My trip had been grueling. A seventeen hour flight followed by a nearly hour-long cab ride thanks to the heavy traffic. All the weekend beach goers making their way home on a Sunday evening. I was tired but relieved. John would be so surprised. We expected to be celebrating our anniversary on two different continents, via a Skype connection.
However, I’d worked through the weekend and most of the evenings during my trip. After all, what would an American woman on her own do in an industrial city in China for fun? My choices were nil. I ordered room service each night and kept at my laptop until it was time to go to bed. Happily, I’d managed to finish up my project a full three days early and exchange my return ticket at minimal cost.
The lights were on in the living room when the cab pulled up in front of my home. John’s car was in the driveway. I paid the cabdriver and hauled my bags to the door. As I let myself in, I wondered whether John had eaten dinner yet; if maybe he’d want to get takeout. I could go for Mexican food. Or maybe a pizza… Granted, he would still owe me a romantic dinner when I got over my jet lag.
The house was quiet and John wasn’t in the living room. I was just about to yell out to him when I saw the wine bottle and the lipstick stain on the glass. My heart squeezed in my chest. I left my luggage in the foyer and walked to the back of the house. No one was in the kitchen either. I stood still and listened. Although the house was quiet, it didn’t feel empty. From the second floor came the quiet murmurings of a conversation.
Perhaps my exhaustion was making me emotional, I thought, but dread began to wash over me in a wave. This could not be happening. Not today. Not on my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
I returned to the foyer and slowly, quietly climbed the stairs. The voices were more distinguishable now, coming from the spare bedroom John used as an office. I swallowed hard, holding back the tears that threatened. Was it some small comfort that he hadn’t taken his woman to the bed he shared with me?
The light was on in the room. I took a deep breath and braced myself for what I was about to see. I heard John say, “I’m so excited. Let’s do this.”
As I put my hand on the doorknob, I heard my phone ring downstairs and I pushed the door open to find my husband at his laptop, the Skype connection open and my friends and family gathered around the desk behind him.