I lock the bedroom door and stand there staring at it, my palm pressed to the surface. Why had I done that? In all the years of stupid arguments we’d had, no matter how mad I’d been at Grady, I’d never locked him out.
More often than not, I’d laid there pouting, hoping he would come in and apologize, so I could apologize, and then we could go to sleep together. Almost always, he did just that.
But I wasn’t mad now. Well, maybe a little, but I was mostly scared, and confused, and worried, and tense. Grief had been replaced by suspicion.
Earlier it had felt as if my husband was just on the other side of the door, but he hadn’t been. Now he was, and I could feel him there, but it wasn’t the same. He wasn’t the same.
Was he sick? He looked awful. Where had he been? Why had he left me? What happened to him?
Is this even real?
The bed sags under my weight as I sit on it. Maybe I’m having a mental breakdown and he would be gone when I opened the door again. The thought wrings my heart out, because whatever was happening now, I don’t want to go back to thinking he’s dead. To missing him with every cell of my body.
I just…how could this be?
How could he disappear for six weeks, and reappear now? How could we have all thought he was dead, how could we have all had a funeral, when he was very much alive? And how the hell could he not remember?
He said he’d been hit in the head. Maybe that was it. Or maybe he was sick, like he said. Maybe his memory would come back to him, and in the morning he could explain to me why I’d thought him dead up until half an hour ago.
Or maybe… I look at the closet door. Inside on a shelf is a box that holds all our important papers.
There had been one thing all this time that had bothered me almost as much as his death. A last charge to his credit card, on the night he died, from a local hotel.
I flip the light switch in the closet and pull down the box. Beneath the funeral home bill, the life insurance paperwork, and all the other important papers I hadn’t had the energy or will to look over yet, was the credit card statement.
The paper rasps as I pull it open and stare at the innocuous charge that had befuddled me all this time.
When I’d told the police, they’d looked into it. But considering he’d died at his work, and the nature of his accident, they hadn’t seen it as relevant.
It was relevant to me, now, but I still don’t know what it means. Why had my husband gone to a hotel that night? I re-fold the paper and sigh.
But as I place it back in the box, I notice something else at the top. Our bank statements, with all the zeros seeming to stand out in bold.
We’d had a few accounts together. A joint checking account, a joint savings, and an individual savings account for each of us. When he’d died, I was the beneficiary to all of them. They’d taken his name off the joint accounts, and closed out his individual savings.
Right then is when my heart shattered for the second time, my fragile hope dissolving into heartbreak.
If my husband hadn’t died in an accident, which he obviously hadn’t… Had he faked his death?
Had he been leaving me that night? Could Grady have been cheating on me? Had he been alone at that hotel, or with someone?
Could he have left me, and come crawling back when he lost access to his finances? But that just didn’t in any way, fit the Grady that I knew. That I married.
And why did it seem like he’d died? Who was it, if not him, that was accidentally killed and buried in his casket? Or was it empty?
He’s not dead, he’s alive, which means everything the police know is wrong and screwed up. Everything I thought I knew is wrong. And he says he doesn’t remember where he’s been, or what happened, or with whom.
Whatever had happened to him, I was committed to helping him figure it out in the morning. I owe it to him if he’s telling the truth.
I owe it to myself if he’s not.
When I lay down on the bed, it’s different. I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep with all the insanity, but with my eyes closed, it’s like Grady is just staying up late to watch television because we’ve had an argument, and the last 6 weeks was a bad dream, and I don’t feel so alone.