Today’s story is inspired by Beki Hodgman. Beki is a dear friend. She can do just about anything! She’s creative and crafty, organized and friendly, a great mom and wife…I really shouldn’t list all of her good qualities. It would make us all feel a little less capable. But, here’s the best thing; Beki is humble. I’ve never heard her toot her own horn. Not even once in the nearly 15 years I’ve known her. Beki has begun a life seeking justice. And I’m very proud of her for that. You can read about that in this blog post where she discusses a commitment to justice.
And, now, here is Beki’s idea…
“Kady, 24. She has 2 small children, has little/no education.
Characteristics: Emotionally has extreme highs and lows, fiercely loves her children, low self-esteem and self-worth, always needing to prove herself.
Her husband serves in the Army and has been in the Middle East for most of their short marriage.
Conflict: Her rationalization of her adulterous relationship that transpires while her husband is deployed.”
Kady stood in front of the mirror. Her red dress dangerously tight. The make-up she applied was just a shade too dark. Her hair was a messy up-do. She stared herself down.
“Kady, you got every right to have fun,” she said to her reflection. “It’s been a hard couple years. You got a sitter and you’re lookin’ cute. There’s nothin’ wrong with goin’ out and blowin’ off some steam.”
She slipped her feet into the stilettos and grabbed her purse. The babysitter sat on the couch, clicking the remote.
“Hey, Bree, I’ll be back later on. Make sure the babies go to bed at nine.”
“Yup.” The girl didn’t look up.
“You have my number?”
“I’ll be at dinner with a couple friends. But I’m gonna put the phone on vibrate.”
“You look a little too dressed up for dinner,” Bree said. “Are you going out with that guy?”
“There’s soda in the fridge.” Kady ignored the girl’s question. She hoped Bree wouldn’t notice.
Headlights flashed through the front window. The driver honked.
“See ya,” Bree said.
Kady walked out of the house. Not even kissing her kids. It always made this harder.
The truck in the driveway belonged to a man. Not her husband. Not her brother. Not her friend.
“You look good, babe,” he said when she opened the door and climbed in.
“Thanks, let’s go.” She closed the door. “Just to the motel.”
“I ain’t gonna argue with that.”
They used each other. There was no emotion expressed. No intimacy reached. She’d pretended there was, though. She closed her eyes and imagined that he loved her. That he treasured the time with her. For more than just sex. But for a relationship. And when it was over she knew that it had meant nothing.
She was just empty.
The phone buzzed from her purse. It was Daryl.
“Who’s that?” the man asked.
“My husband,” she answered.
“Okay. I’ll be quiet.”
“Daryl, you weren’t supposed to call until tomorrow.”
“I know. I just wanted to check in on you.” Daryl sounded so clear through the phone.
“Well, we’re doing good. Is everything okay?”
“It’s hot here. I know I been here a long time, but it seems it just keeps gettin’ hotter and hotter.”
“Are you in Baghdad again?”
“No. Islamabad. Or somethin’ like that. All the cities look the same. Same buildings and trucks and ugly dogs.”
“Did you find out when you can come home?”
“Nope. That’s not somethin’ I can tell you, Kady. Sorry. How’re the kids?”
“They’re good. Gettin’ big.”
“Can I say ‘hi’?”
“They’re sleepin’.” She lied. They wouldn’t be in bed for another hour. But he wouldn’t know that. He knew nothing about his children.
“Well, I only got a second more to talk. Love ya’.”
“Me too.” She said. But she didn’t feel it. And she didn’t believe it. They hung up, not sorry for ending the conversation.
She got dressed. “Take me home.”
“But we just started this party,” the man said. “I brought some goodies.”
“Just take me home.”
“I ain’t leavin’. You wanna leave, you better walk.”
She wanted to tell him that he meant nothing to her. Just a way for her to feel wanted, to pretend that she was loved. More than just an “I love you” on the phone from Iraq.
“Call me a cab.”
“Nope. Do that yourself.”
“I don’t know where we are.”
“Sure sounds like a problem.”
She slammed the door behind her. Started walking. The heels were killing her feet, but she didn’t want to risk taking them off and stepping on glass. She figured out which road would take her to the bus stop. She had over a mile to walk.
The phone buzzed again.
“Kady.” It was Daryl again. “What is goin’ on over there. Somethin’ ain’t right and I wanna know what it is.”
“No. Nothin’s right, Daryl.”
“You’re gone. I don’t know you no more. The babies don’t hardly know they got a daddy. I’m lonely. I need you to come home.”
Daryl was quiet on the other end.
“I’ve been doin’ something real bad, Daryl. I messed up. And you ain’t gonna want me no more.”
“What did you do?” His voice was quiet, scared.
“There’s a man…”
“No, Kady. How could you?”
“It don’t mean nothin’ to me. I’m just so lonely.”
“No. That ain’t right.”
“I needed somebody just to touch me.” She stopped walking. “Last time you was home you didn’t never, you know, try with me.”
“Who’s taking care of the kids?”
“Bree. She been watchin’ them a couple nights a week.”
“You meetin’ that guy a couple times a week? Kady. You’re killin’ me.”
“How can I fix it?”
“Let’s just talk about it when you come home.”
“How about we get that divorce I talked about? Last time I was home I put the papers in our lock box. Get ’em out and sign ’em. It’ll be cheap if you don’t fight it.”
“I thought we could make it work.”
“You was wrong. Sign the papers. Get it over with.”
“I love you.” This time she felt something. More akin to grief than love.
“I wish you did. But it ain’t in you to love no one.” He cleared his throat. “I’ll be asking for custody as soon’s I get home.”
She hung up the phone. Just a push of a button disconnected her from her husband. How easily conversations and relationships could be severed.
A truck pulled up next to her. It was the man.
“Come on, baby. You know I was just kiddin’ ya! Get in. I’ll drive you home.”
“Go away,” her voice was edgy. “Leave me alone. I just want to be by myself.”
“Whatever you say. I can find somebody else that’ll party with me.”
He drove away, spraying her with dust and pebbles.
She walked for hours before she got home. Bree sat on the couch, watching television.
“You look terrible. What happened to you?” Bree stood.
“You don’t need to know.” Kady slumped on the couch and sobbed.
She let Bree hold her. Stroke her hair.
“It’s all going to be alright,” Bree whispered. “I promise. You’ll be okay.”
Kady didn’t believe it.