Clyde and Marissa Thomas had an average relationship. Seven years had proved that the two were accepting enough to tolerate each other and their lackluster marriage. Also a product of these seven years was their daughter, Sarah, who the father adored but the mother paid
|Love Letters: A short story by Marjorie Allen|
little attention to. The years they had spent together were not necessarily unhappy. They had their laughs and eventually learned to enjoy each otherâ€™s company for their daughterâ€™s sake. But at the same time, seven years spent together left both of them wanting more from life. And yet, it was understood that to break what they had going was out of the question.
It was November; Clyde and Marissa had just celebrated their anniversary, and for weeks now, Marissa had been receiving anonymous gifts from an adoring nobody. At first, the gifts were insignificant and gave Clyde no reason to worry in the least. In fact, they were quite laughable. To think that anyone would be trying to woo his wife was a little absurd. Not to say that he didnâ€™t find Marissa attractive. She wasâ€¦in her own way. No, it was illogical that anyone would pursue his wife because she was, bluntly put, a very harsh woman. Many and most conversations he had with her ended in an argument and with Clyde sleeping on the couch. She thought everyone below her and showed little affection towards anyone, even her own daughter. He often wondered at how much she had changed in those first few months of their young marriage. At the beginning of their relationship, Marissa was fun and full of life. There was never a dull moment when she was around. But now...well, now she was obviously not the Marissa he once knew. Within a monthâ€™s time the gifts grew more lavish, and with each gift, Clyde grew more and more suspicious. A trinket or a card here and there hadnâ€™t bothered him. Marissa had no explanation for these and acted just as unaffected as Clyde did during the first week or two. He supported her, of course, but on the inside he doubted her innocent charade. Normally, it would sound strange for a faithful husband to mistrust his wife so fully. But Marissa, herself, did not treat the situation normally. Instead of throwing out the many bouquets and boxes of candy, she kept them. At one point, she even displayed one of the flower arrangements on their familyâ€™s kitchen table. Obviously, there was some sort of sentimental attachment, and this began to unsettle Clyde greatly. Eventually, he decided to confront Marissa with the issue. She dismissed the subject completely, claiming that she still had no idea who it was sending the gifts to her. She also briefly mentioned something about an old boyfriend, but also waived off this subject when Clyde ask for a further explanation. The mention of somebody else enraged Clyde. All of a sudden, he felt protective of Marissa and the thought of her rekindling her relationship with an old boyfriend crept its way into the back of his mind and ate away at his sanity in the following weeks. Finally, the couple had grown so separated that Clyde decided to cancel his work trip that he had planned and signed the two of them up for marriage counseling. Marissa did not enjoy the idea, she approached the idea warily, but did not altogether refuse the proposition. So, the following week, instead of going to his promotional training in Georgia, Clyde hired a babysitter and took Marissa to the couplesâ€™ therapist so that they could sort things out and get back to their normal life. Once in the therapistâ€™s office, the three of them discussed the recent happenings with the gifts and whatnot. Clyde and the therapist tried their best to figure out what was making the couple so estranged. Unfortunately, due to Marissaâ€™s stubborn nature and her refusal to take accountability or explain her story, no progress was made during their session. But meanwhile, unbeknownst to Clyde and Marissa, Jennifer, the babysitter, had already put their daughter to bed and was having herself a good time going through their belongings. After raiding their kitchen for a snack, Jennifer proceed to rifle through Clydeâ€™s sock drawer and when she could find nothing of interest, Marissaâ€™s vanity caught her attention from out of the corner of her eye. She went and sat, inspecting herself in the mirror holding up different pieces of jewelry she found laying there on the counter. Jennifer quickly lost interest in the simple party jewels, and opened the drawers of the vanity in search of something that appealed more to her taste. She eventually reached the last drawer and went to open it but found that is was stuck. She tugged at it a couple times until it finally came loose with one giant pull, causing the vanity chair to tip and the drawer to come flying out, its contents fluttering to the ground. Quickly trying to right everything, Jennifer began to throw all the papers back into the drawer. Finally getting everything put back right, she placed the drawer back in its place and turned the chair back up into its proper position. A little shaken up from the incident, Jennifer, still on the floor, sat back and tried to steady her heart rate. Her curious nature always got the better of her, but she had never been caught snooping and and didnâ€™t plan on breaking that record now. A little bit calmer, she went to stand up when she felt something by her hand. Surprised, she looked down and found a stray photo sitting next to her in the dim bedroom. Jennifer picked it up and sat cross-legged to examine it more closely. Immediately, she knew what it was she held in her hand and she desperately wished she had never seen it. She rushed for the vanity and threw open the bottom drawer and poured out its contents once again. Most of what she found was just more pictures that she didnâ€™t bother to look at, but there were also many pages of loose-leaf paper that had messages scribbled on them. She picked one of the papers up and read it. It was a love letter. Rushing, Jennifer put all but one photo back and also grabbed one of the love letters. She ran back into the living room and waited anxiously on the couch for Marissa and Clyde to return home. She was nervous to say the least. She didnâ€™t have to wait long. The evidence sat before her on the coffee table when she saw the headlights of their car flash across the blinds. Marissa burst in and walked past Jennifer without so much as a hello, and went into the kitchen to take out a wine glass, an annoyed look on her face. Shortly thereafter, Jennifer turned to watch Clyde sulk past the doorway and drop down into one of the kitchen chairs, looking completely defeated. â€œAre you okay?â€ Jennifer asked him, standing up and picking up the objects sitting on the coffee table. â€œOf course heâ€™s okay, you little twit. Why wouldnâ€™t he be?â€ Marissa spat from the kitchen. Jennifer walked around the couch to hand Clyde the evidence. â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ she said, half to Marissa but mostly towards Clyde. â€œWhatâ€™s that?â€ a drunken Marissa started. Clyde looked down at the two things Jennifer had laid in his hands. He studied them slowly for a minute or two, perhaps reading the letter rather than staring at the picture. He laid them back down on the kitchen table for Marissa to see. Clyde stood and walked towards the door. He was tired, Jennifer could tell. Marissa walked over from the kitchen to look at the objects and then wailed. â€œNow how did you get these?â€ she yelled angrily out at nobody in particular, then sat in a chair and worked on her third glass of wine. â€œJennifer, go home,â€ Clyde said softly. â€œAre you sure?â€ she asked. He nodded. â€œOkay,â€ she conceded, and slowly left the house. Clyde turned and walked to his daughterâ€™s bedroom, made her a bag of clothes and put her in the car before going back into the house. â€œMarissa, I want a divorce. My lawyer will contact you, but meanwhile Iâ€™m taking Sarah and weâ€™re gonna go stay with my parents.â€ Marissa did not respond, she only sat and stared at the wall, unaware that she had done anything wrong. â€œGoodbye,â€ Clyde said, shutting the door. Walking back to his car, Clyde saw a pair of headlights approaching his driveway. The car stopped, so he went to go see what the person wanted so late at night. The car window rolled down revealing the driver. Immediately he recognized the face. How could he not after just staring at it minutes before? â€œCan I help you?â€ Clyde asked almost stupidly, completely taken aback by the situation. â€œYeah, do you know if a Marissa Thomas lives here?â€ he asked. Clyde dumbly nodded. â€œYeah, you see, I used to know her a few years ago and I wanted to visit her while her husband was in Nebraska or somewhere or another.â€ Clyde just turned around without answering, too exhausted and defeated to care. He climbed into his car and drove to his parentsâ€™ house where they took him in without any questions until the morning. He tucked Sarah into bed and fell asleep on the floor next to her, more happy to be sleeping there than anywhere else in the world.