Ready for this week’s prompt?
You inadvertently run an important paper through the shredder.
Want to play along? Check out Romantic Encounters. 😀
“I came over as soon as I could. How is she?” Donna threw her bag onto a nearby chair; her eyes remained focused on the teenage girl in front of her.
“She’s … out of it,” the girl said, her dark blue lipstick shimmering in the late afternoon sunlight. “She’s depressed. She’s shocked. She’s pissed,” she suddenly poked herself in the chest. “I’M pissed. What the hell was he thinking?”
Donna had known the girl her entire life. She could see the hurt lurking behind the brave mask. She put an arm around the girl’s bony shoulders and held on tight even when the girl tried to initially throw her support off. After several long, tense moments, the girl broke down and began to cry, burying her head into Donna’s shoulder.
“I’m going to have makeup all over my blouse,” Donna absently thought as she stroked the girl’s blue-streaked hair. She continued to hold the girl for several minutes as she cried out her emotions.
Betrayal was never easy to deal with, let alone when you were a 16-year old girl.
“I’m sorry,” the girl said, her voice muffled by Donna’s blouse.
“Don’t be. You’re justified.”
She sniffed. “I need a tissue.” She pulled back and went over to an end table to snag a tissue from the box decorated with hearts all over it.
Donna suddenly had the urge to rip that box into several tiny pieces.
The girl blew her nose then spat out a bitter laugh. “This is the worst Valentine’s Day in history. Love SUCKS!”
Donna gave her a few minutes to compose herself before quietly asking, “Where is she, Alexandria.”
She shrugged a shoulder toward the back of the house. “In the office. But I warn you, she won’t come out. I’ve been trying to get her to open the door for the last hour and …nothing.”
“What is she doing in there?”
“I don’t know. I heard some crashes earlier. I thought maybe she hurt herself. But when I pounded on the door and demanded an answer, she just said to leave her alone – she needed time to regroup, or some shit like that.” Alexandria wrapped the soggy tissue around her nose again and gave a noisy honk.
“Right. Tell you what. Why don’t you make some coffee, or maybe some sandwiches –“
“None of us are hungry, Aunt Donna.”
“I know that, sweetie. But just do it, okay? I’m going to try and get her to open the door.”
Alexandria snorted. “Yeah. Good luck with that.” She stomped into the kitchen, her combat boots heavy enough to vibrate the floor.
She took a moment to gulp in some fresh air before heading down the hallway. She passed several family portraits – Mary had always made sure they had had their pictures taken every year, without fail, even when Alexandria had vehemently protested – when she stopped in front of the door leading to the office.
She lifted a hand and rapped her knuckles sharply against the door. She paused to listen. All she could hear was the steady hum of some machine.
“Go away, Alex. I don’t want to talk right now,” her sister’s voice ground out. She could tell by the tone that she still had a tight rein on her anger.
“It’s Donna, Mary. Let me in.”
She wasn’t sure what she had expected. Mary wasn’t exactly an open book. She had always been a bit unpredictable, even growing up, so she wasn’t sure that she would even talk to her in the first place, but she jumped when the door suddenly flung open and Mary reached a hand out to drag Donna quickly inside the room.
“Hey!” Alexandria’s voice could be heard coming down the hallway. “No fair! I want to come in, too!”
“Later, honey! I need to talk to Aunt Donna first,” Mary slammed the door and then turned her tear-streaked face toward her sister. “That low-lying piece of pond scum,” she hissed. “Can you BELIEVE he would do something like this to me?”
Donna blinked at the mess in the office. Her sister was rather anal about keeping things tidy. In fact, she remembered trying to convince their mother that she was OCD when they were little and that she had needed help, her obsession for order was so outrageous growing up. But the otherwise spotless office was in complete disarray. Papers were everywhere. The cushion on the office chair had been ripped and fluffy, white stuffing peeked through the jagged leather edges. The fax machine had been pulled off the table and was lying in pieces on the floor. The curtains had been shredded and several pictures had been ripped off the walls, the glass cracked, but not broken, like she had stomped on the faces of her loved ones.
A cold chill suddenly went up her spine at the sheer destruction around them. She had never seen her sister this upset before.
“What the …” Donna began.
Mary interrupted her. “I saw them — together,” she ground out between clenched teeth.
“Saw … them together?” Donna repeated. “How? “When? Doing what?” Though she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer to the last one.
