Flaunting Infidelity: A Short Fiction Story
This is a short fiction story I wrote back in 2009, which is inspired by the phenomenon I see of middle aged men leaving their wives of the same age for younger women. We see women beginning to do this a bit more now, but there still seems to be this cultural phenomenon of men leaving their wives, and the flaunting of infidelity in some marriages is just so blatant.
My name is Abigail Sutton, and I am a twenty-one year old woman living in the high desert of Southern California. When I look back at my life I feel as if is something I would watch on TV, and not something that happened to me. Growing up we lived in a somewhat large house, and I had pretty much everything I wanted, at least materially. Living in the high desert there are quite a few kids that are lower income, so my parents always reminded me how I should be appreciative of what I have. Yes on that account I am highly grateful to my parents as they provided me with financial stability, whereas I was surrounded by many kids whose parents never had much money to go around. We lived in the upper middle class part of town, and my dad let me know this ever since he bought the house back in 1998.
I have some happier memories of my early childhood growing in Wrightwood. Back then we lived in a small cabin, but my mom and dad seemed in love in those days. At that time she was a stay at home mom, and every night he used to kiss her on the cheek and bring her flowers when he got home from work. During the day my dad worked driving a trash truck, and always lamented how this job was "beneath him". However, even back then my dad admired material wealth, and he jumped at the opportunity to bring home perfectly good TV's, VCR players, and computer that the vacationing multi-millionaires left on the curb for trash pick-up. There was nothing wrong with these electronic devices, except that these were not the newest and latest models.
Growing up in the mountains I had several really close friends, and I miss that dearly. During those days I loved school, the surrounding, and my home life playing amongst the pine trees. However, abruptly at the end of second grade my dad told me had obtained a better job as a manager at a local bottling plant, and that we would be moving to this place called Lancaster.
I cried that entire night, and the next day I remember us having an impromptu garage sale to get rid of some of the old furniture we would no longer be needing. That night we filled the Uhaul and drove down the mountain to our new home in the Lancaster, California. Personally, I dearly missed the mountains with the mile high elevations, clear streams to splash in, beautiful pine trees, and dear friends.
The next few years of my life chugged along without precedent, but I do not remember feeling as happy or secure as I did in the mountains. My dad had been promoted to head supervisor at the bottling plant, but even during the day he seemed to be gone a lot. During this time my mom began to annoy me because she would preen over the house when he was gone, and then when he got home she would smother him with attention.
It was around the age of nine I began to notice my dad had a wandering eye, and he was flaunting his infidelity in my mom's face. My mom became pregnant with the twins in hopes that this would "rekindle" the marriage, but he showed Alexis and Allison less attention than he had ever shown me when I was a toddler
Where had my old dad gone? I missed the man that used to push me in my swing, and bring my mom home flowers after a long day at work. Now that we were living in Lancaster, he was obsessed with making more money, and saving towards a McMansion in the "affluent part" of town. My dad used to brag that in the mountains he could never be a some body because of large number of true multi-millionaires that had second and third homes up there, but in the high desert he could be a real "somebody". Gee dad, it is no contest when you are surrounded by a lower income populace, and how can you judge people on the value of their economic wealth?
By the age of ten I realized what a disastrous thing it was to value a person for their financial status or power position, but my dad seemed entranced by anything that exuded "we have money". In 1998 he finally achieved his dream of moving us into the McMansion in the "more affluent" part of town, and that is when my life went downhill.
As a nerdy eleven year old kid I hated middle school, and I was tired of having no friends here. I still got good grades, but I never seemed to have a teacher that showed any interest in my life. No one ever asked me how I was doing, and most just complained about having to grade papers. Other kids had friends, but no one seemed to want to talk to me. Well a few boys acted interested, but only if a girl would do certain things to "win his approval". I was not that type of girl as my mom had taught me better, so most days I just ate lunch alone in the corner of the dreary 1950s style cafeteria. My surroundings were always devoid of any emotional warmth, and I missed the pines and faces of the mountains dearly during those years.
My mom always taught me to be proud of myself and believe in who I am, and that was the one gift she could give me. Unfortunately when it came to my dad, she put up with way too much of his garbage, and one day on my twelfth birthday his flaunted infidelity crossed the line.
I was excited to check the mail because I knew my grandpa would be sending me a birthday card. I loved him so much, but had only met him a few times since he lived in Chicago. Sure enough his card was there in the mail sealed in an envelope the shade of my favorite fuschia, but also there was a letter with flower stickers and lipstick imprints on it. For some reason I thought this was a birthday card, so I opened it to discover quite the surprise.
In it was a picture of a lithe and sexy twenty-one year old woman in a cerulean blue bikini in those cheesy type of glamour shots people used buy back in the 90's. She wrote in the letter how she was so glad she had met my dad at a business convention up in San Francisco, and how the event was so much more bearable because of his witty jokes during the boring presentations. She apparently had addressed the letter to my dad, and thanked them for the lovely time they had spent "gardening together". My dad had hated gardening all of his life, and about threw a fit when my mom had asked him to get out the weed whacker a few years back. Actually, I remember my mom doing the landscaping at all of our homes, and so I was pretty sure he and this lady had not "gardened" together in the typical sense. Gardening was a euphemism for sex, and I was disgusted with my father.
