The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors (halfshellvenus) wrote,
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

The Real LJ Idol: "Clarity"

real lj idol | week 21 | 1024 words
Bridge – an Idol Intersection with similiesslip (her story is here).


I think my wife is having an affair.

I didn't want to believe it at first. They say the spouse is always the last to know.

But she seems to be running errands a lot more often, and getting home late from work. Sometimes the kids are asking about dinner and Laura's not even back yet. That's not like her. Usually, she at least phones to let us know.

I know her mother isn't sick, and I'm pretty sure Laura isn't either. If anything, she's got a glow. Her hair always looks pretty, and she dresses nicer, but it's more than that. There's a spark to her that I haven't seen since she got pregnant with our first child, Maggie. Don't get me wrong, Laura has always looked good—still sexy as hell, no matter what she says. But kids and work and the whole routine, they'll take it out of you. God knows, I'm ready to hit the La-Z-Boy when I get home, and veg out in front of a ballgame for a few hours…

I didn't want to assume anything, when it first started. Things happen, you get tied up at the office (it's sure happened to me often enough). I ordered pizza for the kids a couple of times, made grilled cheese a few nights, scrambled some eggs or heated some soup. I'm no good at cooking, but I'm not completely incompetent. It's not what the kids are used to, though.

I think the main thing is that if she is cheating, then I have to decide what to do about it. A guy my age doesn't want a divorce, and the kids would hate that. What's more, they'd probably hate us.

But what other choice is there? Could I stand to stay married to her after that?

I still don't know what the hell she was thinking. I thought I was giving her everything she wanted. We've got the kids and the nice house, and enough money for soccer league and trumpet lessons. It's not super-fancy, like some of her friends' houses, but I'm doing the best I can. She still has to work, or we couldn't pay the bills, but I thought she knew how tough it was out there? My numbers are good, but sometimes I struggle to meet quota. I hate that after-hours schmoozing, but what can you do? I have to make the boss happy and the customers happy, and if that's what they think they want, then I'm stuck.

If an asteroid fell on that damned golf course tomorrow, I'd be the happiest guy in town. Sometimes I dream about setting it on fire, just so I can go to the kids' soccer and baseball games on Saturdays, like all the other Dads.

This isn't how I thought things would turn out. When I met Laura in college, she was so pretty and nice, so different from the party-girls I'd dated before. She was quiet, but she had depth.

"We'd make an amazing team," I told her, and I hoped with everything that she'd believe it.

We got married after graduation, and lived in a tiny two-bedroom house with a yard hardly big enough for a few flowers and a patch of grass. We still thought it was heaven. We had nothing but each other then, which was all we really wanted anyway. Maggie was born four years later, and the house felt a little crowded, but it was good. When Laura got pregnant with Billy, we decided to move. My job was doing well, so we bought the place we live in now. Four bedrooms, a big yard, and a mortgage that went from manageable to borderline after we added another baby and the Recession took hold.

Still, I thought we were doing all right. We never had big, ambitious plans, we just wanted a good life together. It was a busy life, sure, and between the kids and the house and her job, Laura seemed a little stressed sometimes. But I thought we were making it.

Guess I thought wrong.

The sex was still good, even though I could tell Laura's heart wasn't always in it. But better too often than not often enough. My brother claims that's why he ruined his marriage over a secretary from his office. Our secretary sticks pencils in her hair like they're chopsticks, and I'm honestly not sure how she made it out of high school, so there's no temptation there (but I'm still not going to risk it).

I never even saw the possibility of Laura cheating. How could she do that to me—to us?

To our kids?

Our youngest is only seven, and even Maggie's still a kid at fourteen. A divorce would rip their lives apart.

Sometimes, I get so angry that I want to pin Laura to the spot and make her admit how she's betrayed us. God, who wouldn't?

But then I think, What if the kids heard us fighting? When Laura was out late again last week, little Susie asked me if Mommy was ever coming home again or if we'd gotten divorced. The kids have friends whose parents have split up, and I'm sure they talk about it.

Funny, I didn't put the pieces together until Susie said that.

So now I know, and I wish I didn't. What the hell am I supposed to do? Bow to my wounded manhood and push for a divorce? I'd probably lose the kids, and I don't think I could take that. Losing Laura would be hard enough…

Seventeen years—that's how long we've been married. There's a wedding photo in our bedroom, with the date underneath:

Harold Evan Hartley and Laura Ann Mitterton, 1995

We were so young then, so in love and full of promise. We had our whole lives ahead of us, our own story we were going to write together.

God help me, I still want that, no matter what Laura might have done. Maybe I shouldn't, but I still love her, and we've built so much together.

How can I honestly think about throwing all that away?

Both similiesslip and my story can be voted for along with other fine entries here.

Tags: my_fic, original_fiction, real lj idol
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