My Wife's Sisterbycurious2c©
The sound of the dirt hitting the coffin was dull, which matched the dreary day. I was standing there, watching as the minister said some words meant to ease the suffering of those left behind. I held my daughter's hand, her husband standing just behind us. His hand was on my shoulder, offering comfort. My son was standing next to me, his girlfriend beside him.
At forty-nine years old, I never expected to be standing at graveside, burying my wife. I always believed deep down I would be the first to go. I thought that due to my work and the way I had lived my life, I would surely die before my wife, and that when I did, I'd be an old, old man. Now I felt old. Ancient.
After the funeral there was the reception. Everyone coming up to me, telling me how sorry they were, how great she was, how wonderful we were, how young she was, everything but what I needed to hear. We had been married over twenty years, two kids, both now off on their own. The youngest, our, I mean, my daughter, is married and about to have my first grandchild. The oldest, my son is working in New York City in the financial district. Both are doing well.
With all the people at our house... I guess it's my house, now... See? I'm having a hard time adjusting to this being single. Everything for the last twenty years has been ours, not mine. Anyway, there were about forty people around talking and offering their support. I just wanted to be alone at the moment.
Feeling quite fed up, I finally slipped out into the back yard, and worked my way out the back gate, intending to take a short walk. As I closed the gate, someone drove up the alley, and parked their car right next to where I was standing.
"Jeff... How are you holding up?"
It was Marie, my wife's younger sister. The one person in the world I didn't want to see at the moment. You see it was partially Marie's fault that my loving wife was dead. Okay, maybe that isn't really fair to Marie or my wife, but in my heart I knew that if Marie had kept her damn interests to herself, Brenda would still be here with me.
"I'm just going for a walk Marie. Everyone is inside. You've been mentioned."
I didn't smile nor did I invite her openly. I just stated the facts as I saw them. I now wanted to be away from here for certain, and I was sure Marie would try to invite herself on my walk. I should have known better, as she just brushed past me and went into the back yard. She had always been all about Marie. That's why when Marie had taken a sudden interest in Brenda's personal life that I became suspicious. That was out of character for her younger sister in many ways.
I sighed; glad to be free of her for the moment. There was a cloud hanging between us, and a chasm that to me seemed insurmountable now. Family or no, Marie was persona-non-gratis around me. It's a long story about what happened and how it all mushroomed into the funeral today, and to be quite honest I'm not really up to telling it here and now. Life goes on, just like water in a river or air across a mountaintop. Always moving relentlessly onward. For most people anyway. Then again, maybe telling it will help me to move on.
Okay... fine. Here is my story. Take it as I lay it out, or not... it is what has happened in my life.
Brenda and I met after college, at her job. I had been into the insurance company she worked at to renew my policies on the house and car, and she had been the agent assigned to me. I found myself making excuses to go back after our initial meeting, and somewhere along the way finally got the nerve to ask her out.
After several months of dating, we had seen that we were deeply in love with each other, so we got married. Two children and a full and wonderful marriage, right up until two years ago anyway, I had never questioned getting married to Brenda. We were like two peas in a pod, and very compatible. Then Marie had gotten interested in Brenda's life.
I'm sure she was well meaning. I'm sure that Marie thought that Brenda needed to reach out and grow. Everything one could see in a person who was trying to be better and more loving of those around her, you could have seen in Marie. She had been trying hard to help Brenda with what Marie saw as shortcomings.
It started with Wednesday night 'girl's night out'. Soon it grew to Wednesday and Fridays. Then Saturday was added. It seemed that, after a while, Marie was spending more time with Brenda than I was. Of course, that was true only because Marie was capitalizing on Brenda's time when normally I would have been.
At home it soon became 'Marie this' or 'Marie that'. When it got to be a daily thing, I started to withdraw from Brenda. Every time I would try to get some quality time with my wife, Marie seemed to be there. Any time I wanted Brenda to be with me, Marie seemed to be more important. Every time I wanted to take Brenda out for dinner it seemed that it was one of 'those' nights for the girls.
