The Sidelined Wife(2)By: Jennifer Peel
His room was covered in sports posters. I saw specks of carpet under the mounds of clean and dirty clothes on the floor. His dresser, desk, and bed were also covered in a collage of dirty dishes, wrappers, and empty plastic water bottles.
Cody was lying on his bed in the semi dark, some evening light creeping in from the closed blinds. He had grown four inches just this year and his feet dangled off his full-size bed. When did he start looking like a man? He was tossing a football in the air and catching it with ease each time.
“It’s time to head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s for Sunday dinner.” I took shallow breaths to avoid a full whiff of his room.
He kept tossing the football.
“I know life sucks right now, but Grandma’s potato salad will almost make up for it.”
His lip twitched, if only barely.
“You have to come with me to protect me from Mimsy. Your handsomeness is my only hope.”
Mimsy, previously known as Miriam before she had grandchildren, was my mom’s mom, and divorce was a cardinal sin to her. Even knowing that my husband—I mean ex-husband, I needed to remember that—was having a baby with another woman. That was a fun piece of trivia to bring up at parties. Neil left me for a twenty-five-year-old waitress and, not only that, he believed her when she said she was on the pill. The man that only wanted one child, whose mind I could never change on the subject, would be a new father in several weeks.
Joke’s on him, though. He was going to have fun getting up at all hours of the night now that he was in his mid-forties. And the crime rate was up, which meant he was busier than ever as a medical examiner. His little side project had announced she certainly had no intention of getting up. She needed her beauty rest, apparently.
Despite all this, Mimsy still felt the need to shout out whenever I was around that everyone should pray to Saint Anthony or Saint Jude for lost things or lost causes, as she now liked to call it. And then I always got a kiss on the cheek because that made it all better. Hopefully she wouldn’t be sprinkling holy water on my head tonight to ward off evil spirits. It’s happened, and I don’t even want to know how she got the holy water.
But that wasn’t as bad as when she called the priest over to bless my home and check for evil spirits. She didn’t tell the poor man why he was coming before he made the house call with her and Ma. He thought he was coming over to talk about a generous donation for the new high school the church was building. He was disappointed on all fronts. No donation and no evil spirits. So maybe he was happy about the last part, Mimsy not so much. She was determined that Neil and I should work it out. She told me to look at Roxie, the extra-curricular activity, like a handmaiden for my husband. And that it would be okay for me to punish Neil for the rest of our marriage for what he did, as long as there was a marriage.
Maybe we shouldn’t go to dinner.
That would only make it worse. The whole loud-mouthed Decker clan would come here if we didn’t. And, like I said, I would be using Cody as a shield. Mimsy adored him and shoved cash at him whenever she saw him. I would have his college paid for in the next couple of years if she kept it up.
Cody decided to keep a hold of the football and look at me. “I call dibs on driving over.”
“Deal.” I cringed. I hated when he drove and he knew it. Another reason to hate Neil. I agreed to birth Cody if he taught him how to drive. I thought it was a fair trade. Who got stuck with both, though? Like I needed more torture in my life.
He sat up and ran his fingers through his thick, brown hair with golden highlights he inherited from me. Okay, so maybe my highlights were grayish in nature now, but no one could actually prove that, except my hair stylist. I begged her not to tell me the extent of it and just do what she had to do to make it look like I was still twenty-nine and holding steady. I was about ready to celebrate the eleventh anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday. You do the math.
Cody’s eyes, which looked like Neil’s, were killing me. Loss and pain reflected in them. But despite all that, he was such a good-looking kid, if I do say so myself. Thankfully, he got my nose.
“I love you.”
He mumbled something.