A Short Story – Chapter Six

Ted wasn’t prepared to read what had been written on those pages.

 Monday, July 10th.

This morning, Dr. Mowry called and told me that I am pregnant.  It was hard for me not to call Ted and tell him but I’m going to wait until tonight when he gets home from work.  It was even harder for me not to shout it from the nearest rooftop!
I am so excited.  I made his favorite dish…pot roast.  I have a romantic dinner planned.  I know he’ll be surprised but I am hoping that he will be happy and not mad.

Tuesday, July 11th.

When Ted got home last night, he brushed by me.  He didn’t even say hello so I didn’t tell him about the baby.  He must have had a really bad day at work yesterday so I decided to tell him this morning.  When I told him, he hit the wall with his open hand and said “are you kidding me?  I told you I didn’t want to have to deal with any fucking kids.”
I knew he was angry but I told him that once my belly started growing, and he could actually listen to the babys’ heartbeat and put his hand on my stomach and feel it move, he would fall in love with it.
He said “I have to go to work.  We’ll talk about this later.”
I know he’ll come around.  He’s gruff but he knows how much I want a baby.

Wednesday, July 12th.

We didn’t talk about the baby last night because Ted got home late and I had already gone to bed.  We didn’t talk about it before he went to work but he called me and told me he was going to come pick me up at noon.  He told me to dress casually.  I thought maybe the shock had worn off and we were going to go to the park and eat fast food while we talked.
He picked me up and when I asked him where we were going he didn’t answer. 

I was putting on my bangle bracelets and he asked why I was wearing all that jewelry.  I told him I always wore my jewelry when we went out.  He said “I told you to dress casually.”
He pulled over to the side of the road and parked.   He turned off the ignition and said “we’re here.”  I got out of the car and waited for him to come over to my side.  When I turned around, it was clear that we weren’t going to have lunch when I saw the sign that said…ABORTION CLINIC.
We walked up and he opened the door like a gentleman.  We walked in and sat down.  He had already made all the arrangements.  When they called my name, he leaned over, patted me on the leg and said “I have to get back to work.  Ask them to call a cab to take you home.”
I remember watching him walk out the door.  I remember being told to take off my clothes.  I remember laying on a cold table with my legs in stirrups.
I came home and went to bed.  Ted came home, late and smelling like beer.  He leaned over me to see if I was awake.  When I opened my eyes, he said “how’d it go?”

It took every ounce of strength Ted had to keep reading.  He slowly ran his fingers across the last page and even though it was still legible, he could tell that it had been stained with tears.

July 13th. 

In the middle of the night, I woke up and realized that I was covered with blood.  I was hemorrhaging.  I went into the bathroom and started running a hot bath.
I woke up Ted and told him something was wrong.  He didn’t even get out of bed.  He just went back to sleep.  The entire side of my mattress was saturated with blood.  I sat in the bathtub for several hours, crying.
The next morning, all Ted said was “I guess we’re going to have to buy a new fucking mattress.”
How could he feel nothing?  Did he wonder if my child screamed when it was being ripped from my body?
I will never forgive him for this.  I hate him.  I hate him.

 

 

A Short Story – Chapter Five

Ted had always treated Patty as if she was his “managing editor” because she took care of all the things he couldn’t be bothered with.  When she left, at first it was unclear if he was distraught over the loss of his “right hand man” or his wife.

He had retreated from the circle for the most part.  He declined invitations and ignored phone calls.  He still went to work but when he came home, he sat on his back porch and drank beer.
Rick and Paul tried to be supportive but Ted didn’t share much with them.  They couldn’t offer a lot in the way of comfort other than just being there if he needed to talk.

When Patty first left, Paul asked Ted if he had any indication.  Ted said “not a clue,” then looked at Paul and said “did you?”  Paul shook his head and said “Lisa told me she had stopped playing cards with them but I didn’t read anything into it.”

