Monday morning I woke up on time, showered, and then dropped Tyler off at school.
“I’ll give that art teacher a call tonight. See when you can start,” I said, winking at my son.
He smiled. “Thanks Mom,” then gave me a peck goodbye.
After punching in at the office and sitting at my desk, Fatima approached me. I could tell she was upset about something.
“What’s up?” I asked. “You look angry.”
Her almond-shaped eyes narrowed and her wavy, jet-black hair swished as she shook her head. “Angry is an understatement. You wouldn’t believe what I had to deal with this weekend.”
Usually, when young people ramble, I zone out, but with Fatima it was different. Her exotic beauty captivated me, and her slight accent made me pay closer attention when she spoke. I listened for a full ten minutes without interrupting to the story of how her supposed best friend was trying to destroy the relationship between Fatima and her boyfriend of two months.
I had just planned to respond when Dave opened the office door. Fatima and I nodded to each other. This would have to wait until later.
As I began working, I noticed Barb wasn’t in yet. I worried about her sometimes. She was a senior citizen without any retirement savings. She came back every Monday because she was broke and had no choice; a fate I feared would be my own someday.
At 9:15 a.m., Barb finally walked in. After she sat down and opened her computer, Dave walked past.
“Everything all right?” he asked her.
Noticeably embarrassed, she responded, “Yes, thank you. I just got stuck in traffic.”
“I know how that feels,” he said, letting it go.
We were lucky to have a boss like Dave. He was easygoing. All that mattered to him was efficiency.
During our lunch hour, the three of us sat in the cafeteria, chatting and eating. Fatima recapped her whole story while Barb and I listened.
“I’m sure you’ll get it all straightened out,” Barb told her.
If I had made that generic comment it wouldn’t have been helpful. But when Barb said it, with that soothing tone she used, the simple words took on real meaning. When she told you something would be fine, you believed it.
“I hope so,” Fatima sighed. Then she turned to me. “So what about you? What did you do this weekend?”
They both stared at me, waiting for an answer. I felt like a game show contestant, clueless and wondering what to say. I had to respond, so I told them about my rediscovered love of swimming. I don’t know if this lie was white or pathological, but I was thankful they both agreed exercise was a good thing to do in our spare time.
After lunch, I kept busy at work, trying to stop my mind from wandering. Detail-oriented and precise, it wasn’t like me to make a lot of punching errors. Today, though, it seemed nothing wanted to balance to zero. I had to pay closer attention. I was losing it. My mind wanted to use its capacity not for work, but for putting pieces together in a puzzle. The only problem being I had too few pieces to work with. I’d have to get more.
In the evening, I called the art teacher. I liked the sound of her voice right away; it had a musical quality to it. She said Tyler could begin this Wednesday. All we needed to do was bring some current drawings so she could assess his education level. Then she’d put together a teaching plan.
Later on, when night fell, I couldn’t sleep. I ruminated over the past with Justin, wondering if I had missed anything, maybe not paid attention to some important detail. I thought I had gotten things right. We were happy. I know we were.
Could there have been another woman?
I didn’t think Justin would ever disappoint me like that.
I remember him talking about my dad’s affair. “He’s just a dick,” he’d said, while shaking his head in disgust. “Only a fool would leave his beautiful wife and family.”
He’d made his opinions on the matter quite clear: I’d never relive my mother’s life.
The phrase “history repeats itself” echoed in my mind. And I worried if I didn’t find out what was going on soon I’d go mad. I didn’t like secrets. I recognized the irony of that truth–considering the little lies I’d started to tell. But I was in control of my world at all times. At least until God took my husband from me.
I prayed He wouldn’t take my perfect memories too.
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Genre – Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG