It was well past two in the morning Saturday by the time Sherry made her way back home. Sherry had started her partying Friday right after work, when she, along with a few of her friends, decided to celebrate the weekend at a bar they frequented often. They had been tipping more than a few as well as dancing, until the combination of the two got to be too much for even her. Thank God, she hadn't driven or she would have had to call Steve to pick her up again, then listen to him rant and rave all the way home. It wasn't unusual for her to be this late; in fact it had become pretty commonplace over the last year or so. Oh well, her husband was probably sleeping, as usual, but it wasn't beneath her to make more than enough noise to wake his ass up, in fact she kind of enjoyed doing that. She had really become a vindictive bitch, she thought to herself with that drunken smirk still plastered on her face.
Staggering up the stairs she passed the guest room and kept on walking. It wasn't really walking, more so just putting one foot in front of the other as she made her way down the dark hallway. By the time she hit the master bedroom, she was sliding her shoulder against the wall to make sure she kept herself upright. Pushing the door open with her foot, Sherry saw that her bedside table lamp was on, and more surprisingly, the bed were empty.
"Where in the hell is he?" her brain asked, shooting an impulse to her legs to check out the bathroom. After checking the rest of the upstairs and finding no one, she headed back downstairs. There was a dim light on in the kitchen, and she thought that maybe he'd fallen asleep at the kitchen table waiting up for her.
No such luck, but Sherry did find that the hood light over the stove had been left on. "That son of a bitch is going to hear it from me when he gets home, making me worry like this." That's when she saw some stuff piled on the counter. Sherry almost didn't bother with it, thinking she would wait until morning, but something shiny caught her eye.
Pulling one of the high top chairs back from the counter she flopped down in it and scooted it up to the counter. She fumbled and finally picked it up; it was Steve's damn ring. Not just any ring—it was his wedding ring.
Rolling it around with her fingers even her numb brain figured out this wasn't normal. Stacked underneath was a bunch of papers and things she started to sort through. Her passport, what looked like some kind of ticket, and a sealed envelope. Sherry looked at her watch, two thirty. Maybe she'd wait until Steve got home so he could explain this all to her. She folded her arms on the counter, laid her heavy head down on them, and was asleep in no more than a minute or two.
How Sherry ended up on the floor she wasn't certain, but hitting the floor will wake up anyone, drunk or not. Rubbing her face, she glanced at her watch, five forty-five. That damn Steve, he came home and left her sleeping on the counter. Getting to her feet she charged up the stairs to wake his ass up, but like before he wasn't there.
This time she didn't stagger, but swiftly walked back down the stairs and into the kitchen. Sherry hit the overhead light and now everything was illuminated by the bright recessed kitchen lighting.
"What the hell's going on?" she thought, as she opened the door to the garage and saw that Steve's car was still missing. Looking over at the counter she again saw the pile of items.
She hadn't used her passport in years, she thought, as she looked at the old outdated photo. The ticket was an airline ticket to Florida, and the final piece was an envelope with her name on it. Tearing into it she pulled out two pages. Sherry ran to the bedroom for the reading glasses she kept on her night table, taking the letter with her. She went back down into the kitchen, sat at the counter and started to read.
If you're reading this, you've figured out I'm not at home, and you've found everything I've left for you.
I know you have heard it in bars, especially over the last couple of years for sure. About a half hour before they're ready to close they'll yell out 'last call." This, my dear wife, is your last call.
You, of all people, won't be surprised when I say that our marriage isn't working and hasn't been for a long time. I'd like to say I'm willing to let it go on like it has for the past couple of years, but that's not what is going to happen.
As I see it we have basically two choices. One, you can get off your ass, scoop up those documents and join me for a hard week of trying to save what's left of our marriage. If you choose that route I'll meet your plane and we can go on from that point. Option two isn't quite as nice. We separate, split everything fifty fifty and end what has become a sham of a marriage. I'm not really sure I wouldn't prefer to see option two happen, but because I still have feelings for you, not a lot of feelings anymore, but something is still there, I am willing to give it one more try.
