Drama Sad

This is all my fault.

I mean, not really, unless praying with every fiber in my being that the worst, and yet best, case scenario of how this story would end is then, I guess, it is my fault.

To be fair, he didn’t have to emotionally cheat on me with three other “women”. I use the term loosely because when you read the text messages, the woman are clearly cat-fishers only saying what they need to say to pump up some weak-minded man’s ego in order to extort money. But he did. At least three times. Over the course of the last 10 months. That I know of or can prove anyway.

All of which I never would have known had he not had, not one, but two, serious medical events requiring emergency surgery. As he laid in his hospital bed, feeling frail and full of pain, I dutifully helped him text his clients he was going to be out of commission for work for the next 6 to 8 weeks. One by one, I texted each client the same message. “Hello (fill in the blank), this is Rita, Greg’s wife. He’s had to undergo an emergency surgery and won’t be returning to the job site for the next few weeks. I will be contacting you shortly regarding the current state of your project and when it may be completed. Thanks for your understanding.”

I had done this, 5 or 6 times already before, basically copying and pasting the same message over and over and just replacing the client’s name at the top of the message. I opened up the next message, prepared to repeat the process, when it immediately became clear this person was not a client.

No, this text thread was much more interesting than remodeling a bathroom, tiling a floor, or installing a toilet. This thread was all about how unhappy he was in his marriage. The void he needed to fill. The dirty house he came home to everyday. The lazy son who never mows the lawn or brings the trash cans in from the road.

I knew I couldn’t, or rather didn’t want to, deal with this situation in his hospital room under the circumstances. I was humiliated and angry. It wasn’t the time or the place. He had only been recovering from the first surgery for a couple of days and was still on heavy pain meds. The fate of my marriage was going to have to wait.

I decided to take his phone home with me that night. I wanted to take my time and really read the text thread from the beginning. A bit masochistic, but without the gratification. I could not believe what I read. And what I saw. Pictures from them, which I quickly image googled, and found out were random pictures used in porn sites. They weren’t nude pictures, just suggestive. Then there were pictures he sent them. Selfies taken at work. Selfies taken with the home gym he never used in real life. A topless post shower pic with his chest all puffed out.

You know what they say about opening Pandora’s box. It the same for your significant other’s phone. Don’t look unless you’re prepared for what you’ll see.

There were three of these text threads to different “women” which were probably some genius phone hacks or whatever sitting at a desk with a bunch of phones or a computer texting random romantic and ego stroking phrases to weak men to get money from them. I can hear them at work, “We caught one!” Hooray!

It gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective. I checked his browsing history. REALLY don’t look there unless you’re prepared. As a writer, I’m sure people might be disturbed by my google searches for certain things; however, they would make sense in context. The google searches on his phone did not belong there.

Plenty of Fish. No judgement for those using dating websites. Unless, of course, you’re married. Yes, I checked to see if he had an account. No, I didn’t find one. I know what you’re thinking. No, he’s not that clever to have a secondary email to hide this stuff. Hello?! I think we’ve already established he leaves things right where I can find them.

Random porn sites. No judgement for those using porn sites for a little help. Even if you’re married. Some couple like to look together. Apparently, my husband likes to look at them because he felt unfulfilled by my medical condition from three years ago which had been cleared up the last couple of years and things were going fine in that department. Well, I guess, not fine? He was looking at porn during the middle of the day when he was supposed to be working. Anyway, first I heard he was feeling unfulfilled.

People looking to hook up near me. No judgement for those looking to hook up. There are apps to help people with that. Unless, of course, you’re married.

Sex workers near me. No judgement against sex work. The oldest profession and some people just need sex without all the hoops of a relationship. Maybe you’re not in a relationship but you need sex and you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of emotionally relating to someone enough to actually score. I totally get it. Transactional sex has its place. Unless, of course, you’re married. (To be honest, I always felt like dating was sort of like sex work. Guys are paying for dates and gifts hoping to have sex with someone. I know women who do the same. Marriage is still sort of like sex work, except without the dates and gifts.)

The last two really concerned me because it brings the safety of my health in question. I mean, the whole thing concerns me but the last two especially because if he actually met up with strangers, I have no way of knowing how clean or disease free these people are. If they used protection or whatever. I think even a blow job could leave lasting consequences. I have since gotten tested for STDs, which was quite humiliating, and the results came back negative. Yay!

And so began the quest for more information. I was never that person before this. I respected people’s privacy. Their phone was none of my business. This was the first time in my whole life I went through someone’s phone. I never even went through my kid’s phone. I mean, never anyone’s phone, tablet, or anything. I believe in complete privacy. Now, I’m the person who can’t get enough information.

