth. He felt Martha rub his shoulder. “The boys want to go to the teen beach party. Why not take the first chaperone shift?” Martha whispered in his ear. “We can do tomorrow night’s campfire.” On the trail to the beach, he walked past Angi, singing with her son, her body seeming to glow with the campfire’s light. # “Have you met that new woman? She seems great, so lively and fun, I guess we’ll meet her husband tomorrow,” Seth said to Martha that night in their cabin. They had zipped their sleeping bags together and spooned in the silk liner. “Oh, don’t you think she’s relieved to be here,” said Martha. She stretched and yawned. Her hair fell loose to her shoulders. “They all are.” “Who?” snapped Seth, pushing away her hair. “Single mothers.” “How do you know that?” “Some of the women were talking. She’s new and well, some women aren’t sure of their husbands,” she said, reaching out to stroke Seth’s thigh. “It’s a hard life. I know single mothers at the college. They go for years without a man, without even dating. So lonely, don’t you think?” Seth reached for Martha. They touched with practiced hands, Seth biting her breasts while images of Angi’s tattoo flashed in his thoughts. Martha came with a cry, William Wikstrom