Finally, this letter proved confirmation of my dad's horrific infidelity, and I hoped at this moment my mom would have the courage to leave him once and for all. My mom was a healthy and sturdy woman, who stood at about five two and hundred and thirty pounds. She was not what glossy magazines would consider beautiful, but she always had a healthy glow around her from working in her garden, and taking care of two young twins.
How could my dad do this to mom? What a jerk, and I wanted to get away as fast as I could. I showed my mom the letter, and instead of what I hoped, she scolded me for opening my dad's mail. Afterward she cried for about an hour, and I had to go in my room to stifle the sound of her sobbing. Apparently "dear old dad" was out gallivanting with some random woman, and on his daughter's twelfth birthday no less, which was the day I realized how he really felt about us. For years I had suspected he really did not care about his family, but now it was as plain as day. Most men try to hide their affairs, but my dad was now openly flaunting it.
I had heard the men in the neighborhood exchanging jokes about how lucky my dad was, and about how they could never get away with cheating on their wives. Their jibes about my mom particularly hurt, especially the ones about how any man would prefer a hot blond over a mousy haired and quiet little woman. How could they!
That night before my dad got home way after midnight, my mom and I burned the letter in the fireplace, and she told me to never open his mail again.That particular night he complained about having to eat the delicious, but cold leftovers, from my birthday meal, and said my mom should have had a hot meal waiting for him. After that day I started to check the mail periodically, and buried all of his philandering letters in the hot sand of the desert in shallow unmarked graves. To this day the ground of the desert is littered with my dad's adultery, and it makes me sick to think about it. During this time we also started getting many calls where people would hang up, and I noticed my mom was often reticent to answer the phone. I started answering it, and telling the women on the other line what I thought, but I usually heard a click before I could utter a sentence or two of the speech I had rehearsed. There was no need to vary the speech as my dad had a type of woman he cheated with, and none of them were really unique or substantial in any way.
For the next several years my mom went into hyper-drive trying to "please my dad" with the meager hope he would stay home at night rather than go out with other women. My mom was not the type to go to a salon or buy herself new clothes, so her way of trying to please my dad was by fixing up the house, and serving his favorite meals whenever he walked through the door.
Instead of showing appreciation for her effort, my dad started telling my mom how plain and boring she looked, and how her delicious meals tasted chalky. No longer could I take the infidelity, so one night around the age of sixteen I decided to come to my mom's defense, " She is strong, beautiful, and vibrant, and you are so lucky to have her!" I scream at my ungrateful father.
Dad looked stunned and said "Mind your own business," as he ran out the door and took off in his car.
I was minding my "business" as his stupid affairs were impacting my life, and he was just too selfish to even care.
My high school years were uneventful, except for the fact my dad was virtually never home. Where he spent his nights we had no clue, but at least we had the house to ourselves. My sisters were getting bigger now, so I offered to watch them at night so my mom could get a part-time job at the local supermarket. It was my hope that by watching my sisters that maybe she could save enough money, and then we could all move into an apartment.
My mom would glance around and say what a nice life we had here, and wondered how I could not appreciate it all. One thing my mom gave me was love, but I always marveled at home she wasted it on my father. I suppose many couples stay together for various reasons, and I learned my mom enjoyed being a homemaker, even if it was in a very dysfunctional marriage.
In high school I obtained decent grades, and I even dreamed of attending university in Chicago to be near my beloved grandpa. However, I could not bear the thought of leaving my mom alone, so I opted to complete the first two years at a community college nearby in Los Angeles.
Around that time I also got a full-time job at the grocery store where my mom worked, and mostly I did that so she could quit. I knew my mom hated working and liked to be at home, so it was my dream to save up so I could put myself through school, and give my mom a bit of extra money. This hope and dream spurred me to take on extra shifts, and I studied late into the nights to keep my grades up.
It took a couple of years to obtain my AA in liberal studies, and I planned on transferring to UCLA into the teaching program.
During the summer after my graduation things became more twisted. My dad obtained a new job as a higher up in his bottling company, and now he had to travel to several bottling plants throughout the US. That September as I began attending UCLA, my "dear old dad" informed my mom he would be spending the next few months in Texas.
I smiled and hoped this meant he would be leaving for good, but my mom just sobbed. The bizarre thing about this entire set-up is I knew my dad would continue to provide for our financial well- being, as having this McMansion, a wife, children, and material items seemed to boost his ego. He liked to brag to his friends that he took care of his family financially, but I had not known the love of my father since around the age of ten when he started philandering with women.
I noticed many kids from the so-called "lower income dads" in our community, but at least they went to their kids soccer practice, took them out for ice cream, and pushed them on the swings at the park. My twin sisters never had a father who pushed them on the swings at the park, and I found that to be a bit sad. My mom always was there for us, but I just wanted her to stand up to this man who had no respect for our family. Why do people get married when they cannot be faithful to one person? My dad's selfish behavior taught me to have an extreme disdain for philanders and serial monogamists. Who were they that they could just not be with one person, or be single if they had that urge to "spread their seed"? Seriously, it seems some men in this world cannot handle being alone for five minutes, and they have to have a woman on their arm constantly.
