Dear Anna – Katie Blanchard

Are you okay, miss?” “Huh?” I turn my attention to the old man standing three feet from me. The smell of rain mixing with asphalt rises and clogs my lungs. My shirt clings to my body from the assault of raindrops. I push my wet hair back with the hand not holding a shopping bag. “Are you okay, miss?” the stranger repeats. “We saw you standing here and we, my wife and I —” he points back toward his van where a worried woman sits staring out the window at me— “wanted to check on you.” His smile is a gentle reminder of a time back when strangers didn’t just pass by without a kind word. “Yes. Sorry, I thought I saw someone I know.” Embarrassment constricts my chest. He follows the direction of my eyes. “That couple in there?” He enquires, as he is involved now in solving my dilemma. I wish he’d leave. “No, they’ve already walked away.” I turn my head again to find my vehicle.

“Thank you, though.” “Sure thing, honey. Take it easy.” He bids me farewell as he walks back to join his wife in their minivan. The rain exposes his body’s hunchback form. “You, too.” I rush to my Mercedes, senses now returning. I feel the coldness of the weather stain my skin, but it’s not what penetrates my bones and makes my blood retreat into frozen icicles. I stare back at the restaurant, pushing my wiper blades to their limit to clear the scene. There before me is my worst fear.

Even with my vision blurred by the weather, I still see my husband of ten years dining with a woman who looks like more than just a business associate as he smooths a stray hair away from her face. My eyes betray me as I watch him kiss the lady on the lips after they place their order with the waitress. There’s familiarity in the curve of her face and the way she holds herself—the angle of her chin and the dip at the end of it. I’ve seen her before. She flicks her hair away, revealing her profile. Anna. I’m great with names. They stick with me instantaneously upon meeting a person. Anna is the secretary whose voice floods my ears whenever I call John’s office. She’s the perky blonde behind the desk whenever I drop something off for him when he is in a business meeting.

Now she is the one leaning across the table in rapt attention as John, my husband, regales her with a story. You got to keep a man interested, Medeia, or he’ll stray. My mother’s mantra comes flooding back in my memory, and I wish I could call her up and tell her all about this. She would know how to fix the damage, but she’s dead — gone not even a year now. I’m left to deal with the ease of John’s hand in Anna’s telling me this isn’t the first time they’ve held onto each other, alone. Their fingers aren’t hesitant to be conjoined. Instead, they flock to each other, taking comfort in the familiarity they find hiding in the nooks of each finger. My eyes stay glued to them as they begin to enjoy their meals, close to the window. It’s as if God is on my side and wants them to be observed by me. I take note of how they don’t even care, how John, in particular, doesn’t care.

My husband is not concerned with the fact that he is on display in a restaurant window with a woman who is not his “A wife. Let the people stare. I search for any trace of a guilty conscience, maybe just a glimpse of him looking over his shoulder to survey the restaurant inhabitants, but I look on in vain. What would he say if I told him someone saw him? Would he lie or fess up? If I were anyone else looking in, I would easily assume they were another couple—not a married man and his whore. I came to the shopping center this afternoon to buy some things for his birthday. Talk about irony. John consumes this day. I had no idea when a familiar sports jacket caught my peripheral vision, that I would find this scene. They don’t see me because they’re too busy laughing and staring at each other like fresh new lovers with no problems. They took no notice of the paralyzed figure in the middle of the parking lot, staring after them.

He never looked for my car to make sure the coast was clear. That’s even more terrifying than the act itself — the blatant disregard. Inside I am frozen, but at the surface, my skin begins to warm from the heat of my emotions. My throat is suffocating me as it tightens with the force of infidelity being lodged there and refusing to move. My jaw rigidly locks in a solid clench of anger. The adrenaline shifts the icicles in my veins to move. He texted me this morning that he couldn’t meet me for lunch because he had to work through it to catch up. He chose her over me. After what I did for him this is my payment? He doesn’t even try to hide his whore from the world, but he is sure not to flaunt his wife in it. And what am I to make of his mistress? No doubt she is young.

My thirty-six-year-old body can still compete, though. I’m an attractive woman, just as she is. Except we are opposites, clear as day. I don’t have to look hard to find what my husband sees in her over me. Her shiny blonde hair falls in curls around her porcelain face. My flat brown straight hair envelopes my olive skin tone. You can tell she is a bubbly person from the way she is bouncing as she talks to him. I have never been one to bounce. Bubbly is for the secretaries, which is what Anna is. John’s secretary.

She giggles and touches his arm. What could be so funny? My husband is not a comedic guy. He doesn’t have a sense of humor. He can stretch out a joke for ten minutes, never reaching the punchline. He’s the type of guy who will explain why something is considered funny and ruin the essence of the joke itself. So, what is making Anna laugh? A joke about his wife who doesn’t suspect a thing, perhaps? Medeia Moore ─ his dedicated wife that does it all for him. I am everything John needs or wants; I make sure of it. I have done everything to keep John’s attention through the years. Am I the reason that they are giving themselves over to fits of laughter? I bow my head, peering at my outfit. The rain has soaked me to the bone, but that’s not what makes me look frumpy.

Lately, I’ve been choosing comfort over style when I go out during the day, yoga pants instead of hip-hugging jeans that express the curves beneath. The things that I hide from John when he isn’t there. I wouldn’t dare wear this when he is around. I gaze back at Anna, and she’s shimmering in a tight bodice dress that I would consider too risqué for the office, but she wears it with confidence oozing from the scarlet color. She’s the woman that unfortunately ends up making the rest of us intimidated and small-feeling. We could arrive as done-up as possible, and she would still knock us down in a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. Her poise allows her to be a knockout in a potato sack bag. On our wedding day, I encompassed that very feeling. I was the spitting image of a princess, with my hair curled and makeup better than a supermodel. Ten pounds lighter and much more svelte, and on that day, John stood before God, family, and friends and swore to forsake all others.

And since that day, I have worked to remain the perfect image of a rich man’s wife: perfect manicure, expensive clothing, heels, hair maintained. It’s a strict grooming regimen to give me the bonus appearance of money. It’s tiresome, and I do let myself go at times when John isn’t home, but I have tried to take his comments into action. I am the perfect woman for John, straight from his design. So, why am I watching him smile at a blonde with spaghetti sauce on her chin? This whorish pig threatens the stability I have dedicated my life to maintain. I feel my shelter slipping through my fingers. I felt like a million dollars on the day that I married him, and today I feel like a cheap penny dropped on the ground and not worthy enough to be picked back up. That’s not fair. I am worth something, as well. My pity party gives way to the righteous anger coursing through my body.

My hand lingers on the door handle, ready to confront him, to tell him what an enormous asshole he is. For all that I have done for him in ten years, that he would dare end it like this. For what I sacrificed to save him. I’ll throw the spaghetti plate in Anna’s face, smear what I imagine is perfect makeup, like her pristine hair. That’s what I’ll do. I yank the handle toward me and jump back into the rain. I feel the adrenaline pumping through me, causing my teeth to chatter. I stomp my way to the first line of cars, looking left and right to cross. This will be my moment. I can’t believe after what I have sacrificed for John; it hasn’t afforded me fidelity.

I’ve turned my whole life over to John’s rules. Why? Then it smacks me in the face like a puddle splashing up from a car. John has all of the money. I came into the marriage with nothing, and that’s why I never strayed from the straight line that I needed to walk to be the perfect wife. If I go in there now and let myself be known, I’ll put myself in a worse position. I’ll be penniless. John has made it legal, thanks to the prenup, that I will never have any of his money to my name if I leave him. He knows it’s my weakness, coming from such a poor family. It’s what we had constructed our lives to be, a safety net so that I don’t end up like my family, and so that we don’t put ourselves in a position similar to the one ten years ago. Oh, god.

I turn and run back to the car, leaning into the steering wheel to hide my tears from shoppers running back to the shelter of their vehicles. I can’t escape my marriage and be better off ─he’s designed it that way. Terror shocks my system. I need to get out of here. I pull the car out of the parking lot, no longer wanting to risk being seen by my husband. If he notices me here now, it will be my demise instead of my triumph. I wipe the tears off my face. He can’t get away with this. I will find a way out. In the quiet of my car, I promise myself that.

It’s not time to confront him, not until I’ve come up with a plan. I’ll be damned if I go back to the shack of my childhood without a fight. Two ohn is a CPA, or at least that was the career that got him to where he is now. After years of proving his talent in the accounting world, John began his company and now runs a multi-milliondollar business by providing people in the Pittsburgh vicinity with their own personal finance team. He has financial advisors, accountants, and others all under his belt now. He’s not anyone’s accountant anymore, now he runs the business and oversees everything. To ensure that he runs the company efficiently, my husband stores a copy of all the employees’ files at home so that he can use the information to better delegate assignments and be able to handle an internal problem amongst coworkers with the advantage of knowing each of the involved party’s history. It has proved beneficial for him to give slack to an employee who has a daughter sick at home. It shows faith in the boss and helps grow loyalty to the company on the employee’s part. John is no doubt an excellent businessman, and a now an equally fantastic liar.

Anna Trayor, however, is not a significant employee or person. She is a twenty-three-year-old girl who was hired on as a temp and then promoted to fulltime when John’s senior secretary retired. She lucked into the position; she didn’t earn it. How cliché and ridiculous it is to start an affair with your secretary. For his power and wealth, my husband is not even aspiring to be something more than a twenty-five-cent smut novel in the back of a clearance rack at a used book store. There are several chicken scratch notes by my husband in her file. Skirt too short, bent over the desk at me today and I saw her red panties. I must remember to tell her to buy some black ones. Why would he be so hurtful and careless to leave a paper trail of evidence for me to find? That note shall remain a deep scar in my mind for all eternity. For some reason or other, my husband has written it down so that he doesn’t forget.

