Shishir 2022 Stories - David Rudd


The Other Woman
By David Rudd


“You’re early!” George said. He seemed jumpy, greeting Abigail in the hall.

“I was seeing one of the children home,” she said. Abigail was an administrator at the local secondary school. “She was sick.”

Wednesday was George’s half-day at the dental practice. He was usually home several hours before Abigail.

She wondered why he looked so nervous. Had she upset one of their routines? She was aware that, as a couple, they were regarded as being set in their ways. But, as she always liked to point out, there weren’t many of her generation still together after twenty-three years.

She went upstairs to change, leaving George to make the tea. As she passed the bathroom, she noticed that the shower cubicle was wet. George never took a shower in the daytime! By the time she reached their bedroom, she was on the lookout for anything else out of the ordinary. And there, on the carpet, poking out from beneath her dressing-table, she saw a tube of lipstick: Super Lustrous, Rose Velvet.

It certainly wasn’t hers. Could it be a present? George occasionally brought home samples of tooth whitening and mouth freshener, but never cosmetics. Her mind started racing. Perhaps it belonged to someone else! She would bide her time, she decided, replacing the lipstick where she’d found it.

Downstairs, George was as attentive as ever, her tea and biscuit awaiting her in the lounge. They discussed their respective days before George went out to garden and Abigail prepared their evening meal.

By bedtime, the lipstick had disappeared, though George had said nothing.

Later in the week, when George was again gardening, Abigail examined his call history. She learned nothing. She’d forgotten that he used his phone to contact patients, so there were many names unfamiliar to her.

She then explored his online activity, this time with more success—albeit her discovery was unsettling. There was some recently purchased women’s underwear on his Amazon account, delivered to his practice. It certainly wasn’t for her! Judging from the bra size, the recipient was far better endowed than she was.

Had George always yearned for a bustier woman, Abigail wondered. If so, he’d never let on. And, come to think of it, he’d never bought her underwear, sexy or otherwise. Not, she reflected, gazing at the skimpy pants, that she’d want such a dysfunctional garment. Could that be the trouble, in fact? Had she never been sexy enough for him?

This said, she recalled several occasions when she’d suggested something innovative—massage oil, a “naughty” film—only to find that George expressed little interest. Should she again try to spice things up, she wondered, watching him tuck into his chicken casserole (it was Tuesday—casserole night). A hot, fruity curry, perhaps? Except that George didn’t like spicy food. He always complained about patients breathing garlic and chilli at him.

And yet, he’d been adventurous in other ways. He used to read her poetry, take her on country walks and theatre trips. He had a passion for musicals. He was, she knew, a sensitive soul, but … she wondered, had someone else discovered this?

Watching George scrape clean his plate, she remembered that he’d sported a beard then, when they were less fashionable. It had suited him. Of course, everyone had one now, so he’d shaved his. He said it was because he was going grey, but she’d pointed to his silvering temples. Would he shave them, too? They’d laughed about that. Now, though, Abigail noticed, the grey had vanished. Was he tinting his hair?

As Abigail served her low-fat lemon cheesecake, she took a closer look. His dark hair did seem more uniform. It was also longer than it used to be, tucked behind his ears, though previously he’d preferred it short.

Abigail was going to mention it when she realised that this might be another piece of the distressing jigsaw she was assembling: of a large-breasted, scarlet-lipped Amazon who liked clean-shaven men with luxuriant, grizzle-free locks. As Abigail once again caught sight of herself in the mirror—the slightly drooping skin, the wrinkles around her mouth—her hand went to her own, fading roots.

Though she kept a closer eye on George’s activity, she spotted nothing else untoward for several weeks. Then—once again on a Wednesday—she thought she might be coming down with the flu that had been decimating staff. She left work early and walked home.

Turning into their road, she spotted a woman coming out of their drive and climbing into a dark-blue Nissan Qashqai. The woman was about Abigail’s age but larger, and certainly bustier, dressed in a green two-piece and high heels. As the car drove past, Abigail tried to get a closer look, but the sun on the windscreen blinded her.

Was this really George’s type, Abigail wondered. And, she now pondered, what was his type? She quickened her pace. By the time she opened the front door, she was breathless.

“You’re early,” he said. Once again, these were his only words.

“I think I’ve caught something,” she replied, hovering in the lounge doorway.

“Not flu, I hope?”

She was not in the mood for idle chit-chat. “Who was that, just now?”


“The woman in the car.”

“Ah! I’d forgotten,” began George, flushing slightly. “A Jehovah’s Witness, I think.”

Abigail fought off her coat and pushed past him. She was hot and bothered. It could be the flu or, more likely, exasperation.

Upstairs, she collapsed on the padded stool at her dressing table and gazed at her reflection: the crow’s feet, the bags under her eyes, her sagging chin. George had another woman! She should confront him but, somehow, she could not. She couldn’t face what it would entail. The rows, the parting of ways, dividing their belongings, dismantling the very fabric of their lives.

