- Thursday, Jan. 31
John Anderson sat at his desk and wondered what he was going to do about Amy. Amy was his wife of six years, and lately she had been behaving very strangely toward him. It seemed that she had her mind on something, and he couldn't figure out what it could be. For over a month now, ever since Christmas, she seemed to be lost in thought almost every evening. Their conversations had deteriorated to simple sentences.
They used to have long conversations over the supper table, but these had become not much more than question and answer sessions. He would ask her what was bothering her, but she always said "Nothing." He knew there was definitely something different about her and the way she was treating him. He made up his mind he was going to speak with her again tonight about it, but this time he wasn't going to take "Nothing" as an answer.
As the gulf between them grew over the last several months he had noticed that it had begun to affect their sex life. They had always been active in that regard, enjoying each other almost every night. Lately though, it seemed that once a week had become the norm and for the last two weeks their sex life had been nonexistent. While he had tried to get Amy interested, she had given him several excuses, most recently last night when she complained of being too tired. Considering they were both only 30 years old and were both very fit, he found that hard to believe.
For the last five months Amy had been taking an evening art course at the local University. These classes were held on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and he had noticed that they seemed to be lasting longer lately. On several other evenings over the last month she had said she needed to work on her paintings and had been gone for several hours each time. Fortunately his work didn't conflict with her hours at the University, and he'd been able to care for their one year old daughter Amanda while Amy was away at class.
John sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. He thought back over the years since he and Amy had graduated from the University, he with a degree in business and she with a general arts degree. He'd used a small inheritance to open his own printing shop, as he could see a need for such a business in Elmville. It was doing moderately well and for a while Amy had worked at it with him. It had not been her real interest though, as she preferred to paint or sketch.
They had built her a studio in one of the spare bedrooms of their house, and she had filled it with her work and equipment. When she felt she needed to expand her experience as an artist he had suggested she enroll in some of the evening courses at the University. It seemed to work out quite well for her, as he could see new subject matter and mediums in her work. She had begun using pastels recently, and he knew her work had a new air about it. Her skills had markedly improved.
He could never really seriously discuss her art with her, as he really wasn't into it like she was. While he could appreciate her results, he couldn't carry on a conversation with her about techniques or styles of painting. As his business grew and her art developed they had less in common to talk about, although the arrival of Amanda had really helped in that regard. She was their pride and joy. At one-year-old, changes in Amanda's abilities and appearance were taking place frequently.
For the last month he had been wondering if Amy may be having an affair. A lot of the signs he'd read of were there, but his two attempts in the last two weeks to catch her if she was going out to fool around on him had proven nothing. Both times he had dropped Amanda off with his in-laws, Fred and June Holmes, telling them he had work to do at the office, but instead he had gone to the University to see if Amy really had a class.
The first time had been for one of her regularly scheduled classes, and he had been able to see her working at her easel with four other students in the classroom. Two of the students were women, one was an elderly man and the last a young teenaged boy. Their instructor seemed to be about 40, bearded with rather drab clothing and plain in his personal appearance.
The second time he checked up on her had been when she said she was going in to finish working on her latest painting. Again he had been able to look into the room through the partially opened classroom door, and she had been there working on a painting just as she had said she was going to do.
The art professor had been standing beside her pointing to her work and apparently discussing something with her. John had hung around and checked back on her several times, but he saw absolutely nothing that was suspicious to him.
As he sat there wondering what he would be able to do to fix something he didn't even know for sure was actually broken, Mary called him on the intercom to tell him his wife was on line one. He had hired Mary Paige, a 50 year old widow, only two weeks earlier and already her worth was being proven. She had been able to take answering the phone away from his responsibilities and now was also handling the counter for customers. This let him concentrate on pricing orders and calculating estimates, working on the design of printed products for his customers and ordering the supplies and equipment their shop needed. Mary had proven to be very good with the public and caught on quickly when shown the huge variety of product choices this firm offered. Now that the post Christmas lull in business was almost over he would really be able to use her talents.
John reached for the phone and punched the flashing button and said "Hello dear, how are you? Is everything OK?"
"Everything is fine John; I just want to know if you'll be home at your regular time tonight."
"Oh, I should be honey; everything is under control here, especially now that I have Mary working the office for me."
