This story was written in April of 2000. The theme this week was "Communications". It was one of my more favorite stories although in re-reading it I find a lot I'd like to rewrite.
"Damn, Jack, I'm late!" Kate said, pushing away from her computer and grabbing her purse. She gave me a peck on the cheek and asked, "Are you sure you don't want to go with me?"
To the grand opening of a new mall with her other lady friends? Yeah, right! "No, honey, that's okay I'll just putter around here today," I responded, having plenty in mind to do that I thought would be much more exciting.
She left, and I decided to surprise her by having the taxes done before the deadline. That was when I found out she'd left herself logged into her mail account. I know I should have just logged her out... but curiosity got the better of me.
That was what led me to read through a series of torrid love letters, between my wife and another man. I was shocked and hurt. They were letters like I could not begin to write, not having the words. And here was another man writing them to my wife. But, the letters she wrote hurt more I think.
I sat back, dumbfounded. I'd thought I was giving her everything! I made a good living, did my share of housework, made sure her car and the household appliances were always working. But then I read as she poured her heart out to this other man, telling him how much she craved what he did for her. And I read the letters and cards he sent, declaring his love for her. She told him how she much she wished I'd just give her a rose every now and then, or call her from work. I winced as I read her words telling him my responses to those simple requests... that a rose would just die, and that I was busy making a living for our family, and could hardly be expected to remember to call her every day.
My heart sank as I read on, and found her falling more in love with this man who was giving her all the things I had thought so fleeting and frivolous. I could tell she really wanted those things; and I finally began to believe that she would have given up all the physical comforts I was so proud to provide her, for the simple, random expressions of love that he offered.
Was it too late I wondered? Well, I decided if I was on my way out, I was going out trying. I logged out of her mail account, shaken but with a new resolve to try to win her back.
First I found the link to a resort for which I recalled her showing me brochures... a vacation spot that I'd told her was just not practical. I cringed to remember her trying to tell me how she wanted romance---not practicality! I found they had an opening for the weekend after next and booked it, hoping it would not be too late.
Then I went out, feverishly running from one store to another, praying I would beat her home with my surprises. At one point I felt jealousy and anger fighting their way up; but I reminded myself that all the things that she'd said to him, she'd said to me first... and I had ignored them. After reading how lovingly she responded to his fulfillment of those requests, I knew how much they'd meant to her, and I felt ashamed... and even more determined to try to set things right between us.
I sat, beat to a frazzle and keyed up with worry, as she came in the house. She looked around and smiled. A large banner hung on the staircase saying, "I love you." And on the dining room were a dozen roses, a romantic card, and some of the candy I'd often told her was just too expensive and "no better than the cheaper stuff." Her favorite music was on in the background, and the kids were at her mom's house. And I was dressed in the black shirt, pants, and boots she'd so often tried to get me to wear... but I'd refused because they were hot and uncomfortable. Little did I know when she asked, that she might have reacted romantically enough to remove them, and discomfort wouldn't have been a problem!
Without a word she moved to the bedroom, and found the bed turned down with a rose on the pillow. Another smile. The she went into the bathroom, where candles were lit and glowing, and the bubble bath was ready to be poured into the tub.
She then approached me, and took my hands in hers, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, "I see you read them. I hoped you would not be able to resist."
"You... you wanted me to find out about him?" I stammered.
"No. I wanted to force you to hear what I was trying to tell you. I'm sorry to trick you. And it is a trick, Jack... he doesn't exist. I've been writing mail back and forth to myself, imagining a knight in shining armor, ever since my sister told me about her real on-line lover. I couldn't do that, honey; but I knew I had to do something! You just wouldn't communicate with me anymore. You stopped listening to what *I* was telling you would make me happy; so I thought that maybe you'd listen to what I said to "him." She put her arms around me and added, with a smile, "I hope you will forgive me for tricking you into all this."
"In a heartbeat, dear... just so I know you're still in love with me. You've made me into a believer," I said. Then reaching for the zipper on her dress, I whispered, "Now, how about starting with a nice warm bath together?"
She smiled and kissed me, and I knew that day that I'd learned a lesson that I'd never forget.