The note was left on my windshield. I looked around and there was no one near me when I got to my car. I had left it the back of the supermarket in my usual spot so they could have been staking me out. Disbelief took me first. I shook my head at the note, shoved it in my bag and ignored it until I got home and started cooking. The niggling in the back of my mind was slow at first, it tickled at my curiosity. Gently picking away until a full stretch of space sliced open for it to charge through my thoughts. It had taken over. How could he? My mind ran on its own accord. After all these years. After all I’ve given up so I could be at home with the kids. My career on hold so he could pursue his. I was the bread winner. My job was fantastic but of course I said I’d give it up to be a mum. After all that he cheats on me!
I broke away from the thoughts to tend to the water boiling over the edge of the pot. The burn on my skin as I mopped up the mess didn’t register as it scorned my skin. I forced my focus down onto any small task I could find in the kitchen, anything that could distract me for long enough that my breath could return to normal. He cheated, my thoughts intruded again. Frustration bounced through me, turning in my gut and tensing randomly at my muscles. I switched the stove off in defeat, I knew I can’t continue my daily tasks after all that’s happened. Nothing would be the same after knowing what he had been doing.
My hands shook as I read the letter again. My heart beat in my throat and my stomach swirled to the point of vomiting onto the carpet. Every time I thought I had my body under control the shakes made me crumble back onto the couch. He was due home any minute now. I stared at the door, waiting for that click, pressing myself to hold strong for the confrontation. I wouldn’t let him get away with this betrayal.
The door clicked and I flew into action. He didn’t know what was being fired at him. His face dropped, mouth sitting wide open in a feeble attempt to interject and explain what he had done. I waved the note in front of his face before reading it in a screeching voice.
‘Who’s M? How could you do this to our family? What’s wrong with you? Why am I not enough?’
I screamed. I bellowed. I bawled. Everything I had in my system rocketed out of me. He tried to defend himself. He denied what the note says. He said he didn’t know who M was and perhaps they have the wrong person. He shouted back that he was actually working late and can prove it. His body was shaking in anger. His initial shock had faded completely into fuming self-defence. I didn’t care. He had cheated. He had to go so I could rebuild this family. I can be what our children need without him.
‘Get out! Just get out! Pack your bags and get the hell out of my house!’
He threw his hands up, surrendering to the fact that he would not be sleeping at home that night. My shoulders slumped once the door slammed shut with him on the other side. A relief washed over me, bringing with it a dreamy exhaustion. I knew there was work still to come but for one night I felt strong. The cheater is gone, I kept repeating to myself. Sudden hunger grumbled me back to normality. I continued my night, ready for a solid sleep and start to a new life.
The first week without him was strange. The house felt quieter, my body seemed hollow as if something had been scooped out to leave just air whispering about inside me. I went about my days as normally as possible. I dropped the kids off at school, telling them with a calm face despite wanting to leap out of my own skin, that their dad is going away for a while and that I loved them. My fingers ached from scrubbing every surface around the house. Each time a thought of him creeped to the front of my mind I found something else to clean. A permanent stench of bleach filled my nostrils. I was dizzy, but at least distracted from reality.
Pulling into the supermarket carpark was automatic. Nothing tweaked in me about what happened the week before. I grabbed the shopping bags and locked the car before I saw them. A woman and a teen stared at me, mumbling to themselves. The woman pointed at me. I froze on the spot. My heart skipped several beats. My hand wrapped so hard onto my keys that the metal threatened to pierce my skin. The teen took a quick glance at me and nodded, keeping his eyes on the ground. Oh god, it’s his kid. That’s M and his kid. It’s real. It can’t be this real. How could he keep all this from me?
The woman shoved the teen. His shoulders were drooped down and eyes at the bitumen. The woman stalked behind him, just within hearing distance at all times. I shot my eyes around to take in all of this kid. He was completely strange to me. I searched for my husband’s features but there was nothing there, nothing I could see to confirm that I had been cheated on in a whole new way.
‘Excuse me ma’am. Um. I’m. Um. I’m sorry for leaving that note on your window. It was just a prank. I’m sorry if it hurt you in anyway.’
‘I’m sorry about what my son has done. The school received a few angry calls from other people who had the same note left on the window. Something about a cheating husband. Trust me. He won’t be doing that sort of thing again.’
My mouth fell open. It was a prank. My heart sank. My husband’s face flashed in front of my mind. The picture of him angry at me, his face red and eyes watering at the fact that I wouldn’t believe him. The sound of the front door slamming echoed in my mind. I needed to get him back. Will he take me back after all this?