The Playground ~ A story for @RBwood’s #WordCountPodcast

The 77th episode of the Word Count Podcast is entitled “Where Have All the Children Gone?” accompanied by the following image.

My story inspiration

This was a tough one for me until I drew upon the erotic to tie in the dystopian nature of the image. As you will discover, the references in my story are mainly metaphor.

You can also listen to me reading the story on  episode 77 of R.B. Wood’s podcast.

Be sure to listen to the very end as Richard makes an important announcement for episode #78!

Hope you enjoy.

* * * *

Betty and I have an incredible marriage, only nobody knows what we have to do to stay together. Most couples take an annual vacation or enjoy an expensive dinner once in a while, but after twenty years, it takes something more to keep things fresh. More than unwavering love, tolerance and an open mind keeps us together.

It was after seeing the movie, Mad Max, when the subject first came up—nothing like watching the end of the world to jostle one’s connection to the present. Instead of feeling miserable about a post apocalyptic existence, Betty wanted to discuss something  that might help our marriage. I wasn’t under the impression our marriage needed help.

“Tim,” she said, “Let’s explore and see if you like it. We’re not plagued by petty jealousies like other people. I trust you and I’d like to do this with you. Are you game?”

“An adult playground?” I remember my jaw almost dropped into my tomato soup. “We’ve never discussed anything remotely like this. And I’m not into swinging.”

Betty looked at me with tired eyes. “It’s not swinging. Look, we’ve been together for two decades, two and a half if you count before we got married. We know each other intimately. I’m just saying we can play and feel completely safe. I’m giving you permission.”

Heat spread up the back of my neck. “You’re giving me permission for something I’ve never even thought of asking for. Is this your way of saying you want to leave me?”

“No … no! Why would you say that?” She slammed her soup spoon on the table. “If I wanted to leave you, would I invite you to be a part of something so important to me?” Betty took a deep breath and then softened her expression. “Look, I just want to inject some excitement into our marriage, to get off this merry-go-round I feel like we’re on somedays. Please don’t be angry with me.”

“What do you expect, Betty?” My voice notched higher. “Out of the blue, you’re suggesting I join some adult club. I know sex isn’t as frequent as it used to be, but I thought I made you happy.”

My wife rested her hand on my arm and gave it a squeeze. “It has nothing to do with sex, and you do make me happy.”

“Then why? Why would you want to do this?” I pulled my arm away from her touch.

She lowered her chin and said in a voice barely audible. “Forget it, forget I ever brought it up.”

We sat in brooding silence, but of course I could not just forget it. The sound of cutlery scraping our soup bowls carried us until Betty pushed back her chair. She wiped a napkin across her lips and arose as if to walk away when she sat back down. “Look,” she said, grabbing for my hand and holding it tightly between her palms. “It’s not like I’m taking yoga and forcing you to come with me. Being part of this playground is purely fantasy. There are no consequences or constraints from everyday life. I am free to do what I want for a few hours a week. It’s liberated me and given me insight into our marriage. I’m going to continue playing with or without you…” Betty paused, “…but I would much rather you join me.”

And that’s how it started, my introduction to Betty’s fantasy life. For months, resentment coloured almost every conversation we had. I felt betrayed despite her numerous explanations. She loved me, but she also loved another man, whom she had never met because he wasn’t real. Dorian was a product of her imagination, created from specifications she fed into a computer program. He was her husband in cyberspace, and they lived as a couple in an adult playground that was purely virtual.

She wanted me to have a cyber-spouse too, to join her in this alternative universe. It was a game, and she wanted me to play along.

I joined Betty and Dorian in their playground and created a female cyber partner named Cindy. I wasn’t ready to make her my wife just yet, but I remained open to the prospect. Somehow, having one wife, either real or virtual, was more than I could handle for now.

Did you like the story? Feel free to be brutally honest. I consider feedback, whether good or bad, an opportunity to improve my writing. 

More of my stories can be found under Free Reads.



8 thoughts on “The Playground ~ A story for @RBwood’s #WordCountPodcast

  1. I like the concept of a virtual playground and where this couple was going foward.

    1. Thanks Denise for reading and commenting. The image was a strange one for me. Because I’m not a ‘gamer’, I didn’t realize virtual adult playgrounds really existed. A friend read my story and said he used to be in one and found inspirations for his stories. 🙂

  2. Ha William. I know what you mean. I’m no gamer (except for Scrabble), but I can see how playing this make-believe life can be interesting for a story. 😉

  3. Interesting ending – I wasn’t expecting this ending. It would have been interesting to see the husband hold off for a few months or so before joining this fantasy world. How would he cope while Betty is exploring this fantasy world?

  4. Hi Matt, you bring up a compelling point …

    As a story that can not really exceed 900 words (the podcast must be read in 7 minutes max), the story arc is condensed. This means less space for nuances and fleshing out a character’s feelings.

    Alternatively, I could have written the story solely from the husband’s POV AFTER he discovered what his wife was doing. That would’ve made for a completely different story, but it would’ve worked, I think.

    Thanks for making me think of other possibilities. 😉

I'd love to hear from you.