Author’s Note: This is a part of an ongoing series that is spanning through multiple genres, but most notably it is located in the Loving Wives section. For those that are not frequent readers of that particular section, let me assure you that this story is not your normal one in that area of the site. While I invite new readers to catch up with the ongoing series, like many of my stories, it is not necessary to do so as all the necessary elements to enjoy this story are present within.
For those unfamiliar with my work, I use a lot of detail in certain events that go on within the story, while bypassing other events that I deem to be either foreshadowing or irrelevant to the current events. While this story reintroduces some characters from previous stories, enough of their background is shared in this chapter to not warrant a need to go back and review their past. However it is important to know that the main character that is referenced in this story, D, is the main catalyst in a series of events that I briefly cover in this story, and in order to learn more about those events it is necessary to read “Long Road” and the subsequent chapters.
For returning readers, I apologize for the length of time between stories as I have been busy with life events that I hope will resolve themselves soon so that I may return to this hobby. As more of the story is put on paper, my fellow collaborators and I have decided to begin to depart from factual events and lean into more fictional areas. While I will try to keep the series grounded, there are aspects of it that can still affect individuals so far more care into changing certain attributes is going into each chapter.
Like always, please comment, favorite, and share the story. I am glad that readers have taken any stance with the characters that I have introduced in this long series, there is no greater complement to a creator than knowing that you, as the reader, can take real life emotion and apply it to a fictional character.
As Staff Sergeant Curtis Mitchell opened the door to his home his heart was already troubled by the news he had heard over the radio. While the reports were vague as to the identity of the victim, the name of the town where the incident had occurred left little doubt as to who it may be. He trusted his wife’s love for him, there was no doubt about that, but his primal male instinct made him feel jealousy towards the man that had affected her heart so much. They had met shortly after he had left town, he knew of their very brief, albeit arduous, affair and while it was before he had met her it still bothered him. He had begun to see him as a rival for his wife’s heart for no other reason that because of the way she had spoken about him when he had left.
“Hi, baby” Christina greeted her husband in much the same way she had done since they had begun to stay together. As she leaned forward to kiss him, she noticed the strangeness of his stance, “what’s the matter?”
“Have you seen the news yet?” He held her at arm’s length, trying to prevent her from collapsing once she heard the news. He knew her habit of waiting until she got to her work before she even learned local events. “Never mind,” he guided her towards the small television set in their kitchen and immediately turned on the national news.
“What is going on, baby?” She pleaded with him, “you are beginning to scare me.”
“Baby,” he began to speak, trying to maintain a soothing tone to his voice, part of him wanted to tell her the news himself, but the other part felt that she would not believe him. She could consider his news an attempt to drive a wedge by bringing up her past, something he knew he had been guilty of doing in past months regarding this man. “I need you to listen to me,” he continued, the hesitation in his voice further driving Christina into a near panic state.
“Please, just tell me what it is,” she implored.
“It’s about D,” he began when her hand collided with his face in a loud smack that echoed through the house. Her breathing was ragged, her lips pushed together into a tin line that looked as if it had been drawn. The anger in her eyes burned through him, but even as she withdrew her hand, he held on to her, afraid that if he let go she would not return.
“Not this shit again!” She screamed at her husband, “we have been through this over and over again, Curtis,” she began to wiggle her body in order to escape his hold. “Let me go!”
“Christina!” He rarely raised his voice, and the sound of her name combined with the volume of his voice made her stop her struggle. He turned her around to face the television as the news reported the latest shooting relating to the increasing mafia violence that had been making a violent return.
As she looked on at the news anchor reporting, all she was able to muster out was a single letter before all strength left her: “D?”
Rebecca and Martha had built a life for themselves in their quiet suburb just outside Washington D.C, their güvenilir bahis little family always missing one important piece. As both women looked down on their children, they could see the features of the man that had fathered both of their children looking back at them. There were times when the women would confuse the boy for a tiny version of his father, a thought that brought both tears and smiles to the young couple. The daughter carried that air of compassion that radiated out of her father, even at her young age she could draw people to her with little more than a tiny smile.
