There is no explicit sex in this story. A special thanks to Susan England for her invaluable help in editing and preparing this story. I also wish to thank the other people who helped contribute to and also edit this story, per their wishes, they remain anonymous. This story is totally fictitious; any resemblance the characters might have to any person living or deceased is purely coincidental. No part of this story may be published at any other site without the express permission of the author. © February 17, 2007
The watch band seemed to naturally curl around Paul's wrist as he extended a finger to snag the other half before fastening it together. Picking up his car keys, he dropped them into his pocket. A quick peek in the mirror confirmed everything was in place, including his thinning hair.
'Not bad for a middle aged fellow, ' Paul thought to himself, 'now the only thing left is my morning coffee with Jan.' Through the years, it had developed into a tender tradition for him to spend a few moments with his wife before leaving for work.
As he walked into the kitchen Jan glanced up, her eyes brought back fond memories. It had been their brightness that attracted him all those years ago and until recently had made his heart sing almost every day since.
He paused across the table from her to say the same words he'd repeated every morning for the umpteen years they'd been married. But since her eyes were no longer bright, Paul couldn't bring himself to call her 'Bright Eyes.' He cut it short with just, "Good morning..."
She mumbled, "Morning hon," then went back to reading her newspaper.
Even though he couldn't quite put his finger on it, something was wrong; things weren't normal and hadn't been for the last few weeks. After pouring a cup of coffee and sitting it on the table, Paul turned and headed for the living room. His wife looked on, watching with curiosity as he returned with one of her pictures.
"Why did you bring that in here?" Jan asked frowning.
"Just wanted to compare," he said.
Irritated, she inquired, "Compare what?"
"Babe, something's wrong," Paul replied. "Look at this photo of you just a year ago. Your eyes were alive and dancing. That's why I've always called you 'Bright Eyes, ' but now... they just look sad... lifeless. I really feel you should make an appointment to get a full checkup. It couldn't hurt anything,"
Aggravated, Jan responded, "I've told you before, nothing is wrong. I feel fine. Now will you please just drop it and let it go?"
He sighed and shrugged his shoulders in defeat, then replied, "I'm sorry... It's just that I love you and worry about you."
With a half smile, she said, "I know, and I love you too. Now quit worrying, ok?" All too quickly she buried her face behind her paper and went back to reading, but not before he caught her glancing at him. He wondered why her eyes seemed to be seeking some sort of affirmation to her plea, but apparently didn't want to appear obvious.
Still concerned, he stared down into his cup nestled between his palms with his fingers interlaced around it. Paul was at a loss for her recent change.
In deep thought he wondered, 'Is she depressed over our daughter finally growing up and leaving for college?' As his thumb unconsciously slid back and forth along the cup's rim, Paul realized, 'No, that can't be it. She's just developed this look over the last couple of months. Our daughter left over a year ago. Jan's been happy all along, not only for our daughter... but for us also. It's meant more spare time for doing some of the things we'd only been able to dream about before.'
Snapping out of it, he picked up his cup and took a sip while staring at two pictures on the front of the paper she was reading. The first picture was a very attractive, vibrant, bright eyed looking woman; the second picture was a woman with lifeless looking eyes and a sad face. They looked so different Paul wondered what their connection could be.
The headlines read, 'Highly Acclaimed and Accomplished Doctor Busted on Drug Charges.' It suddenly dawned on Paul, 'They are the same woman, ' he thought, 'Oh my God, no way!'
"Babe, when you're done with the newspaper, I'd like to see it," he said.
Lowering the paper, she looked at him with a quizzical expression, "Why? You never read the paper."
"There's an article on the front page that I'm curious about. I'd like to find out the story behind it," Paul answered.
Closing the paper, Jan looked at the front page. "Which article?" she asked.
"The one with the pictures of the two ladies," he answered.
Curiously she asked, "Why that one?"
All of a sudden Paul was embarrassed, but replied truthfully, "Because I think they are the same woman. If so, the contrast in her pictures reminds me of the contrast between you and your picture. Sorry... I'm just curious."
With a disgusted look, Jan started reading the article, "Highly acclaimed doctor arrested in drug raid. Doctor Jan... wow," his wife paused glancing up at Paul, "she has the same first name as me."
Finding her place, his wife continued, "Doctor Jan... damn it, why do they always have to have those weird last names that I never can pronounce... Doctor Jan so and so was arrested last night in a high profile undercover drug sting operation."
Continuing to skip through the article, Jan said, "Let's see... normal nonsense... oh here, she was valedictorian of her high school graduating class. She finished college and MedicalSchool at the top of her classes. Capitalizing on her scholastic success she continued her studies in a highly specialized residency program graduating with all possible honors. The highly sought after doctor went on in just a few years to become the head of the largest cancer research center in the nation.
"After marrying a very successful surgeon, she spent years... let's see... la de da... oh they have three kids." His wife paused with a confused look, "How could any woman in her right mind get involved with drugs when she has kids?"
Jan continued, "Let's see... the doctor... oh my god... it's another man." At that point his wife became very quiet before finally questioning, "All this over an affair?" Jan sat quietly for a moment as if reflecting over something important.