Every few days, Ted would ask Lisa and Julie the same questions.  “Have you seen her?  Have you talked to her?”  Their answer was always the same.  “No.”
Ted begged them to let him know if they did.  Lisa quipped “why?”  He said “because I miss her.”

Lisa couldn’t hide her anger when she said “you didn’t pay any attention to her when she was here and now that she’s gone, you suddenly miss her?  Maybe you should have taken better care of her when she was still here.”  She was surprised when she thought what she saw was true anguish in Teds’ face but she had no sympathy for him.

One night Ted called Charlotte.  When she answered the phone, he said “I guess you’ve heard.”  Charlotte said “yes.” He asked her if she had talked to her.  Charlotte said “what makes you think I have talked to her, Ted?”
He said “I don’t know.  I guess maybe I was hoping.  Charlotte, she’s the love of my life.”

Charlotte said “she’s the love of your life?  When did you discover that…after she left?”  He said “I’ve always loved her.”  Charlotte responded with a snide “right.  I know all about your love.”  Ted said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Charlotte angrily said “I know what you did.”  Ted was silent for a few seconds and then stammered when he asked “what do you mean?”  Charlotte said “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID!  Do you have any idea what that did to her?  Did you ever talk to her about it?  Did you ever even think about it?
After a long pause, he said “no.”
“No!  Of course you didn’t because all you have ever thought about was yourself” yelled Charlotte.  She said “Ted, it’s three o’clock in the morning here.  I have to go.  Please don’t call me again” and hung up without saying goodbye.

Ted had been raised a Catholic but had long ago abandoned his faith.  Out of desperation, he called Father O’Brien and asked if he could see him.  Father O’Brien said “do you wish to make a confession, my son?”  Ted said “no. I just want to talk.”

He met with Father O’Brien and asked him to pray with him.  He asked him to pray for Patty.
“I need you to pray that she’ll come back to me” said Ted.

Father O’Brien took Teds’ hand and said “it is true that God answers all of our prayers but sometimes, the answer is no.  She is not coming back to you, my son.  You have to let her go and move on.”
Ted couldn’t control his tears when he said “I just can’t Father.  I just can’t.”  Father O’Brien said “you have to.”

A few weeks later, Ted decided to implore Sister Mary to act on his behalf.  He had known her his entire life.  She still called him “Teddy.”  She listened to his pleas but her response was no different from that of Father O’Briens.’
She said “I can see your pain Teddy but you have to let her go.  She’s not coming back to you.  God will help you through this but you have to let her go.”

Ted went back home and found himself sitting on Pattys’ side of the bed.  For some reason, he opened the drawer of her nightstand.  Inside, he saw her diary.  He picked it up and held it for a minute.

In the before time, he would have never invaded her privacy, nor would she have invaded his.

He didn’t think it really mattered now though, so he opened it and began to read.

 

 

A Short Story – Chapter Four

Patty had escaped the prison of her mundane existence.  Her whole being had been defined as nothing more than Teds’ wife.
With Michael, she found her true identity.  With Michael, she would learn to laugh again.  She would find true joy and happiness.
She had been trying to fly with broken wings until Michael mended them.  Now, she was soaring above the sorrow and disappointments of her past.

She was experiencing feelings that she had never felt before.  It was almost as if she had been reborn and she had been reborn with Michael.

The warmth of his body, the gentle touch of his hands and the passion in his kisses, all left her hungry for more.  She felt as though she could get lost in his eyes and if she did, she never wanted to be found.  She wanted to inhale him and fill her lungs with his essence.

She had been married to a mercurial man who had left her starving for attention and screaming for affection.  She had settled for numbness.  Poise and perfection had disguised her loneliness.  Ted had given her everything that money could buy but he had never given her the two things she wanted the most…a child and to be loved.

With Michael, she even started to dream that maybe a child would be in her future.  Women were having children later in life now so maybe it could be a possibility for her.

She could give Michael a son.  A son to carry on his name and ensure the survival of his bloodline.  A son who she would cherish as much as she cherished Michael.

