Secrets of a Wife is a short regarding certain aspects of modern marriage. I will be posting a story a day for a good while. These short-stories and shorts will likely be a part of the next collection in the Worked Stiff Series, Worked Stiff: Short-Stories to Tell Your Boss. Your feedback is always appreciated. Happy Reading!
Secrets of a Wife
Back at the house, Linda continued to tidy up the kitchen. When she stashed the cookies and made small preparations for her usual guest, the act felt both methodical and therapeutic. These small actions tended to make her appear human for a change, less problematic. Linda remembered when she hated the domestic portions of married life so much that she opted for a live in maid. This idea had thrilled both her and her husband at the time. Having both adults out of the house fourteen hours a day meant flying over and past domestic responsibilities. The maid filled the void, gave an anchor to the cave that was their home.
She chuckled to herself as she dried the cookie sheets, as her mother had done, the auto washer idle for weeks. She remembered her forty-two-year-old self-setting the clever maid trap for her husband. Yes, they did need someone to take care of them and watch over the house. Yes, they both agreed this was the best solution for their hectic but loving home. She took it upon herself to hire a live-in servant. She also made it a point to find the most beautiful. The top candidate had been a graduate student at her university, in another department of course. She chose a person she felt could be more trusted with her possessions, but not her husband. This was a test, for her at least. Linda thought that she could gauge what her husband, and all men for that matter, lusted after.
As smart and accomplished as she was, in this, she couldn’t have been more wrong. Linda found just the right treat too, someone who was both pretty and smart. The new hire was intelligent, yet easily domesticated and, the most important trait, fertile. This was a test not only of her husband’s affection for other women but litmus for a promise that had defined their marriage. No children, careers prominent. Linda thought that if she tricked her husband by getting him to bite on the pretty maid, adultery would have been nothing compared to the misunderstanding of their shared life purpose, their work.
Linda had obtained two doctorate degrees from different universities, taught geology at a third, won numerous awards, and published works all over her field, spilling into others. For a time when she cared, she was surpassing Michael’s academic success with ease and quiet competition. Michael was so supportive, and still was after Linda turned her back to corporate fortune and decided to stay an academic. Michael knew that in order to make his machines breathe life, he would undoubtedly have to be successful and earn hoards of money. That was his option, but in her mind, she was still smarter for not taking the cake. She reinforced this choice to herself while taking off her apron and worrying about the corporate goons whispering in the shadows, plotting against Michael’s success.
She made her way upstairs in her parent’s old house and stood in front of the mirror. She looked at and touched softly the neck and shoulders seen in the reflection. She hardly recognized these parts as hers. She thought: “How could I have failed to lure my husband between the legs of another woman?” Linda had suspicion all along that what he really wanted was a plaything housewife. All the while, she was ignoring what she still truly desired, to bear children. She tried to prescribe her own cure onto a twenty-three-year-old beauty. It didn’t work. Her stupid, sweet, dog-haired husband had the dapper sensibilities and the eccentric charm to be both the best thing for a young, smart play-bunny trap, and the worst. He was completely oblivious to the advances of younger, attractive women that he struck out already on several known sexual conquests. Michael was awkward. Linda caught him a few times looking in public, especially from behind, so she thought she made just the right choice in maids.
In the end, Linda knew less about her husband’s extramarital tastes and even less about herself. A few weeks after the maid quit, finished with her degree, Michael looked up blank from his toast and asked, “Where’s Cindy?”
Remembering she expected company, Linda changed into less domestic apparel and tucked those facts, along with many other secrets, into a tiny box below her stomach.