Something about her had changed. When she answered him, her words seemed a bit too forced, a bit too measured, but it was so subtle—he had to ask himself if he was paranoid. Something wasn’t quite right about her. It was like being married to an actress who didn’t like her part, and no matter what she said—he wondered about the internal dialogue in her head—the words she wasn’t saying to him. Tension was building in their conversations, with no obvious reason. When she suggested something, it didn’t seem sincere, and it was always over trivial statements like, “You should go to the store.” Or, “What time do you want to have dinner?” Harry thought he was going crazy. He had been married to Mari for five years. She worked in special education, so she always had this moral authority that she threw around whenever she wanted to feel better about herself. She would quote a statistic about students with autism not graduating at the same rate as their peers, and Harry was supposed to feel a certain way, but he never felt that way. With her, he wished they could have an open conversation, but she always played guerilla games, so that she maintained the upper hand, by not saying what she meant. It was a psychological drain to talk to her because of what wasn’t being said, and Harry wondered about that, all the time. She had invaded the most private parts of him by keeping to herself. How was that possible?
Late at night, the light on her cell-phone blinked. It blinked again. Those were not innocent lights, Harry thought. For him to pack and leave, would be irrational—that’s what he wanted to do. He wanted to start over. He wanted to get his sanity back, but, he had to know—was he crazy or was he just being paranoid?
“I’m going to work this evening,” Mari said. “There’s a board meeting, and we need to decide what to do about a sidewalk that’s not safe.”
It sounded plausible on the surface, Harry thought, but he knew it wasn’t. His instinct told him that.
“Don’t stay out too late, Honey,” Harry said.
“Don’t wait-up for me. I might be in, really late.”
She left, and Harry checked his cell-phone. He had set it up to track her. Harry was a plumber, and Mari thought him ignorant of technology because he used a pre-paid phone to be frugal. Five minutes after she left, Harry followed her in his truck. She went to the board meeting. After an hour, she walked out with a man. He was shorter than she was and looked like a teacher. Harry knew the guy, but it was hard to place where he had met him. Then it clicked. He was the district superintendent, and Harry had met him on his boat four years ago. Was that where they were headed? To the Lake House? Harry followed them. He didn’t feel much of anything. He wasn’t angry. He just wanted to see what was going to happen next.
Lake Sawyer was quiet. Mari’s Prius moved through the gate as silent as the wind, and Harry had to turn-off his lights and stop. The upstairs window became bright, and his half-naked wife filled the scene. That did it. Harry felt something, inarticulate, in his body. He walked towards the house, and knocked.
He got back into his truck, and drove home.
The trap, had been set, from the very beginning. It wasn’t jealousy, but a sense of duty—emotions welling-up from within, that Harry couldn’t name. It was good to know the truth, even if the truth had caused him to murder. None of it made sense.