I sat in my office thinking. I noticed the last couple of days that my twins, Matt and Mattie, aged fifteen, were unusually quiet and uneasy around me at home. They had always been open and looked me in the eyes when I talked to them. Matthew and Matilda were the ones that made my existence possible. This wasn't the case yesterday and this morning. There was so much different about their actions, I decided to go home early. They were usually home from school soon after three. I'd meet them and try to find out what the problem was.
I had a surprise when I pulled into the garage. Joan's car was parked in the driveway. Joan was never home this early and when she did come home, she always pulled inside and shut the garage door. I wondered to myself if these two events, my wife being home and the twins unease were related? I entered and could see Joan in the kitchen. She never prepared the evening meal leaving that chore to me and Mattie. Her hours usually kept her in the office until six and often she wouldn't be home until much later.
I stepped into the kitchen. "You're home early? How about the kids, where are they? Shouldn't Mattie be helping you?"
"Things are changing at the office. I came home to tell you all about it. The kids are upstairs and I didn't ask her to help. She has been acting strange and I didn't want to bother her. How about you? You're early too."
"I noticed that something was up with the kids the last two days. I came home to find out what the trouble is. You want me to pump them now or wait until dinner?"
"Why don't you wait? It probably isn't anything."
I stood watching my wife and wondered if I still loved her. At thirty-five she was still very lovely to look at. We had married when she was barely twenty. I was six years older and working my way through college. We met in a bar on a rare night off from my studies. I knew she wasn't old enough to drink, but she seemed mature so neither one of us worried about it. I purchased some beer and we went parking which was our usual activity. I saw her weekends, going so far as to skip some of my jobs that I needed to finish paying for my schooling.
Six weeks later she informed me she was pregnant and her parents insisted that we get married. I will say they were good about everything and invited me to move into their home with Joan until I graduated and found a job. Two months later I graduated and went to work in the personnel office at a large factory. It did not make much sense to move away from her folks. They were willing to have us stay until after the baby was born.
The twins were a surprise to us and my mother-in-law doted on the babies. She was actually a better mother to them than Joan was. Our love life--that sucked. When an apartment opened across the street, I signed a lease. Joan found that not living with Mommy was a lot more work for her. Our first real serious fight came over her wanting to get her tubes tied. I didn't want her to because if something happened to the kids we wouldn't have any way to have more.
"I'm leaving then. I don't even want to care for these I have, why would I want more?"
We compromised by her having what she wanted with the promise that she would give the kids her utmost attention until they were old enough for school. She kept her bargain and I kept mine. Joan enrolled in college and eventually earned a law degree. Smart, she was able to pass the bar exam soon after she graduated.
I was advancing in my chosen field, so I was able to pay for her education. I was hoping that when Joan found work, her wages would make us able to hire help to keep up the house and do more for the kids. No, that was her money, she earned it, it was hers. I wouldn't beg so I worked vacations and sometimes picked up outside work. I still made time for Matt and Mattie and we had a special bond together. One that they and their mother would never have.
You wonder about our love life. Well it was better and a lot more frequent before Joan and I were married. I hated it when I would hear the kids talk about their friends. Some had divorced parents and I did everything to avoid going after a divorce, so I suffered. I never knew if Joan cheated on me. She could have and probably did. I didn't--hell I was too burdened keeping food on the table and guiding my children through school, sports and their personal problems.
We sat at the table and Joan brought in the food and served us. We ate silently and Joan cleared the table and came back in and sat down. I knew something momentous was coming. She hit me with it without preamble.
"Ben, I'm sick of family life, so I'm just moving out. You make good money and the twins are fifteen. They can take care of themselves. You will be getting papers from me in a few days. I'm not asking for alimony or anything, although working as an attorney, I probably could get some." She waited to see what I was going to say.
"You've been cheating on me, I assume. There is someone else, isn't there?"
"Of course not, what do you think I am?"
Mattie, with her face flushed, stood and looked ready to run. "I know what you are, Mother. You are a whore and I know that for sure."
I started to tell Mattie to be quiet and not show her mother such disrespect. Joan had a few nasty words for her daughter. "Liar. You don't know what you are talking about. It is none of your business anyway!"
"Mattie, you and Matt go to your rooms. She is your mother and I won't have you accusing her of something like that."
"Go, now! I will talk to you later."
Joan was so mad she was shaking. I looked closer and there was some fear in her face too. Maybe there could be something the kids did know about her. "I'm not staying here another minute to be insulted by those brats. God, I've waited years to get away from them, and you too as well, Ben. All I can say is have a good life."
Watching her go up to her room to pack, I contemplated living without her. Hey, maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. Joan never looked at me when she struggled past me with her two suitcases. Before she was out of hearing, "Hey kids you can come out now. Your loving mother has left." I heard Joan's car door slam and she burned rubber all the way up the street.
"Dad, that last remark was pretty disrespectful. Maybe you should go to your room."
"Okay, give me the details. What do you know about your mother and what she has done? You must know something to stand up to her like you have."
"I think I have everything you need Daddy to come out of this divorce and have the good life Mother just wished you would have with us. You know Matt and I weren't born of a lawyer for nothing. You will have to get a lawyer of your own to fight Mother. Matt and I have polled all our friends whose parents have been divorced. See if you can get Betty Bumgarten. She is a shark and always wins in court. She doesn't even mind phone calls at home in the evening. Honest, we know. You could even call her now."
An hour later I was being represented and my own suit was to be filed. I was to meet the attorney in her office tomorrow after school let out. She wanted to talk with the twins also. She wanted to establish what home life had been recently for them. This would have a bearing on what Joan would have to pay for child support. I hadn't thought about getting help in any financial way. Of course it would be up to the court, but it was up to my attorney to see that her client was treated fairly.
Mattie's face was flushed when she sat down to tell me what she knew. She seemed reluctant to tell me everything, but warmed to spilling her evidence. "Daddy, Mother has been having sex with somebody in her room on Thursday afternoons. I came home three weeks ago, not feeling well. I heard her upstairs when I came in. She didn't even have her door closed when I went to my room. I think the guy is someone she works with. I hid in my room until after they showered and left." Tears were running down Mattie's face.
Matt spoke up, "I saw them too, a week ago on a Thursday. It was an in-service day for the teachers so we had the afternoon off. Mother and that guy were at it, just like Mattie told you. They were so busy they didn't see me take some pictures on my cell phone. The pictures aren't very plain, but you can tell it is Mother."
I looked at my kids. "Is this what has been bothering you for the last few days?"
"Yes, we were trying to figure out how to tell you, and that is why we were acting odd. We didn't want to hurt you."
"I guess I haven't much love left for your mother. Actually I am kind of relieved. I'm sorry for you kids though. There was always the hope she would change. I can see now that she was just waiting for the best time to dump us."
"Daddy, I have more. Did you know Mother is worth thousands of dollars? When Matt was daring to get Mother's picture, I went through her briefcase and found some bank statements and papers. I scanned them through our home printer and put them back. The timing was close and I almost got caught. I wonder what she would have done if she had caught me. I was awful scared."
"You did all this while your mother was upstairs having sex?" Mattie just nodded. "Why don't you give me everything you have. I'll show it to Mrs. Bumgarten when I talk to her tomorrow. How did you know about her anyway? I can't believe the story about polling for a lawyer."
.... There is more of this story ...