29 Dec Temptation: An Excerpt from "Narcissus Blinked"
He had been in their house on a couple of other occasions, typically passing through on the way to the backyard feasts. The staircase with the large, wooden banisters was just to the left of the foyer, and to the right was a sitting room decorated with more of the locally-produced artwork that Julia enjoyed. Just before him was a small table with a large, framed photograph of the Gerren family threesome, Davey beaming in between his parents. Jacob looked at the photo for a while before setting the glove next to it. The house might have well as been his own. But it isn’t.
Without looking, Jacob slowly shoved the door shut behind him, and felt for the deadbolt. He heard it lock after the quick movement of his hand. The sound lingered longer than he expected.
What do you do now? Yell, “Honey, I’m home?” Jacob almost chuckled at the ridiculous thought, wondering if his subconscious was trying to cut through some of the tension he was feeling…or was it his conscience, rather?
The first stair step was before him. His feet seem to grow heavier as he inched toward it. Come on, buddy, you’ve climbed thousands of stairs in your lifetime. What’s a few more?
It was like watching someone else float up the staircase…and yet it was him. There was no denying the deliberateness, Jacob advised himself. He thought suddenly of various politicians and celebrities a la Tiger Woods who had been busted for sexual indiscretions over the years, more than he could name in an instant. They often claimed they had made a mistake….but really it had been a choice, hadn’t it, just like Jacob was making a choice right here, right now…
His feet took him higher, higher, further away from the baseball glove and the idyllic family portrait, further from the door he had chosen to lock and the quiet sidewalk and the cul-de-sac with its flags. Further away from the abandoned hopscotch arena, the silent comfort of his own home with its dozens of photographs both framed and loose, the house where his wife and children would return sometime later today as part of the routine of being a family together.
Jacob neared the top of the stairs. An early glimpse of the hallway showed him a few additional family photographs of their own, mostly of Davey in his various stages of development to this point. His baby picture was an exploding grin of pure delight, and he looked like he could have mustered quite a scream as a tiny guy. Jacob paused for a second to study a photo of a baby who resembled Davey but appeared to be a different child; a male cousin, perhaps.
The master bedroom was to his left. Jacob felt his heart throbbing in his throat. Emotionally, he began to wonder if he was there more out of a sense of obligation than sexual desire; it was at least half-and-half. He had made a promise to come over, and was that promise eclipsing what he was ostensibly looking forward to taking place once he arrived? Don’t let her down, he reasoned with himself, and within a nanosecond had a guilt pang about letting Andrea down in a much larger sense.
The bedroom was a very light green, the bed, dresser and night stands looking like they came straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalog. A couple of seascapes hung on the wall, meshing well with the paint job. Jacob saw a closed door and realized it was the bathroom, where Julia was waiting for him. He approached the door and stood there, nervously running his fingers through his hair, adjusting his t-shirt a bit.
There’s still time to turn around.