Family Secrets (Part 3)

Pedestrian, Walking, Shadow, Night, Evening, Street

He was gone when she woke. Em rolled over and looked at the dip he had left in the bed. Reaching her hand out, she felt the cold sheets. Sighing, she lay there and thought about why her husband would have an affair. He’d never seemed to look at any other woman but her.

Maybe I’m unattractive in my old age? She thought, I’m only thirty odd though! 

She then took a few moments to work out how old she actually was then how many years they had been married for; eight.

Perhaps, that was the problem? We married too young.

Pulling a face, she decided that tonight she’d find out the truth no matter what. Getting up, she noted the time and turned her thoughts to time tabling her day. She didn’t need to be in work till this afternoon, so she had time to tidy up and maybe do some more snooping.

She got herself sorted then went downstairs. Rick had left his breakfast things on the kitchen table. She paused in the doorway, realising he must have been late for giving a lecture or a workshop at the uni. She tidied up as she debated what to eat. Em had done most of the kitchen cleaning, when she decided on toast and a coffee.

After breakfast and feeling a bit better, she decided to go and clean the study. Rick would complain like hell, but she could face it, if I find a clue, she added. Grabbing everything she needed, she clambered up the stairs juggling the vacuum and the plastic tray of cleaning stuff. At the study door she stopped to get her breath.

Opening the door, it was clear he had been looking for something. The desk and floor were covered in papers, open books and files. It reminded her of freshly fallen snow. Leaving her cleaning stuff at the door, she tried to step around it all to get to the desk, but failed when she stepped on a book. The spine cracked loudly, the noise like a snapping twig in the quietness of the house.

Rolling her eyes, she picked up the book then begin plucking other books off the floor and stacking them in a pile. Next she did all the papers though she tried to divided them into subject matters. With that done, she started on his desk. Picking up a notebook, the side of her hand hit the computer mouse and the screen woke up.

Her husband’s diary was displayed. She looked and saw that he’d been due to give a lecture on ‘creating fictional characters’ at nine this morning. Then he had a follow up workshop after an early lunch. Biting her lip, she scrolled back and forth through the days, looking for any hints that he had put a meeting with the other woman in.

Soon though, she realised this was his only uni schedule. Growling, she looked through the other tabs he had open, but it was only his lecture notes, presentation and handouts. Abandoning that idea, she turned the computer off and looked through the notebook that was still in her hand. It was a mess of story ideas in her husband’s handwriting. None of them made much sense to her.

She placed the book back and started looking through everything on the desk, but nothing else stood out. She sank onto his well worn leather desk chair and wondered where else she could look. Though it would be hard in all this mess….

Em started tidying again. Luckily, she had cleaned her husband’s study enough times to know where most things went. The things she didn’t know, she placed piled up on the low, long coffee table which was against the right wall next to his great-granddad’s leather armchair. By the time she was done, Em had to leave for work.

Instead of driving directly to the office where she was a part-time admin, she took the route her husband had headed last night. Slowing down at the place she had lost him in, she looked at the houses and tried to see if there was one… that what?  she thought, had a sign post outside saying mistress’ house? Or maybe cheating husbands’ grotto? 

She smiled at her silliness and drove to work. The afternoon passed in a blur of phone calls,  paperwork and filing. Driving home afterwards, she felt too tried to do anything and when she got in, Em lay on the sofa trying to get rid if a small headache.

The ringing of a mobile brought her back. She fished the phone out of her bag and answered it without looking who was calling, ‘Hello?’

‘Em, I’m sorry but I forgot to tell you about this dinner I’m going tonight,’ Rick rushed.

‘Dinner?’ Em questioned as she noticed the breathlessness of his voice.

‘With some colleagues. I totally forgot about it! I’ll be home real late too. You’ll be okay though, right?’

She nodded then said, ‘of course.’

‘There’s no need to wait up. I’ll try not to disturb you. bye’.

‘Okay. Love-‘

The phone beeped in her ear and Em tutted. Placing it down, she decided she wasn’t feeling hungry and that if her husband wasn’t going to home anytime soon she’d go into the attic for a bit. Collecting her things, she went into the bedroom and let her stuff beside the bed. She got changed into jog pants and an old jumper. Realising how quiet it was, she turned on the TV which sat on her dressing table. The news channel came on and she left the steady voice of the news reporter talking to the empty room.

Out in the hallway, she pulled the attic hatch cord and watched the ladder descending. Climbing up slowly, she then felt for the light switch at the top and waited till the blinking light bulbs had settled to step inside. The attic felt hot and stuffy. She breathed in old air and dust as she made her way to the back left corner. The wooden boards creaked slightly under her feet and the voice of the news reporter followed her like a warning spirit.

She reached the back of the attic where behind a dining table and six stacked dinning chairs from her grandmother’s old house was a seemly abandoned steam trunk. Going around the table and chairs, Em reached up to wooden beam and felt along it. Her fingers brushed something small and metal. She brought the key down from it’s hiding place and knelt before the trunk.

She looked over her shoulder and listened, holding her breath like a child waiting to be caught. However, all she could hear was the now the faint sounds from the TV. Turning back, she put the key into the steam trunk’s lock and slowly opened the lid. She breathed in a very faded scent of lavender then looked down at the contents.

To Be Continued…

Family Secrets (Part 2)

Pedestrian, Walking, Shadow, Night, Evening, Street

It was late when he returned home. She felt her husband getting into bed, but decided to stay quiet. He was soon snoring loudly and after listening for a few moments, she got up and used her phone as a torch. Creeping around the bed, she inspected his clothes which he had abandoned on the floor.

