Broken window, broken dream.
The moment I switched on the kitchen light I saw the broken window. Just my luck, a robbery to end an evening of re-joying. I had just come in from an office get together to celebrate my company signing a very large order for our internet application. It had been a hard struggle to reach this point. I had created the company one year after receiving my engineering degree from Boston university.
Back to my immediate concern. Before I call the police I should spend a few minutes inspecting the apartment to find out what is missing. Not a very arduous job as it was only a three room apartment, sparely furnished, in a quite neighborhood in central Boston. Nothing was missing except for a few personal items., such as our wedding photo, two framed photos of Emma and I on holiday and a baccarat champagne glass that my wife worshiped. My bedroom office that was equipped with some very expensive computer installations were untouched. The explanation for the broken window must have been my wife. The previous evening we had had a nasty quarrel where regretfully many unpleasant things were said. It ended with my wife going into the bedroom snatching a travelling case, throwing in a few clothes, then walking out of the front door. As she left she threw her front door keys on the floor behind her. My temper was at boiling point, I shouted. “When you come back, just apologize”. With that I took a large draft of whiskey, went to bed and suffered a sleepless night. I dreamed of my wife discussion me over a long session with her mother, how wrong this dream proved to be.
The next morning the idea of calling the police was pointless, nothing of material value was stolen. I was also sure it was my wife who had broken the glass. She knew how to reach the catch on the kitchen door from the broken window. Over a light breakfast, with the help of a strong coffee, my thoughts reviewed the proceeding forty eight hours.
What was immediately foremost on my mind was the celebration party. It was the result of four years planning, executing, discussing, motivating my employees, thinking, dreaming about cash flows and repayments of loans. I had spent the last four years living in a bubble without any consideration of my surroundings. Last night had proved all the focus of funneling my energy and the belief in myself was resulting in the realization of my student dreams. With the thought of dreams my brain instantly took me to the squabble with Emma. It was sad thought but last night Emma and I should have celebrated what the future held for a devoted couple. It was at this moment I asked myself what a devoted couple meant?
In many ways our life together had followed the rather classical path of a middle class family. We met in our first month at Boston university. The first handshake resulted in a deep mutual attraction, difficult to describe in words. The pair of us had come to the university motivated to study hard, me at engineering, Emma at law. We both thought that our parents had provided us with a privileged childhood and we owned them a debt of gratitude. We can from evenly matched backgrounds, although Emma father had died a few years ago. Neither of us had any brothers or sisters. I sometimes wondered if this was a part of the glue that bound us together. I always thought our childhood had been clouded by an overall feeling of loneliness. This might have prevented me and, no doubt, Emma from having any really close friends. We were active members of the student body, but as a devoted couple we felt many of our fellow students saw us as only being interested in each other. As our relationship grew so did our dreams and ambitions, me to create my own company, Emma to become a partner in a major Boston law firm. Once out of the university with the help of our parents we found an apartment in central Boston near to where Emma was taken on as a first year lawyer. Within six months we were married in a quiet family wedding, followed by a two week honeymoon in Saint Lucia.
It was not long after the memorable honeymoon, without us being fully aware, married life started taking on a destructive pattern. It was like living on two separate fast trains that where moving in parallel towards an undisclosed destiny. As the two trains speed along at an increasing pace the contact we had was to wave to each other and mouth our thoughts without any chance of them being heard. I was work monstrous hours giving no thought to my married life. Due to my constant absence when Emma was not working she would go and spend time with her mother. On very rare moments we found ourselves enjoying a late night dinner together. These became times to discussed having children. I thought it was too early as our financial position was still in a precarious position, it would also mean moving our residence. I also thought we would not be able to cope with the added responsibility of raising children. Surely it would be detrimental to the development of our careers. Emma, in her married status, saw life differently. She was far more concerned about the meaning of marriage and creating of a family. Her student ambitions of a brilliant legal career were secondary to needing the space and tranquility to develop a mutual sharing of interests. This constant demand at working for her time seemed to be slowly polluting the meaning of what she thought life was all about. Her predominant reason for living was the family and having the challenge of parenting children.
The two trains rushed on, but somewhere along the tracks somebody pulled a lever and the trains final destiny started to show a widening gap. At certain moment in a grueling work day I saw flashes of Emma’s train slowly moving off the parallel track. In the ever increasing distance I saw Emma throwing out her arms, no doubt, wanting to be rescued, shouting something I could not hear, nor had any wish to hear. So two nights ago the explosion of frustration came in an out burst from both sides of cruel, harmful emotional language. Keys throw on the floor, the front door slammed, she was gone. I had been so focus and obsessed with my company that I had not realized the depth of Emma’s frustration and unhappiness. It was my role to apologize. To take her in my arms and make her understand that the dreams and ambitions of university students needed tempering to living in the realities of the real world. I needed to define what married life meant for me. One thing was certain I did not want to loose Emma. Time for action. I called her mother’s home.
“Oh! is you Mark, don’t forget you are both invited for lunch a week on Sunday. Please, none of your usual excuses about work.”
“I promise, it seems ages since we last saw each other. Is Emma there?
“No she said she could not come this weekend as she was handling an important clients legal problems. She said she might even have to sleep in the office.”
“Silly me, I remember she told me. I look forward to seeing you next Sunday”.
As I put down the phone I had a hot flash of anxiety. Emma never told me or left me a note, our usual form of communicating, about working over the weekend. I dial her office disguising my voice as not to appear the confused husband.
