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Til Death Do Us Part

He sat there at the bar cradling his drink. He ordered it more than an hour ago, and now it was watered down, more so from his tears than the melted ice. It had been a long time since he was in a bar, much less trying to drown his sorrows. He wasn’t doing a very good job of it. So far, this was his first drink, and he hadn’t taken a single sip. He just held it as the warmth of his hand slowly melted the ice. Such a shame. A perfectly good glass of 12-year single malt was now ruined.

How had he come to this point in his life? Didn’t he do everything he was supposed to do? He worked, spent his money wisely, and gave his wife everything that he possibly could. What was it about him that made her cheat? How many times had he turned a blind eye to it all? Four? Five? He had lost count at this point. It made no sense. He wasn’t the best-looking guy, but he wasn’t ugly either. He wasn’t rich, but they lived comfortably.

Maybe it wasn’t those things at all. He told her every day that he loved her. He took every opportunity to touch. A hand on the shoulder. Brushing away a strand of hair so that he could graze her cheek with his fingers. Drawing her in at the waist so that he could kiss her or hug her. He did all these things and more, randomly throughout the day. He showed her in so many ways that he wanted her and loved her, so why does she keep going to other men?

Had he not performed well enough in the bedroom? She seemed satisfied in that regard. She had always been very enthusiastic in bed, and there had never been any indication that she wasn’t receiving hers before he got his. He always made sure she got hers. He had heard of women faking before and wondered if perhaps she had been faking for his benefit, but there was no faking those screams and the contorted arching of her back. She wasn’t faking.

So, what was it then? He couldn’t, for the life of him, figure out what he had done wrong. All he knew was the cycle. Everything would be good for a while. Slowly, she would start pushing him away. He would go check on her, and she would say that she was tired or didn’t feel good. He would ask if she needed anything or if there was anything that he could do for her. She would decline, so he would go back into the other room to let her rest.

It would go on this way for months until he saw enough clues to get suspicious. He would then start paying close attention to the little details that she was trying to hide. He would purposefully position himself to where he could get glances at her phone without her knowing. Even as she thought she was hiding the screen from him; he could still catch pieces of what she was doing. It was so obvious she was hiding something.

Then there would be the times when she had to “work late”. The only problem with working late is that there was no corresponding increase in her paycheck. The mileage on her car would be way more than it should have been for just going to work and coming back home. He would ask pointed questions about her day so that she would have to make things up to cover missing periods of time. He knew her better than she thought because he always knew when she was lying. She was an open book to him because he loved her and spent all his energy on her and her alone. To him, there was nothing else worthy of his attention if it didn’t involve her.

Finally, he would get the hard evidence he needed to confront her. At first, she would deny everything even when he told her details that she knew he should not know. Then he would show her the evidence. Every text message, phone call, dollar spent, secret meeting … all of it. He would lay it out like a prosecutor in a courtroom. Charging his beloved with crimes so heinous that he couldn’t even speak the name of it. What followed was always the same.

First, she would be angry. How could he invade her privacy like that? She would yell and rail at how he was spying on her and not trusting her. Those arguments petered out when he pointed out that she was lying (hence the lack of trust), and she was hiding things (hence the spying to uncover what was hidden).

Next, she would start to cry. She would hide her face out of embarrassment. She would ask how he could do this to her. He always got mad at that point. How could HE do this to HER!!! It was a ridiculous thing to say. He would yell and scream and eventually walk away into another room or sometimes leave the house to walk somewhere alone.

This was always followed by her realization that she was about to lose everything. She would run after him and try to make physical contact with him in any way she could. Grabbing his hand. Trying to hug or kiss him. Pulling him by the arm to get him to come back to the house and talk to her about things. By this point, he was too angry to talk about anything and just wanted to be alone.

The last phase came in a few weeks. She would be apologetic and make many promises. He loved her so much and wanted to be with her, so he would accept her apologies and promises and take her back. For a while their marriage would be great. Sometimes it would be months or years of this sort of “Golden Era” of their relationship, but eventually, she would start to distance herself from him again, and the cycle would start anew.

As he held the drink with the long-melted ice, his phone buzzed. A message from the love of his life. He looked down and read it silently.

“Hey babe. Miss you so much. I am sorry but I am behind on so much work. I am going to stay another hour or so to get caught up. Is that OK?”

He tapped the reply button and typed, “Sure thing, honey. Do what you need to do. Supper will be in the oven when you make it home. Love you.”

She sent back a kissy face emoji as a reply. He sat there for a few minutes contemplating what this meant. As he looked out the window at his wife’s car parked in the parking lot of the hotel/restaurant, he could just make out her silhouette as she stepped out of the car and kissed a tall man. They clasped hands as he grabbed her bag, and they started for the door of the hotel side. He turned away from the window. He couldn’t watch anymore of this.

He set the still-full glass on the bar and laid a twenty down for the bartender, then he got up and headed for the hotel lobby. He walked slowly and deliberately. As he entered the lobby, he headed over to the front desk and got in line behind a tall man and a woman holding lovingly onto his arm. They didn’t notice him standing in line behind him. As he considered his life and how it had ended, he gripped the cold steel there in his jacket pocket. The time was now. He would end this cycle once and for all.

Tonight, he would be … free.

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