She picked up his trousers and felt through the pockets. They were empty. She sniffed his shirt, trying to pick up a hint of the other woman. It seemed though her husband had been careful. Dropping his clothes, she got back into bed and lay there wondering again before she drifted off to sleep.

The dream she had was only slightly different from one she had many times before. She was following her husband. He was walking quickly down a dark street where the lamps seemed not to be working. There were houses on either side with cars parked out front and the sound of drippy rain. She watched her husband go up to one of the houses and inside.

She stood before the curtain-less window and watched as a light came on displaying a small front living room. There her husband stood holding another woman in his arms and kissing her. She couldn’t make out the other woman as she seemed to be made out of shadows.

She rushed forward, going for the front door but a large black panther jumped in the way. It’s bright eye yellows flashed with anger as it hissed loudly at her. It’s tail swished and it prepared to pounce. She screamed and tumbled back. Instead of hitting the ground though she carried on falling. Her screaming echoed, blocking out all other sounds.

She awoke, rolled over and sat up. The bedroom was still dark, so she turned on the lamp. The dim glow didn’t seem enough to chase away the heavy shadows and she couldn’t help but look around the room for the panther. Taking a few deep breaths, she calmed herself and shook off the dream.

A warm hard touched her shoulder and she cried out.

‘It’s me, are you okay, Em?’

She relaxed and sighed deeply, ‘I’m fine, Rick. Just another bad dream.’

‘Again?’ her husband uttered.

‘I’ve got a lot on my mind, I guess. What time is it?’

Her husband removed his hand and she heard him roll over. At the same time she tried to read the alarm clock. It was almost six in the morning. She sighed and slipped back on to the pillow.

‘Ten to six,’ Rick voiced.

Em hummed and curled up again. She felt her husband shifting behind her and drawing her into a tight hug. He wrapped an arm around her and placed the other underneath her head. He nuzzled into her hair then rested his chin on top of her head.She stayed stiff in his arms, her mind racing.

Did he hold the other woman like this too? she wondered.

Biting her lip, she almost voiced her thoughts. Instead she said, ‘where did you go last night?’

‘What?’ Rick questioned sleepy.

‘I thought you went outside last night,’ she asked, nervously.

‘I didn’t,’ he replied.

Em pressed her lips together, carefully pondering how to rephrase her questioning.

‘You must have heard a neighbor or something,’ Rick suggested.

‘Yes, maybe,’ Em uttered.

She let herself relax, finding joy in the feel of his arms and body against her’s, despite everything. Slowly, she dozed off again.

To Be Continued…

 

Family Secrets (Part 1)

Pedestrian, Walking, Shadow, Night, Evening, Street

She followed him when he left the house, keeping a good distance so he wouldn’t notice. The streetlights shone on the wet pavement making everything glow yellow and there was the drip drop of rain from the roof tops, trees and cars. She slowed her pace feeling her heart racing in her chest, but she had to know who the other woman was.

Her husband paused at the corner of their street and looked both ways. He turned left, not actually crossing the road, but carrying on. She listened to his footsteps then tailed him. He walked to the end of the road, checked both ways again the crossed and rounded a corner.

Seeing him disappeared, she picked up pace and almost got run over by a car she never saw coming out of the darkness. She stumbled on to the pavement and her hands hit the damp surface as the car horn blared behind her. Gasping, she scrambled up and ducked behind someone’s parked car in a driveway.

She peered out, but didn’t see him. Getting up, she tried to follow him again, but she couldn’t spot him. Wandering around only resulted in her walking back home. Sighing, she went inside and sat on the sofa. Crossing her arms and legs, she tried to figure what where he had gone.

Must be somewhere local as he walked, she thought, Or else he was doing that to throw me off. I was so careful though. 

Getting up, she went upstairs and into the spare bedroom. She pulled a small diary out from under the mattress and flipped through the pages. Some of the days were marked with red dots. She turned to today’s date then picked up a red Biro pen from the bedside draw and placed a red dot in the corner.

Flicking backwards, she saw that almost a week ago there was another red dot. Then there was a gap of a two weeks whilst they had been on holiday, but right before their leave day was another dotted date. She carried on for a few moments, trying for the hundredth time to figure the pattern, but there didn’t seem to be one.

She closed the book and decided to root through his study again. Putting the diary back, she got up and went into the next room. It had been awhile since she had been in his writing space. Ignoring the stale smell of sweat, coffee and mints, she turned the light on and began searching through his drawers of his desk. There was nothing but stationary things and a broken mobile phone.

Turning she checked the book shelves which were packed with writing books, mythology books, non-fiction works on a whole range of subjects then a few fiction works that had been well read and written in. His small selection of published books had a high shelf to themselves and she reached up and took them down one by one. Flicking through the pages, she uncovered nothing.

Sliding the last one back, she looked around and tried to see anything that was out of place. Nothing came to note. Making sure everything was tidy, she walked out and searched their bedroom. Though the idea of him hiding the mystery woman’s details in their marital bed of twenty years didn’t make any sense to her.

Once again, she found nothing. Tried, she got into the bed and lay there thinking, who is she?  

To Be Continued…

Robbery

In the evening, James walked home from work. Snow was starting to fall, but as he only lived a few streets away from the office, he didn’t mind. He strolled past an alleyway and from out of the shadows a hunched old man stepped and threw a punch at his jaw. The fist caught him off guard, giving the man time to grab James’ wallet and flee. Turning after him, James saw that the man had a hook instead of a right hand and wondered if he had just been robbed by no other then Captain Hook from Peter Pan.

Dear Diary #3

dd3