"That's good, John. I need to talk to you. I'll see you at 5:15 then. Goodbye."
"Goodbye, dear, I'll see you at 5:15. Love you," he said, realizing that she had hung up too soon to have heard his last sentiments. He sat looking at the receiver in his hand, wondering how it could be that she would hang up so quickly and impersonally. It seemed as though this was just another example of how she had changed.
Just a few short months ago they would've spent as much time as they could chatting and teasing each other over the phone. She just didn't seem to be the same woman she was such a short time ago.
John picked up one of the photos on his desk. It had been taken last year while they vacationed in Florida. They had been on the beach and had asked a lifeguard to take their picture. They had stood with arms around each other, Amy with her head on his shoulder.
He marveled at how beautiful she was, her dark blond hair contrasting with his, which was dark brown. They were both fit, with no excess weight on either of them. You couldn't really tell from the photo that she was 4 inches shorter than his 5 foot 10. The photo wasn't large enough to clearly see her blue or his hazel eyes but both of them sported broad smiles no camera could miss.
He stared at the photo and thought again of how good things had been going for him and Amy during the first five years of their marriage. During those years they had taken two major trips, one to Cancun and the other to Fort Lauderdale. Although these trips had been taken up with days of fun in the sun, swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on the beach or at the pool, the nights had been filled with romantic dinners and dancing and completed with hours of joyous lovemaking.
Almost every night when they returned to their room they would follow the same basic script. The door would no sooner be closed and the deadbolt locked, than they would begin undressing each other. It was a race in which they were both winners. Whoever was stripped naked first would enjoy the oral pleasuring performed by the loser. Once the winner had achieved their orgasm, the loser became the winner, with the roles reversed. In truth, they both made sure that the first winner alternated each evening, so both of them were equally pleasured.
Amy had perfected pleasuring him orally, holding the base of his cock with one hand while the other played with his balls. Her mouth would slowly slide over the swollen head of his penis, while her tongue tickled the underside. As she raised and lowered her head she would sometimes twist it as well, creating the most wonderful of sensations for him.
She would make this process last, stopping her ministrations when she felt he would soon explode. It wouldn't be until he told her "Don't stop, don't stop!" that she would continue until he came in her mouth. She soon achieved the ability to swallow it all, and he would see her throat flex two or three times as she did just that.
When it was John's turn to supply the pleasure for Amy, he always began with kisses, light and slow at first, but developing quickly into tongue trading, passionate sessions. While they enjoyed the kisses he would begin caressing her breasts, teasing her nipples with his fingers, pinching them while twisting them gently. He would feel her nipples responding as they grew hard with his touch. He would move down, bringing his kisses to her nipples as his hands caressed her breasts and further down her stomach.
It wouldn't be long before she would begin pushing his head lower, and he would kiss his way down to her navel and beyond. At that point he would position himself between her outstretched legs, lifting her knees and spreading her thighs. With one hand he would caress her breasts while the other lightly touched her inner thighs. He would bring his lips down to her neatly trimmed bush and begin lightly kissing and licking the juncture of her thighs and outer labia as well as the area of her clit.
It never took long before she would be raising her hips to meet his mouth, and her hands would be moving his head to direct his kisses and tongue to the places she wanted them to be. Once she began pushing his head he knew she would be wet, and he would begin probing her vagina with first one and then two fingers, searching for her elusive G spot. Usually when he found it the combination of his tongue on her clit, fingers massaging the right area in her vagina and his other hand tweaking and pulling at her nipples would give her a loud and immensely satisfying orgasm.
These oral gratifications were rarely the end of their night. Usually they continued with one of the standard forms of intercourse. Since by this time he had already come once, their second session was always long, slow and tender. The usually managed to climax together, or very nearly so. The remaining time before they would go to sleep was spent cuddling and kissing, as they professed their love for each other.
When they were back home the lovemaking became a bit more restricted, but at least once a week would mirror their nights while on vacation. John felt that their sex lives had been almost ideal and he couldn't understand what seemed to be going wrong in this part of their relationship. For it to have dwindled from such joyful lovemaking to a nonexistent physical relationship was beyond his understanding. He could only wait until tonight to insist that she discuss their problems with him.
John was pulled from his thoughts by the ringing of the telephone. He sat up and put the photo back on his desk, answered the phone and got back to work. His problems with Amy were going to have to wait until he got home; right now his business needed him.
