Complete By Christine Swiderski
Seeing elder couples complete each other’s sentences always gives me hope. Been married for over 20 years, we don't complete each other’s sentences but we know before the words are spoken the general emotion that will be expressed.
I suppose that is a form of completion. We may express gas in unison which may also be a form of completion. If I contemplate the phenomenon of completion I would have to admit that I would be bored if I were able to complete his sentences. I still like surprises. Especially with the wink, that comes before the surprise.
Second marriages statistically fail within the first 5 years, due in part to family pressure. Another irritant is money. Any marriage that can withstand the barrage from step kids, ex-wives or husbands I believe can withstand anything. With all this said, what happened to me took me by surprise. Or maybe I was not paying attention.
It was a beautifully blue, warm summer day. We both arrived home from work at the same time. We gave each other our usual hug and kiss with the unspoken, "glad to see you" "glad to be home". This time something seemed off with Mitch, I chalked it up to a long week. As we walked into the side door I turned to ask Mitch if grilled pork chops would be okay for dinner. His eyes clouded over and he said: "I will not be staying for dinner. Nor will I be spending any more nights here."
A knot immediately formed simultaneously in my stomach and throat.
My response was not assertive it was a form of a gasp "What?"
He said: "Did you think I would stay with you once I found out you are cheating on me?"
Now I am at a loss for words. Never in my life had I cheated even on a test, how is it Mitch thinks I am cheating on him?
He knows my expressions. He knows how to read me. His silence was a relief. He said: "We need to talk."
He grabbed two beers as he motioned me onto the patio. My legs were weak causing my body to thump into the chair. I took a long pull on the cold beer. Hot tears were cascading down my cheeks. Mitch got up and retrieved 2 more beers. We sat silent for a few moments. Mitch began to tell me of the emails he had been receiving from someone by the name of John Oxford. I looked at Mitch quizzically wondering who and the hell is John Oxford.
Now I am grateful for the gift of knowing each other’s emotions before the spoken word. I listened to his dissertation as to the contents of the e-mails, numbly shaking my head was my only response.
This time I went to get us both another beer. I started the grill and said to Mitch: "We need to take this slow. I will grill the chops. I made the salad before we went to work. But I need you to answer a question. When did I ever have the time to cheat? After work and every weekend, we spend together. Except for the occasional trip to the store or garage sales, whatever?"
Mitch said the e-mails indicated the liaisons were during lunch hours, also when you said you worked overtime. I contemplated that and said "You can check to see if I ever leave work for lunch being that I have to use my card to enter and leave the building. That goes for working late."
Mitch shrugged and said "Honestly Sharon in the back of my mind I could not believe you would cheat. The e-mails were so precise and convincing."
Mitch went to get his computer while I grilled the pork chops. We ate amiably but silent. Each of us with a fresh beer we started to read the e-mails one by one. They were well thought out describing what I was wearing. The weather, what I had on my agenda each day. I looked at Mitch and we said to each other: "This guy knows everything about you (me)."
Mitch started to apologize profusely for ever doubting me. Now we had the task to find out who is stalking me and why he wants to ruin my marriage.
Mitch and I both agreed to get the police involved. We decided to meet at the police station after work the next day.
After we finished up dinner, cleaned up the dishes we both showered together. I told Mitch no one could make me feel the way he does.
The next morning as I walked into work I was apprehensive. Knowing there is someone watching closely enough to notice what lipstick I was wearing, cologne I was using, how my hair was done on any particular day. The one thing that made me feel safe is our company has top notch security. If I were to scream for help anywhere in the building they would know exactly where to send help.
I went about my day trying to see anything out of place. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. No one paid any undue attention to me. The thought did occur to me the emails could be from a female coworker trying to screw with my life.
After work, Mitch and I met at the police department as we agreed. We were directed to a detective in the cyber/computer department. Interesting how things have changed.
Detective Lyons was tall and willowy, with a broad smile and easy laugh. He went through Mitch’s emails. It took more time than I thought it would. We ordered take out and settled down for a long evening. By 8 pm the detective said the server the emails originated from were from my work. Detective Lyons took down the necessary information and told us he will do some checking to see if he could narrow it down to a particular computer or at least a department.
Mitch and I arrived home, kicked off our shoes and slumped into our sofa. I was never so glad it was Friday. We both needed a break. I am hoping we will know something by Monday.
Monday morning Mitch told me I should stay home. I told him I would probably be safer at work being our security is top notch. He shrugged and said: "Sharon, I love you and would be devastated if anything happened to you."
When I arrived at work I filled my coffee mug, sat down at my desk and decided to jump right into my daily routine just like any other day. Mid-day we had the usual Monday office meeting. My boss stood at a podium in the lunch room we all gathered with paper, pen, and beverage.
"Today we need to discuss a problem that has come to my attention." Paul Ryan said
My face flushed thinking he would tell about the e-mails and how I am being stalked. I was relieved he did not give out details.
"There seems to have been a breach in our computers. Someone has been using them to harass one of our employees. I want to be very clear if anyone of you is using the computer to harass or bully someone it will mean an immediate firing and detention. The police are at this moment checking everyone's computer for suspicious activity." Ryan said
I slowly glanced around to see if anyone flinched or looked remotely guilty. The only one I notices was Dharma Smith. Her head was down, she was twisting her napkin. Mr. Ryan must have noticed as well he said: "I want everyone to stay her in this room until you are dismissed by a police officer. Dharma if you have a moment I would like to speak with you."
Dharma looked up and just stared for a moment. Slowly she got up and walked slowly over to Ryan. Mr. Ryan spoke in soft tones. Dharma nodded and spoke quietly in return. Both left the room. A police officer stood just inside the lunchroom door.
Detective Lyons came in pointed and me and motioned for me to come with him. I actually felt some relief. Maybe for some reason, Dharma decided to mess with my marriage. I cannot figure why there is nothing she could gain from it.
Detective Lyons brought me into Mr. Ryan's office and closed the door.
"Dharma Smith just told me that she has been having an affair with Mitch. Mitch broke it off telling her he would never leave you. She sent the e-mail's hoping he would leave you if he found out you were cheating as well."
I just stared at the Detective. Is this a double cross or is this still misinformation. There is no way Mitch would cheat on me. Detective Lion's had me sit as he retrieved some water for me. My heart was pounding, I was sweating.
There was a commotion outside the door, people yelling. There was mass confusion. A uniform police officer poked his head into the office and told Detective Lyons that Dharma Smith left the building. The Detective voiced his concern and admonitions. He then turned to me and said: "It would be best you stay here until we can find her." I nodded and looked at the bottled water in my hands. I don't know what to think at this point. My co-workers were still in the lunchroom. An hour later Detective Lyons came back into the office and pulled a chair next to me and said: "Sharon there is something I need to tell you. Dharma went to Mitch's office and shot him then herself."
I gasped, felt myself blacking out.
After the funeral, I had found out there were countless emails between Mitch and Dharma. Also, voicemails, text messages on Dharma’s phone were never erased. Mitch was more careful but it was clear they all came from him.
Will I ever feel complete again?