I knew many women also were into the adulterous lifestyle, but it seemed men flaunted it more than the ladies. Most men would leave their wives if they cheated, but my mom and several other women I had met growing up put up with the cheating. These women did not inspire me to seek out marriage, and to be honest I loved my single and independent life. Actually things were getting better now that dad was gone, and mom even seemed happy. I encouraged her to take a few painting classes because I knew she loved to create things with her hands, and by the end of December were very peachy in our house.
People always chastise single women for raising kids alone and not having a dad in their lives, but my parents had been married, and my dad was still not there. Around the Christmas tree that year we enjoyed our small but modest gifts, that is, until dad walked in.
He strolled in the door and thumped his suitcases on the floor. The thud made us turn around, and next to him was a larger woman who weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds, but she was about 6'2 in height. Her permed shoulder length black hair, and large build was definitely a departure from the modelesque women who usually paraded around with. Dad opened his mouth, and then stunned us with the announcement, "This is my new girlfriend Ailene, and she is moving in with us because she lost her house and job".
We sat there and looked dazed as my dad and Ailene proceeded to move their suitcases into the guest room. He then commanded my mom, "Claire you are such a weak woman that will never leave me, so you will just have to put up with Aileen living here. In the morning I want you to move into Abigail's room, so Aileen can be in the master suite with me."
Tears started streaming down my mom's eyes, and she did not move an inch! I gave my dad and Aileen a withering look, but they simply headed for the stairs, and shared a long french kiss before ascending.
Basically, he was flaunting his toxic infidelity, and in front of my little impressionable sisters. That night my little sisters who had been so happy earlier were sobbing over their presents, and they wished this monster had never come home. Unlike me, they had never known a loving dad, and he was simply the man that paid for this house that they lived in.
That night I tried to persuade my mom to move out and divorce him, and let him have his stupid house. She spoke of all the beautiful plants she had grown here, and how she did not want to give these up. This was her home and she loved it.
The next morning Ailene started taking my mom's beautiful paintings off the wall, and announced "These are going out with the garbage!"
At that point I finally had had it. I saw an antique sugar bowl that was in one of the boxes she was unpacking, so I went to the top of the stairs and threw it down hard. The shards of glass scattered in the a thousand jagged little pieces, and Ailene came running to see what all the fuss was about.
Why did my dad bring her home especially since my dad had usually loved the modely types, and Ailene was not even remotely attractive. She was actually very repugnant looking, and scowled at people when she talked. Why would my dad want to openly cheat on my mom with a woman that was not even beautiful? Then I realized Ailene had a temper, and told my dad what was on her mind. She went ballistic when she saw her shattered sugar bowl, and proceeded to lecture me by stating, "That had been my grandmother's, and you should have been more careful! When you take the other boxes up stairs, handle with care," she said in a melodic voice.
Was Aileen really that deluded, and did she really think I was helping her unpack? Finally I had had enough, and I let the past ten years of my dad flaunting his infidelity receive a tongue lashing that is very much deserved.
"You and my dad are the biggest slime balls ever. This is my mom's house, and you have no right to flaunt your infidelity here!," I scream.
Aileen came up to me with a kitchen knife, grabbed me by the hair, and whispered in my ear. "I will do away with you if you speak to me that way again."
I kicked Aileen in the calves, and I was able to break free. I ran out the door, and I heard her lumbering after me for about a block. Fortunately Aileen was not in very good shape, and I had taken up running recently. I sprinted the entire two miles to the local police station and reported the event. The officer on duty looked bewildered, and questioned me about how my mom would even put up with this situation. I felt disheartened to share that my mom had always put up with his infidelity, and the officer confided in me this was not an unknown thing. Many women are ashamed when their husband begin cheating on them, so rather than leave they try to cover this up.
He sent another officer out to the house to arrest Aileen for assault, and that was the last we heard of her. I did have to testify at her trial, and I did it with pleasure. Finally my mom was spurred to leave "dear old dad," and she got the house in the divorce. Dad now has to live in an apartment on the side of town he considers "poor", and he works to pay for a house he can never live in again. Women in our town are no longer attracted to him, even the really slutty ones that used to not mind infidelity. The Aileen story has appalled people, and even the ones who used to joke about how cool he was no longer do so.
As I see all the players growing into middle age, I have noticed so many of them are alone like my dad, or they are with women that will never give them true love. They use their philandering, or multiple marriages to cover up low self-esteem, because the truth is they are afraid of "being alone". I would rather spend the rest of my life being single then spend one minute in the emotionally bankrupt marriage my mom had. People like my mom have found their strength, and now she is attending community college and studying painting. Yes she is divorced and alone, but at least now she is happier and stronger.
As a twenty-two year old woman I am enjoying life, even if I am single. Us single women are sparkly and have beautiful minds, and we do not need men to complete our lives. Yes I am sure many women have wonderful relationships, but at the moment, this is the farthest thing from my mom's mind, or from mine.