Everyday, I go to visit him like the dutiful wife. Listening to the doctors and nurses, being encouraging and supportive, and putting on a sweet face to those who visit him while I’m there. Knowing more than I have ever wanted to know.

Whoever said “Ignorance is bliss” wasn’t kidding. I wish more than anything I didn’t know what I know. It has shattered everything I’ve believed this person to be.  It’s like being married to a stranger. I don’t know this person and yet I’ve been sleeping next to him for 7 years.

How could I have missed it? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the wife is the last to know and I’m like, yeah but the signs were there. How did she not see them? Now, I’m looking back and seeing the signs like they were done in bright neon but in the moment, they were like dull pencil markings after going through the washing machine.

I decide to heck with it. I’m going to confront him while he’s in the hospital. He’s just had major surgery and is on pain killers. It might be the only time to get him to speak freely. Trust me when I say, this does not go the way you think it’s going to go.

I say, “I know about the text messages with the women. I know about the porn sites, the plenty of fish, and the sex workers near me.” I say it and leave it to hang in the air.

His eyes are closed as he lays in his hospital bed. The tension in the room is thick. My body is so tense, my muscles feel like I’ve been pumping iron for weeks straight.

He replies without opening his eyes, “I told you I was having problems with my phone. Stuff was popping up on it and I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t even get the phone company to help me because I’m not an authorized person on the account.” TRUE STORY. He actually said these words.

Well, I wasn’t expecting THAT. To which I said, “No. You had conversations with these women for the last year. That’s not a problem with your phone. That’s a problem with you.”

To which he replied, “It wasn’t me. I’m telling you, I was hacked. Someone was either using my phone or cloned it or something.”

“No,” I said. “It was you. You sent them pictures of yourself.”

“I never sent anyone pictures of me.” He continued, “I took pictures of myself so I could see my body. Someone must have hacked my phone and sent them. It wasn’t me.”

I’ll be honest, I truly wanted to scream at the top of my lungs at this person. I didn’t, though, because, again, we were in the hospital and I didn’t want to cause a bigger scene than what was bubbling inside me.

As I was mid-laugh from impending hysteria, one of the nurses popped in to say his heart rate was elevated and wondered if he was okay, to which I replied, “He looks fine to me.”

He asked for more pain meds and quickly dozed off leaving me to sit in the madness that was quickly becoming more and more frustrating. I excused myself and left. I couldn’t be around him anymore that day. My head was swimming. I was confused how he could do this in the first place and then equally dumbfounded how he could deny it when it was all there in black and white and color.

Later, that evening. I was home eating dinner at home and going through his bank records. I had all his passwords now, so I might as well know everything, right? Not only was he basically cheating on me, but he was broke with a few maxed out credit cards. Like, I don’t even know how he managed to pay his bills? Who is this person? It’s a good thing we don’t have joint accounts; otherwise, I would be broke, too.  

I started praying to God to please help me with this situation. I had already been praying for his help in keeping a clear head and clear voice when talking to my husband about things but now I was praying for help in dealing with it. I haven’t prayed that hard for something in a long time. Of course, the outcome I prayed for wasn’t very Christian like. In between my prayers of him coming clean and telling the truth so we could deal with it, I prayed he would have complications from his surgery and suffer some very painful moments to make up for the lies he was telling me.

When the phone rang, I wasn’t surprised as the nurses would occasionally call me. This time though, it was news I hadn’t expected. I needed to come back to the hospital right away, they said. Greg collapsed while getting up to use the bathroom. They ran some tests and found he was having a heart attack. I told them I would be there as soon as I could. And as I hung up the phone, I prayed he wouldn’t make it.

I know that sounds harsh. And uncaring. And un-wife like. Honestly, it would make things so much easier if he did die. All of his cheating and googling would remain a secret between him and me. Our kids would never have to know what a liar, cheat, and deadbeat he is. All his debts, including the house and stuff, would be paid for through the life insurance. I could live as a widow without worry and his legacy intact. His kids could continue to think what ever they wanted about him.

I prayed so hard. From the moment I hung up the phone, driving in the car on the way to the hospital, riding in the elevator to the room, and while listening to the doctors explain the open heart surgery they were prepping him for at that very moment. I wanted to say, “You know, I won’t blame you if it doesn’t work out. You can’t save everyone.” But I didn’t. I wanted to. But I didn’t. I put on a “brave” face for them, nodded my head, and prayed for my best case scenario.

