Little Diego was asleep at last—Maria hoped his cough wouldn’t wake him. She collapsed into her favourite chair.

Alberto slipped his hand over her shoulder as he bent to kiss her. Sparse grey strands threaded among her inky black. He breathed deeply, the familiar still exotic.

She twisted slightly and tilted her head, exposing the curve of her neck. These were old moves for them, almost instinctive.

As his lips brushed the skin below her ear, he whispered the words he’d first whispered twenty years before. The tension trapped in the coiling of her day of domestic challenges began releasing. Maria reached behind to grasp his neck.

The hand on her shoulder slipped below her bra-strap and beneath the edge of the cup onto her flesh. His fingers struck a new modulation, a hardness unfamiliar to him in these moments but all too recognisable beneath the skin of the women he attended at the hospital. He drew breath, mouthed, ‘darling,’ saw the fondness in her eyes.

Nothing could be done tonight. Tomorrow morning he’d mention it to her. He’d call Carl—make sure he could see her. He was a good man. A good surgeon.

There was a cough, then a cry from down the hall. Maria shook herself free of the chair and Alberto and went to settle Diego again.

 

(this is a reworked story based on Suddenly, published on November 6, 2010. See about small stories about love)

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