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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Mark's secret tears apart more than just himself, but the entire fabric of his life.

Submitted: April 28, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 28, 2013




"You know, this can't continue like it has been."


Mark looked up. His brown eyes searched her face, but he couldn't seem to get past the bland expression she wore.


"I know," he sighed.


She looked around and then slowly brought her eyes back to him. Her mouth released an exasperated noise as she rolled her eyes at his indecisiveness.


"Let me know when you've made your decision. I refuse to wait around for second place."


Her heels sank into the carpet as she strutted out of his office, leaving the door wide open. He ran his fingers through his short auburn hair. Mark sighed again, only this time out of dejection.




Pulling up to his suburban Virginia home and shutting the door of his silver Honda, he made his way up the steps to his front door. As he placed the key in the lock, he paused. Staring blankly at the mahogany, he was jolted out of his daydream by the sound of his wife's heavy feet hitting the floor.


Turning the lock, he entered the house, put on a smile, and greeted his wife.


She stopped short, as she was startled, and nearly dropped the laundry she had wrapped her thin arms around.


"Sorry if I scared you," said Mark, letting out a sheepish grin.


"No, it's fine," she laughed. "What would you like for dinner? I was thinking about cooking salmon and vegetables." Her blue eyes looked tired.


"Sounds great," he said thoughtlessly as he loosened his tie. "I'm just going to get changed."


Making his way up the carpeted steps, he glanced at the pictures of him and Sandra that lined the halls. They looked happy, and they reminded Mark of better times.


His closet was full of clothes that exuded a sense of sharpness. Blue, white, and yellow collared shirts lined the racks, with his slacks and shoes filling in their respective spots. He realized that he almost never wore anything but these. The small two-drawer dresser underneath the shoe rack contained all of his plain clothes that he wore around the house. Only one drawer was full.


He trotted down the steps and into the kitchen, swiftly taking a seat at the six-person table in the middle of the room. The table was always empty.


Sandra carried two steaming plates to the table and placed them down gently. She took her seat and poured herself and Mark glasses of iced tea. They began to eat.


The silence was deafening. Mark couldn't remember when it became normal, or if it always was.




As he rolled slowly into spot seventeen in front of Crowley Software LLC, Mark took a deep breath.


The building had five stories, was located off East Cameron Street, and contained three hundred of the East Coast's brightest software developers and salesman. Though the job was coveted and paid well, Mark despised being a sales director.


He threw his car door open and walked quickly into the building, climbing the steps to the fourth floor.


He already knew she was in his office.


"So, have you made your decision?"


"I thought you said you weren't going to wait for me," he replied evenly.


She rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue. "Well, I need to know. Do you really want to stop something that makes you feel this way? Do you actually want to stop this for that pitiful domestic life you have?"


Mark didn't respond. The seconds dragged and she became impatient.


"Look, if she isn't important to you, then why did you start this in the first place?"


"I never said she wasn't important," he said quickly, raising his voice. He calmed himself and again took an even tone, as he reminded her that she had in fact started the ordeal.


"Irregardless!" Her voice was loud, so he shut the door to his office.


"That's not a word," he replied quietly, looking at the ground.


She paused and stared at him with piercing eyes.


"I don't know what you want me to say," he said.


"I want you to make up your mind. I gave you time-"


"You gave me one day," he interjected.


"Fine. I'll leave you alone. But just know that I can't continue like this. It's not fair."


"Not fair to who?"


The room stilled and an eerie silence overtook it.


"To everyone."




Saturdays used to be filled with the sounds of laughter and tipsiness on the living room couch. A movie would be on in the background, but it was never even glanced at. Sandra's blonde hair would be threaded through his fingers as he playfully smiled. Mark wasn't sure when the last Saturday was.


Sandra was out shopping. He was lying lazily on their suede couch, watching basketball.


He finally got hungry and made his way into the kitchen. Looking through the cabinets, he reached for the last box of cereal, the kind his wife liked but he never tried.


He moved across the room to get a white bowl and a spoon. He opened the box and removed the clip from the plastic packaging. As he was about to pour the flakes into his bowl, he noticed a thin packet of papers within the box.


He reached inside and pulled them out. Scanning over the words on the front page, his heartbeat slowed. Johnson and Adams Law Firm. He knew that name because his college roommate had an internship there following graduation. He knew what they specialized in.


Sinking into one of the wooden chairs surrounding his empty table, he put his head in his right hand. He had no thoughts, yet at the same time had many.


Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is torment. He realized he was not the only one who knew.




Walking into his office, he was again not surprised to find her in there. Mondays were never very good for him.


She hopped down off her desk and walked towards him. She ran her fingers over his navy blue tie and around the collar of his shirt.


"Have you decided?"


 Seductively, she ran her hands down his chest and then removed herself from him as she took a seat across from his desk.


He went around to the other side and sat down. His eyes were drawn to a silver frame that contained a picture of Sandra and him. He smiled sadly. The frame should have been larger, with more faces housed in it.


Glancing at his black computer screen, he saw his reflection. His face was lifeless, but he had no recollection of when the life left. He looked tired and spent. The events of the past five months had eliminated any happiness he had and replaced it with numbness.


His eyes met hers. He knew he'd finally have to answer the question he had been avoiding for three weeks.


"I have."


For the first time since he had met her in the break room one year ago, he saw fear cross her face.


"I can't do this anymore," he said calmly. "You're right, it's not fair."


Her eyes began to well up, but she quickly beat it back with anger.


"Are you really going to waste five months of my life just to change your mind? How can you do this after all that time?"


The words struck him hard, but not in the way she would have expected. His thoughts flashed to the empty nights with his wife when no voices were heard, the nights when they carried on the routine of brokenness and solitude as if they were normal, and the nights when he would slip out after Sandra was asleep, just to drive to the house of his coworker.


The life that he could have had was salvageable still and he knew how to grasp its fingers before he left go.


"I'm sorry," he replied, with a sense of relief. "This should have never happened. This was wrong. I'm sorry."


Without waiting for her response, he grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and left his office. It was only 12:30, and he knew he could catch his wife before she went back to work after lunch.


He sped home as if he was under the influence, as if he had something to look forward to. The highway seemed to stretch for hundreds of miles.


When he pulled up, he fled from his car and rushed up the stairs to his house. He was so excited that he had trouble getting the key in the door. When he turned it, the lock squeaked. He mentally noted that he would fix that later.


Entering the house felt different than it had in months. He was ecstatic as if he finally realized the extent of the damage, but knew the solution.


He swiftly walked into the kitchen, but did not find her there.


Climbing the stairs to the bedroom, his heartbeat again slowed. The walls were bare.


He began to run up the steps and race into his bedroom.


She wasn't there.


The books on her side table were gone.


The clothes in her drawers were gone.


She was gone.


The only remnant of her in the room was a tan envelope on the bed with Mark's name on it. A deep sense of dread came over him.


He pushed the prongs up and removed the thin packet of papers.


He sank to the floor and sobbed.



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