My underwear is nothing of significance. I am the ball and chain, the same old thing he comes home to every day, the one whom John refuses to let work because he doesn’t want that kind of wife. He finds it insulting that I should like to work when he can clearly provide for us. I note that his former secretary, who was older than dirt as he put so lovingly on her file, didn’t get any notes about the color of her panties. I search through a few other records from his department to find that not only is my husband a closeted pervert, but on paper, he appears to be a lousy human being and boss. The personal notes for the employees would be enough to get him sued. Smells like fish, tell her to wash her unused cooter. Doesn’t have a brain cell, but the clients like him. Attempt to transfer his charm on to someone else and then let him go. Dumbest bitch ever but has wealthy friends.

Nothing more about Anna. I will have to dig deeper. Know thy enemy. I lug myself up from the floor and move to continue my day in its regular routine. John has a set of rules for me, something he created for my benefit. “You don’t have the wealthy upbringing that I do. Let me show you some shortcuts and steer you away from this poor life. You want to be rich; I can help with that.” The list became a Bible for my life. I rid myself of friends who were involved in crimes big and small.

That narrowed me down to being friendless. Any new friends were screened by John first, and J he rarely approved of my picks. I began to dress rich; the clothes provided by John. I stopped working in an area overrun with thugs and the poor. It led me to not working at all. John loved this. He cleared my parents’ mortgage for me and my brother’s fines. I hadn’t anything left to work for anyway. We married, and grooming routines like manicures, facials, botox, and haircuts were added — all to keep me on the straight and narrow to leave my old life of bad choices behind. I hear the front door slam and look up to the ceiling.

Every time John does it, it sets my nerves on edge. I have never vocalized my annoyance because I know it’s his way of venting out a tough day. “Good evening, Medeia.” His voice coos around each word as he enters the room. I’m a little taken aback at his ease into our night when his day was rotting from dishonesty. But, little does he know, that tonight will consist of both of us lying to each other. It is in my best interest right now to continue to play my role of the perfect wife. I don’t know enough about the situation to plot my move. “The first thing you have to learn, Medeia, is that you never act on emotion. That’s when things get sloppy.

” My father’s words send shivers up my spine. He acted with emotions one morning and left our whole world in ruins. I won’t take after him. I’ve worked too hard maintaining these rules to end up just like my father. There is no way that I intend to lose this security or go back to a life of meager portions that left me with nothing but desperation to commit crimes. Ten years in a marriage deserves to earn me money. “Hi, honey.” It’s barely an utter, as I pour him a glass of wine just like I do every night, serving my master. I choke back the feeling. “How was work?” “Same as usual.

Making money.” He smiles. “How was your day?” I sip my wine and try to act casual. “Oh, dull and uneventful.” “Perhaps you should pick up a hobby. Lori said you gave her the cold shoulder when she mentioned joining their book club.” He sips his wine and starts walking toward the dining room. “These are the people we need to keep in good graces with, you know. That’s your duty as my wife.” “I don’t feel like participating in the book club, John.

” I sit in my seat at the table as my husband takes his place at the opposite end. “Honey,” he rests his hand on mine, “Is it because of your depression? Is it worsening?” John’s mouth ticks upward on one corner, it’s a hitch he can’t hide, almost like he is happy at the possibility. “No, I feel fine. I think that the book club isn’t the place for me, and I’d be much better served elsewhere. Maybe a job of some sort.” “Honey. You’ve just started making progress in therapy. Let’s not overwhelm you.” He dives into his duck and ends the conversation. Checkmate.

That was John’s new favorite move—therapy. When my mother passed away, I suffered a mental breakdown. I searched for her everywhere on the streets, not wanting to believe that she had gone. John had me admitted to a hospital for a week. “Speaking of that, honey, there is something I wanted to mention to you this evening. I called Dr. Janson and scheduled you an appointment tomorrow at two.” My husband moans into the bite of duck he’s chewing. My therapy is discussed in a passing way, never sincere, and never with a troubled face. I nearly drop my fork onto the porcelain dinner plate adorned with tiny cherubs.

John made me an appointment. Why? I am indeed capable of doing that task myself; I’m not a child. And shouldn’t my mental health and progress be in my hands? “Why did you do that?” I ask. “Well, I heard you crying again this morning in the bathroom. I’m not sure the new medication is working for you. Perhaps you should ask for something stronger tomorrow.” His eyes hold me, and I watch the wetness behind them. He is worried, and the only thing that will erase it from his mind is me handing over control. “Don’t you trust me? I’m only trying to help you.” “Of course, I trust you.

” The words leave my lips before the reality of them sink in. How could I offer up the words to him so quickly when I caught him cheating today? Was I a robot? I bob my head and try to smile back. I cried in the bathroom this morning because today was scheduled to be the day I took my mother to a play she always wanted to see. Othello. I didn’t bother doing anything with the tickets. Instead, I threw on some lousy clothes and pushed myself to run errands, and ended up finding John’s dirty secret. “I’m only thinking of your well-being, Medeia,” he justifies himself. Sure, you are, John. “No, honey. I know you are, I’m not arguing that point.

I’ll go. Two o’clock, right?” I do my best to ease his mind. With the discovery of his infidelity this morning, I can’t risk angering John and upsetting the system. Not until I can put a plan in action to stop the affair or get myself away with more than a dollar to my name. I sink my teeth into the duck, longing for the taste of revenge instead.


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