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Home Free

by Debra Rogers about a year ago in fact or fiction
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A fine line between laughing and crying

Original illustration by D Rogers

"Hey Cori!" called Doug from the bedroom. "I'm going to jump in the shower before I finish packing for my trip. I forgot to pick up a couple of things, do you mind running to the store for me? I left a list on the kitchen table."

"No problem," Corinne responded. "I'll be back pretty soon. Text me if you think of anything else."

"Oh, wait, before you go, Shaylene said she was going to drop by with my airline tickets and itinerary. Have you seen them?"

"Yeah, sure, she came by about an hour ago. And she brought a bottle of wine for me! Wasn't that sweet of her? Maybe I'll invite her over for dinner while you're gone. She'll probably miss you as much as I will," Corinne teased. "I'll leave the tickets and itinerary on the bed by your laptop for you."

Corinne heard the water running in the shower, and went to pick up the tickets and itinerary to place them in the bedroom for Doug. Tucked under the printout was a little black book with a bright pink sticky note that said, "DOUG! READ THE LAST PAGE BEFORE YOU FLY OUT TONITE!!" And it was signed with a heart. So Corinne pocketed the little black book, put the tickets and paperwork on the bed for Doug, and headed out into the cold windy night to run errands. She backed carefully down the driveway and drove to the little strip mall a few miles from the house. She pulled into a well-lit parking spot at the far end of the lot where she could have privacy.

Back at the house, Doug walked into the kitchen, a towel around his waist, and opened the bottle of wine that was on the counter. He took a glass down from the cupboard and poured it about halfway full. It would be nice to relax a bit before he had to get on that plane tonight for this business trip. A driver was scheduled to pick him up in about an hour and a half, so he didn't have to worry about driving to the airport. "Hmm, I don't usually like wine this sweet," he thought, "But this is really quite nice. I'll have to ask Shay where she got it." He poured a bit more and started out of the kitchen to finish getting ready when he heard his phone ringing. He rushed down the hallway to grab the phone just in time to hear Shaylene's breathless voice.

Corinne pulled out the little book and started reading. It was at the same time a confession and a confirmation. She suspected Doug was cheating on her -again- but she never suspected he would cheat with someone so close to them after what happened the last time. Shaylene Morrison of all people! Shay had been to their house so many times, and while she and Corinne were never going to be bosom buddies, they were friends. Or so Corinne thought. Shay was Doug's executive assistant, and the book appeared to have been passed back and forth between them at work. It started off innocently enough, with little encouraging slogans like "Don't let the turkeys get you down!" and "Chin up-you got this!" alongside to-do lists and minutes from meetings, but then moved on to more personal exchanges, like "Wow! I sure like that color blue on you," and "I'm sorry you and Corinne are fighting, hope you work things out!" It didn't take long before Doug penned a suggestion for Shay to meet him for a drink after work, and invites for the occasional "working lunch". Flipping through the book, the messages began to become more intimate, even risque. Eventually Shay was wanting more, wishing they could "let the world know of their love", but Doug's messages insisted that the secrecy made their special relationship so much spicier. Besides, as they knew, he was just not in a position to make any major changes in his life right now. He had to play it cool for now because of the complex state of his and Corinne's finances.

The notebook was a sad revelation, and even though Corinne was not a stranger to Doug's infidelities, each time still hurt. But she was not going to let him know. As usual she would just hold her hurt in, and hold her head up. After all, she didn't need him to tell her how much she was worth. But right now she needed to shake this off and get on with her task. Doug was expecting her back shortly. Still, she was curious about the urgency of that pink note, so Cori skipped to the back of the book and read, "Doug, I'm tired of waiting to start our happy life! Today I dropped off a bottle of wine to Corinne to drink while you are out of town. It has an untraceable poison in it. It's important that you destroy this book while you are out of town, in a place that cannot be traced to either of us. I know that sometimes after an unexplained death, money in joint accounts might be held up pending the outcome of an investigation, so I've set some money aside to tide you over. There is $20,000 in cash in locker #276 at the club. The combination to the lock is your birthday. I will see you when you are back in town. We will finally be home free!"

Corinne took a deep breath to steady herself and hurried into the drugstore with Doug's list, then made a quick stop at the club before driving home. The thought of $20,000 helped her dry her tears, shore up her resolve to keep a smile on her face and pretend she knew noting about his new affair. When she walked into the house she found Doug, still in his towel, sprawled on the floor of the hallway, lifeless, his phone in his hand and a broken glass spilling wine across the floor. Corinne collapsed, hysterical, in the entryway and dialed 911.

Looks like she was home free.

fact or fiction

About the author

Debra Rogers

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