Just before the end of the business day there was a knock at John's office door. He looked up to see Mary and Frank Worth, his only other employee, entering the office. Frank handled all of the actual printing work, running the various copiers, collators, cutters, laminating machines and the offset printing machine.
"John, we have a bit of a problem," said Mary.
"We have a rush printing job that just came in and there won't be time to finish it before we close. The customer needs the order for first thing in the morning, so we wondered if you would be willing to stay over to finish the job."
"Gee, Mary, I simply can't stay tonight. I have some important things to do at home right after I get off work. Frank, is it possible that you could stay for a couple of hours of overtime to finish this job?"
"Well, I guess so John. I don't really like to work extra, but since it hasn't been needed very often this time should be OK," said Frank. "The kids really wear my wife out, and she looks forward to me getting home to give her some relief."
"Thanks a lot, Frank, I really appreciate it."
John cleared the remaining jobs from his desk, putting several files into his briefcase. It was 10 to 5 and if he left now he actually would be home a few minutes early. He was very anxious to talk to Amy and get their problems sorted out, and as he rushed out the door called out a hurried "Goodbye," to Mary and Frank.
He pulled into his driveway at five o'clock, grabbed his briefcase and entered the door to the kitchen from the garage. As the entered the kitchen he saw that Amy was standing at the sink, staring out the kitchen window. She turned toward him as he set his briefcase down and walked toward her.
"Hi, honey, I managed to get away a little early."
As he reached Amy he put his arms around her and leaned forward to give her a kiss. As he did this she turned her head so that his lips found her cheek, instead of her lips. She pushed his arms away from her and said, "Please John, don't do that. I need to talk to you."
Amy turned away from him and walked into the living room. John followed her with a puzzled look on his face, as her actions did not make any sense to him. She sat in the chair that faced their sofa and said, "Sit down John, I want to talk to you and it has to be now."
John sat on the sofa, the puzzled look still on his face and waited for Amy's next words. She had her hands in her lap and she was kneading one hand with the other. She turned her head to the floor and began to speak.
"John, I'm leaving you. No, that's not really right, I'm divorcing you."
John jumped to his feet and said, "What? You're divorcing me! Amy, how can you say that?"
"John, please sit down. What I'm going to explain to you is hard enough as it is. Please just sit there while I say what I have to say. For days now I've been trying to figure out how to tell you this and I have to do it now," Amy said.
"While I've been taking this art course I have come to realize that even though I love you, I love Peter more. Well, maybe it's not that I love him more but that we are so much more suited to each other. We have so much in common. Besides art, we have the same love of literature, music and even the performing arts. Anything I have ever mentioned to him in any of these areas has matched his feelings exactly.
He is leaving for Paris at the end of the semester and he wants me to go with him as his wife. That will be in four months, at the end of May, so I want to be divorced from you by then, so we can be married before we leave for Paris."
"You're talking about Peter Bridges, your professor?" John said. "You want to leave me for him? How can you even say that, after all we've meant to each other? You want to throw away our marriage because he has the same opinions as you do? What makes you think I would ever go along with this?" John had stood again and was now pacing back and forth in front of the sofa. He turned back toward Amy, his eyes glistening with tears, as he waited for an answer.
"John, I'm sorry but I have to do this for myself. Don't think I haven't thought long and hard about all of this. Beside his love for me, he's my mentor, my muse. He has made me see that my art is who I am. I have to go to Paris, to find out just how good I could be." Amy raised her head to look at John and there were tears in her eyes as well.
John resumed his pacing, then walked behind the sofa and leaned with both arms against it. "Have you talked to anyone else about this? What about your parents, have you told them of your plans?"
Amy resumed kneading her hands together and then said, "I just came from my parents' place. I explained all of this to them, but they didn't take it well. Mom called me a 'foolish girl' and dad said if I went he wanted nothing more to do with me. Even Babs won't talk to me. She ran into her bedroom and locked the door. I would have hoped they could have understood."
"How do you expect anyone to understand this? It makes no sense at all." John returned to the front of the sofa and fell more than sat down again. "Damn it Amy, how can you do this to us," he shouted.
