Story 97

“Okay. Five more minutes” she called out to her son who was playing on the swing. He loved the swing, and the tree-house his father had built for him.
He’d spend most of his time on the swing or in the tree-house; sometimes, having his dinner in the tree-house and she and her husband often accompanied him in the tree-house. Sweet memories.

She turned around to go back inside the house. It was time to say goodbye to her ex-husband. They had been separated for few years now and she was here visiting him because he wanted to see their son. 


She had the custody of her son and her ex had the visiting rights, but it had been tough for him to visit for past few times and therefore, here she was – in the house that was filled with so many memories, both happy and sad.
This was the house she had first stepped into as a newly-wed. This was the house where their son was born and this was the house she had walked out of when her ex had cheated on her.


She did not want to go there, touch those scalding memories. She wanted to leave them alone lest they follow her where she now lived and haunt her through the night.

She was back here because a dying father wanted to spend time with his son. She was not here because of the feelings she once had for the man. Or so she convinced herself.

“Stay for dinner” her ex said. She was startled by his voice. She was not expecting him to be watching her from behind.
“He is having a good time.” He added.
“We have to go” she said and moved to pick up her purse.
“Call me when you reach home.” He said. She nodded. 


“Time to go, honey.” She called out to her son.
Her son stopped the swing and climbed down from it and ran towards her. He hugged her and she wrapped her arms around him and kissed his head.
“Say bye to your father.” She told her son as she walked towards the car.
“Bye dad” the son called out following his mother to the car.
The man stood alone on the porch, waiting for the car to move out of his driveway.


She got into the car and started the ignition. She looked at him and she knew – this moment would haunt her for the rest of her life. He had told her about his sickness almost a year ago and since then his health had deteriorated at a rapid rate. He looked really sick. The lone figure standing on the porch, waiting for them to leave was someone else, he was not the man she had loved. He was also not the man who had cheated on her. He was alone and he was dying. Not your fault, a voice in her head said. 


She put the car in reverse gear and stepped on the gas and backed out of the driveway as fast as she could, before she could feel sorry for him and change her mind.

“Is dad dying?” her son’s direct question took her by surprise. Yes, they had meant to tell him finally, but right now he just needed to know that his father was sick and they were visiting because he wanted to spend time with his son.

“He is very sick, yes. Now, close your eyes and rest for some time.” She said.
“I am not tired. Dad seems sad. Is he sad because we do not stay with him?” The son continued questioning.
“No, honey. He is sad because he is sick.” She said
“Dad was telling me that he does not have enough time to spend with me; not the way he liked. He would love to spend more time with me.” The son continued.
She looked at her son through the rearview mirror. He was looking outside the window, a weird expression on his face.
“I am doing the best I can; you know that, right?” she asked her son and watched as he nodded his head, still looking outside the window. 


Her son was asleep when they finally reached their home. She carried him inside the house and tucked him in.
Back in her room, she took out her mobile and texted her ex that they had reached home safe.
He replied immediately saying that he was already missing them.
She read the message but did not reply.
She walked to the bathroom and filled the tub with hot water. She took off her clothes and stepped into the hot water and closed her eyes. She felt the tensed muscles of her body relax as the hot water caressed her body.

---


She had finished work comparatively early and decided to spend the extra time with her husband and son. When she reached home, she found her son playing with the neighbor’s son in their lawn. She decided to let him play for some more time before calling him in. She opened the door with her keys and stepped inside the house. She did not call out to her husband like she always did, she wanted to surprise him. She climbed the steps to the bedroom and heard noises coming from inside. She hesitated for a moment, wondering whether she was ready to see what she knew she would, once she opened the door. She took a deep breath and opened the door and caught her husband in the act. He stopped thrusting into the woman and looked at her; it took a moment for him to realize what had just happened. 


She saw the naked body of her husband before he wrapped a towel around his waist, she saw the woman wrap the bedsheet around her naked body and pick up her clothes and run towards the bathroom. She did not want to see any of this but she could not move. She saw her husband walking towards her and that’s when she moved – she signaled with her hand and stopped him from getting any closer. The woman stepped out of the bathroom, fully dressed and walked past her, down the steps and out of the house.
Her husband stood where he stood as she had stopped him.
She turned around and climbed down the steps and out of the house. She carried her son back to the house from the neighbor’s. She fixed dinner for him and then tucked him in bed. 


Her husband’s gaze followed her as she moved about in the house. She did not speak a single word after what she had witnessed. She did not give him any chance to speak. What would he have said? What would he say that would comfort her, that would explain why he had brought someone else to their house, why he was having sex with someone else in their bed, while their son was playing at the neighbors’? 


She sat to have her dinner and watched her husband as he fixed his own. She looked at his back and all that she could visualize was him in bed with another woman. She picked up her half-finished plate, emptied the contents in the garbage bin, cleaned her dish and climbed up the stairs and entered her son’s room. She walked to the bathroom and vomited in the commode. She closed the lid and sat on it, holding her head in her hands. She felt numb. She wanted to scream, she wanted to cry, she wanted to hit her husband but she could do nothing. She felt emotionally drained. She stepped out of the bathroom and checked on her son. She kissed his forehead and slept on the floor near his bed.


... continued as Story 98

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