It’s a hot summer day in Casablanca, and I’m riding the bus home from work, standing room only. I had a seat when I got on at the terminus, but I soon gave it up to an old lady, something that most of the local men would never think of doing. It irritates me to no end. Sometimes, when I see a big hulk of a man sitting thoughtlessly while an old man or woman, a pregnant woman, or a mother with infants is standing right next to him, I want to go up and say “Hey, if that was your mother you’d be standing! There’s no difference. Get your ass up!”. In fact, there are a few of these ignoramuses on the bus right now, but it’s too hot for me to bother. You can’t reeducate the whole population. Besides, I’m wearing a nice suit, and I don’t really want to get in a fight.
The bus is starting to get packed up tight, like usual, makes me think of an old ZZ TOP song “Waitin’ for the Bus”, “Have mercy…”. With this condition, and the heat, even with the windows open the smell of sweat hangs heavy in the atmosphere.
There’s a pretty slender young brunette standing close to me, looks like mid-twenties, dressed in a sleeveless cotton top and blue jeans. Her mass of hair is the most remarkable thing about her. She moves closer as more people jam in. Her back is to me, and she stands a head shorter. She turns her head and looks up at me, flashing a smile. I’m close to the door, facing a horizontal metal hand rail that’s just above my waist, and she’s on the other side of the rail. There’s nothing between us above or below the rail. Her soft curly brown hair is pressed into my chest and her perfume titillates me, I recognize it, “Irresistible”. Wonderful! The stink that pervades the bus is no longer a problem. Now there’s a different problem. I'm overwhelmed with excitement. She pushes back even closer to me and stays stuck to me for what seems like an eternity. People come and go, and she doesn’t move. I’m thinking that people will notice, but happy that she stays. It’s so agreeable and it makes what was an insufferable ride exquisite. Fortunately, I manage to calm myself. One stop before mine, she moves to get off the bus. I hesitate for just a second, a second that lasts forever, as my mind debates.
I’m happily married, and my wife and I have a young son. A few years earlier I had written an article (among many) about fidelity in marriage, where I stated the following “We are all tempted by our desires; this is part of our nature. However, what sets us apart from other creatures is our ability to reflect on the consequences of our acts, and to resist the daily temptations which risk hurting others.” And here I am, on the verge of ceding to my selfish desires.
“The Hell with it!” I think as I step out of the bus. She turns her head around as I catch up to her just a few steps ahead of me. Our eyes meet and there’s no mistake; we’re thinking the same thing. “Hi, I’m Alex, what’s your name?”
“Nihan, pleased to meet you Alex. You’re English?”
“No, American. Most people think I’m from Europe. I’m not as big as most Americans.”
“Thank God. You’re big enough already.”
I smile warmly and say softly “Nihan’s a beautiful name, it’s not common.”
“I like Alex too, it’s for Alexander, right?
“Right. I should thank you for saving me.”
“Irresistible, that’s what you’re wearing, isn’t it?”
“Yes, what does that have to do with it?”
“The smell of everyone’s sweat was making me suffer, and you came so close to me that your perfume was a real relief.”
Nihan laughs wholeheartedly “OK, so I saved you. You want to repay the debt, is that it?”
“Sure thing. Do you live close by?”
“Yes. My apartment is 5 minutes from here, and I live alone.”
“Then we’re neighbors, I usually off at the next stop, but I wanted to talk.”
“Me too, and I couldn’t in the bus. I’m glad you got off with me.”
“Are you free right now?”
“Yeah, and why? Don’t you think it’s a little too fast?” She winks.
“You started it, in the bus, and you succeeded. I think we want the same thing, and the faster we get it the better.”
As an answer, Nihan just looks up at me and smiles. I take her hand and we walk to her place without another word. As soon as the door is shut behind us she jumps into my arms. She’s small and light so I lift her up to eye level. She throws her legs around me and our lips come together for a long delightful kiss. When I set her back on her feet she reaches down and unbuckles my belt. In a matter of minutes we’ve shed our clothes and are in bed. I abandon myself completely to my senses and our lovemaking is intense.
Her head is on my chest and I’m caressing it as we rest after climaxing. My reasoning, which seems to have left me since I got off the bus, is now back and my conscience is bothering me. “Why did I do this? Was it worth it?"
“Something’s bothering you. Wasn’t it good?”
“It was marvelous.”
“What’s wrong then?”
“I’m married, I love my wife and I don’t want to hurt her, but now it’s done. There’s no way she won’t be hurt.”
“I noticed your ring. She doesn’t have to know about it.”
“She’ll know. I’m as transparent as a mountain stream. I can’t hide anything, and I wouldn’t feel right hiding it anyway. We have a son too, and he needs us both. I never thought that I could give in to my desire like this. I feel weak and ugly.”
A long silence sets in, her head still resting on my chest and me still lightly caressing her head. I wish I could stay like this and not have to face up to the catastrophe I’ve brought about. She raises her head and looks up. Her eyes are full of tears, mine are full of worry.
“Will I see you again?”
I can’t answer that question, so I don’t. I kiss her forehead instead. “I have to go, she’ll be worried.” I call my wife and say I was held up by a meeting at work. Nihan and I exchange numbers. We kiss and say goodbye.
It’s only a 15-minute walk home, but my anguish mounts every step of the way, making it seem like a long march. When I enter, my wife is in the kitchen and my son is at his desk doing his homework. He runs up for a hug and a kiss, and I head for the shower. I usually shower as soon as I get home when the weather’s this hot, so that’s like normal. I try to compose myself as the water cleanses my body, but it can’t cleanse my soul.
As sure as I was about it, my wife knows that something’s amiss. We eat dinner and I talk about my day, like usual, but when it comes time for our family hug I can sense that she’s felt the source of my trouble. She waits until our son is asleep before speaking. She’s a wonderful woman and loves me more dearly than anyone ever has. I’m crushed with shame.
She’s calm, but her voice trembles. “Is it serious? Do you love her?”
“I don’t know, but I know that I love you. Can you forgive me?”
She breaks down in tears. I move to take her in my arms but she pushes me away. Not a word is spoken for the next few hours. She shuts herself in the bedroom and I try to sleep on the couch. Sleep doesn’t come. Early in the morning she comes and lies down beside me. The couch is narrow, but she manages it. Her eyes are red and swollen.
“Can you promise never to see her again?”
I take her in my arms. “I promise. Never again.”
She leads me back to our bed for the few hours left before daybreak.
One stop before mine, she moves to get off the bus. I hesitate for just a second, a second that lasts forever, as my mind debates.
I watch her on the sidewalk while the bus door closes, and as it’s leaving the stop she turns her head around and smiles at me. I wave. “Why didn’t I get off? Why did I let her go like that? I know she wanted me, and I wanted her. Will I ever see her again?”
I get off at the next stop and head home. For a while I look for her daily on my bus ride home from work, but I never do see her again, and finally, I know I did the right thing. It was just a passing temptation, not worth risking losing my happy family.