I'm not going to write a long dissertation on how we got to this point and who's fault it is or was, I'm just going to say that I can't continue on the path you've chosen for us.
Sherry stopped reading for a moment and looked around the room. This was a joke, it had to be. Steve didn't have the balls to do what he had written. She knew any minute now he would be walking through the door, his tail tucked between his legs, asking for forgiveness like he always did.
"This is the thanks I get for being too easy on him," Sherry thought to herself. "If he thinks he can scare me by threatening a divorce, he is sadly mistaken." She decided to finish reading his stupid letter as long as she'd gotten this far.
Sherry, we've had some great times in the past and raised two wonderful children, but as they say you can't stay in a bad marriage just for the sake of the kids. They're on their own now and making their own lives with the people they have chosen. I think if we're both willing to give a little, we can find what we had when we first met. I'm not saying it will be easy, but it's necessary if our marriage is to survive.
"Crap, crap, crap," is what she said, tossing the letter on the counter. "I gave that man my virtue and everything else I had, and he now says it's not enough? As God is my witness he is going to pay for this when he comes home," Sherry said aloud to the empty room. "If he wasn't such a sniveling little wimp and had even the resemblance of a backbone, then maybe I wouldn't have to push him all the time. If it weren't for me, he would still be a frigging route salesman instead of moving up the ranks like he has. He should be on his knees kissing my feet instead of giving me ultimatums. Who does he think he is and for that matter who does he think he's talking to? His damn mother?" Sherry was getting worked up now, like she always did when Steve didn't do exactly what she wanted him to do. She went back to reading.
Like I said, Sherry, I'll meet you at the plane, and we can try to start our lives over again, but you need to make sure you're on that plane.
Sherry looked at the ticket. "There's no way in hell I can make that damn flight; it leaves in just three hours," she said, looking at her watch. "Won't Mr. High and Mighty be surprised when I'm not on the damn plane," she said, spinning his wedding ring on the counter. "And if he thinks he's getting this ring back when he finally comes home he's sadly mistaken. He's going to have to earn it back," she snickered, thinking about all the ugly things she was going to make him do. When she spun the ring and it fell onto the floor she just left it there. She was tired. After a long night of partying with her friends she needed sleep. She would deal with her husband later—and at her convenience.
Sherry didn't take the time to read the rest of the letter because if she had, she would have seen if she wasn't on the plane a whole list of items, that had already been put in the works, would happen starting in just a few short hours.
Later that morning Sherry was nursing a cup of coffee at the kitchen table, vowing never to drink again, when Steve's two brothers, Chris and Jack, walked through the front door.
"Excuse me, you two can't just walk into my house, even if you are Steve's damn brothers."
"Go ahead and finish your coffee. We're just here to pick up a few items my brother wanted us to get for him," Chris said, looking at his piece of shit sister-in-law.
"All right, go ahead, and you can tell him from me that he is in a world of deep shit when he comes home."
They never responded, just ran up the stairs with a box of black trash bags. Three trips was all it took, and they were gone without saying another word to Sherry.
"They could have at least said thank you," Sherry mumbled to herself, finishing her second cup, now thinking about breakfast or maybe lunch looking up at the clock.
After her lunch she went shopping with her friends, and since Steve wasn't around they made a night of it again. She never made it home. She woke up on Carol's couch Sunday afternoon praying for death. For the second time in two days she swore off the booze, but that would only last until she sobered up and felt better.
"Steve's probably at home right now wondering where the hell I am. He can just think the worst, it'll serve him right." She went back to sleep.
To further teach Steve a lesson, Sherry spitefully was going to stay over at Carol's Sunday night too, but she really needed to get home. She had to be at work Monday morning, and didn't have a change of clothes.