Pretty soon what had been a very communicative and open relationship became closed off and non-talkative. I couldn't say anything about how I felt without Brenda flaring up and getting mad at me, telling me I was being hard and unfair to her younger sister. If all I was going to do was piss off my wife by just trying to be with her, then why would I bother?
A few months after the growing 'girls night out' invaded my life, I could see that my marriage was in serious trouble. Yet, I couldn't talk to my wife about it without her getting mad and defensive. So I did the worst thing I could have done. I gave up. I spent my time doing what I wanted to do, and Brenda began to do her own thing as well. On our rare nights at home together we were like two strangers living in the same house.
Then, one night... well rather it was morning, but it started the night before, all hell broke loose. I was at home, working in the garage on a project I had going. It was a Friday night, and Brenda and Marie had gone out on their regular Friday night thing. They left the house about six-thirty, and I found myself making my own supper. Something else I had been doing more and more it seemed.
Eating in the garage seemed to be the simple thing to do, so I got dinner ready and took it out there. Listening to my boom box as I worked and ate soothed me. I worked until eleven and then went in. I half expected Brenda to be in bed already, but I was a bit surprised that she wasn't even home yet. I saw the light flashing on the phone, a message left waiting.
"Jeff, I'm staying at Marie's tonight. We've been out a bit longer and it's too late for me to drive home in the condition I'm in. I'll see you in the morning."
"Why bother" I thought to myself, "I never see you anymore anyway. Just move in with your bitch sister and be happy."
Yeah, I'll admit, I was mad and jealous. I had lost something when Marie took such a special interest in her sister, and now I didn't seem to be able to find a way to get my wife back. I missed being with Brenda; I missed the talks, the laughing, the gentle chatter of a couple who knew each other very well, and most of all, lately it seemed I missed the sex we had once shared with each other.
I replayed the message before deleting it, and that's when I heard men's voices in the background. There were men at Marie's house with my wife. It sounded like a party going on too. I picked up the phone and dialed.
After nine rings, someone picked up. A man's voice.
"Yeah... it's your dime don't waste it."
"Yeah, let me speak to Brenda please?"
"Is she the one with long hair? She's a bit tied up at the moment. Maybe call back tomorrow like around... say... noon?"
"This is her husband; I need to speak to her. Put her on the phone..."
The bastard had hung up on me. Getting mad I redialed the phone. Nobody picked up. I tried three times over the next half-hour, getting madder and madder. Finally I had enough. Grabbing my car keys off the counter I left the house and drove over to Marie's.
There was nobody home at her place. That's when I remembered I had dialed Brenda's cell phone. I had no idea where she was, or who she was with. I didn't know if she was there on her own, or if she had been kidnapped. I knew nothing.
I drove home madder than I'd ever been; mad and scared. I went in and made myself a drink. Making myself a drink I started on the rocks, but finished the bottle neat. Matter of fact, I finished the bottle by chugging right out of it.
At some point I decided that Brenda was doing this of her own free will and that the cops couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it for twenty-four hours anyway. I had gone so far as to even think that Brenda had invited the men to be with them. My mind was playing tricks on me now, and the alcohol wasn't helping me to see things better.
In the morning I woke to a hell of a headache, and dry cottonmouth. I rummaged around and took a shower, then got dressed. Taking a bottle of aspirin in hand I took some and then after a thought, took a few more. It was an eight aspirin headache today. In the mirror I saw a man with that haunted lost look.
I sat around after eating a light breakfast, and waited for either a phone call or Brenda to come home. Around two o'clock she pulled up in the driveway. Walking in, she looked great. Freshly showered and wearing one of my favorite dresses. It was a slinky and tight fitting number that left lots of leg and a bit of chest exposed. In the past Brenda had only worn it when out with me, and even then, only if she wanted to get laid that night.
"Sorry for not getting home last night dear. Marie and I had a few too many and then by the time we got to her place I was real tired, too tired to drive, so I crashed at her place."
"Yeah. Slept until just a little bit ago. Took a quick shower and here I am."
