I guess I noticed it right after Easter?
That was when the red flags were half staffed, but I mean for granted this week was far from normal anyway.
This year we flocked away from doing the – go to her mother’s and want to blast my brains out while her racist uncles discuss politics and conspiracy theories, WHILE her mother gets on my ass about why I haven’t managed to get my masters degree yet and give her daughter “a better future” – and instead, we went to this little cabin upstate, far-far away from the headache that is my in-laws.
Now the holiday went relatively normal, instead of a traditional turkey we ordered a pizza, from this little pizza placed stuffed in the corner of a sleepy town, and watched Netflix on my laptop (thank god for a mobile hotspot). That’s what makes this so confusing, we were so okay – so fine. Everything and I mean everything screamed normal. If anything I think we had a better connection there than we did at home. We even managed to get some work done, I did some writing, and she did some photography in the beautiful Massachusetts wilderness. Everything felt perfect until it didn’t.
That’s when I first noticed her phone. I guess the notifications started getting really bad on our way home, the next day? The slight buzz of her phone on her lap, while she was passed out, seeped through the quiet morning talk show radio, at least twenty times in an hour. I ignored it, jotting it down to finally just getting in range of a good cell signal, maybe work, or her mom.
But it didn’t stop. Throughout the next three days, I’d hear that faint buzz. I actually did try and see who it was on the first night. She left her phone on the couch as she went into the kitchen to make a new bag of popcorn, and as she did the phone’s vibration rippled right to me, it was like drug addiction, and I needed my fix. I reached for it but as I did she bolted right back in the room like a fucking horror movie and snagged it before I could.
Eventually, I just snapped “Alright, who the hell is that? It’s been going off all day” I asked hopelessly
“It’s just a friend,” she said shortly before turning around and darting back into the kitchen, cell phone in hand.
Just a friend. Okay, I trust her, and if it’s just a friend it’s just a friend. I mean nothing wrong with friends right? You have friends, I have friends, friends are good, friends are healthy. But friends can sometimes be boyfriends, and boyfriends can ruin a marriage.
I tried to let it go, I tried to brush it off but the chip on my shoulder just dug and dug. But the thought of her cheating on me twisted my stomach like a wet towel, and like a wet towel that curiosity has to drip somewhere, and a few drops can soon turn into a puddle.
Saturday stayed about the same, she felt distant, she looked distant. She smiled at her phone, her nails clicked softly at the screen as I sipped my coffee across the kitchen table.
“Something funny?” I asked jokingly,
She gazed up almost startled, “Oh nothing, one of the parenting class months just sent me a funny post about something.”
“Oh, can I see?” I asked curiously.
“You wouldn’t get it…pregnant mom things,” she said laughing as she walked into the living room.
And that was about all of it. We didn’t talk much throughout the day, I stayed in my office in hopes to make a Monday deadline and she was somewhere doing something. When I did come downstairs I’d catch glimpses of her watching TV in the living room or folding laundry. I knew I needed to talk to her about it, but maybe this was just a hormonal thing, I mean she was six months pregnant, was distancing normal? I mean maybe it was just a friend – a really fuckingannoying friend. Eventually, through the self coxing throughout the day, the thought of her cheating seemed impractical.
And then tonight happened.
I was coming into our bedroom for the night, and as I flipped on the light it revealed her sitting at the edge of our bed, nose deep in her phone.
And that’s when I lost it.
“Okay. Okay, who the fuck is that?” I said angrily as I walked toward her,
Her head perked up like a dog, and as I got closer she held the phone away in the opposite direction.
“I told you, it’s a fucking friend! God!” She said standing up, before trying to walk around me out of the room.
I grabbed her arm, tightly and pulled her back towards me, and with a serious tone I asked,
“Abby. Seriously? Are you fucking cheating on me?” I asked letting go of her arm, “For real, what did you find someone while you were in town, is that who’s been blowing up your fucking phone the last two days?”
“No, Jesus Christ no. You really wanna know? It’s a surprise! It’s for your fucking birthday you ignorant jackass,” she said she shoved me off her.
I could feel my face seep pale as she stormed out of the room, tears ran down her face.
She stayed downstairs, and I stayed confined to the bedroom, scared to even get in her sight. I stared at the ceiling until about 2 AM when I heard the creak of the door open, and then the lights clicked on. She stood in the doorway, stone-faced.
“They think my mom had a heart attack, they’re taking her to the hospital by ambulance, I- I gotta go.”
“Oh my god, yeah, yeah okay I’ll drive,” I said sitting up and going to my dresser drawer to get a jacket.
“No, no you stay, god the sight of you will just piss her off. I’ll text you updates, hopefully, I’ll be home by the morning,” she turned around to go back out the door, but stopped and turned back.
“I love you,” she said before walking out.
“I- I love you too!” I yelled towards the door before sitting back down on the bed. My thoughts finally settled, but after two days worth of that madness, my half-staffed red flags went full-blown and that’s when that thought circled back to me.
Was she meeting with someone? Was her mom really hurt? So I did the only logical thing I could think of as I caught eyes on her Macbook sitting on the bedside table, and as much as I knew I shouldn’t, I had to settle the curiosity.
Opening the computer lid the screen illuminated against my face, and as I clicked the iMessage icon I read this:
Alright, money has been received. I’ll be there in twenty, find a good excuse to leave the house. I’ll try to make it quick and clean.