When she walked into a still empty house, Sherry got mad all over again. "He can run, but he can't hide forever," she said under her breath, planning even more ugly things when she saw him the next time.
Sunday night was quiet, too quiet. She was reading in bed and for the first time thought about Steve and not in an ugly manner. "Maybe I'll give him a little when he finally decides to come home. It's been a while and I know how much he loves to go down on me." That thought made her feel something deep down inside—not love mind you, but what it felt like after Steve got her off. She woke up late Monday morning with her book still on her lap.
Monday she was running late. Steve had always made sure her ass was up and moving, so this morning without him, Sherry got to work a half hour late. It was a busy Monday, as always, and if it weren't for Carol asking when Steve had finally shown up, she probably wouldn't have given it a second thought. That is until ten fifty-four when a man in a suit walked up to Sherry and handed her an envelope.
"Mrs. Sherry Moore, you've been served," was all he said. When she took the envelope he turned around and walked back out the way he came in.
"That bastard," she said out loud. "He's gone too far now, that little prick is going to pay big time for embarrassing me at work like this," she screamed on the inside, looking around to see how many people saw her getting served.
At lunch Carol and Sherry looked over the papers.
"He is really not asking for much of anything. Fifty percent of the savings, his 401k, and you get to keep the house. Looks like he just wants out," Carol said, scanning the five-page document.
"He's not going to get a damn thing. By the time I'm done with him, he'll wish he'd never met me." She was spewing the venom she normally saved just for Steve.
During lunch Sherry looked at their bank accounts on line. She found that fifty percent of all their money had been withdrawn. When she called over to the bank all they would tell her was Steve had withdrawn the money and they had no record of any additional accounts in his name. It was obvious to Sherry he had taken the money and opened his own account at another bank. On the way home from work Sherry stopped at the bank and also opened up a new account in her own name only. "Two can play this game," she thought, driving to her empty house.
Sherry went into the kitchen, poured herself a tall glass of wine, and walked over to the counter where she had left Steve's letter and everything else two days before. She picked it up and reread it with more interest than she had early Saturday morning. She came to the part where she had left off and continued to read.
Sherry, if you're not on that flight, I guess I'll have my answer and the following things are going to happen. I've already removed everything I wanted out of the house, excluding the rest of my clothes. My brothers will be there sometime Saturday to collect whatever is left. Monday you will be served with the divorce papers I had made up months ago. Like I said, this is your last call and if you're not here with me Saturday, well then, it's over. I'll be fair, but if you contest it, it'll get ugly and I don't think either of us wants that. Also, in case you're concerned, our kids have known that we've had a marriage in name only for years and shouldn't be too surprised. And our families? Well, they're surprised we're still together.
That's all I've got to say until I see you in person or not.
If not, have a good life, and believe it or not I don't wish you any ill will. I hope you find whatever makes you happy.
Your husband, Steve
Sherry looked at the airline ticket and the rest of the documents. "Shit!" was the first word that came to her mind.
On Sunday morning, a couple of thousand miles away, Steve was sitting on a lounge chair playing with the new toy he had purchased the week before.
"I'm sorry," she said, looking over at Steve.
"Don't be, it was mostly my own fault. If I hadn't given in to her all these years and stood my ground we wouldn't be in this mess now, or maybe we would have. Who knows? I don't care anymore. I'm just glad it's finally over."
"Did you really think she was going to come?"
"No, but I told my kids I was going to give it one more shot," Steve said, still going through the iPad menu looking for the books he had previously downloaded. "You're just happy we won't be using both cabins now."
"Well, if you want, we can switch cabins every night, that way we'll always have a clean bed to mess up," Donna said, pulling Steve to her, and giving him a kiss with more than a little tongue.
Donna worked with Steve for the last ten years, and had watched him slowly get more and more unhappy in his marriage. Her own husband died eight years ago, and Steve had been someone to vent her frustrations to when she reached the end of her rope as she did on many occasions. He was a sensitive friend, telling her that it would get easier day-by-day, and if she ever needed someone to talk to he was always available. He became her sounding board.