Amy flinched in her seat and lowered her head again. "John, I've made up my mind. Over the last three days I've packed up my studio and taken it all to Peter's apartment. Most of my clothes are there now, and I have just these two suitcases by the door to take with me when I leave. I don't want to make you sell the house, and I have no need for any of the furniture as Peter has a furnished apartment.
I'm leaving you the car as well. His apartment is by the University and if necessary I can use his car. In exchange for leaving everything with you, I've taken $20,000 on our line of credit with the bank. I feel that's more than fair to you. I will need the cash to set up a studio in Paris."
"Oh my God, you're serious," John said. "How could you get an extra $20,000 on our line of credit? I maxxed it out last month for the new copiers."
"The account is in both of our names and I was able to get the limit raised after I spoke to the manager," Amy said.
John leaned forward and rested with his elbows on his knees, his head between his hands. He was silent for about half a minute. When you spoke it was quietly and without looking at Amy. "What about Amanda? If you think I am going to let you take her to Paris without fighting you every inch of the way, you're very sorely mistaken. I am not going to let my daughter be taken away and out of the country for such a foolish whim as this."
Amy too was silent for an extended period and was every bit as quiet when she spoke as John had been. "John, I won't be taking Amanda with me. I'm going to give you the primary custody of her. I would like to be able to spend time with her every week until we leave and then fly back to visit her here every few months. We can work out the details."
John's head snapped up to stare at Amy as she spoke. A look of incredulity was on his face and when he spoke his amazement was obvious. "You are giving me custody of Amanda? Why would you give up custody of your daughter so easily? What is going on here?"
"I love Amanda with all my heart and soul and not having her with me is going to be horrendous, but Peter says that pursuing my destiny will not leave me with the time that Amanda deserves. As well, Peter is uncomfortable with children, and I'm afraid Amanda doesn't fit with his plans," Amy said.
"I don't think you are the same Amy I knew just a couple of months ago. That Amy would have fought for Amanda until her dying breath," said John.
"Why do you think this has been so hard on me? I will be leaving a major piece of my heart with you and Amanda."
"I think it may be a major part of your soul that you will be leaving behind." John was crying now, leaning back on the sofa and allowing the tears to stream down his cheeks without shame.
Amy picked up her purse and took out her cell phone. She punched in a number and said "You can come by and pick me up now. I'm ready." They sat there in near silence now, with the only sounds coming from John as he cried. After about five minutes a car horn gave a short toot, and Amy stood and then walked to the front door.
"I'm leaving now. I'll have my lawyer send the papers to you on Monday. Amanda is with my parents, and I've asked them to bring her home to you at seven o'clock."
John wiped his eyes and stood up. He walked toward the front hall where Amy stood and then watched as she picked up two large suitcases and went out the door. As she walked down the front steps John walked to the open front door.
Peter Bridges was walking up the front walk and met Amy near the foot of the stairs. He took one of the suitcases from Amy and then turned to John with a smirk as Amy walked to his car. In a moment he turned and followed her. They put the suitcases into the trunk, then got into the car and drove away. Amy did not look back.
John was crying again, as he slowly closed the front door. He walked back to the sofa, sat down and leaned back. He said to himself, "What has happened to my life?" His tears stopped after a few minutes and he simply stayed there with his eyes closed reliving everything that had happened since he had come home from work.
He lost track of time and was still sitting there when the doorbell rang. For a moment he thought it was Amy, coming back to tell him it was all a very bad joke, but as he opened his eyes his father-in-law opened the unlocked door and walked in.
"I see she has told you," said Fred Holmes when he saw John seated on the sofa. "I'm ashamed to call her my daughter. I don't understand how Amy could have come under the thrall of that guy."
As he reached the sofa, his wife June and daughter Barbara came in the front door. Barbara was carrying Amanda and June had the diaper bag and some of Amanda's favorite toys clutched in her arms. All three of them wore somber expressions and John could see by their red eyes that June and Barbara had been crying. Only Amanda was laughing and giggling, but she did not know what was going on.
As John stood all three of them reached to give him a hug of encouragement. He greatly appreciated the support of the Holmes family, as he had no siblings and his parents had both passed away in the last two years. These people were all he had.
The four of them sat and discussed everything that had happened and all that Amy had said to each of them. None of them could believe the events of this afternoon. At separate points each of them shed more tears. It was almost 7:30 when June got up and said "I think we all need to have something to eat. I'll go into the kitchen and see what I can find for us."
