He came home late, smelling of red wine and warm leather.
He didn’t explain why.
He didn’t think he needed to explain.
So, he didn’t.
She had waited for him to come.
She had waited through dinner.
She had waited through 9, 10, 11 o’clock.
She didn’t ask questions.
She was glad he was home.
But that was the first time.
The second time wasn’t so bad.
“I’m stuck in traffic. Bad accident ahead.
I think they shut the road down.”
She listened to his words.
She believed in them.
She waited for him to come home.
He came home the next morning.
The third time.
He didn’t call.
She didn’t know.
He didn’t try to explain.
So, she asked.
“Why do you doubt me?
I’m here, aren’t I?
What more do you want?”
“Is there someone else?”
And their world stopped on those four words.
Holding their breath for the answer.
“When did you become so suspicious?”
“You didn’t call me.”
“I never call.”
“You didn’t come home again.”
“It was just this one more time.”
“How many more times will it be?”
He fell silent.
“One more? One more? One more? How many more?”
“You’re tired. Go to bed.”
She fell silent.
“I have to go to work.”
“We can’t go on like this.
I can’t go on like this.”
“Like what? I’m taking care of you, aren’t I?
I’m paying the bills, aren’t I?
What more do you want from me?”
Her voice filled with hurt.
Her voice filled with pain.
“I only want you.
But I can’t go on like this.
Crying alone at night.”
I can’t go on with someone who doesn’t trust me.
Who doubts me.
Who suspects me.”
“I don’t mean to be suspicious.
but you give me so much reason.
So much to question.
So much to suspect.”
“And this must end.”
“Yes. It must end.”
“We can’t go on together with your suspicious mind.
Tears filled her eyes.
Tears fell down her face.
Tears choked her voice and ached her heart.
“I can’t spend my entire life with someone
who loves me only part-time.
If there’s someone else—”
“There is no one else.
I just work long hours.
They need me there.
I endure long meetings.
They need me to attend.
That’s why I’ve been coming home so late.
For a moment, she almost fell.
For a moment, she almost believed.
For a moment, she almost understood.
But the truth was red before her eyes.
“Then, why is there lipstick on your collar?”