by Nate Ealy
I have to tell him this time.
Sam Simon thought as she closed the front door. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she had on the normal attire for the grocery store, a t-shirt and jeans. In one hand, she had a bag of items for supper and in her other was her purse. She took her shoes off and set them on the mat by the door. Eric should have just got home from work and she could hear the showering running upstairs. He was probably unaware she just got home. Sam set her purse on the kitchen counter. Her note was still there saying she had to run to the store. Nothing was out of place. That was good.
There was a little bit of sweat on her forehead. Never before had she come this close to being caught. When Sam and Eric got married, they were both twenty years old. Now Sam has been married to Eric for five years and for four of them she was happy. The fifth year she felt the itch. It was an itch to get back out there. She wanted something new. She was curious.
And why shouldn’t she be? She had stayed in shape keeping her breasts perky and her butt firm. Sam had been able to corral her waistline inside her size two jeans for five years, and she wanted a reward for all her hard work. It wasn’t easy passing up on the ice cream after dinner or saying no to a slice of pie. Eric didn’t seem care what she did, but Sam cared.
Eric on the other hand was three times the size he was at the altar. His hair had started to fall out, prompting an early comb over, and his sex drive was as large as his serving size of vegetables at dinner: nonexistent. If it wasn’t for Eric’s large paycheck from the law firm Sam would have tried to divorce him, but she had come to rely on that money.
She needed that money to fuel her fitness lifestyle and the other things that created. Nine months ago when Sam was going on a morning run, she saw the exact image of the man she married five years ago sitting in a red Camaro at the stop light. He had toned arms and a firm chest, a full head of brown hair, and a juvenile beard. Sam felt her heart skip when she saw him. Not thinking Sam smiled and waved, and then the man opened his door and left his car at the stop line to chat her up. His name was Chad and they now had a date scheduled for the following Tuesday at Panera.
Sam still felt a bit of guilt when she would think about Chad outside of Chad Time. That’s what she began to call their dates. Each one started at a restaurant and every one ended in between the sheets. When she was in Chad Time, she could think of the man that Eric had once been all she wanted, but when Chad Time ended, so did the thoughts of Chad. The thrill of being married and dating again was unparalleled. At any moment her life could come crashing down and it made her feel like a spy trying to complete a secret mission. Chad Time scratched the itch she had been feeling, and satisfied her curiosity.
That was all Chad Time was supposed to do, but lately, it had taken a new turn. Chad had begun to talk to her after sex. He told her about his life and his family and his job, and Sam shared with him as well. The last few times they met, that was the part of Chad Time she looked forward to the most. Chad Time had become something more than sex, and that is what made her feel bad. That’s why she had to tell Eric.
Sam left the kitchen and sat down on the sofa in the living room. She turned on the TV. A young Dustin Hoffman was on the screen playing the role of Benjamin Braddock. Mrs. Robinson’s leg was dominating the view as she took off her tights. Sam turned to another channel. This one was the news station reporting on the rate of infidelity in marriage today.
Sam turned the TV off and threw the remote in the sofa cushion. She knew exactly what Chad would have said at that moment. It made her giggle.
“No. I have to tell him,” she said aloud.
She then took a deep breath and stood up. She could still hear the showering running. Eric had been in there for a long time now, and Sam thought it was getting a little weird. Sure, he had a much larger body to wash than she did, but it wasn’t the size of an aircraft carrier. At least for now, that is.
As she ascended the stairs, Sam thought of how she would tell him and what she would say. She ran multiple lines through her head, but nothing seemed like it would work. It all came across as either too weak or too uncaring. The perfect line never came to her by the time she reached the top step.
The door to the bathroom was down the hall and to the left. It was shut, but Sam knew it wouldn’t be locked. Eric was too trusting of her to do that. Instead of kicking open the door and running in, Sam put a hand on the door and leaned into it.
“Hey Eric,” she said. It wasn’t loud enough to be heard over the running water in the bathroom. She had to speak louder. “Eric?”
Sam didn’t get a response and she didn’t expect one. Her second attempt was only slightly louder than her first. She debated on waiting for him to finish, but instead knocked on the door. She knocked three times with her knuckles and waited for a yell asking what was up.
There was no yell. The only noise that came out of the bathroom was the sound of running water. For a second Sam thought that she could tell him about Chad another time. That maybe later would be better, but no, later meant putting it off. Later really meant never.
Sam composed herself and put her hand on the doorknob. Never before in their five years of marriage had she ever interrupted Eric’s shower, but never before had she wanted to tell him about her Chad Time either. Sam turned the knob and opened the door.
The bathroom was full of steam from the shower. The mirror had fogged up and the whole place carried a dampness. Behind the glass door of the shower was Eric. His girth was sitting on the little platform in the stall. Eric was leaning against the wall and his head rested back. His one arm was resting on his large stomach while the other hung at his side. Eric’s eyes were open and unblinking, staring forever forward.
Sam looked at him and saw that the water running off his body was red. She covered her mouth and stepped into the bathroom. Now that she was closer, she could see the vertical slits in his wrist. The deep cut went into the red meat of his arm. The running water had washed away almost all of the blood, but a few drops remained perched on his gut. At his feet laid Eric’s razor.
Frozen, Sam stood in the bathroom staring at her dead husband. Beside her, a piece of paper fell off the mirror and floated to her feet. The tape at the top of the paper had lost its adhesiveness. Sam bent over and picked up the damp paper. Three sentences written in Eric’s handwriting were on the page, and the ink had begun to run fusing many letters together. Through tear soaked eyes she read:
I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I didn’t mean to get her pregnant.
Sam couldn’t move. Her brain was too busy processing. The furthest thing from her mind was the one thing closest to it when she first entered the bathroom. Eric had his own secrets that he hadn’t told her and it cost him his life. She would never get to tell him about her Chad Time now, and she would never get to know if he knew about it. In the end, he had his own Eric Time and the consequences of it were too great for him.
Sam balled up the note and threw it in the trash. She then went downstairs and called the authorities to report the suicide. After wiping her tears away, she called Chad and told him everything.