If You Only Knew

Page 14

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"No, you're right. I'm sorry."
My phone chimes with a text. Adam:
We're home. How's Jenny's place? Should we come over?
A completely normal text. Normal husband talk. "Look at this," I say, wiping my eyes on my sleeve. "I mean, seriously, it was probably a mistake. Whoever sent that just dialed the wrong number."
"It... Sure. It could've been."
I stare at the phone, then hand it to my sister. "Could you answer? Just say the place is a mess and I'll be home later?"
She types my response, then hands me back the phone.
Adam replies, Okay, babe. Love you.
See? He loves me. Of course he does.
When we were engaged, we talked about cheating. I brought it up, even though it was hard, even though my heart was sledgehammering through my chest wall. I mean, I'm not really the ultimatum type, but certain things have to be said. I wouldn't be able to stay with you if you ever cheated, I told him, and he said he'd never, ever do such a thing. He only loved me. He only wanted me.
He didn't feel the need to warn me that cheating would be a deal breaker for him, too. Obviously, I'd never cheat on him. It went without saying, even back then.
He loves our life as much as I do. He wouldn't risk it.
"I think this was all a mistake," I say with more conviction.
Because if it's not, everything is different now.
The doorbell rings. Jenny stands and looks out the window. "Shit. It's Mom. I'll get rid of her. Why don't you hide in the bathroom?"
I obey. My legs feel weak, and that wine is throbbing in my brain, thick and sluggish.
"Hey, Mom, I'm not feeling so good," I hear Jenny say. "I have a wicked headache. And I'm almost done, really."
"You must be so depressed," Mom says. "You look awful. Was it heartbreaking?"
"Um...not really. We've been divorced for more than a-"
"Of course it was. Oh, honey. I'm so sorry for you. Even though Rob's life was cut short, at least we never had to even think about divorce. We might not have had many years together, but we made them count. You don't even have that, you poor thing. Want me to rub your head?"
"I'm good."
Nothing makes our mother happier than discussing the troubles of those around her-even her daughters, and sometimes especially us-so long as she can come out the winner. Those four years that I tried so hard to get pregnant, all she could talk about was how easy it had been for her. When the girls were born by C-section, all of them just about four pounds-which was great, given that they were triplets-Mom delighted in telling me for the thousandth time about how both Jenny and I came into this world at twice that weight. Both you girls were perfectly healthy, she said, sounding slightly perplexed. Well. I'm sure yours will grow.
If she saw me now, she'd home in on me like a missile. And unlike Jenny, I can't hide anything.
My face in the mirror is nearly unrecognizable. I look terrified. I can't lose Adam. I can't. I love him so, so much. There has to be a mistake.
After my father died, I couldn't look in the mirror, because the heartbreak was written over my face so clearly.
I look the same now. Eyes too wide. Skin too white.
They're still talking; Mom doesn't want to leave, wants to talk about Owen's new baby and hear again how Jenny had to deliver her.
"Look, Mom, you're right," my sister says. "I'm incredibly depressed, I have a migraine-"
"I've never had a migraine. I never even get headaches."
"-and just want to be alone so I can wallow. Maybe we can have lunch this week. Come by the shop, okay? It's really cute."
"Yes, but it's hardly Manhattan, is it? I hope you won't go bankrupt. You should've moved to Hedgefield. You could live with me until you get on your feet, and we-"
"Okay, Mom, thanks! Bye." The door closes, and another minute passes. "It's safe," Jenny calls.
My college roommate was from Los Angeles, and she described being in an earthquake. If you can't trust the ground to stay still, she'd said, the entire world seems wrong.
I feel that way now.
"What can I do?" Jenny asks as I come out on my fearful legs.
"I don't know."
I have to believe that Adam was not the intended recipient of that hideous, disgusting picture. How do gynecologists do it all day, look between the legs of their patients and not just...just throw up?
My sister takes my hand. Even though she's younger, she's always been more certain.
I take a deep breath. I'm a mother. I'm not a weakling, and I have to be logical and smart. I have three children with this man. I can't just react. "I have to talk to him, I guess."
"Want me to babysit, and you guys can go somewhere? Or I can take the girls out. They can even stay over here tonight. I'd love that."
"I don't know. I just... I don't know."
My sister nods, then takes a slow breath. "I hate to ask this," she says, "but are there any other...red flags?"
Anything that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was cheating, she means.
"I don't think so. He's been tired lately. But people get tired. He's been working on this really complicated case, and... Well. He's been tired."

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