By Leslie Lindsay
Welcome to another Fiction Friday. Here I will share with you some of my works-in-progress. I would appreciate your feedback–though, totally not necessary. It’s for entertainment purposes only and in no way represents my “real-life.”
[This is a work of fiction. It is not intended to represent anyone real. If you like it, great. If you want to use as your own, don’t–unless you can pay me big bucks. If you’d like to share or quote me, please contact me personally for permission].
“Things at home start to feel good again. Joe is the model husband. He unloads the dishwasher without being asked and runs the vacuum, he even does the girl’s hair. Of course, they aren’t wearing bows to match their outfits, just a simple ponytail, but still it’s something. He is engaged with the day-to-day plans, asking me what I have ‘on tap’ for the day, and adding items to my weekly shopping list, which he does rarely. It’s as if he can sense that I betrayed him by going to the model home with Steve.
He has no idea, as far as I am concerned. I kept quiet about the whole event, not once mentioning the size of the homes or the ridiculous features I secretly envied. Of course, there is the matter of the money I earned—a check for $125. I was hoping he wouldn’t notice that deposit into our joint bank account. It was small enough to not be noticeable, yet big enough to make me feel like I did something worthwhile that day.
Jodi Southall had a ball with Madi who was happy and well-tended when I retrieved her around noon, chatting about puppies and cookies. I don’t know how Jodi does it—she makes caring for preschoolers look like a walk in the park.
I thank Joe for all of the extra things he’s doing around the house, to which he just mumbles, “Oh, I try.” I twist my head as to ask why he’s so self-deprecating, but before I can say anything he says, “I just want you to be happy.”
“I am,” I respond.
“Well, just don’t go looking for problems.”
I shake my head, confused. “I don’t”
“Sometimes you do.”
My stomach clenches. He knows.
I shake it off and ask if I can be kid-free for a bit. I want to be alone for awhile. I have some emails to catch up on and planning for the upcoming week. Since Joe is acting as man of the year, I might as well take advantage.
With equal parts fear and guilt, I log into my email account. I click on my in-box. There, in bold lettering is a message from Steve. My heart speeds up a bit as my fingers hover over the mouse pad. “McMansion” is the subject line. I click open and read:
I enjoyed playing house with you the other day. Thanks for asking me. It was a nice break from work. Tit for tat, right? I guess the ball’s in my court.
I read it again. And again. I stare at the blank screen after I hit “reply,” wondering what one says in response. I type out:
Yeah. Me, too. Can’t believe how big those homes are. Really appreciate you going with me. I am not sure what “ball” or “court” you are referring to, but whatever you decide will be fine.
I hit “send” and wait as if he is going to respond immediately. Not likely, not on a Sunday, anyway. He’s probably at home with Beth as if nothing happened. It hasn’t, as far as she is concerned. I am sure Beth totally despises me, completely bitter that I have ever had anything to do with her husband. And I suppose she has every right. I am threat. I cringe, even now as I think of this, of me being a threat to her, to their relationship.
Never once have I had the upper hand in anything. I wasn’t one of those “popular girls” who could charm others with their wit and good-looks. I wasn’t particularly athletic or smart. I was just me. Average me. Sure, I was a good student and attractive-enough, but nothing like the others who captured the attention of the whole school, influencing their environments to their liking.