I shove the box back underneath the bed, and jump back under the covers and listen. A long slow creak and the click of a doorknob. Slow heavy footsteps, coming my way. I hear a hand on the doorknob. He twists it slowly. I bury my face in the pillow pretending to be asleep. Continue reading
My head is pounding, my neck is sore. My heart starts racing, and the panic sets in. He knows. I sit up, frantically, searching for my purse. Matt walks in with a glass of water and two white pills.
Matt sits beside me on our bed, “I’m not asking,” he growls, pressing the pills into the palm of my hand, “Take them, now.” I put the pills under my tongue and reach for the glass of water. He hands it to me, and I take a drink, keeping the pills underneath my tongue.
“I texted Marcy from your phone. Let her know you wouldn’t be in yesterday.”
“Yesterday? What day is it?”
Saturday? How is that possible? There’s no way I’ve been out for a full 24 hours. Not without being drugged… The white pill was still under my tongue, dissolving into my saliva.
“This is your fault, you know,” he scolds me, “had you just been faithful to me, I never would’ve had to do that.” He’s talking to me like a child. “Now I can’t trust you. Now I can’t treat you like a normal wife. Normal wives don’t cheat on their husbands. Whores cheat on their husbands.” Matt’s face is turning red, the vein in his forehead is becoming more prominent, he walks out of the room. I swipe my finger under my tongue and scrape off the partially dissolved pills, wiping them on the comforter.
He returns with my phone. “I called your little boyfriend James. You’re really pathetic, you know,” Matt rolls his eyes, “he won’t be bothering us anymore.”
“What did you do?” my voice was trembling, hands shaking.
“I very kindly asked him to stay away from my wife, of course. I did what any loving husband would do, Linds.” His tone was so cold and condescending.
“Loving?” I can feel my voice getting louder, “You call yourself a loving husband?!” I debate how to reveal that I know all about his affair, but something stops me. Something tells me to keep it to myself. So I wait.
“Here’s what’s going to happen – we’re going to have breakfast together. Like a husband and wife should. You’re going to be the wife I want you to be. Or I’m going to make sure you regret ever fucking with me. Ok, baby?” He grabs me by the hair – tugging at my scalp – and lifts me to my feet. I suddenly realize how light-headed I am. He leads me to the kitchen.
“Now… Make us something to eat, sweetie.”
I open the refrigerator, bending over to reach the carton of eggs. All the while his hand is attached firmly to the back of my scalp. I grab the bread and start to make French toast. He releases my hair but stands over my shoulder. I can smell his breath. Smells like whiskey, imagine that.
We awkwardly sit across each other at the breakfast table. Oddly enough, he compliments the French toast.
“Well, this is delicious sweetie,” he wipes some syrup from his chin, “where was this a few days ago? You’ve been saving it all for James, haven’t you?”
“He’s not a bad looking guy, Linds. Tall, dark, real buff…” he scoffs, “I at least wish you would’ve cheated on me with someone who had a real job. You can do better than that.”
“Can you at least give me back my phone? I won’t call him, I promise –“
“Just how stupid do you think I am, Linds?”
“I dunno…” My voice is a tiny whisper. I’m scared.
“I can’t let you use a phone. You might call the police and tell them what a bad husband I’ve been. I’m a broke abusive alcoholic. I can’t let you ruin this.”
I wonder what exactly he thinks I might ruin. What’s left to be destroyed? We have no money. Our marriage is doomed. I’m at a loss for words.
“…so… You’re just gonna keep me here?”
“I haven’t decided yet, ok? But I can’t let you go. Not yet.”
“Shouldn’t you be at work?”
Matt usually works all day on Saturdays. I start to wonder if maybe he lied about ever having a job.
“I took the day off. We’ll go back to work on Monday. I think this weekend we need to spend some time together and work on what’s left of this.” He sounds delusional. He can’t seriously think any of this is salvageable.
He notices my raised eyebrows and sighs. “It’s not over yet, Linds. We can save it. Marriages aren’t perfect. We can fix this.”
He leans towards me, grabbing my face, and puts his lips to mine. I instantly pull away. Disgusted.
“No, we can’t. You spent all of our money, you drank it all away. And you expected me to be happy and stay loyal. Well I’m sorry, I couldn’t do that. I was lonely.” He stayed quiet.
“And now you’re trying to hold me hostage in here!” I can feel the tears filling up my eyes. My face turns hot and my hands start to shake, “YOU did this! YOU ruined everything!” I’m crying now, everything’s a blur. He pulls me into his lap, still at the kitchen table.
“NO! I don’t want this. I don’t want any of this!” I pull myself away from him and go towards our bedroom. Suddenly, I’m dizzy. Sleepy. I catch myself in the doorway of our bedroom and barely make it to collapse into our bed. I’m reminded of the pills that started to dissolve in my mouth.
“What did you…”
“Shhh Linsday, relax.”
He’s pulling my clothes off of me, but I can’t move my arms or legs to stop him. I’m drifting. I try to mouth the words. Any words. “No, stop, please.” But nothing comes out. I can’t keep my eyes open. I feel his lips moving all over me. I will myself to roll over, kick him off, anything. But I can’t. So I just lay there. And try not to pay attention.
Hours have gone by. I don’t know how many. I shake off the drowsiness and force myself to sit up. I feel like I was hit by a truck. This is a massive hangover times ten.
“What the hell did he give me?” I muttered, pulling myself out of bed. I grab the door frame, for balance and make my way to the kitchen. I poor myself a glass of water and start to make my way through the house.