Their life had gone on uninterrupted, without much chaos or troubled waters in the horizon. While his departure had been heartbreaking, as time progressed both women understood his decision to leave in the manner in which he did. But more importantly, they understood the reason he had left, and while part of them resented him for it a larger part of it knew that it was the right decision. That seemed to be his curse in their eyes, always incapable of making the wrong choice, even if he is the only one that loses.
“Do you think he thinks of us?” Rebecca would often ask her wife, usually in the late hours of the night. That time when the emptiness of the soul speaks louder than anything else; when alcohol and tears flow freely to mask the pain in someone’s heart.
“I think he does,” Martha would reply, “I think he does every single day. But he will not allow himself to show it.” She would take a long drink of her glass and continue her musing, “even in his death bed, I don’t think he would reach out to us out of fear.”
“Fear of what?”
“Fear of us,” she would reply, “fear that he would be interrupting our lives. Intruding in them somehow.” They would hold this conversation, or one similar to it every few months. But the tone of the conversation would change one morning, when the sun shone brightly and the birds chirped their song. The clouds were sparse and the trees sang a harmony as the warm southern winds gently caressed each leaf and branch.
The shattering of glass breaking made Martha jump from her seat as she was trying to feed the young boy his breakfast. Like every morning, this had become a little more difficult as the child was beginning to gain some independence and would refuse to allow his mothers complete control of the spoon. But even the child stopped still at the sound that broke the otherwise stillness of the morning, the world around them continued its callous voyage. The younger girl began to cry, sensing her mother’s panic and pain.
“Rebecca,” Martha rushed to her wife’s side, making sure that she was unhurt by the glass around her bare feet. “Be careful, you’re going to cut yourself. What is the matter?” As she looked at her wife, she realized that the color had escaped from her face. Tears were pooling in her eyes, her small, frail hands shook as they moved to cover her mouth. Martha followed her gaze which was frozen on the television set, the morning news were reporting on the increase of the violence in a small town that seemed very familiar to her.
“It’s D,” Rebecca whispered, “baby, it’s D, they…” tears and loud sobs interrupted her.
Martha looked at the report, single male shot by a large caliber weapon. They would not say much more than to confirm that he had been transported to the hospital in critical condition. “No,” Martha began as she hugged her wife, both sharing in their convalescence and pain as they read reports of how the only man they had ever loved hung once again by a thin thread between life and death. “Please, God, no.”
Curtis had taken his wife to their therapist; this had been a frequent stop for them in the first months of their marriage. Truly, looking back at those days Curtis was amazed at how patient he had been with his new bride. She was almost obsessed with this man, D, the way she spoke about him made him feel inferior to the man in every way, shape, and form. She had been seeing the therapist before she and Curtis had married, but as their relationship fractured and crumbled her therapist insisted in bringing him in to the sessions. It was there that he learned much more about the man, and while at first he was resistant to hear more about his enemy, as he had began to see him, the therapist made some valid points that made him remain.
“You see, Curtis,” Ms. Baldwin had said in one of their joint sessions, “the reason I wanted you to hear it all is because Christina here does not believe me when I say that she is holding this man on a pedestal and therefore belittling you.” Ms. Baldwin had warned him of her tactic, she would be putting him in a silent position as a sound board rather than in a position where he would need to defend his position as a man. “In her mind, she is not making any sort of comparison between you two, but the similarities are more than obvious. Both of you are military men, living professions filled with danger and in some cases uncertainties. Both of you are honorable, coming from what I türkçe bahis would call dysfunctional backgrounds, and with this personality that welcomes and attracts people to you.
