She likened it to packing for a week-long trip – changes of clothes, snacks, drinks, extra shoes, a sweater in case it turns cold, medicine and emergencies contact telephone numbers, a camera, games, toys, the list was impressive. All this for only one person, and a tiny person at that. A morning outing took hours of prep time.
It would be good to get out of the house. Tensions had been running high lately. She knew something was wrong, but as usual he was giving her the silent treatment. Rainy weather only added to the gloom, so the first nice day in a week was the perfect reason for a play day at the park.
Glad for the towel she thought to bring, Laura wiped rainwater off the park bench, tucking the day bag under her seat. A new paperback she held open in her lap, it was mainly for show, she knew she wouldn’t be reading it. Bella had run off as soon as they entered the park. She’d want to show off on the playground and Laura would need to be an attentive audience.
The fresh air felt good, and Laura could feel some of her stress melting away. Being outside, laughing and playing, was just what they both needed. Other mothers, on other benches, seemed to have the same idea, letting their cooped up kids loose on the world. Bella was already making friends with two other girls about her age.
The nice day had brought Mallory to the park too. Close to work, she liked to spend her lunches there. Seeing Laura was a surprise. They had never met, but she recognized the other woman. One night while Tony was asleep, she had rummaged through his wallet, finding their wedding photo. It was faded, but she would know Laura’s face anywhere. Tony claimed Laura knew about their affair, but not who Mallory was. She still wouldn’t agree to a divorce. Just another way she was making his life hell.
Tony would be angry if she confronted Laura, but she could watch her and not talk. She wanted to see for herself what kind of woman she really was, see if she was the total bitch Tony made her out to be. She took a seat on the other end of the bench Laura was sitting on, taking out her lunch, Mallory nodded a ‘hello’ to Laura, then tried to look preoccupied with her meal.
Look at what she’s wearing. Spending all of Tony’s money on herself. Those shoes alone had to cost a couple of hundred. With all this water, she’ll ruin them. What a waste. She really is a thoughtless bitch.
I’m going to send Stella some flowers to thank her for telling me about the little slut’s lunch routine. She looks exactly how I pictured. Young and cheap. Tony’s so predictable.
Laura smiled at her daughter, amazed at how easily she made friends. Bella and her two new BFFs were taking turns jumping over puddles, applauding each other for particularly outstanding feats of grace. She couldn’t help but giggle.
I bet that book she’s reading is one of those trashy romance novels. She would like mindless drivel like that. Tony told me how stupid and shallow she was. She has a dumb laugh too.
What was he thinking? Did he really believe I wouldn’t find out? Maybe if he paid Stella better she wouldn’t have ratted him out.
The sun was making the air steamy and hot, Laura pulled out the day bag, digging through it until she found one of Bella’s juice boxes.
A juice box! What an idiot! How can Tony stand it? She looks ridiculous drinking that. She won’t give him a divorce because she wants all of his money but she’ll drink kiddie drinks?
I can only imagine the stories Tony’s told her to make her believe I’m the bad wife. I bet there are few things he didn’t tell her though. Let’s see if I can enlighten her.
Like a bee to nectar, Bella looked up the moment Laura took her first sip. Laura smiled, and held up a second juice she had pulled out for her daughter.
“Do you want to share with your new friends,” Laura asked, as she handed a bright blue box to Bella when she ran up to the bench.
“Pluleezze” Bella said, a slight lisped on her esses. Laura pulled out two more boxes, getting a quick kiss before Bella ran off to join the other girls. “Lub you mommy,” Bella shouted over her shoulder.
Laura smiled at her bench mate, shrugging at the flightiness of little girls. The woman had such a pained expression, she almost laughed.
That face is priceless! I knew it! He didn’t tell her about Bella. Score one for me.
They have a daughter?! Tony never said anything about them having a kid!
Mallory’s mind was reeling. This was not what she expected to find out. They had a child together. There was no mistaking the little girl was Tony’s. She had his same jet black hair and blue eyes. That couldn’t be a coincidence.
When Laura shifted in the seat, Mallory worried she was about to talk to her, so she focused on her half eaten lunch. Instead, Laura stood up to take off her rain coat, draping it over the arm of the bench. Stealing a quick sideways glance while the other woman was in silhouette, Mallory got another shock. Laura was at least five months pregnant, the oversized coat camouflaging her expanding belly.
Mallory stiffened, grasping the arm of the bench. This wasn’t right.
This is almost too easy. I can just hear him now telling her we don’t have sex. I wonder how long he told her? Six months, a year.
She can’t be pregnant! Tony swore they haven’t slept together in forever. He’d’ve dumped her in a second if she was screwing around. He lied to me… is lying to me!”
Mallory jumped when Laura’s phone rang.
“Hi sweetheart… You better be listening to this.
“I know, I’m sorry too. He was never going to leave me for you.
“I’d really like that. I can call mom, she’s been asking about Bella coming for a sleepover. It’d be nice for just the two of us to have some time alone before the baby comes. I hope you heard that! We’re going away, just Tony and me.
“No, we took advantage of the beautiful day and are at the park. Bella’s burning off some excess energy. I thought it would never stop raining, I’ve had this planned for over a week.
“The one at the corner 6th and Monroe. That’s right, we’re just outside your building.
“Yes, that’s the one. If you look out your window you might be able to see us. If you look out you’ll see me and your whore.
“That would be great, we haven’t had lunch yet either. We can meet you somewhere. Are you listening? He is staying with me!
“Benny’s is perfect. Bella loves their tacos. Give me about 15 minutes to corral her. We have a history together, a family.
“I love you too baby.” He loves me, not you!
As soon as Laura hung up her phone, Mallory’s began to buzz, telling her she was getting a text message. Fishing her phone out of her jacket pocket, she wasn’t surprised at what she read.
[we need to talk]
She looked up at the building overlooking the park. Trying to spot Tony’s office, she wondered if he had looked out and saw Laura in the park, and that she was there too. Was he worried they’d been talking?
Mallory knew what the call was about. Tony was going to end it with her, not Laura. He had made his choice and it wasn’t her. Now she had a choice. Say nothing to the woman next to her still thinking Laura was completely unaware, or tell her that for the last six months she had been having an affair with her husband, a man who painted her as a miserable shrew.
Laura was gathering her coat and bag, waving Bella over to the bench. Mallory knew if she was going to say anything she needed to do it before they left the park. It was either now or never. Looking up, Laura was standing directly in front of her.
“I know who are and what you’ve been doing. He was never leaving me and Bella, especially now that I’m carrying a son. You stay away from him, do you understand me? My old man is a retired police captain. I know exactly what to do so no one would ever find your body. Am I clear?”
Mallory swallowed hard, trying to find her voice, “crystal.”
Bella skipped up to the two women. Laura took her hand and they turned to walk away.
“Did you make a new friend too mommy?”
“No, honey. I was just giving her directions to where she needed to go.”
For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Billy Flynn challenged me with “a woman (or man) sits down beside another woman (or man), they are strangers; tell a story through their thoughts; neither speaks to the other until the very end.” and I challenged Trish with “well-behaved women rarely make history.”