However, Steve wasn't always so gentle and nice, more than once he had to kick her in the ass.
"Your husband died, you didn't. Randy wouldn't have wanted you to give up on life. Grieve for him, then move on. You're young, good looking, and have a lot to offer. Any man would be lucky to have you." That seemed like an eternity ago.
The card she gave him three years ago had only two words on it, 'Thank You.' It was left on his desk unsigned, but Steve knew whom it was from.
Two years ago the roles reversed. Donna started to listen to Steve's problems, and when asked gave him her advice. There was nothing physical going on between the two of them, though Donna knew she'd jump his bones in a heartbeat given half the chance. So they became close friends who came to depend more and more on each other.
Nine months ago Steve came into work on Monday with fire and brimstone coming out of every orifice. It was Sherry this and Sherry that, and he was finished with the ungrateful bitch. Still Donna did nothing. She gave advice, but Sherry was pushing the envelope. It got so bad that Donna was ready to put a bullet between Sherry's eyes herself to ease Steve's pain. Then out of the blue came Steve's offer, a one-week paid vacation on the Carnival Glory, except there was a catch, separate cabins. Donna was confused.
"It's my last ditch effort to save what's left of my marriage, although I'm almost one hundred percent sure Sherry is going to let it slip between her fingers like everything else. Even if she decides to grace me with her presence, I want you there on the ship, in the other cabin, when I finally get it through my thick skull it's over." Donna smiled, said she'd love to go, and the two of them made the plans together.
They waited together at the Southwest airline gate number twenty-six. When the pilot and crew finally walked off of the plane Steve was relieved. He grabbed a shocked Donna and kissed her once lightly then again with a lot more feeling.
"I've wanted to do that for years." He did it one more time before saying they had a boat to catch. They checked into their prospective rooms, and then sat on deck looking at all the things that were going to be offered over the next seven glorious days.
Steve switched Donna's dinner table reservation. They decided not to book any excursions. "Maybe on their next cruise," Donna told Steve with a smile.
They spent the rest of the day walking the ship, had a wonderful time at dinner, and at the dance clubs afterwards. It was close to one a.m. before the two had to address the sleeping arrangements. The first night they slept alone in their own cabins.
"That is the last time I ever sleep alone again," Steve informed Donna at breakfast. When he slipped a promissory ring on her finger he told her they would take it a day at a time until the divorce became final. Donna was walking on air with her head in the clouds. And when they spent the night together Sunday, it was better than he though it could ever be. Steve was happy again.
On the last day of the cruise, Donna said they should just hide in their cabin and do it all over again. Steve loved the thought of it, but knew it couldn't be.
"Two people are expected back at work Monday, and I don't think either of our bosses would understand." He was right, but she could ask, couldn't she?
Donna said he could move in with her. As tempting as that was, Steve chose to live, for now, with his brother Chris, while the divorce wound it's way through the courts.
Sherry called him every name in the book, and threatened him with everything she could. Steve just smiled and never let it bother him. He was happy. Whether she liked it or not the divorce was granted and the ninety-day waiting period, until it became final, began.
Their children grew tired of all their mother's tirades saying that maybe, just maybe, if she had treated him like a loving husband, instead of a door mat, they would still be married. Sherry didn't talk to either of them for a month.
Ten days before their divorce became final, Sherry saw the engagement announcement in the paper and sent an ugly e-mail to Steve. The day after his divorce became final, Donna and Steve exchanged vows with just a few people present, which included his two children, his parents, Donna's sister, and her mother and father. Steve became even happier everyday.
A month later, Sherry was sitting in the bar along with what was left of her friends. At about one thirty the bartender rang the big bell behind the bar.
"Last call," he yelled out.
"If only!" Sherry said to herself with just a hint of a tear. "If only."