Elaine was in shock. Her brain recorded the feeling and placed it alongside what she experienced the time a truck slammed into her car as she braked for a stoplight, and when she fell down a flight of stairs and broke her nose. Only this time it was worse. There would be no doctor or nurse to soothe away the pain and fright.
She stumbled into her bedroom and threw herself upon the bed. Numbness folded her in a tight cocoon while she struggled with disbelief, not wanting to acknowledge the words she had just heard. “It isn’t true,” she told herself. “Tony loves me. He wouldn’t leave me for another woman. Oh, God, it can’t be true. Don’t let him do this to me.”
Memories of the past crowded in on her -- their whirlwind courtship and marriage, their great times together and the birth of Danny three years ago. She’d thought their marriage was perfect because she loved him with all her heart. With a choking sob, she burst into tears and vented her feelings upon the pillow.
Sometime after midnight Tony came in quietly and lay down beside her. He’d been out drinking; she could smell the beer on his breath when he turned over. Anger struck now as she toyed with the thought of kicking him or hitting him over the head with a book. But her love for him and the strength of her Christian upbringing held her emotions in check.
Good thing it was Friday night! She’d have the weekend to wrestle with this, she was thinking, when she finally drifted off to sleep.
She awoke with a start! Danny was lying on top of her, his cat, Shadow, wiggling in his arms. A loud me-e-ow pierced the air as Shadow managed to break free and leap across the bed, landing on Tony. Hastily, Elaine pushed her son aside and made it onto her feet and into her slippers. Her head hurt like crazy but she managed to pour the cat food and a couple bowls of cereal without spilling a drop of milk on the counter. When Tony entered the room a bit later, coffee was dripping in the pot and his family were finishing breakfast.
Settling himself at the table with a sigh and observing the red-rimmed eyes of his spouse, Tony made a quiet suggestion. “How would it be if I take Danny with me fishing today? You need to get some rest.”
Pursing her lips and rising to pour the coffee, Elaine replied, “Suits me just fine, but I’ll catch up on some housework.” She was careful to keep her tone at a normal pitch. Once they were gone, she went to work with a vengeance, down on her knees scrubbing the kitchen floor and taking extra care cleaning the bathroom. When she was through, she felt much better, good enough to take a nap.
On Sunday night she had another talk with Tony. “Does your mistress know you’re married,” she ventured.
“Mistress!” yelped Tony. “She’s not my mistress. All we’ve done so far is have lunch together and there was one dinner and a movie that night I told you I was working late.”
Elaine tried again. “Well, does she know you’re married with a little boy and another one on the way?
“Well, no,” said Tony, averting his eyes.
Monday night Tony came late and remained silent throughout the evening. Elaine waited until Danny was in bed, then took the initiative again. “Did you tell her?” she asked, her lips set in a grim line and eyes cold with accusation.
“Yes, I did.” He fairly spat it out. “She didn’t take it calmly like you would. She yelled at me so that everyone in the restaurant turned to look. Then she called me some filthy names and threw her drink at me. I ducked just in time to avoid getting it on my suit. That seemed to anger her even more, so she slapped me in the face and stormed out.” His face wore a hangdog look. “Elaine, dear, I guess I’m lucky to be married to someone like you. Will you ever forgive me?”
“I’ll work on it,” said Elaine. “For the sake of the children, that is.” She turned and left the room before he could see the look of desolation written all over her beautiful face.
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