"What's wrong Jeff, you seem upset?"
"Well, I called your cell last night, several times after the first call. It seems that the person who picked up said you were tied up. I told him that I was your husband and he hung up on me. Nobody would pick up after that. Now I see the dress you were wearing and I have to ask myself, did you wear it for some other man? I am also wondering where you wore it at since I drove over to Marie's and neither of you was there. Her place was dark."
Brenda sat down. Too bad she missed the chair. She had turned as I was talking; hearing that I had called and a man had picked up her cell phone, going white in the face. I guess she thought that the easy chair was a bit closer to her than it was, but she missed it by a foot or so.
She didn't move from the floor though. Her hands were on her face and she was crying. I couldn't stand it, as it was plain as day that she had done something she was ashamed of. I got up and stormed out to the garage. I locked the door behind me, and cranked up the stereo as loud as I could stand it.
I didn't accomplish much other than to bang things around for a couple of hours and mostly just cuss at Marie, Brenda and the asshole on the phone from last night. By the time I cooled off and shut down the stereo I had begun to think about my marriage and how it was all unraveling around me. All because of Marie as far as I was concerned.
Before Marie, Brenda and I had been happy and loving to each other. Since Marie we had drawn apart, and now it seemed, Brenda was looking for happiness or satisfaction from another man... or worse... men. In the hours out in my shop I came to the realization that I had probably lost Brenda for good. We were headed for a divorce.
Going into the house I found myself alone. Brenda was gone off somewhere, and I will admit I was thinking she had run to Marie's for support. I went to our bedroom and got a shock when I saw Brenda's dresser drawers open and empty. Looking in the closet I saw just a few items here and there, things she hardly wore anymore. She had left me.
Being that it was a Saturday, I only had the option of online banking available to me, so I went online and began to work out how to move money around and protect myself in case Brenda decided to leave me permanently. I was not going to lose out financially after having worked so many years to build up a nice savings account and bank account.
After that I called a buddy of mine who had been through a divorce and we made a date to get together and talk about Brenda and me. I called our kids and told them things between their mom and I had gotten strained and she may have moved out. My daughter asked me where and I honestly said I didn't know.
A week went by, with me working every day, hard and busy to keep my mind off my downward spiraling home life. At night I would drink and sleep, getting up just in time to shower before heading back to work. That Saturday, one week to the day since the last time I had seen my wife, I met up with my buddy and we talked. He didn't have much advice for me other than what I already sort of knew. Protect my assets first, then worry about her and what she may do... or want or try to do.
I never heard from Brenda the whole week. No phone calls, no stopping by work, nothing. By Saturday night I was certain she had given up on us way before last week, and was now shacked up with some other man. I finally called Marie's house that night too. Marie was home, and quite surprised to find out that Brenda wasn't home with me.
"I thought she was still mad at me and sticking close to home. You haven't seen her at all Jeff? That's not right. What happened between you two?"
"YOU HAPPENED... you... bitch."
"Jeff, that's awful harsh. You don't mean that."
"Yes I do. We were fine until you started taking Brenda out every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. You and your girl's nights out destroyed us Marie. I hope you achieved whatever it was you were aiming for. She's gone and I am sure we are about to get divorced. If she's not with you she must be with that asshole that answered her phone last Friday night."
"Oh. You know about last Friday night then?"
"I know that Saturday afternoon she showed up at home in her 'wanna get laid dress', all freshly showered and then I told her about some strange guy answering her phone and she just sat on the floor and cried. Later on, when I came in from the garage, she had packed her things and left me. So... fuck you Marie. You and your bullshit cost me my wife. Don't ever come around me again. Whore."
I heard her yelling not to hang up, but I was too mad to listen to her. I just wanted to shut everything out. Her, Brenda, that other man, and life in general. Furious didn't describe my feelings or thoughts.
Just hearing Marie on the phone was enough to set me off. I was angry all over again, angry and lost. My wife was off somewhere, I knew not where, and I had no way of fixing things. After shouting into the phone, I slammed it down so hard I broke the handset. Fuck... now I had to buy a new phone on top of everything else. That seemed to open a dam inside me and I found myself on the floor, crying. Like a baby.
