By Anastasia Alexander
Copyright © 2014 by Anastasia Alexander
For three weeks, while her husband was at work, Charlene had been secretly emailing her friend Judy, hoping he wouldn’t find out. Opening Judy’s return emails to discover what her friend had to say had been the highlight of her day. As long as Brad didn’t learn she was doing it, she figured there was no harm in having an innocent friendship. It kept her connected to something besides drooling babies, loaded diapers, and burned dinners. But recently, Charlene hadn’t felt as excited about pressing the open button. Maybe because Judy had started to pry, asking questions people weren’t supposed to ask, like about her husband’s temper. Charlene knew she had a good husband and didn’t see any reason for her new friend to cast doubt.
Granted, Brad did get touchy about silly things, like when he saw Charlene eating anything with sugar in it. “Now, Charlene,” he’d say, “You know I have your best welfare in mind by stopping you. You’d be miserable if you got fat. Chocolate really isn’t worth it, is it?”
Charlene wanted to scream, “Yes! It is!” but after ten years of marriage, she knew better. She kept her protests to herself and hid the chocolates she wanted to eat. Every person had a few weaknesses, didn’t they? Brad often searched the house for her hidden stash, and if he found it, there would be hell to pay. But sometimes, when the rich taste melted in her mouth, sending comfort and pure joy through her, Charlene thought it was worth the price of hell.
Another subject that tested Brad’s patience was when she bought things without his permission. He insisted they stay on a budget—his budget. She agreed with him, of course. She didn’t want to be like the many couples who ended up spending themselves into a huge pit of debt. After all, they had children to raise. A responsible, involved husband was a gift. Charlene did wonder if it was reasonable to get livid over buying a package of gum at the store, especially when the groceries got loaded into his new sports car. Not everything made sense, but she was sure his temper was no worse than any other man’s.
It bothered Charlene that her husband’s qualifications were being called into question. She decided to focus on the parts of her friend’s emails that she liked—the walks along the beach and how idyllic Seattle sounded. Charlene dreamed about flying up to Washington to visit Judy. She wanted to enjoy the white clouds hovering over the wild ocean, and she longed to take those strolls and let the tension of motherhood ease away as the sand squished between her toes and the sun warmed her skin. That might just be the perfect escape from her humdrum existence.
Making a trip like that was impossible. Brad would never allow it. So instead of thinking about escaping her monotonous life, she worried about Brad discovering her email account. Yes, he was a great husband. He just wouldn’t like it if he knew she was on the computer instead of paying attention to the children. He believed being a full-time mother meant that was all the woman should do. He was right, of course. Guilt filled Charlene about writing Judy, but she’d go crazy without any outside contact. Maybe someday she would be the person she needed to be; the person Brad wanted.
For now, she gave in to her weakness and secretly wrote Judy, despite the negativity toward her husband. She didn’t know how Brad would react if he found out. He’d probably break into the computer and read the emails—all of them. He used to search the whole house until he found her journal. The mental images of pillows, clothes, and dishes flying and breaking while he looked had not left her—or his anger after he read it.