Your Quiet Affair

Editor-in-Chief Danielle Ofri on "Your Quiet Affair" by Christine Caya Koryta:

Given the purview of the Bellevue Literary Review, it's not surprising that many of the submissions we receive are somber, poignant, heart-wrenching. Humor is a much tougher sell in the illness-and-disease department. But it is a critical element, both for leavening what could be an extremely depressing journal, but also for providing an alternative lens for examining difficult issues. When I read Christina Caya's story, "Your Quiet Affair" in the slush pile back in 2008, I laughed out loud at the get-go. From two teachers fumbling around in the janitor's closet to the explosion in the Wiener World sausage packaging factory, the story takes us on a rollicking but perceptive journey about language, relationships, deafness, mumbling, and love.

Here's what one of our reviewers wrote about the story: "Christine Caya's story, 'Your Quiet Affair,' is carried out beautifully. It is compassionate, interesting, and full of quirky characters. The opening is fantastic! A wonderful hook. The point of view is one of the best examples of good writing that I've ever seen. [It is] a universal piece that will be embraced by all readers. I believe this story should be taken very seriously and kudos to the writer!"


Christine Caya Koryta

Christine Caya Koryta received her MFA from Florida International University. Her work has appeared in Florida Humanities, Florida English, Third Coast, River City, Wolf Moon Press, and was a Finalist in the Glimmertrain Fiction Open. She is the Coordinator of the Eckerd College Writers' Conference: Writers in Paradise and lives in Bloomington, Indiana with her husband. She is currently working on a novel.

"Your Quiet Affair" appears in BLR V8N2 (Fall 2008)
(theme issue, "Abilities & Disabilities")

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Your Quiet Affair by Christine Caya Koryta

Your affair with Connie Gervais starts the way you imagine most do. You just turned forty-five, your wife, Delia, is picking up extra shifts at Wiener World’s packaging plant to pay for your daughter’s first year at college, and, well, you simply begin to want something you’re not supposed to have. You want to fulfill some teenage fantasy. Have a woman tell you firmly and with conviction to bark like a goddamn dog, tell you something, anything, other than not to forget to take out the trash because it is Tuesday.
 That’s how you find yourself, on an ordinary Monday in December, tripping over mops and buckets in the janitor’s closet during lunch period at the middle school where you teach Phys Ed, with Connie, who teaches English, pulling at your clothes and telling you, like she has during each of your illicit encounters which started just before Halloween, that you’ve been a very bad boy. She pushes you onto a desk, it rocks, and you have to readjust your weight when you discover the desk only has three legs. You end up laid out on the tiny Formica surface, arms and legs splayed like a starfish for balance. Connie shakes her hair loose from some metal contraption that keeps her hair corralled into a bun and pulls the skin on her face taut, and when too tight, she looks slightly Chinese, which you happen to find exotic and even more exciting. She leans down and is undoing your zipper with her teeth when the PA system sounds in the quiet hallway outside the closet door. Through the painfully slow clink, clink, clink of the zipper’s metal separating, you can hear static, a hi-frequency tone from the PA’s microphone being too close to a radio or television set, and in the mess of all that noise—your name.
 There can be any number of reasons for the office to call you: you’ve left the lights of your car on (after all it was dark when you drove in to work that morning—would be every morning until April when the sun would finally show up before 7:00 a.m. in the raw, New England sky), one of the more un-athletic kids has been caught skipping gym and found in the library, asleep, or maybe Ed McMahon is outside with one of those poster board checks for you. It’s possible. Not likely, but possible. And just as you decide whatever it is can wait until you are finished with your latest lesson, you hear your name again, this time closer. Stephen Kearny, the vice principal’s thirty-five-year-old son who still lives at home and works as the school’s secretary is running down the hall calling your name. At the sound of footsteps so close, Connie pulls herself up too quickly. She teeters and then falls on you at an awkward angle, pushing too much weight to the corner of the desk that is missing a leg, and you both tumble off the desk and into the door, which evidently hasn’t been secured because it shoots open and you find yourself on top of the seventh-grade English teacher with the vice principal’s secretary/son standing over both of you.
 It could be an awkward moment if you hadn’t caught Stephen sniffing glue in the supply room last year. In your mind this merely makes you even in the indiscretion department, so you pull yourself up, tuck your shirt in, and zip your fly up like it’s the most normal thing in the world. “You called?”