Jill could hear the phone ringing, and the timing could not have been worse. Her head ached, and after a full day at work, had to get the kids, Jake and Jen, fed, then put to bed. She had no time to stop and take a call. She heard her husband Matt telling the kids to go to their rooms and play, and shouted that he would grab the call. Jill wondered who in the world would call at this time of the night, Trying to get a hint as to who the caller was, she turned off the overhead fan above the stove.. Matt was talking, but she could not hear him. He had hung up, and came in the kitchen, looking shocked. “Honey, we need to talk. Come sit down.” Jill instantly felt sick. Following her husband to the kitchen table, they sat down and Marc grabbed her hand.

“Well, there isn’t any easy way to say this, so I will just tell you. I am in some serious trouble, and have to leave for a while.” Jill asked him a question, but Matt raised his hand, showing to her to wait. “I don’t want to go into any details, plausible deniability can be important to have.” Matt was confusing and scaring her. “I need to head out now, and will call you from a burner phone when I am safe. I have to leave my phone here, in case the SIM card is being tracked. I will answer all your questions soon, but I need to go pack and get out of here.” With that, Marc stood up and went to pack. Jill sat, dumbfounded, but she knew Marc, and he would tell her when he could.

Matt came into the kitchen twenty minutes later, holding two suitcases and his laptop bag. He gave her a brief hug, and left. Jill watched him get in his car look frantically around. He started the car and left quickly. Jill could only watch and hope to hear from him soon.


Days had passed, and Jill was sick with worry that someone might show up at her door demanding to see Marc. She told the kids that daddy was on a business trip and would be home soon. She had not gotten a call from Matt yet, and was distraught. If it weren’t for Jake and Jen, she would loose her mind. Keeping them fed, and making sure homework got done took up most her evenings, and her work kept her busy during the day. It was the evenings without him when she felt the most vulnerable and sad. Had the people looking for him found him? Was he hurt? She prayed that he would call soon.

Jill was about to get off work, and was making plans in her head for dinner. What should she make? The kids loved eating homemade pizza, so she would hit the local grocer’s and grab some shredded cheese and a pre-made pizza crust, the one the kids loved most. Shutting down her computer, she made her way to her friend’s office next door. “Marcy, I’m heading out for the evening, and since I wasn’t able to reach Mr. Prentis today, if he calls, send me a text.” Marcy nodded, and waved goodbye to her. Headed to her car, Jill’s phone starting to ring.

“Hello?” Jill waited a few seconds, and heard no response. Assuming it was a bad connection, she was about to hang up and drop her phone in her purse. “You don’t know me, but I know you. I have some information than you just might like to know.” The male caller did not sound familiar to her. “Uhm, okay? Could you tell me what the information is regarding?” With a sinking feeling, she thought it might be about Matt. “I know where your husband is, and can tell you where to find him. Here’s the address.” Quickly opening her Google Map app, she typed in the address he rattled off to her. “Thank yo...” The line was already dead.

Driving for an hour, Jill was wondering what in the world was going on. No word from Matt for months, and a caller telling her where to go to find him. Was Matt having a friend lead her to him, because it still wasn't safe to call her himself? A thousand possibilities ran through her mind, all the same thoughts she had been having since the day Matt had packed and left the house. Paying attention to the GPS, she turned and was sitting in front of a Wal-Mart. “Well, I guess I will pick up things to make dinner, and my husband, “ she thought to herself, a smile on her face. Turning of the car and getting out, she locked the door and entered the store.

Jill didn’t know where to go. Thinking to call the number back on her caller ID, would the man tell her where to meet Matt? Was she to go to any specific place? As she looked in her purse to get her phone, her eyes caught a familiar figure in the distance. Was that Matt? No, it was a man walking with a woman and two small kids. He just looked like Matt from behind. She decided she would do the shopping and just look for Matt as she shopped. Walking to the dairy aisle, she turned the corner and came face to face with Matt. He was the man she had seen. He was holding the hand of a two year old little girl, and the woman had a baby in her arms and was holding the hand of a young boy.

Matt looked confused, and his eyes narrowed to small slits. “Matt, what’s going on?” Jill demanded. Matt didn’t look happy to see her, but angry. “Jill, this is not what I wanted. I mean, I wanted it, but didn’t want you to find out about it like this. Or at all.” Jill, hurt and confused, could not even think. Seeing red as she realized that he had left her for another woman, and had kids, too, was too much for her. “Who in the hell do you think you are, Matt? You tell me some cockamamie story about needing to go on the run, yet here you are, with another woman and her kids. Were you laughing at me the last six months, knowing I was at home waiting for you with our kids?” Matt didn’t respond, and pulled the little girl forward with him, trying to pass her. Jill grabbed his arm, refusing to let go. “Matt, you owe me an explanation. Do our kids and I not matter to you? Why did you do this?”