Barbara came over to John with Amanda and let him hold his daughter. Amanda was squirming and wanted to pull at her father's hair; she didn't seem to notice that tears streaked his face. John sat on the sofa and let Amanda play in his lap. Barbara sat by his side, trying to help amuse her one-year-old niece while Fred joined his wife in the kitchen and helped her prepare sandwiches and soft drinks for the four of them.
In no more than 10 minutes they were all seated around the coffee table eating the quickly prepared meal. John did not really have an appetite, but he ate anyway. As he sat there he looked around at the Holmes family. Fred and June were both in their late fifties with a bit of gray in their brown hair. Both had retired within the last year, Fred from a management job at the bank and June from teaching. Both were fit for their age and spent most of their time gardening and golfing, with a few weekend trips in their motor home when they could get away.
Barbara was 16 now, with a couple of years of high school left to complete. She had her light brown hair tied up in a ponytail and when she smiled it was obvious that she had been blessed with a full set of braces on her teeth. John knew that she was quite self-conscious of these braces and noticed that she rarely smiled so that her braces would show, but instead gave small smiles with her lips closed. He knew she would become a beauty as she got older because she already possessed much of the natural good looks of the Holmes women.
After they ate the whole group sat quietly around the coffee table. Amanda was crawling around between John and Barbara but finally crawled to the edge of the coffee table and after two failed attempts managed to stand and hold the edge of it. She was giggling and cooing and looking around at all of them. When she tried to grab one of the plates, Barbara was quick to tell her 'No'. Amanda was quick to repeat the 'no' back at Barbara and soon was making a game of it.
Watching Amanda's antics soon had all of them in a slightly better frame of mind, although the day's events were in everyone's thoughts. Before they knew it, it was 8:30 and Barbara volunteered to get Amanda ready for bed.
While she did that John, Fred and June sat in the living room and discussed what John would need to do to handle his job and caring for Amanda too. They decided he would have to find a good day care center but that June would watch Amanda until he did so.
Since the next day was Friday and with everything that John would have to do, he decided to try to take most of the day off and handle whatever he could from home. June would come over in the morning to help him with Amanda and anything else that came up.
Barbara came back to join them in the living room and let them know that she had changed Amanda for the night and that she had already gone to sleep. John thanked her and commended her skills at childcare. After a few more minutes of talk the Holmes family decided it was time to leave, and John thanked them for their kindness and help. He locked the door behind them after they left.
John checked on Amanda and after seeing that she was asleep decided he needed a stiff drink to calm his nerves and help him handle spending the night alone in his bed. He poured about an inch of Glenfiddich into a tumbler and sat at the kitchen table to drink it. The more he thought about everything that Amy had said, the angrier he got. Since she had destroyed his world he wasn't going to make her choice easier for her. He was damned if he was going to cooperate.
He finished the first drink and poured himself another. By the time he finished the second he could finally feel some effect from the Scotch. He went upstairs to the master bedroom and flicked on the light. This was the first time he had been in this room since Amy left and only now did he see the open and empty closet where she had kept her clothes and shoes.
Her makeup dresser was bare, and as he walked across the room to check their attached bathroom he could see that it too held none of her things. He walked back to the doorway, shut off the light, then went over and fell across the bed.
As he lay there the tears returned and he began to notice the empty feeling inside his chest. Amy was gone and he doubted he would be able to get her back. He felt he had to try, but lying there in the dark, alone, his confidence level was very low.
- Friday, Feb. 1
At some point the Scotch did its' job and he fell asleep. It was a fitful sleep, and because he had not bothered to undress or even to brush his teeth before flopping across the bed, not a very comfortable one either. He awoke early, got up and undressed, and went in and had a nice hot shower.
When he had completed that and had shaved, brushed his teeth and combed his hair, he felt alive again. The whole time since he had awoken though had been spent wondering how he was going to live without Amy.
Once he was dressed he went in to check on Amanda and found her still asleep, her arm around her favorite teddy bear. God, he thought, if he were to be losing her as well as Amy he'd have had no reason to live. How Amy could consider cutting herself off from this precious child he couldn't for the life of him understand. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek before heading downstairs to the kitchen to see what food there was on hand for Amanda.
