Short Story: Sweethearts

A tale of love, and infidelity

Infidelity is a bitch and a treacherous one at that. I mean, come on, in any way, shape or form it is just not nice. The lying, the cheating, pretending everything is okay, that you still love that person. I guess that has to be the worst part. We’ve read about it in books and see it all the time in movies so you can just imagine all those sleepless nights, churning stomachs, wondering where it all went wrong. Everyone suffers, not just the unfaithful, faint-hearted piece of trash who decided it would be cool to dance the horizontal mambo with the new assistant in the marketing department.

Jim and I have a kid together, we’ve been married 12 years and together for 14 in total, so, excuse me, but you can’t blame the 7-year itch; our itches should have been smothered under layers of calamine lotion by this point.

We have been following “The Plan”, which is our blueprint for how we want to live, what we want to achieve. Every year we update the to-do list bit. Funny, it escapes me, but I can’t remember “shag someone new” being on this year’s list.

We met in High School, Jim was two years above me and the most handsome boy around, a sports jock but real smart too. You know you sometimes look at someone, and your heart gives a skip, like a little beat of recognition? That was how I felt, that we were just meant to be together but also that maybe he was too good for me. You know that feeling?

My folks weren’t from the wrong side of the tracks – hell they wouldn’t even have been allowed near the tracks. We loved in the Sunny View Trailer Park, in a central plot, slap bang surrounded by all the neighbours. It never seemed that sunny and there was no park, just Fred Baxter’s dump on one side and a wild tangle of brush land on the other.

Jim was always top of the math class, algebra wasn’t a mystery to him like it was to me. By the time he was 17, and I was 15 we were inseparable. Just two kids learning about life, and love. Pity he hadn’t been so smart when it came to human biology. We got married the day after I turned 16, and Bethany was born 6 months later.

I love my daughter, I’d give my life for her and so would Jim. I guess I knew I’d love her, I just never realised how much. The second they put that squalling, scrunched up red-faced ball of fury into my arms I really got it – I mean I really understood what parenthood was about. I’d kill for her. Truly, I would. I would take another human being and extinguish their life without a second thought if they were harming my daughter. Wow – sounds fierce doesn’t it – but that’s how Moms feel.

Jim got a job in our local bank. He hadn’t gone further than high school but his Dad, JM Taylor Senior, was a member of the same tennis club as Mr Dalrymple, the local branch manager. Over the next couple of years, Jim worked like a demon. I was so proud of him, especially when, the year before last, he was promoted to Junior Vice President. We moved from our 2-bed frame build to a 4 bed mock Tudor executive home.

I didn’t know what that was at first but Betty Sue, the realtor, said that it’s a first class example of a period home in the English Tudor style. I think that king who has all the wives must’ve invented the style or something as I saw something like it on the HBO series of The Tudors.

Anyway, as I was saying, Bethany was born when I was 16, and when she was 3, I decided to get a part-time job. I didn’t finish High School but my cousin, Tina, was one of the in house realtors over at Davidoff Developments and she got me a job in the office there.

I’ve always loved making lists of what has to be done and then working through them and ticking off what has been finished. I like the discipline of seeing what you have to do all written down, one after the other, until the sheet of paper is full. I then score a line through a task as and when I complete it. I love using those really inky gel pens, black preferably.

After a year or so I got promoted to assistant office manager. I love my job. I work until 2.30pm and get home in time for Bethany coming home from school. That’s when I turn back into Mommy and then, later in the evening, when Jim gets back from work, I start my third job of the day – office manager, a mom, and then, finally, Jim’s wife.

Jim’s been working later and later at the bank each night, the promise of Senior Vice president coaxing every last bit of effort out of him. He started to seem irritable with nearly everything I did, wasn’t interested in the funny stories I had to tell him about work and the new friends I was making. He seemed quite withdrawn and more recently looks like he is on the verge of saying something to me – I don’t know what – but it seems as if it could be momentous, a real pivotal moment for us.

I have to control this situation, so I’ve made a list. I need a fallback position. I could work full time at Davidoff’s – they’ve been begging me to for ages. Even with a settlement from Jim, I couldn’t stay in this house so I would need to find something smaller. A place just big enough for Bethany and me and maybe, one day, someone who loves me back. That someone would adore me more than anyone or anything else.

I can’t stand this any longer. I kept quiet at first as I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was terrified that Jim would decide to leave me.

So I guess that’s when I realised I had to confront my husband. This situation, this half-life with its continual fear, couldn’t go on any longer. My future and Bethany’s were at stake. So I waited for Jim, like the flytrap on the kitchen counter, watched him until he’d eaten his chicken fricassee, recipe a la Martha, and then I snapped the trap shut.

“Honey,” I ventured. “There’s something we need to talk about. I’ve been seeing someone else. I’m sorry. He’s the new marketing assistant at work.”




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