Old Checks – A Short Story

 

She knew it was time to simplify her life. She owed it to herself, she was convinced. Having more than one home was getting to be too much for her. She would remember a pair of favorite sandals while in the city, only to realize that she had left them at the cottage during the summer.

Then there was the case of the double-stringed pearls her mother had given her. She had wanted to wear them for her son’s wedding a few years ago. When she went to the bank to take them from the safety deposit box, they were nowhere to be found. She had searched everywhere at the house. She called her sister just in case she may have borrowed it. Nope. It wasn’t until they were back at the cottage for Thanksgiving week that she found the pearls, safely wrapped in felt cloth tucked deep inside her bedside drawer. She quietly shook her head at the memory.

She sighed as she looked around the piles of clothes, boxes, and books all over the floor. The hallway and other rooms were filled with 30 years of accumulated stuff. Stuff that belonged to the kids when they were kids. Stuff that belonged to the kids of their kids. She was glad for her sister’s help with the packing. They had made a few trips to the Salvation Army to donate all sorts of usable clothes, kitchen wares, toys, and all sorts of small appliances they had found in the cupboards and the garage. How could they have three blenders and five toasters? Did the kids bring them over the years and forgotten to take them back?

There were all sorts of dog paraphernalia stored on the laundry room. Old towels, at least 3 cedar beds, drinking bowls, leashes, chew-toys. The dog had been gone for more than five years now. Who knows why they never got around to giving these away. She put them all in boxes and carried them to the garage for the donate pile.

The movers were coming the next day. She had only a few more boxes to open and to decide on. They had been carried by her son to the living room next to her favorite chair. The boxes contained old files. She poured herself some sparkling water from the fridge and padded quietly to her chair.

Some boxes contained old tax returns and cancelled checks from the 70’s and 80’s. How long are we supposed to keep these, she wondered. She noticed several checks in her husband’s neat cursive. They were issued almost daily for quite a few months in 1978 and a few in 1979. Paid to cash, it read. The amounts varied from a few hundreds to several thousands of dollars. The biggest was for forty thousand dollars. Has she seen these before? She looked them over again. She looked at the dates. Then it was as if something warm was poured on her head and it cascaded down to engulf her body. She felt her stomach twist and knot. Her vision dimmed. She blinked and looked around. The room felt foreign. This was the period of his affair.

She remembered the woman was not much younger than her. The hussy had given the sob story that she was running away from an abusive husband who kept her financially dependent on him so she could not leave. They all felt sorry for her. She even asked for help. They recommended legal counsel. It wasn’t until a few months later when she visited her lawyer’s office that the paralegal mentioned that her husband has been to their office quite often, with a woman he said he was helping out. That’s when she started to suspect.

And true enough, the affair had been going on for sometime. She confronted him after a few days spent to confirm her suspicions. He replied with stony silence. She ranted and raved. She beat his chest and scratched at him like an enraged cat. She cried and screamed so much the children all ran to their bedroom. She locked herself in the bathroom. This went on for days. She could not function during the day. He had to bring the children to school. He had to get dinner on the table.

Then, one evening, he sat at her bedside and quietly told her he would stop seeing the woman. She looked at him, unbelieving, as would anyone who has recently felt the acerbic sting of betrayal.

The next day, she showed up at the woman’s workplace. The woman looked aghast, really, at seeing her standing there. She quietly told the woman she was not going to make a scene, but if she so much heard any news that her husband was still seeing her, she would march straight to her employer. And to the woman’s husband, who she never left!

A few months later, a box arrived in the mail addressed to her. When she opened it, there inside were all the things her husband had given the woman. Letters, a necklace, a bracelet, some cards, branded matches from places where they both probably went. She quickly burned them. But that night, she threw the jewelry at his face.

Old Checks (c) photocredit Likeitiz

Old Checks (c) photo credit Likeitiz

She did not know about the money. And now, she was staring at all these cancelled checks. The back was stamped with the bank branch where it was cashed. It was the bank where the woman had worked.

She was so engrossed in her thoughts, she did not notice her son enter the room. He had come to bring her back to the city. He looked at her sad face and then the checks. She said, “Remember that time when your father had the affair? You were all so little. I did not know about all this money he gave her.”

Her son stared at her then quietly put everything in the box and carried them to the car. He came back and took her by the arm. “Mom, I’ll shred those when I get home. Let’s go back to the city. Tomorrow, the doctors want to talk to us about Dad’s condition, remember? You have to get some rest so I can pick you up tomorrow morning.”

“But I did not know about the money,” she whimpered softly.

“Mom, that was more than 30 years ago. What difference does it make now? You and Dad moved on after that.”

“But I never knew about the money,” she insisted.

“He’s dying, Mom. He’s suffered for many years. In a way, is this not retribution enough?” he explained gently. “We know there was no excuse for the affair. But we saw all these years how much he loved you. We want to remember things this way.”

 

This entry was posted in Fiction, growing old, Infidelity, Letting Go, marital infidelity, Marriage, Short Story and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Old Checks – A Short Story

  1. Tears about to jerk from my eyes but as I continue reading I prevented the tears from falling, Whether it’s a formulated story or real, it surely grabbed great sympathy, I can almost feel her hurt…. truly beautifully written.

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  3. eof737 says:

    This is a beautiful story… well done!

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  4. Writerlious says:

    This is a beautiful piece. It’s a touching portrayal of love and betrayal, infidelity and family. About the secrets every family has hiding beneath the surface.

    Thanks so much for being brave enough to share this with us! 🙂

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  5. munchow says:

    A very touching story about love and infidelity. And sadness of course. I can certainly relate to the woman, but think the boys reaction was healthier. But of course rationality is one thing where as emotions may take us in a totally different direction. Beautifully written.

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    • likeitiz says:

      It is a sad day when you are betrayed by someone you love. I wanted to show how the rational course to take is there and makes perfect sense but reopening an old wound lays bare a multitude of memories, guilt, regret, even helplessness.

      Glad you enjoyed it.

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  6. Oh, my. This one one vivid, touching story that doesn’t even feel so stranged because at one point in my life, something similar happened to my very close family. I can see where the woman in coming from. Yes, she forgave then but being human, finding years after of another secret , it is hard not to react, to be angry, to feel betrayed. My knew in a small fraction what it meant to be betrayed and be fooled by someone you trust. The only difference, the husband in your story had a changed of heart and sought forgiveness. In my version, the offender was a proud and evil man who took pride in his scamming people, even his wife. Till today, I pray that I may totally forgive and for the family I knew to open her eyes to the truth about her husband. Superb story telling!

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    • I meant, mine is a small fraction of what it meant to be betrayed…

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      • likeitiz says:

        Thank you, IT. Betrayal is very painful. I wish we could shield our children from this experience but unfortunately, we can’t. It’s yet another human experience. Iabetrayal worse from a next of kin? A spouse? A child? Your own flesh and blood, as they say? Perhaps.

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  7. I was so engrossed with your story. A true story I supposed? I think you can write a novel.

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  8. Gilly Gee says:

    Goodness it makes me wonder if we can ever know the whole story.

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