They would talk about things that mattered, not about grocery lists or golf games.  They would plan their future together and it would be about them, not just him.  He wouldn’t tell her what they were going to do.  He would ask her what she wanted to do.

When he put his arm around her in public, it wouldn’t be a pretentious gesture.  It would be real.  When he looked at her, he would really look at her, not around her or over her.

This beautiful man had come into her life like a bolt of lightning, searing her soul and welding it to his.

She thought about the times she had and would in the future, lay next to him in bed, watching him sleep.  She knew how it felt to lay next to a man she couldn’t stand to touch.  Now she was going to be laying next to a man she couldn’t touch enough.
His name was the first word she said when she woke up and was the last word she whispered before she went to sleep.

She wanted to know every inch of his body and she wanted him to know hers.  She wanted to bathe in him and have his smell all over her.

When he put his arms around her, she wouldn’t be afraid nor would she be repulsed.  She would beg him to hold her for just a few more moments.
She would listen to the soft cadence of his heartbeat and know that it now belonged to her.  She would treasure it and protect it, for she knew how it felt to have a broken heart.
Her heart would learn how to sing again and she would want everybody to hear the song.

Their lives would be gloriously full and rich with love.  There would be no looking back.  There would be no regrets.  There would only be them and soon they would become one.

 

 

A Short Story – Chapter Three

Michael was the topic of conversation during the next several weeks but interest in him was waning.   Speculation about him had been rampant for a while.  Patty only listened as Lisa and Julie gave their opinions.  Lisa said “I bet he’s a nuclear scientist who works for NASA.”  Julie said “I bet he’s an eccentric millionaire who covers his walls with hundred-dollar bills.”
Julie noticed that Patty was being quiet so she asked her what she thought.  Patty smiled and said “I think he’s just a man and we all know men.”  Julie and Lisa in unison said “boy.  Do we ever” but they did agree that Michael was the most beautiful man they had ever seen.

Lisa and Julie started to notice subtle changes in Patty.  She seemed to be distancing herself from the circle.

Patty started begging off the card games, citing necessary errands or a meeting.  She also seemed to sometimes “forget” to wear her four-and-a-half carat diamond wedding ring.  Her excuse was that the stone was a little loose and it needed to be fixed.

Lisa and Julie knew the story behind that ring.  It was Patty and Teds’ tenth wedding anniversary.  Patty had always wanted to go to France and talked about it often.  That year, Ted hadn’t talked much about their anniversary but he always gave her wonderful gifts.  Since he had been somewhat evasive, Patty was sure he was going to surprise her with a trip to Paris.  She hadn’t gone as far as actually packing her suitcase but she was tempted.

About mid-day, Ted called her from work.  He said “look.  Some shit has hit the fan and I’m probably going to be stuck here for the rest of the day.”  Patty thought he was joking and that the next thing she would hear was “I’m on my way home.”
But then Ted said “why don’t you and your buddies go out for lunch and then go to Vans’ Jewelers.”  That was where he always bought her jewelry.
He said “pick out a nice piece and buy it for yourself.”  Patty hid her disappointment and said “sure.”  Ted said “well, I need to shove but let me know what you got.”  That behavior would become a theme in their lives and Patty would become accustomed to it.

At the last cook-out before they were retired for the winter, Lisa asked Ted if everything was alright.  He asked her what she meant and she said “Patty just seems to be a little detached.”  Ted said “how so?”  Lisa asked “did you know that she rarely comes over to play cards anymore?”  Ted didn’t even look puzzled when he said “no.  She didn’t mention anything about it to me.”
Lisa walked away as she mumbled under her breath “would you have heard her if she had?”

The holidays were coming up and everybody knew that Christmas was Pattys’ favorite time of year.  She started decorating earlier than most and it was nearing the end of October, which was when Patty started.  Lisa and Julie couldn’t wait to see how she decorated, as it was a different theme in every room, every year.