“But as I’ve said Curtis, you wife does not understand how she is undermining your marriage by bringing in this ghost from her past with her into your relationship. In her mind, she is simply reminiscing about a past love, while in reality it is as if she is carrying this emotional affair. To you it is simple to compartmentalize and move on from memories and emotions, that is what you have been trained to do in your profession. However, for women even in your profession, it is sometimes more difficult to be able to make those types of adjustments. But your wife needs to understand what may result from her continued disrespect to you and your marriage if she does not try to help herself move on.”
“Chris,” Curtis began, again this had been rehearsed and discussed by Ms. Baldwin and him in previous occasions, and while he had long prepared to say those words, at that moment his mouth had turned into a desert filled with sand and cotton balls. He cleared his throat and took a long sip from his glass of water before speaking again, “you and I have a relationship that was build on love, but our home only has room for you and I. We can and will make room for our children when that time comes, but I cannot, and will not make room for another man in my home.”
“Christina,” Ms. Baldwin interrupted her patient just as she was about to rebuke her husband, “please let him finish. Go on, Curtis.”
“I love you with all my heart,” he continued his prepared speech, “but I am afraid that I am unable to share my life with a woman that can only share part of hers with me.” Carefully, he removed the wedding band from his finger and placed it gently in the table that had been separating them. He stood up, and as if he was carrying a large burden on his shoulders he walked out of the office. He thought he heard his wife call out to him, but he was unsure if it was his imagination or reality.
Ms. Baldwin had warned him of this radical action and the possible consequences of it, it is dangerous to push any person to such extremes but she understood how Curtis felt at that moment. He had been placed between a rock and a hard place and with nothing to lose he was fully prepared for any outcome. He had confided in her that he had reached out to a divorce attorney and already had papers drawn up, ready to be served. It was only this last effort that convinced him to give this marriage one last chance. She looked as her patient remained fixed on the wedding band resting quietly on the table, there was no emotion on her face. She allowed Christina as much time as she needed, this was the most important part of this experience and she could not afford to rush her.
“Curtis, wait!” After ten long minutes of complete silence, Christina finally registered her husband’s actions. Tears of pain and terror flowed from her eyes, her entire body shook in shock as the magnitude of what had just taken place finally reached her.
“He is gone, child,” Ms. Baldwin said, “he’s been gone for a long time.”
“But I can’t lose him,” Christina pleaded with her, “I just can’t lose him too.”
“Well, you had me fooled, child,” Ms. Baldwin said, “because you have not done a single thing to try to keep him. In fact, you have done a great job at pushing him away,” she reached out and moved the wedding band closer to her patient, wordlessly asking her to pick it up. “But I don’t think you’ve completely lost him, not yet. But there is a lot of work to do if you want to keep this small chance at fixing you marriage.”
Each had individual weekly sessions, and together they had a joint session weekly where they would discuss the work that they had done in their individual sessions and some goals that Ms. Baldwin hoped they could reach that would bring them together. Curtis had moved out of the house and would not reveal where he was staying. He also would not take any of Christina’s phone calls or text messages. As the weeks became months, Christina had began to understand all the damage she had unknowingly done to her relationship with Curtis, even going as far as accepting responsibility for her actions. By the third month, Curtis had returned to their home but they still slept in separate rooms. They would still argue, something that Ms. Baldwin encouraged them to do within limits, and always the topic of those arguments was inevitably D.
It was his second week back home when the news reported the shooting, and Curtis felt that this event would completely sever his relationship with his wife. But another part of him, the part that was completely exhausted of playing second fiddle to a ghost, welcomed this turn of events as a finality to the relationship. This would either show his wife that she needed to move on or it would show him that he needed to move on. He could not continue his life the way they had been living it. When Ms. Baldwin opened her office güvenilir bahis siteleri door and saw Christina nearly catatonic, she feared for her patients’ future.
“What happened?” She asked, her voice filled with concern at the state her patients were, Curtis looked like a broken man, she almost lost her professional bearing at Christina. She had made great leaps at finally coming to terms with the reason for her attachment to this man, D, and until she shared that with her husband there would be no reconciliation.