“I went out for my usual coffee,” Mary began. “I was running late because Alex and I couldn’t agree on her outfit today. I swear, Donna, that girl’s clothes get smaller every day. I’ll be damned if she walks out of here showing any more skin than she already does. Anyway,” she waved a hand impatiently. “We couldn’t agree. So, I told her when she was ready to compromise, I would take her to school. In the meantime, I needed to get some air, to get away from her before I did something stupid, and went out to get my coffee. That’s when I saw ….. THEM.” She spit the last word out so fiercely that drops of spittle dotted Donna’s cheek.
“So … you saw … what exactly?”
“I saw Lou with a very attractive woman at the coffee shop,” Mary responded. Every syllable was enunciated to imply that Donna was too stupid to totally understand what was going on
Donna had to admit, she didn’t see what the big deal was.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” she said, verbally expressing her thoughts.
Mary had been rummaging in the desk while they were speaking and suddenly shot straight up, a piece of paper clutched in her hand.
“He’s been acting weird for weeks, Donna. Very secretive. Very shifty. That’s not like him. We tell each other everything. We don’t keep secrets from each other. That was a deal we made back when we were dating.” She bent down and pulled out what looked like a trash can from under the desk.
“So you naturally assumed, by his strange behavior, that he was having an affair. And when you saw Lou with that woman at the coffee shop today, that just sealed the deal for you, didn’t it.”
Mary couldn’t help but flash a bitter smile at Donna’s assessment. “That’s why I love you best, Donna. You know me so well.”
She sighed. “Indeed I do. So, you came home and told Alexandria what was going on?”
Her sister winced. “I did. I didn’t mean to, but I was just so angry! The nerve of that man. Having an affair on me and then not even having the decency to meet his whore across town, or something, so I wouldn’t see him. What an idiot.”
“I think you’re overreacting, Mary. I’m sure there is some logical explanation for all of …”
“Oh no I’m not!” Mary screamed. She flipped a switch on the machine and Donna realized what she thought was a trash can was in fact, a shredder. “I grabbed his cell phone while he was in the shower. There were several calls to a number I didn’t recognize. So, I called it.”
Donna groaned. “And?”
“And his whore answered! Then I saw his text to her, asking to meet him at the coffee shop.”
Mary waved the piece of paper in her hand and something about the document caught Donna’s attention. She realized what the document was at the exact moment her sister began feeding it into the shredder.
“Mary! For God’s sake, STOP!”
But her sister was like a mad woman. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes were glinting and if she clenched her teeth any tighter, Donna was afraid she would give herself a hairline fracture.
The machine whirred and greedily gobbled up the piece of paper.
Mary stood back and crossed her arms in satisfaction.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” Donna whispered, the color draining from her cheeks.
A bit of Mary’s anger began to seep from her tense body and she began to gently worry the inside of her cheek between her teeth.
“I can’t believe you just shredded your marriage license,” Donna said, shaking her head.
“Me?” Mary shrieked. “What about that turd I have for a husband? Look how he has betrayed me! I can’t live with …”
Mary’s cell phone began to ring and both women abruptly stilled. She dug into her pocket and pulled it out.
“It’s Lou!” she hissed. “What should I do?”
“Uh, answer it?” Donna said and rolled her eyes.
“I have nothing to say to the man.”
“Mary. Answer the damn phone.”
Her sister gave her a dirty look before pushing a button. “What do you want?”
Donna winced at her sister’s rudeness.
“Stop right there, buster,” Mary said. “I saw you with a woman at the coffee shop this morning. Who was she? What were you doing at the coffee shop? You were supposed to be at work.”
Donna stepped forward and removed the strips of paper from the shredder. She tried to piece the license back together again.
“You did … what?”
She looked up. Something about the tone of Mary’s voice caught her attention.
Her sister collapsed onto the chair behind her. Donna was just glad a chair happened to be there because Mary didn’t act like she knew what she was doing or where she was, judging by the dazed look on her face.
Donna crossed her arms in satisfaction. She knew it had to be a misunderstanding. She had known Lou almost as long as Mary and she knew there was no way Lou would ever cheat on her sister.
Mary hung up and rubbed her eyes.
“So. What’s going on?”
“He was talking to a travel agent,” Mary said softly. “He’s planning on taking me on a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary in June.” She groaned. “Oh my Lord, I’m an idiot.”
Donna nodded and reached for the door. “I suggest you get busy and clean this office up before Lou gets home,” she said. “If he sees how you went berserk, he might rethink that cruise.”
She opened the door; Alexandria nearly fell on top of her.
“Did you hear that?” Donna asked her niece. “Help your mom clean up this mess. And Mary?” She turned back to address the distraught woman. “You might want to order another copy of your marriage license.”