Julie asked Patty if she was chomping at the bit to start hauling out her decorations and Patty surprised her when she said “I haven’t even thought about it.”  Lisa said “quick!  Somebody call a doctor!”
Ted turned and said “hey, it doesn’t bother me.  That only means that I don’t have to walk sideways through the house.”
Lisa came over and said “you better get on it, girl.  You know how we all love to come over and see your house.”  Patty smiled and said she knew.

Patty didn’t tell Lisa that decorating for the holidays wasn’t on her mind.  Michael was and he had been ever since that first day she saw him.

Lisa and Julie didn’t know but the affair had already begun.  It started out innocently enough at first…a glance that perhaps lasted a few seconds longer than it should have…or a discreet touch that went unnoticed.
Patty had always been faithful to Ted but she wasn’t sure she could say the same for him.  Having an affair went against everything she had ever held dear…her morality…her faith…her honor…but for once she wanted to taste real love.

Every night, after Ted had gone to sleep, Patty would go into the living room and look at her growing collection of tiny birds.  Michael gave her one after every “rendezvous.”  She wasn’t worried that Ted would notice.  “Why would he notice” she thought.  “He doesn’t even notice me.”

As the holidays approached, Patty let everybody know that she was “taking this year off” as far as decorating and hosting any parties.  Lisa and Julie were concerned but said they understood when Patty said that it was just too much trouble.  “Every year, I have to do everything.  Ted never offers any help putting anything up and he never offers any help taking anything down.  I’m just tired and I need a break.”

Julie said “you will come to our house for dinner, though, won’t you?”  Patty said “of course.  What can I bring?”  Julie said “just bring yourself…with or without Ted.”  Before Patty could react, Julie said “we’re not blind.”

It was Christmas day and for the first time in twenty years, Patty hadn’t gotten any gifts for Ted nor had she gotten any gifts for anybody else.  She had only gotten a gift for herself.

For years, she had felt like a flightless bird but now she was ready to spread her wings and fly.  The gift she had gotten for herself was a ticket to freedom.

She was leaving Ted.

 

To be continued_________

 

 

A Short Story – Chapter Two

Charlotte and Sean were gone and the circle was trying to adjust.  The focus had turned to the new family who had moved in and Patty was ready to welcome them but she missed Charlotte immensely.

Every other week, the circle had a cook-out at Lisa and Pauls’.  The juxtaposition of their house made it more conducive to loud chatter and even louder music.
Lisa, Julie and Patty were on the way to get the usual supplies.  While driving past Charlotte and Seans’ house, they all turned to take a nostalgic glance.  Lisa was known to have a lead foot and being in a neighborhood didn’t seem to change that fact.  Suddenly, Lisa slammed on the brakes with such force, they were nearly thrown through the windshield.

While the car was coming to a stop, she was hitting Patty on the arm while saying “did you see him?  Did you see him? Did you see him?”
All Patty could manage was a nod.  Patty was sure that Julie must be dead because she seemed to be in the final stage of rigor mortis until she was finally able to mutter “oh, my God.  Did you see him?”

Once they gathered their senses, Patty told Lisa that she should probably get out of the middle of the road.  Lisa looked at her and said “I don’t think I can drive.”  Patty got out and as she was walking around the car, noticed the thick black marks left by Lisa’s tires.  She opened the drivers’ door and told her to switch.  Lisa said “I don’t think I can move.”
“Yes you can” Patty said.  Lisa finally managed to get out and wobble to the other side of the car.

Patty pulled the car over and they sat there, looking at each other like they had gone mute.  They must have been sitting there for over an hour, saying nothing until the silence was interrupted by a whistle, which was a signal that Lisa was getting a text from Paul.  He was asking where they were.  Lisa quickly gathered her composure and asked Paul if he and the boys could stop and get the supplies for the barbecue because they had gotten side-tracked.

Patty managed to get them to Lisas’ house but she wasn’t sure how she did it.  Julie was still in the back seat and in her zombie-like state sounded like a scratched record as she kept repeating “oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God.”