John made himself coffee and while drinking a cup found infant cereal and some strained fruit for Amanda. He didn't feel hungry, but knew he had to eat if he was going to be able to care for Amanda and himself. He poured himself a bowl of cold cereal and sliced a banana over it.
As he ate and sipped at his coffee he thought of nothing but Amy and what he could possibly do to change her mind. He knew he had to get his mind off of this, so when he finished eating he grabbed his briefcase, took out some of the work he had brought home and sat at the kitchen table to get it done.
He managed to complete three of the jobs before he heard sounds from upstairs that let him know Amanda had awakened. He went upstairs and after changing her diaper had dressed her for the day and brought her down for breakfast. He sat her in her highchair, fed her the cereal and reached for her bowl of puréed apple.
It was then that Amanda seemed to realize it was her father who was feeding her and she began looking around and crying. John knew she was looking for Amy, and he didn't know what he could do to calm her. For the next few minutes they both shed a few tears until John was able to deflect her interest with one of her favorite toys.
Once Amanda was satisfied John let her sit in her chair and play. He phoned the office and left a message on the machine for Mary to call him as soon as she got into the office. For the next hour he played with Amanda until just before nine o'clock when Mary called him back.
He explained to her that he would have to work most of the day from home, but that he would be in to the office later for a few minutes. He told her to call him at home if any emergencies came up; he didn't explain to her what had happened.
A few minutes later June arrived and took over caring for Amanda while he finished the work he had brought home with him. By 10 o'clock he was finished all that he could do, so he went to join June and Amanda in the living room. As he flopped into the sofa June looked at him and said, "You don't look like you had a very good sleep last night. I know that we didn't so I can just imagine what your night was like."
"I was able to get some sleep, but only because I had a couple of really stiff scotches. I was up early and after a lot of thinking I've decided I have to get through this for Amanda's sake," said John.
"I'd even take Amy back right now, for Amanda, although I'm sure she's already had sex with him. I'd willingly sacrifice my pride to put an end to all of this, but I really doubt she'd even think of coming back. She's acted as though she jumped off a cliff without a parachute and has absolute faith it will all be ok."
June hesitated for a minute and then said, "She did tell me a few things that I didn't share with you last night. She said she had sex with him several times in the last 2 weeks. She said that was why she 'cut you off' from being with her. She didn't want to humiliate you by sharing herself with both of you."
After another delay June continued, "She had great difficulty telling me these things, so I believe her. She said you were a much more 'considerate lover' and that her reason for leaving you wasn't sexual or that he was a better lover. Do you understand what I'm saying John? Don't feel that this is a result of any failure by you to satisfy her."
"That question had occurred to me June, although it hadn't started eating at me yet. I'm sure it may have though so I appreciate your opinion. I think it makes it less likely she'll change her mind though."
"Look, June, I'm going down to the office for a while. It'll occupy my mind, and I can't let my business fail or Amanda and I will really have a problem. Amanda has been good so far since you've arrived, but I expect she'll have a bad time again at lunch when Amy isn't here to feed her."
John stood and took a long look at Amanda, who had crawled her way to the sofa and had managed to pull herself up to a standing position. Her pride in her accomplishment was evident in the big smile she cast back at the two adults. John picked her up for a hug and a kiss and then placed her back where she had been.
After picking up his briefcase John paused at the door to say and wave goodbye to Amanda, just as he'd done many times before. She responded with her big grin and an arm that waved up and down vigorously. As he turned and left the house he thought to himself that he HAD to make sure Amanda came through this in good shape.
When John entered the office Mary was busy on the phone so he went straight to his desk. He shut the door on his way into his office as he knew he needed a bit of time to get off the emotional roller coaster he was on again. During his drive to the office he'd had too much time to start thinking about Amy's bombshell from the night before. He was once again teary eyed.
After he regained control he called Mary in and gave her the files he had completed at home so that she and Frank could process them. She had given him an odd look when she came into the office so he figured she knew he was upset about something. After thinking about it for a while he decided to call her in and explain the situation to her.
When Mary came into his office he had her close the door and offered her a seat. It was difficult to do but he finally said "Mary, I'm afraid I'm not likely to be very dependable for the next while. I've got a real situation at home that I don't really know how to deal with. My wife announced last night that she was leaving, but that she was not taking our daughter; I've become a single parent it seems."
