This story is by Trish Perry and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
John Roberts was late from work again. His wife Cara, who had just arrived home from work herself, poured a glass of white wine and sat down to relax in her favorite chair. She checked her cell phone for messages. Although there were a few from friends and one from her mother, there was no word from John.
Cara finished one glass of wine and poured another. She knew her 5-year-old daughter Tashi would soon gather enough willpower to pull herself away from cartoons and start bugging her about food. Three-year-old Eli would be right behind her mimicking every word she said. She got up and walked into the kitchen to see if there was anything easy to make for dinner. As she bent down to look in the fridge, her long blonde hair fell over her face. She stood up to pull her hair back when she heard Tashi’s voice.
“Mommy, can I have a snack?” Tashi asked.
“Me, nack mom?” Eli added.
“We’re going to have a pizza,” Cara replied. Both kids started to cheer. Cara gave them both a kiss as she walked back into the living room to get her phone. Ten minutes later, dinner was on its way. Tashi and Eli went back to their cartoons and Cara sat down and continued sipping her wine.
There was a knock on the door and Cara grabbed her purse and answered it.
“Good evening, ma’am”, the young delivery person said.
“Good evening,” Cara replied. “Busy night?” she asked.
“Very,” he replied.
Cara handed him her credit card and took the white pizza box he carried. After the transaction was complete, she closed the door.
“Meet me in the bathroom, the pizza is here,” she yelled.
She could hear them giggling as they ran down the hallway.
After they ate, Cara followed her regular routine and got them to bed. It was 8:00.
The later it got to be, the angrier Cara became. Every time she saw a pair of headlights coming up their street, her heart began pounding from excitement. When the car passed the house by, she felt as if she was going to cry. She felt as if she was riding an emotional roller coaster. She called his phone again. Still no response.
John began disappearing like this several months ago. At first, it only happened occasionally. But over the past three months, the incidences had increased in frequency and now, Cara didn’t know when he would be home and when he wouldn’t. She knew he was having an affair with someone but, so far, she couldn’t prove it. Whenever she brought up the subject, he would vehemently deny it.
The clock in the hallway struck midnight. Cara was feeling drowsy from the wine so she walked upstairs, put on her pajamas, and did her nightly beauty regimen. As she lay in bed, all she could think of was how she could get out of this intolerable situation. If she stayed with John, life for her and her children would be miserable. She would be at his mercy and there would be many more nights like this where she would be alone wondering if he was in someone else’s bed. If she left him, she wouldn’t be able to support them on her wages. What if he divorced her and got custody of her babies? She wouldn’t be able to fight him. She put her head in her pillow and began to sob.
At 4:00 a.m., Cara suddenly woke up. Her eyes were swollen from crying and she had a slight headache. John was lying across the bed still dressed in the suit he wore to work the previous day. He smelled like booze and cheap perfume and he was snoring loudly. Cara decided that this was an opportune time to do a little investigating and see if she could turn up some real proof that he was having an affair.
She started with his briefcase. She carried it into the bathroom and locked the door. She unlocked the briefcase and pawed through it but the only papers she found were contracts and other work papers. Next, she went after his wallet. Since John was lying on his back, it wasn’t going to be easy to snag since he kept it in the back pocket of his pants. She began by pushing him a few times to see if she could wake him. He remained sound asleep. She gently rolled him over and plucked the wallet from his pocket. She removed the money from the billfold, thumbed through it and put it back. Next, she removed his credit cards from their slots. When she pulled out his American Express card, a folded picture came out with it. The picture was of a dark haired woman and on the back were the words, “All my love, Marie.” Her phone number was listed on it too. Cara found a pencil and paper and jotted it down. She put everything back in the wallet and slipped it back into John’s pocket.
The 30-mile drive to work seemed to take forever. As soon as Cara got to her desk, she pulled out the phone number and dialed it.
“Hello?” said the woman on the other end
“Hello. Are you Marie?” Cara asked.
“Yes. Who is this?” Marie asked.
“My name is Cara Roberts. I found your picture in the wallet of John Roberts. Do you know John Roberts?”
There was a long pause before Marie spoke again. “Has something happened?” Marie asked in a shrill voice.
Cara felt tears welling up in her eyes. “No. Nothing has happened. I was just curious about your relationship with John. He’s ever so secretive when it comes to his personal life.”
“I know John very, very well,” Marie replied.
“Are you lovers?” Cara asked.
“Excuse me. That’s very personal information. Who did you say you were?”
“I’m Cara Roberts, I’m related to John,” she said.
“That would make us relatives too!” she said excitedly.
“How’s that?” Cara asked.
“John is my husband,” Marie replied.
“How long have you been married?” Cara asked.
“It will be a year in December,” Marie said.
“I think we should set up a lunch date so we can meet. John will never get around to introducing us.” Cara said. “Is Friday at noon good for you?”
“It sure is,” Marie said
“Do you like the restaurant called Marcos? It’s near where I work?” Cara said.
“Very much. John and I go there all the time.” Marie said
“I’ll see you there at noon on Friday,” Cara said.
“Okay,” Marie replied.
Cara hung up and began looking for the names of good divorce attorneys.