The Surprise

Submitted by Sandra Lester to Contest #5 in response to: Write a story about someone who is tired of their day-to-day routines.... view prompt

The bright morning sun was rising from the East through the bay window where Sally Jo Martin sat, in her big, comfy recliner, sipping her morning coffee.  Outside the open window, she could hear the birds singing cheerfully as they flitted about her front yard. Inside, she wished that she had that same freedom the birds were sharing so early in the morning. Yet, she was up, about to embark on her daily routine. 

  

In the beginning, Sally Jo had enjoyed the wonderful life that she'd basically fallen into when she met Jared Wilkes. Their dating life had seemed like a fantastic whirlwind. They'd traveled abroad, seeing many things that a young woman her age only dreamed of doing. The resorts, the food, the entertainment, the big city lights, the dancing, and all that came with the prestigious job in which Jared held at his office was magnificent.   

  

She sipped her coffee, listening once again, to the song of the birds. She remembered many moonlit walks that Jared had led her on, the morning champagne breakfasts, the elegant lunches and dinners that he'd take her to.   

  

Jared Wilkes was a hard catch. Every young woman in Gentry county wanted Jared as their beau. He had the money, the brains, the life, the charm, personality and charisma that caused a young girl to give away her heart to him. That's what happened with Sally Jo.   

  

They met at a college frat party, where he'd found her sitting in a chair after her friend had deserted her. He'd sat down and they talked into the morning hours. Everyone else had passed out, except for her and Jared. After that, they were inseparable. All the women were jealous of her, and some showed it.   

  

College seemed like eons ago to Sally Jo. Jared, on bent knee, a beautiful engagement ring in hand, asked her to marry him on the beach at their favorite resort one balmy summer night, just as the sun was setting on the horizon. She had felt like she was riding on a cloud. 

  

Sometimes, she found herself wishing for those good old days again, when life was full of fun, excitement, and travel. Hers and Jared's fifth anniversary was soon to be arriving.  It was hard to believe that five years had gone by. After a year and a half, she got pregnant with their daughter, Mattie, short for Mattelin.   

  

She could her Mattie moving about in her bedroom, awake from her afternoon nap. Sally Jo sighed, rising from the comfortable chair and headed toward Mattie's room. Mattie was quietly playing with her toys in the corner of her room.  Sally Jo stood in the doorway, watching the child trying to put a square block in a round circle.    

  

After changing Mattie's diaper, she pulled the golden-haired child into her arms, hoisting her onto one hip. After putting things away, she picked up the dirty diaper with Mattie on her hip and headed to the kitchen to make Mattie some breakfast. The kitchen was a cluttered mess from the night before when Sally Jo didn't feel like cleaning up the dinner dishes.   

  

She put Mattie into the high chair sitting near the table, and gave her a handful of dry cereal to eat until her breakfast was made. Instead of getting right to making the breakfast, Sally Jo sat down next to Mattie, watching her eat the cereal. Sally Jo's mind drifted. 

  

It wasn't as though Sally Jo was bored with her life. She wasn't. Mattie kept her busy enough to keep her mind occupied. Yet, the days weren't much different from one another. After breakfast, Sally Jo would give Mattie a bath, letting her play in the bubbles. She would, then, sit Mattie in her playpen while she cleaned the house. 

  

If it were nice out, then Sally Jo would go for a walk with Mattie, soaking up the warm sun whenever she could. She'd read books to Mattie after the walk, until it was lunch time. After Mattie finished eating, it was naptime. In the early days, Sally Jo would sleep along with Mattie, but found a passion for exercise, which is what fills that time.   

  

The afternoon would be much the same as the morning routine. Jared came home just before dinner, sit and eat, play with Mattie for a short while, retreat into his den to do paperwork that he'd have to finish, and then they both retired for the night. It seemed like a record that had been broken, repeating itself over and over.   

