The Sidelined Wife(13)

By: Jennifer Peel

Every time I’d driven the last few days, I took a moment to laugh evilly in my head, or sometimes out loud if I was feeling particularly ticked. Which was pretty much all the time lately. For spite, I’d asked for Neil’s luxury sedan in the divorce. He loved this car. It was the kind of car that said he’d made it. Meanwhile I had been stuck driving our old minivan. Neil hated the van. It wasn’t my dream car either, but it was convenient to haul Cody and all his friends around, especially when they had gear with them. That car shouted domestic suburban bliss. That in and of itself was a good reason to let Neil inherit it. He shattered the illusion of domestic bliss I had constructed for our family. He deserved the car that propagated that lie. And I quite enjoyed the fine leather seats and sunroof of my new car. Not to mention the navigation system and fantastic sound system. Except I wasn’t playing classical music over it like Neil used to, unless classic rock counted.

I was surprised Neil hadn’t put up a fight to keep his car. But he had surprised me a lot over the last year. None of it good.

I pulled into the school parking lot and noticed there was still a lot of construction going on for the new addition. The added space was a long time coming and the reason school was starting two weeks late this year, the day after Labor Day. It caused a big brouhaha in the district. People were up in arms that school would run until mid-June this school year. I wasn’t fond of it either, but I had been watching my life fall apart, so it was small in comparison. Honestly, school starting later this year worked for me. Having the divorce finalized before Cody started school was a good thing. We both needed that closure.

It was a steamy end-of-August morning. Mother Nature had teased us last week with a few fall-like days, so the humidity felt especially sticky. I hated Cody practicing out in this kind of weather, but Cody assured me they took plenty of water breaks. The team had water available, but Cody was particular about his water bottles. He had the kind that kept water cool, no matter the temperature outside. And I was glad he still felt like he could call me. Besides, it gave me a good excuse to check on him.

The humidity was doing no favors for my naturally wavy hair I hadn’t really had time to do. All I got was some styling spray spritzed into it. It had taken me forever to unclog the spray bottle; I hadn’t used it in months. Not like it did any good, the weather was making my hair look like I had gotten a perm.

I shuttled across the parking lot to the practice field situated well away from the school. With each step I felt my hair curling. I almost used Cody’s towel to wipe off the sweat dripping down into my bra. He probably wouldn’t have appreciated that. Even before I reached the field I could hear loud grunts and helmets colliding. Whistles blew and coaches raised their voices giving direction. I skirted the edge of the field near some bleachers. I didn’t want to interrupt or embarrass Cody. I could see him on the far end of the field practicing with the offensive coordinator and the other two quarterbacks.

I wrestled with what to do. Stay out in the sauna until some kind of break was called? Or pass Cody’s items off to one of the coaches on the sidelines? I zeroed in on Reed talking to a small group of assistants and coordinators. Oddly enough, when I focused on him he looked up and caught my eye. He tilted his head, probably wondering what I was doing there. It wasn’t like parents were invited to practice. Or maybe he couldn’t believe I would show my face in public after the show my family put on for him last night at my expense. Or perhaps he was remembering the forest on my knee where his hand had landed. I still thought his gesture was weird. I looked down at my longish legs that were smooth as a baby’s butt today.

When I tipped my head up I was surprised to see Reed walking my way, grinning. He was looking grown-up in his tan shorts and polo shirt monogrammed with the school name and Coach Cassidy written under it. Despite that, all I could see was the boy with a mischievous glint in his blue eyes.

On a second glance, maybe that boy had grown up to look like . . . what? Thinking it made me giggle inside. I had to press my lips together so that laugh didn’t escape, but the closer he got the harder it was to suppress. How did little Reed Cassidy grow up to look like one of those men that graced sports and celebrity magazines? I don’t know why I found that so funny. By the time he got to me a snicker escaped.