“Is Mrs Emma Hutchinson there.”
“No”, replied an educated voice, she has taken a few days off. She should be back in five days, May I help?”
“No, thank you it is not urgent”
As I put down the phone I wondered where she could be. As she had accused me of being absent for the last four years of our married life maybe she had taken on a lover. Not a pleasing thought, but knowing her character difficult to imagine. In the meantime I was scheduled for a meeting in the office. I decided to wait until the evening hoping by then Emma would have contacted me. She did not contact me. In a state of worry later the evening I went to the local police station with a photograph of my wife to report she had been missing for over sixty hours. I spend over an hour with a young lieutenant answering his many questions. The answer to some questions I am ashamed to say I lied, for example: Was there any problems in the marriage, when she left was it the result of a violent argument? The meeting closed with the lieutenant agreeing to broadcast nationally a missing persons notice. I gave the lieutenant my contact numbers. As I stepped in the night air I had the feeling of being a squeezed lemon with no interior ; only bitterness. I fell asleep that night well past midnight after trying to piece together what was happening to our marriage.
The following morning, Sunday, I was in the office when I got a call form the police. They told me a woman resembling your wife photograph was report missing at sea off the Maine coast. But according to the local Police this woman registered in a hotel a few days ago under the name of Emma Butch. On hearing that I started to shake, my whole body felt I was being burnt alive. I drop the phone. As I bent down to pick it up from the floor I heard. “Hello, are you still there.” It took me a few second to reply.
“Was she stay at the Friars Inn and cottages in Eastport.”
“Just a minute let me check…...yes.”
“It is my wife using a false name. I am driving up there immediately. Tell the local police to met me at the hotel in six hours.”
The drive up to Maine was torture, I kept going over all the scenes that might have set Emma’ s profound reaction off. The obsession with my company had played an important role in the pending destruction of our marriage. My stupid and foolish misunderstanding of my wife’s struggle to come to terms with what she want out of our union. Of course she had gone up to Eastport where, in our first year of marriage, we spent three glorious weeks. She, I should say we, were profoundly happy. We exploring the town, sailing around the islands, no phone, no responsibilities, eating local fish as if there was no tomorrow, and doing all the silly things lovers do. It was here Emma bought a champagne glass, after a heated discussion with the seller as he wanted to sell her a set of six. She insisted, it was one or nothing. Her point was that with only one glass it would mean sharing. Every night after that, while on holiday, we drank from this one glass. I remember this holiday as is was a time before I started my company. A world full of sunlight, without stress. Now I was returning to Eastport with a mind jumbled up with anger, frustration, fear of loosing Emma, and a big question: The meaning of happiness.
The first thing I noticed in the hotel’s car park was Emma’s car without registration plates. In the lounge of the hotel two policeman were waiting my arrival. Both gave me the impression I was under careful scrutiny, They were big men, dressed in civilian clothes, Clearly from their facial appeared many of their working hours were spent out of doors. They came straight to the point. Before we open up a discussion we will need proof of identity. I produced them without saying a word.
“Mr. Hutchinson the woman missing signed into the hotel and renting a boat under the name of Emma Butch, she paid cash for everything. Her car has been searched showing no traces of the owner, nor any documents addressed to Emma Butch. In her room nothing was found that could lead us to solving the mystery of who Emma Butch really was. The only thing we found was a hand written letter addressed to Mark. After your identification I have to presume that might be you. On Friday she hired a sailing boat for the day, on Saturday afternoon the boat and passenger was reported missing, later that evening the boat was recovered about twenty miles out floating off one of the islands. No damage had has been observed or for that matter no sign of foal play. Later that evening a national call went out under the missing persons category. The photo provided was a shot of Emma Butch on the surveillance camera in the hotel parking lot.” He turned to his partner. “ John, I think that is a fair assessment of the situation so far. Have you any further remarks?”
“I would added we have opened the letter allowing us to classify the case as missing person and not a case of an accident.
He handed me the photo on the missing person’s file and the letter addressed to Mark.
Before I opened the letter I took a close look at the photo. In a trembling voice I said it was my wife. All this time we had been standing up. I sat down before opening the letter.
I can image you are siting down reading this letter in front of a police officer. Yes I am correctly classified as a missing person. I have spent many sleepless night working out a plan to disappear and create a new life. I had to start my disappearance act at the place I was profoundly in love with you, happy to be living, that glorious feeling of togetherness, just the touch of you send by blood spinning through my veins. We were both ambitious ready to conquer the world. As the evening sun set I wanted to fly up to ball of fading light to say goodnight, I was so happy. Then for me our ambitions became my tragedy, we both disappeared into our worlds of stress, responsibilities and pressure. I tried to warn you this was not the life I wanted but you would or could not hear me. Our lines of communications became faint as though our talking was just echoes. My final decision to disappear was when the senior partner told me I had been elected as new partner of the year. While extremely honored I asked him to give me two weeks to reflect on the position. I never told you as it would have just pushed the elevator we chose to ride at a higher speed. Once in that elevator I knew I would be trapped ,clearly demonstrated from my life these past four years. I realized two years ago the ambitious life style we had planned for each other was not for me, but I was incapable of turning off the switch with you beside me. Please Mark don’t come and try to find me. Move forward with success, a destiny desired and well merited. I will never love somebody again as I loved you.
My last request is for you to lessen the blow of my disappearance with my mother. She always held you in deep regard regardless of only seeing you on few occasions.
May my love rest with you for a live time.
I and Police tried to find her. We never did.