It was a while before I decided to get up and go to bed. As I got up I noted that I had been sitting right where Brenda had collapsed on me not such a long time ago. Sleep that night was fitful and full of bad dreams and tossing and turning. By morning I figured I had actually lost on the equation, and would have been far better off just staying up all night drinking.
A dreary Sunday morning greeted me and I was not in any kind of mood to deal with anyone. I ate something to keep my stomach from growling at me, and then just sat in the kitchen drinking coffee. About noontime, I heard a car pull up in our front driveway. Looking out the window I saw my son climbing out.
"Dad... what the heck has gone on around here anyway? Mom came to my place a week ago upset and crying... won't talk to me about anything but that you are going to leave her. What's going on?"
"I told you we were having problems son. Besides, she left me. She packed her things and ran. This is the first I knew where she was at all this time."
"Yeah, mom came to my place. I... uh... well it was kinda embarrassing. I had a friend over and she spent the night... anyway, mom was on my couch in the morning when my friend went to shower so they sort of met, in the worst possible way."
"Oh damn. Sorry about that. I didn't even known where your mom has been. When did she show up at your place anyway?"
"Sunday. After you called and talked to me. She refused to let me call you and talk to you. She wanted me to leave you alone for fear that you'd hunt her down. What's going on dad? You're not going to hurt her are you?"
I was tired. It had been a week of worry and stress like none I'd ever had before. Now my son had to drive over three hundred miles on a Sunday to ask me what was going on and why his mom was at his place refusing to let him talk to me.
"Look, last week she went out with your Aunt Marie."
"Mom told me about that. She ended up missing your call and somehow you got real angry about it. What got into you? Why would you do that?"
"She missed my call? That's what she told you? That she just missed my call?"
"Yeah. She told me that she missed a call you made that someone else intercepted it before she knew about it. Then she said you got real mad at her. She was afraid so she ran."
"That isn't quite correct. She missed telling you some important details."
"Then why don't you tell me what happened dad?"
"Last Friday night your mom went out with your Aunt Marie like clockwork. I was in the garage working on a few things for a while. I came in about eleven and found your mom wasn't home yet. I saw she had left a message on the phone that I had missed. She told me she had too much to drink and was going to stay at Marie's."
"Okay, she told me that part. About the message I mean."
"Yeah? Well, when she left the message I replayed it to make sure I understood it right."
"I've seen you do that lots of times. You always replay messages like that."
"I replayed it and in the background I heard men's voices. That worried me, so I called your mom's cell phone. It rang nine times, and then some strange guy picked up. I asked to speak to her and he told me she was tied up at the moment, to call back tomorrow afternoon. I told him I was her husband and to put her on now. He hung up on me after telling me to fuck off."
"Oh shit. Mom sort of sugar coated that part. So... mom cheated on you?"
"To be honest, I'm not sure what happened son. She left before we talked about it, but she was acting guilty as hell about something. I haven't talked to her since Saturday afternoon."
"You two need to talk to each other. Can you come over to my place and talk? I'll be there for either of you, and my new girlfriend will be there too. You need to at least talk about what's going on. You have too many good years together to just toss them away like this dad."
"I'll talk... but will your mother?"
"If you show up, I'll make sure she is there. Uh... just come as you are dad...no guns or weapons or junk okay? I mean, I know you're mad and everything and your talk may ignite more anger between you two... but you need to work things out, or figure out what you're going to do. You can't stew on this for very long, neither of you."
"I'll follow you home."
"Why don't you just hop in and ride with me?"
"What if your mom and I can't work things out at your place Mark?"
"I'll make sure you get home okay dad. Trust me."
During the drive to my son's place I realized that I still had some love for Brenda. Even if she had cheated on me, I think that right at that moment I was willing to try to work things out with her. When we got to Mark's place he parked and we went inside. His girlfriend was sitting with Brenda and when I walked in they both got up, looking nervous.