I have never been the type of wife who snoops on her husband. I don’t search his pants pockets before tossing them into the wash or inspect shirt collars for lipstick stains. I have never sat in the dark scouring over text messages or scrutinizing credit card statements in search of hotel charges.
Today that changed.
It was purely accidental. I wasn’t trying to find anything; I wasn’t even looking. I was simply cleaning the kitchen counter when a loose string from my washrag got tangled on one of the brass latches on the front of his briefcase. I didn’t realize it until the briefcase went sliding off the counter and smashing onto the floor. The top flew open and loose papers scattered about. I knelt beside the mess and began gathering the papers and placing them back inside. That’s when I noticed it, poking out from behind a yellow legal pad, a photograph.
I tugged at its corner and my husband’s smiling face emerged. Even after nineteen years of marriage the sight of him still made my stomach flip with excitement. As I kept pulling, the other half of the photo appeared and that’s when everything changed. That is when I found out about my husband’s affair.
Rick was in the shower washing away gym sweat which meant I had at least twenty-minutes to analyze the body language between my husband and this woman.
They were standing on a beach with the sun setting behind them, or rising, I couldn’t tell. The woman was in the forefront of the photo, her arms stretched out in front of her taking the photo. He was standing behind her, his arms wrapped around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder. He looked happy. The way he was holding her with such tenderness. He cares for her. There was an easiness about them, the kind that builds over time. I realized then that their relationship didn’t consist of this one photograph.
The back of my throat burned, my eyes filled. The woman appeared ten if not fifteen-years- younger than Rick. The texture of his skin appeared rough and damaged next to hers. The wavy strands of grey running along his hairline were accentuated against her auburn locks; the wrinkles around his eyes deepened in contrast to her seamless skin. His midlife crisis so obvious. For a moment I felt sorry for the man in the photo, but then reality reminded me that man was my husband.
I placed the picture into my purse and continued with my cleaning.