Having made my way through every room in the house, I finally get to the garage. To my surprise, his car is gone.
I take a few more gulps of water, and head back to our bedroom, hoping he’d be stupid enough to leave my phone or keys somewhere in there. I rummage through his nightstand, finding nothing but change and socks. Plus a few condoms. I sit on the floor and look under the bed. A wooden box.
I lie on my stomach and stretch my arm underneath the bed. It takes me a few minutes, but I finally managed to pull it out from under the bed. It’s heavy, looks like a cigar box, except it has a padlock on it.
This has got to be it. My keys, my phone. All I need to run away from this man. Suddenly, I hear the jingling of keys, and my heart drops.
“Follow them? Seriously?” I tugged on a strand of hair, pulling it between my lips.
“Stop,” Stacy said, fully aware of all of my nervous habits, “Don’t be a baby. We’re gonna find out where this bitch lives. And you’re gonna get even.”
I put my hands underneath my thighs, trying to keep from looking so nervous. What if he sees us? What do we do?
“How? How am I gonna get even, Stace?” My voice was starting to sound whiny, I hated it.
“… I dunno… But you can’t just sit at home and get cheated on. Come on, you’re better than that. Anyway, it’s his loss, her teeth are totally fucked up,” she laughed as she rolled through a stop sign.
I tried not to smile at Stacy’s comment. Matt turned into a small shopping strip, parked and walked into a Marina Cleaners. Camille didn’t get out. We pulled in, parking a few spaces over, being sure to leave a few cars between us and Matt.
He walked out a few short minutes later carrying several dresses and blouses. He’s picking up her dry cleaning. He never even picked up my dry cleaning. I felt my face get hot.
“She’s got this prick wrapped around her pretty little finger,” Stacy muttered, as she put her car into reverse.
We followed them around for another hour. They went through a Starbucks drive-thru and stopped at a CVS Pharmacy. They finally ended up at what I can only assume was her house. A tiny little house in a less than middle-class neighborhood. It was such a downgrade from what we lived in. I couldn’t believe it.
“My marriage is over. He’s practically married to this woman!” I complained, letting it sink in.
“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean you have to mope around and be miserable,” Good old Stacy, always so motivational, “Get even, girl. Don’t let him win.”
Stacy had a point, I can’t let him win. But how do I even begin to get back at him? It’s not like I can take all of his money. We have hardly nothing left. What’s the worst thing a jealous wife can do? Do I sabotage his relationship with her? Do I make her life a living hell? Should I just be the bigger person and leave? I don’t even have the money to do that. I couldn’t sell the house, its collateral for another loan.
I hate Matt. I absolutely hate him. He ruined my life. I can’t even kick him out of the house because he’ll just stop paying on the loan and I’ll have to give it up. Maybe he’s just as miserable as I am. Maybe he’ll move in with her and let me keep the house while he pays off his debt. Not likely. Maybe I can visit his parents. I could tell them how he got disbarred and drank away all of our savings. I could cry to them about his infidelity. Tell them we were trying to get pregnant. We wanted to give them a grandbaby. But now Matt threw away all of our money. They’d totally side with me. Maybe even give me a loan. That’s what I’ll do, I’ll go to Matt’s parents.
We pulled into Stacy’s driveway and I told her my idea.
“I could blame him for everything,” I said, waiting for her nod of approval, “They’ve been asking for grandkids forever, and now I can tell them that we were trying, but Matt lost his job.”
“I don’t think you should tell them everything,” Stacy said, sounding unsure, “Maybe tell them he’s been out of work and was too embarrassed to ask for help.”
“Say you and Matt really want to start having kids but the money isn’t right. You know work will pick up at the firm, but you don’t want to stop trying for a baby because of this. Say you don’t want to hurt his pride. Maybe they’ll give you some money to help out, and you can ask them not to mention it to him.”
I liked Stacy’s idea better. There’s no need to bring them in on Matt’s affair. Not yet, anyway. We pulled into Stacy’s driveway. It was dark outside. An entire evening wasted chasing around my husband and his mistress. What a life.
I drove home that night, feeling a little more confident in my plan. Maybe I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. But I knew I wasn’t going to let this be the end of my world. I’m not going to let him ruin me. He can waste our money and throw away his career. He can even cheat on me. But one way or another, I’m going to come out on top.
I got home after Matt, surprisingly. He was in bed already. Flipping through the channels.
“Where’ve you been?” He asked, casually.
“I was at Stacy’s… Just catching up.” I muttered, as I undressed.
“Oh really?” His voice raised a little. I looked up.
“Did Stacy maybe leave a wallet here?”
My heart dropped. I looked around, hoping to come up with some extravagant lie as to why a man’s wallet was on my nightstand.
“I was wondering what you’d been up to, all these evenings while I’m at work…” Matt walked closer to me, “I got home tonight hoping we could talk, I know things have been rough lately.”
I backed away, unsure what was coming next.
“Matt, I don’t – “
“Shut up.” He pushed against the wall.
“I’m out at this fucking dealership, working overtime and you’re fucking someone ELSE?!”
He shoves his forearm into my throat. I’m gasping for air. I see spots. Black spots. Coming in from the corners of my eyes. Matt’s face is red. He’s still yelling, but I can’t hear anything. I’m light-headed, dizzy. Trying to fight him off of me. But I’m so weak. I try to stay awake. But I can’t. I fall to the floor.