Lisa made margaritas and they sat down and just looked at each other.  Finally, Lisa said “we have to get our wits about us girls.  He’s probably just an ordinary man, living an ordinary life.”
Patty said “there is nothing ordinary about that man.  I know it and you know it.”  Lisa sighed and agreed.  Julie still looked like a frozen statue.

He may have been an ordinary man with an ordinary life but his looks were anything but ordinary.  He had movie star good looks.  The kind of looks that leave you breathless and weak in the knees.  The kind of looks you only dream about.
He was tall with broad shoulders and slender hips.  He had short-cropped black hair, piercing pale green eyes and full, luscious lips.

The girls all agreed that he was the most hauntingly beautiful man they had ever seen but they also reminded each other that they had husbands.

The boys arrived and started firing up the grill and popping open beer cans.  Rick was out of town so Julie was flying solo.  It might have been for the best, given the fact that she was obviously still in a state of shock because she just sat there with her mouth open.  Lisa finally came over and whispered “close your mouth, dear.  You’re going to start catching flies.”  Julie started laughing as she said “wow!  What the hell just happened?”

Lisa and Patty casually walked over to the boys and asked “have any of you guys met the new neighbors?”
Ted answered “yeah.  I did.”  Lisa asked where.  Ted said “at the Clubhouse.”  Lisa said “what are they like?”  Ted answered “there is no they.  It’s just him.”
Lisa said “well, what’s his name?  Ted acted annoyed when he said “I think he said his name was Michael but I don’t remember his last name and I wasn’t in the mood for a conversation.”
Everybody knew that if Ted had a bad round of golf, he wasn’t the most congenial person to be around.

Patty got lost in thought for a minute.  Michael.  A beautiful man with a beautiful name.  A Biblical name.  The name of an angel.  Not a nickname like she had.
She had been call Pat for years before Ted changed it to Patty.  He once said “Pat.  What kind of name is that?”  He said “it sounds like something you would do to the top of a dogs’ head or to somebodys’ back.”

She snapped back into reality and continued the conversation by asking how old he thought Michael was.  Ted looked at her and said “why?”  Patty said “I was just wondering.”  Ted snarled when he said “I don’t know.  I didn’t ask the guy.  I guess he’s around our age.  Why the interest?”
“No interest” said Patty.
She knew to back off when Ted was drinking because he lost his good manners but she hadn’t backed off soon enough.  Ted slammed his beer can down and angrily said “what do you think I am?  The fucking neighborhood gossip reporter?”

Paul came over, put his hand on Teds’ shoulder and said “come on, buddy.  Calm down.  You don’t have to talk to her like that.  You know how women are.  They’re naturally curious.”  Ted said “well, Goddamn.  She comes over here and starts asking me all these questions.  What makes her think I know anything about that asshole?”

Ted walked over to Lisa and said “I apologize.”  Lisa looked at him and said “don’t you think you should apologize to Patty?”  Ted just dropped his shoulders and sat down but not before lifting his beer can to Patty as if “toasting” her.

Lisa told Patty not to worry about it.  Ted was just drunk.  They had all seen it before.
Patty wasn’t worried.  She wasn’t thinking about Ted or what he said.  She was thinking about Michael.

Lisa said “you know, Ted.  Maybe we could invite him to the next barbecue.”  Ted again, acting annoyed, said “what?  You too?”
Lisa said “Ted.  It would be the neighborly thing to do, that’s all.”  Ted said “he doesn’t look like our type” and started laughing.  Puzzled, Lisa asked him what he meant.  He said “I saw him coming off the golf course and he wasn’t even sweating.”

Patty took a chance and hoped she wouldn’t anger Ted even more than she already had, when she asked what that had to do with anything.  Ted smirked when he said “I don’t trust a man who doesn’t sweat.”

Patty took a deep breath, smiled and whispered to Lisa, “I bet I could make him sweat.”

 

To be continued______