Friday, October 7, 2022

The Signs

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

brink ~ stultify ~ brief ~ gobble ~ right

They were submitted by:


The nightstand on her husband's side of the bed held another bank card and driver's license from a woman she didn't know and didn't recognize. Third time, now. Third time was definitely not the charm here.

She'd been able to write off the other two as some sort of mistake. The first one she found was an accident. She was actually honestly looking for some tums or something that might help with a raging case of heartburn she had. She knew he kept some in the nightstand in case it woke him up at night. She'd forgotten all about the heartburn when she found the ID and card though.

She'd sort of defaulted to thinking it was a mistress who'd, she didn't know, left it with him? For some reason? Or something he found when he went out drinking after work and planned to return? It didn't really make sense to her no matter how she tried to frame it at the time but who would have thought...well what she thought now felt insane to be honest.

She hadn't found a way to bring it up to him yet without risking one of his little episodes when that woman's name was in the news a couple days later as having disappeared on am early morning run. She was pretty sure it was the same woman because the ID pic had kind of been emblazoned in her memory and it was very similar to the photo shown on the news. Same long dark hair, same piercing blue eyes... Neck tattoos and deep red lipstick. This woman was just his type. Not herself though. Oh no the woman he married was petite and blonde and quiet and wore clothes 2 sizes too big... When she accidentally found his porn stash on their computer that time it had all been women who looked like the one on the news.

Anyway that had been 2 years ago. She'd looked ever so often in his nightstand and then one day last year after she'd come back from visiting her parents upstate, there was another ID and card. And another news story. Another woman missing after a night out with friends in the downtown area near the art school campus.

And now 6 months later, here was another one. This time she hadn't been with her parents though. This time, she'd been in the hospital from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that had nearly killed her. She'd spent nearly 2 weeks laid up in that bed alone and miserable and wishing she would have died.

He'd shown up once, flipped through his phone for the entire half hour he bothered to be there, then left again without so much as an "I love you."

It hadn't always been like this. She really didn't think it had. Meeting him had felt so serendipitous...a fairytale. She'd often wondered if she was dreaming the sweetest dreams imaginable in the beginning. He brought her flowers. He made her feel like she was the only woman on earth. They'd dated for a year before he asked her to marry him, and at the time, there wasn't a single red flag she could name. He was attentive and supportive. He didn't go cold on her back then. He'd been passionate and gentle and couldn't get enough of her it seemed.

Now though she wondered what he was doing on those weekends he took boys trips with old college chums and didn't speak to her for days not even to check in. Were there actually business trips he went on and came back with a cut under his eye or scratches on his arms? Things lined up now in a way they hadn't back then. Why would she suspect him of anything at all when he'd gone so far to make her feel loved and important?

But then the wedding happened and things...things were off. He'd taken a job transfer without talking to her about it and basically forced them to move almost overnight away from her family and friends and her teaching job. He'd wanted her to wait on finding a job to see if maybe they could try for a baby only, well, he wasn't doing much trying and hadn't for years now. Their 5 year anniversary was coming up and she could count on her hands how many times they'd been intimate in that time. But he'd wanted her almost every day before the marriage and the move. Some nights he didn't even come home. There she'd be with dinner ready and plated looking like a dumbass with no work from him. She'd learned not to even bother calling. He wouldn't answer, and he'd accuse her of being clingy and insecure about it when he finally did show up.

She hadn't been to a single work function or let his coworkers. He never bothered to come back home with her and controlled when and how long she would go. If she wanted to stay 3 days he would insist on 2 weeks and not a minute sooner, but there were also times he'd forbidden her to go.

It's like the dream prince she married turned into a controlling nightmare with the flip of a switch when he said "I do."

So of course she'd long suspected affairs. She was sure he was at least having one night stands. But these IDs and bank cards? She understood now this was something much, much darker and she couldn't ignore it any longer. What would people think of her? That she must have known? That she turned a blind eye to it all? The thought of it made her throw up what little breakfast she'd been able to eat. She still wasn't feeling 100% after the lonely hospital stay... And she definitely hadn't had any more support once she'd gotten home.

What was she even going to tell police? My husband had this woman's ID but I was too scared to keep it? It's happened 3 times at least but I was too scared to call? She slid the items in a Ziploc bag, walked out to her car, and knew she'd never ever be able to set one foot back in that house. She'd have to figure out the rest along the way.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

What TF Sarah

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

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