Friday, February 25, 2011

The Briefcase

Sharon noticed the briefcase as soon as she opened the closet door. She froze for a second as she considered the opportunity. Matt always locked it in his car at night, claiming he didn’t want to forget it in the morning. Now the case was right there, right in line with his shoes. What she needed was inside. Did she have time to get it? How long had he been gone?

She memorized how it was placed there: top to the right, handle flopping left, bottom front edge not quite in line with his black loafers. She checked to see if it was locked. It wasn’t. She carefully lifted it out and placed it on the bed.

Suddenly her heart was beating wildly. She was not secret agent material, not by a long shot. She couldn’t even spy on her own husband without her hands shaking so badly.

The kids were in the basement watching TV. She listened. The cartoons were loud enough that she could hear them up here. She glanced at the clock. She’d have at least fifteen minutes before the younger one came searching for her. But Matt was unpredictable. He had driven off this Saturday morning without explanation. Maybe he went to work out, maybe to meet with his hunting buddies, maybe to golf. He could be back in an hour, three hours . . . or ten minutes.

Sharon thumbed through the folders in the briefcase until she came to the calendar. She took out all the folders on top and set them aside. The calendar was open to this month, September, and creased back. She’d have to remember to put it back that way. She flipped back to January and scanned the notations Matt had made each day. This was just the information she needed. Her lawyer had been right.

Her eyes darted to the window. She had a clear shot of the road where it connected to the driveway, but it would barely give her enough time to put everything back if she spotted his car pulling in. She needed a view of the whole road. She took the calendar, grabbed a notebook from her nightstand and went downstairs to sit by the living room window.

She copied, scribbled as fast as she could, glanced out the window after every jot. Her heart still pounded. The cartoons still blared. She couldn’t let the kids catch her at this either – Matt would quiz them about every minute he was gone. His suspicions had swelled after what happened last week.

She finished recording August’s entries and folded the calendar back to September. She raced upstairs, replaced everything and hid her notes.

copyright 2011 by Debra Chapoton