I really don’t think I’m a terrible person. I know I sound kind of like a terrible person, but in my defense, this whole scenario is pretty crummy and I’m pretty mad at the moment. I’m having difficulty digging deep enough to find where I put the love for this person. I look at them, lying in the hospital bed with all the tubes and vents keeping them alive. Yes, he survived the surgery but he’s not out of the woods yet according to the doctors. There were some complications apparently and since his instructions were to use very measure to keep him alive, he’s now resting comfortably on machines under the care and safety of the hospital staff.

So, now, since the hospital staff has obviously done their jobs to the best of their ability, I’ll have to take matters in my own hands.

I’m not saying I’ve been the perfect wife. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the best or most consistent housekeeper, for example. The house isn’t dirty, per se, but cluttered for sure. Dishes are washed, laundry is done, counters are wiped, but I’m not winning any dusting medals. My adventurous nature outside the home is tricky. I do enjoy doing things; however, my anxiety will get the best of me in certain large crowd situations, so I try to avoid those. Sexually, our relationship started off hot and heavy, like most relationships I think; however, I had a medical issue about three summers ago which cooled it off quite a bit. Communication, patience, and timing kept our intimacy alive, or so I thought. I’ve supported him and his business endeavors as much as possible as he has mine. I certainly don’t want to paint myself as innocent but at the same time, my deficiencies weren’t not just cause for his recent behaviors. We all have to take accountability for our part. It takes two, you know.

You’re probably wondering what happened. While I can’t share all the details, you know evidence and incriminating myself and all of that, I can say that I’m in a period of mourning. Mourning the loss of a relationship I treasured. The man I believed to know. A man I thought I could count on, be vulnerable with, laugh and have fun with. A man who no longer exists in the living realm. The darkness of the truth behind me.

Those who mourn with me send me condolences of his passing. Their memories of him are not marred by his transgressions and, since they don’t know his truth, I accept their thoughts and prayers as I go through this difficult time. It’s easier for everyone this way. Less ugly. Less bitter.

It will make sense to those around me when I can’t bear to live in this house anymore. Too many memories they’ll say to themselves when really, it’s all been a house of lies. Yes, I know, through dying he’s escaped from dealing with the lies and pain. But then, so have I. 

September 30, 2022 20:34

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Amanda Lieser
00:15 Oct 23, 2022

Hi Jeannette, I really enjoyed this take on the prompt. I love how it felt like I was watching an interview or talking with a friend. The way she occasionally stepped out of the narrative to go on an explanation(the sex workers scene) felt very human to me. I think I picked out a favorite line as well: …but in the moment, they were like dull pencil markings after going through the washing machine. nice job!


Jeannette Miller
15:29 Oct 23, 2022

Thanks Amanda for reading and commenting! I wasn't sure about this one. I agree with some of the others about it feeling too long. I like that it felt natural to you or conversational overall. I think that's my favorite line out of this story, too! When I wrote it, I was like, 'yeah that's cool..', haha.


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Debbie Curtin
21:01 Oct 10, 2022

Not sure if you believed his story or if it was your story. Very lengthy but interesting in the way you played out the details. Next chapter.


Jeannette Miller
01:05 Oct 12, 2022

Thanks for reading and commenting :) I don't believe his story. I agree it went on too long. Next chapter is right! :)


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Delbert Griffith
15:12 Oct 08, 2022

Despite a few grammatical errors and a little redundancy, the story is gripping. There were a few jewels in there and they made the story work. As I read, the story got better and better. Nice work.


Jeannette Miller
15:19 Oct 08, 2022

Thanks! I appreciate the notes. I'm glad you liked it :) It isn't my best, for sure, but I had to get some words down. I haven't read it since I submitted it so I'll need to go back and fix those.


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Francis Groleau
23:08 Oct 05, 2022

Hello Jeannette, I agree with Trevor when he says that some parts are a bit superfluous and repetitive (All the husband's transgressions and the second description of the "women" as hackers preying on the weak-minded egos for their money). Nevertheless, I enjoyed your story. I especially liked some of your well-chosen analogies (The Pandora Box and the pencil marking after the washer). Great work!


Jeannette Miller
18:01 Oct 06, 2022

Thank you Francis! I appreciate the comments and you taking the time to read my story. :)


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Trebor Mack
02:33 Oct 04, 2022

Your proofreading overlooked, 'I was home eating dinner at home' Personally, I found the story a bit long-winded and could have been shortened. Those comments may sound picky, but as a judge, I gave the story a high rating. Cheers.....


Jeannette Miller
05:08 Oct 04, 2022

Thanks for the catch! I agree. It was written at the last minute after a long week. I almost didn't submit it but I needed to meet a personal word count quota. I truly appreciate the blunt feedback. I don't often get it even when I know the story deserves it. Thanks again!


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