THE COUGHING FIT
We stepped into the dining room at the Old Oak Hotel. An inviting smell of cinnamon spice mixed with orange peel wafted through the air.
Lit fireplaces crackled away, leaving a downy blanket of warmth in the air. The flames gently waved, inviting you to step up and warm yourself, now and then sending up a spurt of fiery sparks. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, twinkling.
I glanced over the strategically placed large round wooden oak tables on sturdy legs around the room. Each surrounded with gold-brocaded wing back chairs. Set with dainty porcelain dinner plates on old gold service plates. Sterling silver cutlery and sparkling crystal wine glasses on the side. Centre pieces of Santa sitting on a golden wire sleigh filled with Christmas baubles decorated each table.
I left John with his peers at the bar and walked to our table at the back of the dining room.
Standing at a fireplace next to our table, twirling a glass of Gluhwein, I watched John across the room with his colleagues. We had been married for 10 years. We’ve had a moment I thought would tear us apart.
My eyes wandered to the door. Natalie, dressed in a bold red low cut dinner gown, entered like a queen. The harlot!
Inevitably, she would be here. Electric sparks of hatred flashed through my body, threatening to unhinge me.
She walked up to John, putting her arm around his neck, hugging him too tight. Kissing him full on the lips! “The bitch” my mind screams. She turned, catching me watching her. Waving at me from across the room, she weaved her way towards me. I watched her as she took a glass of champagne from a waiter on her way over.
My mind skittered around my skull. I wished I could disappear. I had to get away from this room where I now was imprisoned with Natalie. Her fling with my husband left a scar on our marriage.
I took a deep breath. Willing calmness to return. I imagined cars full of merrymakers on their way to their own Christmas celebrations weaving through the streets outside, in the crisp clear night air. The streets lined with snow-laden pine trees, now and then releasing a puff of snow. The odour of pines scenting the air.
With calm resolve to settle the score with Natalie once and for all, I turned back to face her. I could no longer bear to pretend nothing happened for the sake of John, the underlying threat that they may not promote him unless I play ball. Nor do I intend to further endure false pretences of “friendship” from the bitch.
A cloud of her nauseating, cloying perfume assaulted my nostrils. “Don’t you dare come near me you bitch,” I hissed at her as she reached to me for a hug.
Sarcastically smiling at me she took a sip of her drink. That was the final straw. “I have photos of you and various of your business partners screwing in hotel rooms. What would your CEO do if he saw that? Fucking your way to the top are you?” Halfway through sipping her drink, my statement hit home, wiped the sarcastic smile off her lips and set it into a surprised O. A red flush spread over her face.
She inhaled deeply, suddenly starting to cough uncontrollably. I watched her. Her face turned from red to blue. Clearly in distress, gulping like a fish on dry land, the coughing fit only got worse. Coldly detached I watched her without lifting a finger.