Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Sneak (05/12/16)
TITLE: Carly, The Sleuth
By Leola Ogle
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Joe was having an affair. The sneaky rat. All the signs had been there for over a month – the hushed phone calls, slipping out in the evening with some lame excuse, blocking her view when he was on the computer, deleting his search history.
Carly wailed and pounded the pillow. Last week she’d poured out her suspicions to her best friend, Emma. “An affair? Don’t be silly, Carly. Joe loves you and the kids.”
Carly thought the look on Emma’s face was shocked disbelief. Now she knew it was guilt. This morning after Joe had a furtive phone conversation, Carly decided to follow him when he left. She was relieved when he pulled into the parking lot at work and not some motel like she suspected. But then Emma hurried across the parking lot. She and Joe engaged in animated conversation with hand gestures. Then Joe handed something from his wallet to Emma and she hugged him.
Emma hugged Joe. Her husband, Joe. Sneaky, cheating, conniving traitors.
Carly wiped her tears and did some snooping in Joe’s nightstand. He knew she never looked in there. Receipts – from a jewelry store, reservations for an expensive restaurant and resort next week, a receipt for roses to be picked up next week.
Her fists pounded the bed. Then she caught her reflection in the mirror. She staggered over to the mirror and stared. Who was that haggard woman? No wonder Joe had fallen out of love with her. Her hair was mousy, her face puffy from crying, and she had put on thirty pounds after having the twins.
“That’s it. I let myself go after the twins were born.” She glared at her image in the mirror. Like the proverbial lightbulb, Carly realized that’s when all the romance had gone out of her marriage. A year after getting married, Kristy was born. Two years later, Brian was born. The perfect family. Then when Kristy and Brian were teenagers, boom! She had twin dynamos, Trent and Travis.
She loved her twins dearly, but they consumed every waking moment and stole sleep at night. Colicky as babies, hyperactive as toddlers, she thought she’d relax when they started kindergarten this year. She did have more free time, but she couldn’t get motivated to improve herself. She was stuck in a rut.
She marched to the computer, googled a day spa and made an appointment for a complete makeover the next day. Give her a couple of weeks and she’d be beautiful. Joe would want her then. But maybe she wouldn’t want him.
Of course she wanted him. The tears started again.
Emma showed up right after the twins got off the school bus. Carly restrained herself from clawing Emma’s eyes out.
“New earrings? They look real. Matt get them for you?”
Emma fingered her earrings. “Yes, real. No, not from Matt. My husband’s not thoughtful.”
Before Carly could question Emma more, the twins screeched into the kitchen, begging for a snack.
“I’ll see you later, Carly. Let’s do lunch tomorrow.”
Carly snapped, “I’m doing a makeover tomorrow. I’m going to lose weight … and become beautiful.”
Emma turned at the doorway, her face creased in puzzlement. Or maybe she was worried Joe would find Carly more appealing. Emma shrugged. “Good for you, Carly.”
Joe was preoccupied the next day and didn’t notice her makeover. For a week, Carly dieted, exercised, and wore makeup. Did Joe notice? No, he was preoccupied with being a sneaky cheater.
Then Joe came home one day, told her he they needed to talk. “Let’s go to Colletti’s Pizza. The boys can play games while we talk.”
Carly swallowed. This was the end. Colletti’s was where they had their first date in high school. For the twins’ sake, she refused to cry.
She trudged to the door of Colletti’s with bouncy boys at her side. She threw open the door and was met with, “Surprise! Happy 40th birthday.”
Carly gasped. Matt had his arms around Emma. Her kids were there from college. Her parents had flown in. “We’re watching the boys while Joe takes you to a resort.”
Joe kissed her, handed her roses and a jewelry box. “I love you. It wasn’t easy pulling this off. Emma helped me work on this for weeks.”
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