  

There were no more fun, exciting times. Jared had become a workaholic. Sally Jo felt that even their intimate life was slowly slipping away. She sometimes felt guilty feeling like she did. She loved being a mother, and she loved being a wife. She loved that she could stay at home instead of work, as Jared's income sufficed.   

  

Yet, no matter how beautiful her life seemed, she was suffering from the everyday blah's. She couldn’t shake the feeling. What was becoming of her life? Was she going to be one of those women that she had read about in the tabloids where their rich husband was off having an affair with some young receptionist, leaving his wife and children at home, while he continued to travel and go do fun, exciting things.  Was this what was going on behind her back, she suddenly wondered.   

 

Jared seemed to have all these business meetings in other cities. He’d claimed that his company was growing, and it was important that he be in all these places because that’s where they were opening new offices. While she believed him, she was skeptical. Especially when he wouldn’t answer his phone in the evening, or ended the phone call abruptly for a business call.  He’d been staying at the office later and later, as of recently also.   

 

Sally Jo couldn’t fathom that her husband Jared would be doing anything like that. Yet, her mind couldn’t help to wonder. She felt that it was her duty, as his wife, to trust him, but somehow, there was always this little glint of distrust in her heart. She tried and tried to put the thoughts in the back of her mind whenever he was late or away.   

 

It wasn’t as though there were any telltale signs of an affair whenever he wasn’t busy. He still managed to look into her eyes the same, sweet way he always had before.  He never deviated from the way he showed affection toward Mattie whenever he’d have the time to play with her. There was no hang-up calls late at night. He never had a different scent on him when he’d come through the door.  What in the world was Sally Jo thinking?   

 

Sally Jo’s birthday was coming up. She was turning 35. She’d been having a lot of self-doubts about becoming older.  Was she still attractive to Jared as she’d been when they met?  He never expressed his feelings anymore.  She worried that her age was something that bothered him.  They were ten years in age difference, her being the older of the two. She looked into the mirror examining her face.   

 

She’d been lucky enough to have good skin tone, where no fine wrinkles were showing. Her hair was still the same glossy, auburn color that it had always been. There were a few silver hairs, but not enough to be noticed. She had always been a health-conscious woman, and had gotten back to her pre-baby weight and body quickly and easily after Mattie was born. Her blue-green eyes always sparkled brightly. She couldn’t see where Jared wouldn’t be attracted to her still.  Her mind came back to reality when Mattie started fussing from her bedroom.   

 

Nothing, whatsoever, had prepared her for what she experienced the day of her birthday. She’d taken Mattie and gone shopping.  She bought Mattie and her matching dresses for Easter Sunday. She’d walked around the mall window shopping for another hour. As she approached her house, she could see cars parked everywhere along the side of the street. She figured that one of her neighbors was having a party. Sally Jo pulled into the garage attached to her house, gathered the bags and Mattie, heading into the house.   

 

When she walked in, it was silent. Jared should have been home. He hadn’t told her he’d be gone at any time.  Her heart sunk to the floor. Why wasn’t he home? This wasn’t like him.  Maybe his car was being fixed at the garage or something, that would explain why he was gone. She walked through the kitchen and called out his name. There was no response.  She was heading into Mattie’s room to change her clothes.   

 

Out of every corner, and every door, someone was coming out, loudly calling out, “Surprise!”.  Sally Jo almost fainted because she hadn’t expected anyone.  Many members of her family, and friends were gathering around her. Jared came from the kitchen, carrying a big, chocolate frosted cake, candles burning brightly.  It all made sense to her now. The secretive manner he’d been, the late nights. He’d been planning her birthday party.    


The smile on her face lit up. She couldn't believe her eyes when she saw familiar faces coming toward her to hug her. Instantly, she felt guilty for doubting Jared as she had. The table, which had been empty when she'd gotten back home, was now filled with colorfully wrapped gifts. She looked into Jared's eyes, and knew that the boredom she'd been experiencing recently was going to change for the better.

 

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