“You need to turn on the news,” Curtis replied, his voice dry and weary. This man had gone too far, the tiredness in his voice broke Ms. Baldwin’s heart. “Something’s come up.”
For days, the two women stood over the television sets, trying to absorb as much information as they could from the bits and pieces of news that were being released. Ever since the shooting, violence had erupted in D’s hometown, surely there were people trying to find the responsible party and bring them to their own brand of justice. The governor had called for the National Guard which quickly threatened to escalate the violence to higher levels. Letters flowed into the newspapers, each delivering the same sinister message with the demand that it be published in the front pages for all to see. The message was simple: “we will find you.”
As the women continued their mourning, the anxiety of not knowing what was happening wrapped them in despair. It was then that Rebecca remembered a small detail that had been nudging at the back of her mind. She had known D the longest, had trained under him and knew how he thought and more importantly how he planned for eventualities. She ripped herself from Martha’s arms and moved toward their home office desk. As Martha followed her in confusion, she saw as Rebecca frantically pulled drawers open and flung contents into the air.
“What are you looking for?” She finally managed to ask just as Rebecca pulled a piece of paper from one of the drawers. She immediately recognized the letter that D had left for them the day he had left.
“One day,” Rebecca looked at her wife, “while I was working with D, he was teaching me about covert communication methods. He said that sometimes, when people were taken as prisoners of war, they were allowed to send letters home. Of course, these letters would be read and reviewed by their captors, which led to many people carefully encoding their letters with secret messages that only close family members would be able to decipher.” Rebecca pulled the small lamp in the desk close to the paper, “he would often tell me how easy it was to make this so called invisible ink in order to hide messages. But more importantly, he showed me how to read them,” she continued as she rotated the paper against the light of the lamp.
“Baby,” Martha said, “I don’t think…”
“The problem is,” Rebecca continued, ignoring her protests, “is that you need a source of heat in order to expose the lettering. But you need heat that won’t damage the paper itself, he would always say that the most important information would always be hidden in plain sight.” As she tossed the lamp aside, convinced that the bulb was not producing enough heat, she then moved to the larger wall lamp that had been placed in the office. “It always bothered me how he could leave us like that, without a means to contact him.”
As she continued, Martha remembered her own conversations with D about the same subject, “red bulbs,” she whispered, barely loud enough for Rebecca to hear, “red bulbs produce more heat than regular bulbs.” She moved to their kitchen, pulling drawers open with the same urgency that Rebecca had shown just a few moments prior. “Shit, shit, shit,” she cursed herself for not remembering sooner, Rebecca began to help in the search. “The garage!”
“Shit,” Rebecca answered as she moved toward the garage, Martha following close behind, “of course he would.” While he had been staying in their house, D had bought a large structure that was lined with red bulbs, something he referred to as his own heating lamp. He had left it behind, and while the girls had discussed getting rid of it several times, sentimentality had prevented them from doing so. As they waited for the contraption to come to life, the two girls looked at each other with shared optimism and a deep fear. They did not need to say it, but both of them wondered the same thing, had madness replaced grief?
“I’ll be damned,” Martha whispered as the paper began to warm and a series of numbers appeared, “fucking D, how the fuck does he do it?” She pulled her cellphone from her pocket and dialed the number. “It’s ringing,” she whispered.
“We are sorry, the number you are trying to reach has been disconnected or is no longer in service. Please check your number and try your call again, this is a recording.”
Their hearts simultaneously broke just as the machine began to repeat the message. Martha finished the call as both women began to weep, dissolution and despair completely grabbing a hold of them as they felt the darkness of loss begin to swallow them. Their renewed mourning was interrupted by Martha’s phone ringing”Hello?” She answered, the caller ID simply read unknown number. “Hello?” She repeated herself.