Matt pushed her hand off his arm, and kept walking. Looking over his shoulder as he walked away from her he said, “Jill. Some people in this world get what they deserve. I know that for years you cheated on me. A year ago I wanted to know for sure if Jake was mine, and had DNA tests run on him. Big shocker, they are my kids, all except Jake, as if you didn’t already know. I have moved on, found another woman and started a new life, one that you are not welcome in.” With that, he and his little family turned the corner and left her in the aisle, stunned.

Behind her came the voice she had heard on her phone. Turning to see who it was, she instantly recognized someone she had not seen in years. It was her ex-boyfriend. She had gotten pregnant by him right before her marriage to Matt, and hid the pregnancy, telling Matt she must have gotten pregnant on the honeymoon. He looked at her with sympathy and something she couldn’t make out in his eyes. “I knew you would be happy to find out where he was, and you could see it really is over with him. He never wanted you after finding out Jake wasn’t his son. I wish I could say I feel sorry for you, but I don’t. You didn’t even have the decency to tell me, either. Have a good life.” He turned and walked off.

Resigned, Jill grabbed the ingredients for pizza, checked out and headed home. Getting into her car, she felt like such a fool. She had convinced herself that Jake was Matt’s, and really loved him. This was devastating. What would she do now? Arriving home two hours later, the kid’s school bus was just arriving and was dropping the kid’s off. “Mommy!” Jake was running full tilt at her, and she caught him in her arms, fighting back a sob. “Hey, sweetie. How was school?’ Her daughter hugged her from behind, and they all walked in together to the house. They were blabbering about their day, art projects, band, and their friends. Jill was half-listening. “And when daddy walked in, all my friends were so excited!” Jake was saying. What? Did he say his father had been at his school? “Wait, did you say daddy was at your school?” Jake looked at his feet, suddenly scared that he had said the wrong thing. “Daddy comes every day., but he told me not to tell you.” It enraged Jill. Why would he not want to be in her life, knowing Jake wasn’t his, but all this time was coming to see him?

“Daddy told us if you knew he was coming every day to see us at school that you get mad,” Jen said. Jill didn’t know what to say, so she waited to see if her daughter or son had anything to add. Jake began talking again, and as hard as it was to focus, she looked at him. “Mommy, Daddy said that even if I wasn’t really his, he still loved and missed me, and that me and Jen would be with him soon, and we shouldn’t talk about it.” Oh, no! Did that mean he was planning to take them from her? Nodding, she made dinner while they talked to her, but she was trying to think about what he might, or might not, do.

Dinner dishes washed and put up, she got the kids bathed and in bed. Going to her room, she was so tired she lay on her bed without even changing her clothes. Beside the bed was her ever-present bottle of water, and she grabbed it and downed it. Turning on the t.v., she tuned into an old Family Matters re-run. As she watched, she drifted off to sleep, unable to keep her eyes open any longer.

A phone was ringing somewhere, and she jerked awake. Her phone was in the kitchen, in her purse. Running to answer it, she grabbed her purse and dug it out. “Hello?” she breathed into the phone. “Jill.” It was Matt. She had just woken up and was still foggy, but recognized his voice. It seemed different than she had remembered it. Funny what a few months can do to your memory. “JIll? Are you there?” “Yes, I’m here. What are you calling about? Didn’t you say you didn’t want me in your life? So, why call? Or, go every day to our kid’s school and visit them?” “Jill, listen to me. I hate to wake you up and hit you with this, but I have the kids, and you will never see them again.”

Jill feel to her knees, unable to fully comprehend what Matt was telling her. “What?’ Was all Jill could squeak out. “I have the kid’s. I came and took them last night. I doctored your water and when you fell asleep, I came in and got the kids. We will never see you again, and I am just telling you so you don’t panic and think a stranger has them. I will take care of them and raise them, along side my other three kids. They will be happy and loved. Not saying that you wouldn’t do a good job raising them, but I want my kids and refuse to drag our dirty laundry out in public, fighting for months on end in a courtroom. The kids say they love you, and I just wanted to inform you that they are with me. Goodbye.”

He had disconnected the line before she could say or ask anything. Sitting there on the floor, she cried. After a few minutes, she calmed down and thought maybe this was just a cruel joke. Making her way down the hall to Jake’s room, she flung the door open to find it was empty. The closet door was open, and all that was in it were empty hangers, and Jen’s room was the same.

For days, Jill walked the empty house, wondering into the kid’s rooms again and again, hoping to see them sitting on the bed, as if it all had been a bad dream. She fell into a deep depression. Since it had been days since she left her house, she drank herself to sleep and hoped that the next day would bring her relief.  

On the fourth day of her kids being gone and her life falling apart, she woke, showered and made some food for herself. she had not eaten all day, S itting at the kitchen table, waiting for one of Jake’s hot pockets to be heat in the microwave, the phone beside her starting ringing. She threw it across the room. What good was a phone, anyway?

February 29, 2020 00:16

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