The following day she awoke feeling fine. It hadn’t been flu. She also felt calmer. She decided she would visit her sister that weekend. Cynthia was a lifelong spinster who found all men—and George in particular—disdainful. “Wet blanket,” “cold fish” and “stick-in-the-mud” were some of the more acceptable phrases that stuck in Abigail’s mind. She would certainly enjoy hearing Cynthia give George a good tongue lashing, but her sister might also have some practical suggestions. And, if nothing else, the distance would help Abigail clarify her feelings.

George drove Abigail to the station for the early train. Not surprisingly, he and Cynthia had never really hit it off, so Abigail usually visited on her own.
Unfortunately, Abigail had only reached Clapham Junction before she received a text from her sister, asking to reschedule. Cynthia had come down with something nasty.

It’ll be that flu, thought Abigail, pleased that she’d not succumbed. George couldn’t be doing with illness. Almost automatically, after replying to Cynthia, Abigail began to text George. Then she stopped. Perhaps she’d return unannounced, even though he didn’t like surprises.

She had the taxi drop her at the corner of her road. She’d walk the rest, even if it did mean hauling her case.

When she reached their front door, she deposited the case and went round the back. As she passed the side window, which gave a partial view of the lounge, she glanced in, only to see her worst fears realised. A woman was sitting at her ease on their settee.

And I’ve only been out of the house a couple of hours, thought Abigail. Jehovah’s Witnesses, indeed! Abigail slumped against the wall, suddenly drained. If ever there was a time to indulge in histrionics, this was it.

Some minutes later, she pulled herself together. There was a scene waiting to be played out, whatever the outcome.

But how? Should she barge in and catch them in flagrant- … in flagrant-something-or-other? Or should she be more discreet: jangle her keys, clear her throat, give George time to … ? To what, exactly? Tidy himself up? Secrete his fancy woman somewhere?

Incensed, Abigail returned to the front door and gave the knocker a hearty rap. She had her key but couldn’t face sneaking in.

The house remained eerily quiet for a long while. Abigail felt intensely awkward, as though she were the guilty party. She had another quick look down the side of the house in case anyone tried to make a hasty exit.

“Abigail, dear,” George was suddenly there. “What are you doing here?”

She didn’t answer, appraising him coolly. Slightly shifty and dishevelled, she thought. She pushed past him, heading for the lounge. Empty! Could Miss Sexy-Drawers be hiding upstairs, wondered Abigail. Was she, even now, lowering herself onto their conservatory roof?

Abigail returned to her husband, still at the front door, looking confused. Ignoring him, she stomped upstairs and searched each room. Nothing. The woman had vanished. Could she have been … inflatable? Abigail stifled a hysterical giggle at this insane thought.

She descended the stairs to a nervous-looking George. This time she pecked him on the cheek and began removing her coat, only now explaining her untimely return. It was then she noticed a trace of lipstick on his upper lip.

“Where is she?”

“Who?” George asked.

“Your mystery woman!” shouted Abigail. “Or do I have to tear this place apart?”

“Ah,” said George, seeming to understand, and a more apprehensive look seized him. He led her upstairs, into their bedroom. Surely not, she thought, as he approached their joint wardrobe.

“Abigail,” said George, opening the door, “meet …”

At these words, Abigail involuntarily shut her eyes. She couldn’t face this. But, as she opened them again, she found herself staring at a flowery dress that George had retrieved from behind his work suits.

“But where’s … the Jehovah’s Witness floosy?” demanded Abigail.

“Jehovah’s Witness?” George looked genuinely puzzled.

“That woman in the Nissan Qashqai!”

“Ah!” said George. “That was Gloria-, I mean, Gordon. He runs an accessories business—including hairpieces.” As he said this, George reached into the top shelf of their wardrobe, pulling out a dark wig and plonking it on his head.

“Oh!” stuttered Abigail.

George removed the wig and, using the wardrobe mirror, tried to wipe the lipstick from his lip. “You surprised me,” he said. “I didn’t have time to … “

“It’s fine,” Abigail managed. “In fact, it’s a pleasure …,” that stifled giggle bubbled up again, “not to meet her.” She dabbed at his lip with a moistened tissue. Not quite the adventurer she had in mind, but still, he was hers. She had numerous questions and concerns but now was not the time. At this moment, there was only one thing she had to know. “George, how can you bear those skimpy pants?”



Dr David Rudd from UK is an emeritus professor of literature. He wrote academic prose for 40 years before letting his imagination loose. He has since published some 25 stories in publications like “Altered Reality”, “Bandit Fiction”, “Bewildering Stories”, “Black Cat Mystery Magazine”, “The Blotter”, “Corner Bar Magazine”, “Erotic Review”, “The First Line”, “Jerry Jazz Musician”, “Literally Stories”, and “Scribble”.


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