"I know you have only been here for two weeks, but you are obviously in good control of your job. I'd like to make a new arrangement with you. I'd like you to become, in addition to your other duties, my office manager. It would mean a $50 raise for now and we could discuss how things work out in a month or so."
"I don't know what to say. This is quite a surprise," Mary said. "I'm not scared of the job as I've been an office manager in the past; I just hope I can do it to your satisfaction. I can definitely use the extra money."
John smiled at her and said, "I'm sure you can handle it. I know it's going to be difficult for me to do the work I did before, with having to look after my daughter, Amanda, as well. I have to succeed at both jobs. I don't see failure as an option for me."
They shook hands on their new arrangement and John went out to explain the situation to Frank. Frank expressed his shock at the turn of events in John's life and offered to help out as much as he could.
John went back to his office and worked until mid-afternoon, at which time he took all of the files needing his input and went home for the day. Before leaving he asked Mary to call him on his cell if anything came up that she couldn't handle. He assured her that he trusted her judgment and would accept that her business decisions were made in good faith.
When he got home June told him that Amanda was having her afternoon nap and that he had been right about how she would fuss for Amy at lunch time. It had taken a half an hour to calm her down this time.
John had a small den just off of the living room so he took his briefcase full of work in there. He had a small desk with a computer in the room, and by rearranging things was able to clear enough space to do the work he had brought home. He realized that if he was going to be doing much work from home he needed a larger desk, better computer and the ability to access his office computers from home.
The rest of the afternoon flew by for John, but at 4:30 he decided to leave the work for the day. June had begun supper for him while she was watching Amanda. As he helped her complete the meal preparations June said, "I'm sort of obligated for a flower show this weekend John, so I'm wondering if it would be OK to have Barbara come over for the weekend to help you with Amanda."
"Oh, that's certainly no problem, June. You don't think she would mind?"
"She certainly won't mind. She loves Amanda and she thinks you're great," said June. "I'll ask her to come over around nine in the morning and to bring what she'll need to spend the night. That way we won't have to run her back and forth."
Once June left John fed Amanda and himself. Amanda's behavior was the same as it had been in the morning, crying and looking around for her mother. Again John was able to distract her.
Their evening was quiet and before putting Amanda to bed for the evening, John had given her a bath. Again she cried for her mother. Once she was asleep he poured himself a stiff Scotch and sat in the living room to drink it. The whole time he sat there his mind was on Amy and everything that had happened. It was midnight before he went to bed.
- Monday, February 4
John arose early on Monday morning and as he had his coffee he thought back to the events of the weekend. Barbara had arrived early Saturday morning with a small suitcase, and he'd shown her the guest bedroom she could use. It was across the hall from Amanda's room and beside the bathroom. He told her she could have full use of that bathroom, as he had one for himself, accessible only from the master bedroom.
When Amanda awoke Barbara enthusiastically took over her care, dressing and feeding her. John decided he needed to improve his den for office use, so he spent most of the day acquiring a desk, top-of-the-line computer and other office necessities. He removed the old equipment from the den along with several chairs and other furniture, until it resembled an office. He arranged for the hardware and software necessary to connect to the office computer system to be installed on Tuesday.
By noon on Sunday he had done everything that needed doing for work, so he was able to spend the rest of the day with Amanda and Barbara. They went to the park and spent the afternoon walking along the pathways with Amanda in her stroller. It had been an enjoyable time that allowed John to forget his other problems. Twice on the weekend Amanda had a major tantrum over the absence of her mother. Barbara had been able to get her under control though and by keeping Amanda busy she kept the episodes to a minimum.
June had picked up Barbara on Sunday evening and said she'd be back Monday morning so that John could go back to work. She arrived at 8:30 while Amanda was still sleeping and John left for the office.
John was busy all morning, but at 11 o'clock was interrupted by Mary, who brought a courier's envelope in to him. She had seen who the sender was and gave John a concerned look as she passed him the envelope. The name of a legal firm was in the upper left hand corner.
John looked at the envelope for almost a minute before opening it. Finally he ripped the envelope open and pulled out the pages inside. He read them over quickly and could see they reflected the terms Amy had agreed to. It also stipulated that she wished to spend the full day with Amanda on Wednesday each week, with a full week once every three months, dates to be decided later.