Payback

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Leah and Richard are going through a rough patch in their marriage. Richard blames Leah for all their problems. Leah is desperate to fix things. Richard not so much.

Leah was in her home office sipping on a cup of coffee. She glanced down at Richard’s ipad, that he had forgotten to bring with him this morning, her eyes widening when she saw a message, 'Morning Love!! Where are you?? I miss you!' followed by heart emojis. Leah stared at the message with a furrowed brow noting it was from someone named Ashley. She tilted her head to the side and said, 'Ashley?'

She was racking her brain trying to think of anyone by that name. She recalls being introduced to a new receptionist at Richard’s office named Ashley. A long-legged blonde with smooth flawless skin and a dazzling smile, she looked to be maybe early twenties. Don’t be ridiculous. It must be a wrong number, she thought.

Leah slowly walked down the hall to the bedroom and swept her unruly brown hair into a messy ponytail. She stared at her reflection in the mirror and was surprised to see the faint lines of crow’s feet in the corners of her eyes. Funny she’s never noticed them before, but supposes it’s to be expected at her age. Nevertheless, her upturned almond shaped green eyes with their arched brows are her best feature, or that’s what Richard used to say. He hasn’t said that in a long time.

As a matter of fact, he hasn’t said anything nice to her in a long time. Everything she does seems to irritate him no matter how hard she tries: she’s too clingy or she’s too distant, she’s too demanding or she’s too dismissive,  she nags him or she ignores him. His latest complaint is she doesn’t understand the stress he’s under at work and why he’s never home always seems to be working overtime. Of course she understands being a doctor is stressful. What about how stressful her job as a pharmaceutical sales rep is? He acts like her job is a piece of cake consisting of wining and dining her clients on an expense account. Doesn’t think of how hard she has to work to meet her sales quota.

She’s been surprised by how self-centred and difficult he’s become and has often wondered if he’s going through some sort of mid-life crisis. When they married four years ago, the plan was to enjoy being together, just the two of them, for two years and then start a family. Leah would then be 34 and Richard 38. They joked that they don’t want to be senior citizens when their kids are graduating high school. Two years ago, when Leah brought up trying for a baby as planned, Richard said he wasn’t quite ready and to give him more time. He had just closed his solo practice and had joined a physician group practice, so he was extremely busy at work. Leah was understanding and readily agreed that it would be best to wait.

That was two years ago! What’s stopping him now? His medical practice is thriving. He likes and respects his colleagues and says it’s the best decision he’s ever made she’s frequently asked herself. She dares not keep bringing it up in case it pushes him further away. More and more, Leah feels her biological clock is ticking and it will soon be too late

Lost in thought, she jumped when her phone rang. Looking down at the phone, she could see it was her sister, Olivia. Leah took a deep breath, put a smile on her face and said, “Hi Olivia!”

“Hey stranger! How is everything in rainy Vancouver? How come you never return my calls? Is something wrong?” asked Olivia shooting out the questions like a barrage of bullets.

Leah smiled saying, “Nothing’s wrong! It’s just been busy. Is everything okay?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact everything’s great! I have a new man in my life. You’re going to love him! He’s a divorced part-time dad. I think he’s the one! He’s moved into my apartment and we have his kids every other weekend. Boys 4 and 6 years old. Such sweet kids.”

With a half-smile, Leah rolled her eyes and shook her head. Olivia has said the exact same thing about every boyfriend she’s ever had. “That’s great, I can hardly wait to meet him.” Leah really wanted to suggest Olivia take it slowly with the two boys for all their sakes. Wait until they were sure the relationship would last before diving in like this, but she knows her sister. Spontaneous, open, and often impulsive, she dives head-first into any new relationship. Really the opposite of Leah who, prior to meeting Richard, never committed to a long-term relationship. As soon as she met Richard, she knew he was the one.

“It’s just like when you met Richard. You knew he was the one even though he was technically still married. Of course, I had my doubts at the time, but now I know it was all above board just like you said! It’s worked out perfectly for you two.”

Leah didn’t want to talk about the problems she and Richard were having. She said, “Work’s on the other line. Let me call you back later.” as she ended the call.

It was true that Richard was technically married when they met but, although still living in the same house, he and his then wife had essentially been living separate lives long before she met him. He admitted they still cared about each other, but no longer were in love with each other and mutually decided it’s best to go their separate ways. Richard moved into Leah’s condo within 6 months of them meeting and they had a small intimate wedding as soon as his divorce went through.

Leah returned to her office and slowly sank down in her chair. She had lots of work to catch up on, but she felt distracted with the name Ashley repeating in her head. Frowning, she picked up the ipad and then put it back down again. She was not going to spy on her own husband. Trust and honesty were the basis of a solid relationship and she and Richard were just going through a rough patch. She said out loud, “I trust my husband.” and turned to her computer screen and tried to read her emails but she couldn’t concentrate enough to read and gave up.

Leah fiddled with her bracelet as she gazed across the room lost in thoughts about her marriage. She looked down at his ipad sitting on her desk and could see another message from Ashley pop up! She grabbed the ipad and saw it was just a heart emoji with no text. She thought to hell with respecting privacy and started to scroll through the previous messages. She quickly saw there were frequent text message exchanges between Richard and “Ashley” going back several months. Could it be the receptionist Ashley? she wondered.

Her stomach sank and her eyes filled with tears as she read texts from just yesterday saying, 'I swear Ashley, Leah and I live separate lives! We care about each other, but we’re not in love with each other. It’s been over for a long time and she’s already found someone new. We’re married in name only.’

Leah slid to the ground and lying in the fetal position wrapped her arms around herself staring straight ahead but seeing nothing. Her lips quivered and her body began shaking and she sobbed and cried until she was exhausted and felt like she had no tears left. She drifted off into sleep for she’s not sure how long. She awakened on the floor and slowly stood on shaky legs. She printed off pages and pages of texts getting angrier by the minute as the depth of his betrayal hit her.

With her head held high, she walked with a purposeful stride down the hall to her bedroom. She hastily threw clothes in a bag and placed a note on top of the pile of texts saying, 'You have 24 hours to get your stuff out of here. Don't contact me. My lawyer will be in touch with you’ and left the pile on the bed.

As she walked out the condo trying to hold back the tears running down her face, Olivia’swords from years earlier flashed through her mind, 'if he cheats with you, he’ll cheat on you'


Submitted: March 09, 2021

© Copyright 2021 BeforetheDawn. All rights reserved.

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Comments

G. Adams

I like it. Straight to the point. I did get confused on where her office was at first, guess that’s me. Grammar looked fine.

Fri, March 12th, 2021 7:55am

Author
Reply

Thanks so much for your review! Now that you've pointed it out I can see that I didn't describe the setting very well. It's something I need to pay more attention to and will in the future. Cheers!

Sat, March 13th, 2021 11:44am

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