Thanks to the knee doctor for editing assistance
Terry Langford was madly in love with his wife, Jessica. He fell in love with her, the first time he saw her and his adoration of her grew everyday. She was smart, pretty, and fun to be with. She made him feel like he was a king. He would do anything for her.
Terry and Jessica met a year after both of them finished college. Terry graduated from Penn State University and Jessica from Albright College. Both of Jessica's parents died in a car accident when she was in her teens. Jessica had to put herself through college by working and using what was left of the insurance money. She worked hard and made good grades. Terry's background was a little easier than hers but he always respected what Jessica had accomplished.
They met at work and went together for about a year before deciding to get married. They were a good pair, both a little geeky and shy. The nice thing was that, they felt comfortable with each other. They had sex before they got married. It was clumsy, but fun. They improved with practice and the sex in their married life was great. They would finish each other's sentences. They liked the same movies and types of food. Life was perfect.
Terry would stay awake sometimes at night, watching Jessica sleep. She looked angelic as she lay with her hair gently draping over her face. Occasionally, she would murmur things that, most of the time, he could not understand. She always seemed to be smiling when she was talking to herself. He could make out the name, Jason, and a lot of giggling. Terry never worried about it too much. His relationship and his trust in her were too strong for this to bother him. He assumed that Jason was a childhood friend, or a relative he hadn't met. It could possibly be an old boyfriend or someone she worked with, who he didn't know. He never felt it was necessary to ask her who Jason was.
After Jessica's parents died, she went to live with her Aunt Harriet. Aunt Harriet moved into a retirement home when Jessica was in college. Once a month, Jessica went up to Reading to visit her Aunt Harriet. She usually stayed most of the day. She always had her work schedule adjusted so she could get the first Wednesday of each month off. Terry never had a second thought about her monthly trips.
A few weeks ago, Terry's work took him up that way. He had a little time to kill, so he thought he would drop in and meet Aunt Harriet. He had never met her, but he knew she and Jessica were close. He stopped and got some Jelly Bellies to take along, because Jessica always took some with her. Terry found the retirement home with no problem and went to the lobby desk.
"Hi, my name is Terry Langford. I'm here to see my wife's aunt, Harriet Eyrich."
The receptionist looked through her listing and asked him to repeat the name. "I'm sorry there is no one here by that name. Let me check the past lists."
He was a little confused and worried. Was Jessica lying to him, and if so why? A few moments later, the receptionist looked up.
"There was a Harriet Eyrich here last year, but I'm sorry to say she passed away about ten months ago."
Now he was worried. Why was Jessica saying that she was coming to see her aunt every month if she was no longer there? He left the bag of candy on the counter and returned to his car.
All the way home he was fighting with himself. He didn't know what to do. His perfect companion had thrown him for a loop. She was deceiving him for some reason. He never felt for a moment that she didn't love him as much as she always did, but why did she feel she had to keep a secret like this from him? Terry never let her feel that she couldn't be open and truthful with him, and he was hurt. Did he do something that led her to believe that he couldn't be trusted? Was this his fault? Was he being paranoid about the whole situation? What was she doing here if her aunt had died? Should he confront her?
The last question was the hardest. He just could not bring himself to ask her about it because he really didn't want to know the answer. Terry never mentioned to Jessica that he had been to Reading or to the rest home.
Finally, he couldn't stand it anymore. Terry had to get something out in the open somehow. After they finished supper one night, he tried to bring up the subject of their marriage without being too obvious. Unfortunately, he wasn't too good at it.
"Jessica, are you happy with the way everything is going with our marriage?"
"Why, what exactly do you mean?"
"Well, you know are we getting along ok? Are we keeping each other happy and satisfied? Is either of us doing anything to aggravate the other one? Things like that."
She came over to the couch and sat beside him. She cuddled up to him and looked into his face. She was beautiful.
"Something is bothering you. Tell me what it is." She murmured.
He couldn't do it. Terry trapped himself and now he was scrambling to figure a way out of it. He could confess what he was really worried about, say it was nothing, or make something up.
She poked him in the ribs. "Come on, open up."
"I just wanted to make sure that you were happy, and that I was doing everything possible to keep you that way. If there is anything at all you want from me that I am not giving to you, please let me know. I love you more than anything and it is important for me that you know that."
"You silly goose. You are a great husband and the only one that could ever fill that job. There is only one thing I want and you know what it is. But I am willing to wait till you are ready because I love you more than you love me, and will do whatever you ask." She poked him again.
How could he not believe her? He did love her more than life itself and knowing she cared for him made his existence complete.
"You are talking about the baby right?"
"Of course. I am ready, and as soon as you feel the time is right we should do it. It is mean and cruel of you to tease me this way by making me hold off." He knew she was joking but there was a hint of seriousness in what she said.
He couldn't bring himself to bring up Jason or the trips to Aunt Harriet. He was afraid if he said anything he would hurt her feelings and that was the last thing he wanted to do. He loved her so much, but he still had to know.
Terry would have to think of something.
The next day he made a trip back home from work at noon. He felt like a sneak, but he had to do something to ease his mind. Jessica kept a file box with her important papers, birth certificate, passport, and college transcripts. Her college grades had been mailed to her house at the end of each semester. The first few years went to her aunt's house, but the last year went to a different address. It was addressed to her name in care of Robert Hendrix. He decided that was a good place to start, so he wrote down the name and address. He opened up her college yearbook and found a Robert Hendrix, PHD, who was a theology professor at Albright. There was also a Susan Hendrix in the yearbook in the economics department.
The first Wednesday of the month was coming up. Terry arranged to have the day off, but did not tell Jessica. He was hoping that he wouldn't make a fool out of himself but it had to be done. He said his goodbyes and left for work as always, but instead went to Mickey D's for coffee. After giving Jessica a good head start he took off for Reading.
It was mid-morning when he found the house. It was an older stone home near the college in a nice neighborhood, a fitting place for a college professor and his wife. He sat in the car for about five minutes and tried to relax. Finally, it was time to get it done.
Terry rang the doorbell and looked around nervously while waiting for an answer. An attractive, middle-aged woman greeted him and smiled.