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Jody was not surprised the evening her husband failed to come home from work. Nor was she surprised the next night or the next or the even night after that.
At the start of the second week with his presence at neither meal nor bedtime, Jody took herself down to First Trust Bank on Crestmont Street. There she learned that the inner voice telling her not to bother with the police had been right. In the moment when the blameless clerk flushed deeply and fixed a stare firmly at the bank’s computer screen, refusing eye contact in answering questions of the state of the marital bank accounts, Jody knew that her husband had not been not the victim of foul play. He, and her money, were well and truly gone. The sputtering hope that he would not join the list of men who had let her down died with the knowledge that he was most assuredly alive.
That night as she poured the last of a bottle of inexpensive red wine into a old canning jar, Jody cried. Not for her husband, for she would have been far more shocked if he’d actually stuck around, but for herself. She wept for the little girl who tried to be good and quiet so that her father would stay, for the teenager who said “yes” when she really wanted to say “no” and found that yes didn’t keep lonliness at bay, for the college sophomore who squinted at the board rather than wear the glasses she needed but refused on her mother’s man-catching advice (she’d had to drop the higher level math courses as a result), and for the woman who sat alone in bed with an empty bottle on the table beside her. She wondered how so much trying, so much effort to be just right, to be deserving, could have brought her back to being alone. Again. Still.
“What did I do?” she cried, eyes flashing heavenward, “Is it so awful to love me?” She swore bitterly, invoking an angel of the childhood faith in which she’d long since stopped believing.
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