Things that turn up in the laundry …
She found them on Saturday afternoon while she was sorting the laundry. One of those flat plastic passkeys to a Hilton Hotel room and a note, half crumpled as if he had meant to throw it away and forgotten.
Last night was glorious. It said in a small script. See you in room 1352 at 7. I’ll be the one wearing nothing. Nothing was underlined. There was no name. Joellen couldn’t tell if this passkey went to room 1352. She had only used a key like that once before. Brent had explained that it was a security step and that all the better hotels had gone to this system.
Joellen turned the note over, looking for more clues. Brent had taken the kids bike riding. He was good at stuff like that, she thought. The kids had more fun with Brent than they did with her. She was the one who kept their life on track. He was the one who gave it action. They loved the weekends when he spent almost all his time with them and showered them with attention.
She stood there transfixed by the enormity of what she’d found. She leaned against the washer as it rumbled rhythmically on the spin cycle. The note was light in her hand. She would have thought finding such a momentous object would feel terrible, horrible, that she would tremble, feel abandoned, run to call her mother. Instead she stood staring at it as if it might soon talk to her, tell her its whole story, reveal the woman behind the writing. She almost wished they could have a conversation.
“What do you find in him?” she would ask.
What would the other woman answer? What did she have that made Brent please her so, make her want to meet him again – and naked – in room 1352?
Joellen couldn’t imagine what the other woman would say. Then she tried to think what Brent would say if she confronted him. That thought made Joellen tremble, or was it the spinning of the washer? She stepped away from it, the note still in her shaking hand. She looked again at the crisp, small handwriting and tried to picture the woman who wrote it. As she stood there surrounded by dirty socks and underwear, she realized she had always known, somewhere deep inside her, in a place where she never looked, that this day would come. Now she had to think about it, define it, face it.
She knew right away she would not confront Brent. He would simply say he had found the note and thought it was funny.
He had come from New York City and flown home from Newark, where thunderstorms had delayed all flights. She would call the hotel and find out if they could tell her the room number this key had gone to if she sent it to them. No, she wouldn’t do that. What did it matter what room it went to? She would just go on as usual. If Brent was having an affair it probably wasn’t the first. Her life hadn’t changed before. Why should it change now? But there was the change in his need for sex. Maybe he had not done this before. Maybe this was the first time. Maybe it was serious, possibly a true threat to her marriage. In that case she should – what? She realized she had no idea what to do.
She heard the kids running through the kitchen and heard Brent yelling at them to get him something to drink, too.
Joellen stuffed the note in her pocket and took the laundry out of the washer and tossed it into the dryer. She stuffed the rest of the laundry into the washer and started a new load.