Shannon pulled her mind from the memory and turned back to the coffee pot. It had just finished brewing when Paul walked in and dropped two envelopes on the counter. She picked one up, opening it to see tickets for the state fair. She set it back down and picked up the other, feeling her heart drop to her toes as she read the words on the ticket. Frowning, she glanced up at him, reading the aggressive stance and belligerent expression.
“What are these for? I thought you didn’t want to see these guys. Why did you buy all these if we aren’t going?”
Shannon looked at Paul as he stood glaring at her, and realized he was a complete stranger. He was not the man she had married, certainly was not a man she wanted to love anymore. She knew he had killed the love she felt a long time ago, and searched through her heart for any feelings at all other than disgust and bitterness. There were none, and that fact scared her. How have we come to this? The question twisted her heart with anguish, making her fingers shake as she gripped the concert tickets.
“We didn’t talk about this show.“
Shannon looked at him, eyes narrowed. “Yes, we did. We discussed this more than once, and Randy and I both said we wanted to go. You said you didn’t.” The anger was building, making her voice sound tight and severely controlled. “Why did you buy these after you told us you didn’t want to go?”
“I must have forgotten that you said you wanted to go. I’m going with some of the girls from work.”
Shannon could only stand and stare at him for a minute.
“You did not forget. You deliberately lied to us, keeping us from seeing what we wanted, just so that you could go with the girls you work with.”
The rage that was swirling through her made her shake with its intensity. She pressed her fingertips to her stinging eyes and, walking away from him, sank onto the couch. Where had she gone wrong?
“Shannon, I’m sorry.”
She turned and looked at the man she had been married to for almost twenty years. As she studied the face that had once meant the world to her, the futility of it all washed over her, making her infinitely sad.
“That’s always your answer for everything, isn’t it? For the past twenty years you’ve gone and done anything and everything you’ve wanted, not caring who got hurt. As long as you wanted to do it, you didn’t care whether it was right, or wrong, or anything else.”
She looked at him in bewilderment, still unable to figure out why he thought the way he did. “And I always let it go, hoping each time that it would be different, but it never was. You just kept on plowing over anyone you thought was going to keep you from doing just what you wanted, including me … especially me. And when your lies didn’t work, you fell back on the I’m-sorry-speech, figuring that I was too blind and too stupid and would forgive you anything.” She sighed. “And then you wonder why I can’t trust you anymore, and why I don’t like you anymore.”
Needing to get away, Shannon stood and walked around him. As she reached the door, his voice stopped her.
“I said I was sorry.”
Shannon turned to look at him, struggling with the urge to cry.
“Well sorry just don’t cut it anymore.”
* * * * *
The weeks that followed were some of the worst Shannon had ever had to live through. If she thought Paul had been difficult before, it was nothing to his current nastiness. Thankfully, he had taken to spending less and less time at home. She wondered where he was at times, but was way past caring where he went or whom he was with.
It’s easier when he’s not here, she thought, wincing slightly.
A nagging headache tugged at her thoughts, making her wish she could lie down for a while before leaving for work. Going into the laundry room, she sorted out the clothes and turned on the washer. As she was loading the dirty clothes into the machine, she realized that Paul had not put his softball uniform in the hamper and would need it cleaned before his next game.
She went out and got his sports bag from his truck and carried it into the house. Setting it on the table, she unzipped it and pulled out the dirty uniform. As she always did, she stuffed her fingers into the pockets to empty them and came up with a piece of paper. The scent on it was not sweat and dirt, but perfume. And not her own. With shaking fingers, she unfolded it and studied the flowing handwriting.
The truth had been slapping her in the face for months now, her instincts had been screaming at her, keeping her in a constant state of turmoil with the knowledge that he was actually cheating on her. And now she had physical proof of his infidelity.
She ran her eyes over the monogrammed ‘K’ at the top of the page, and then skimmed down the handwritten message. With each word, Shannon felt the earth shift beneath her feet. She had been sure that Paul was having an affair, knew he was lying even as the denials left his mouth. But, other than seeing Kelly drive by their house, there had never been anything to actually prove it. Until now. Raising her eyes to the top of the perfumed sheet again, she reread the love letter once more:
“My Darling Paul, I just wanted to tell you again how much the other day meant to me.”
Shannon’s eyes burned as she absorbed the details of their time together. Her heart fell to her toes as she looked at the blatant invitation for another meeting, the written missive that spoke of everything she had been afraid of. “…Until then – your ever loving Kelly.”
Her eyes stopped at the end of the letter, as she sank into a chair and stared blankly at the cabinets on the opposite wall. She didn’t know why she was shocked, she had known all along. But to find this kind of proof after all this time seemed to have pulled the world out from under her.