The Sidelined Wife(9)

By: Jennifer Peel

Chapter Five

I woke up with a purpose. Not exactly sure what it was yet, but it was the best I’d felt in a long while. My first thought was, what does Samantha like to do? I thought that was a good start.

It was the last week of summer vacation and I didn’t have to go into the office right away. Cody was riding to practice with a friend this morning even though that made me ill. Why was I letting another teenager drive my teenager? Something about having to learn to let go. What I really wanted to do was wrap my arms around him and keep him safe at home. That was a no-go with him.

The question still lingered. What did I like? What did I want to do? This shouldn’t be such a hard question, but my life had revolved around all the things Neil liked to do. He was more of a quiet homebody that enjoyed things like searching out his ancestors and writing their histories. He thought I loved being involved, and for a while it was interesting, but I wanted to catch a Cubs game once in a while or take a dinner cruise down the river. I wanted to take Cody camping, but that was too much nature for Neil. He would have rather watched National Geographic. Sometimes he was too smart for our own good. The doctor wanted to know everything, but he forgot how to live in the process. I had too.

It had been a fight to get him to agree to let Cody play football. He found it barbaric. He’d had to do an autopsy on a kid that died on the field several years ago, so I could understand his concern, but Cody loved the sport. I did too. Watching him on the field filled me with great pride. Reed was right, Cody had an arm on him and he was a strategic thinker. He was on the varsity team this year, but not as starting quarterback like he was last year for the freshman team. He was disappointed, but the starting quarterback was a senior and he was good. Cody would have his day eventually.

So, I loved football. But what else? A silly memory popped in my head of me riding my bike with my brothers down to the lake in Michigan where we vacationed each summer while I was growing up. Reed popped in my head—he had been there too. Reed and Peter were inseparable when they were younger and Reed happened to spend a lot of time at our house. I had forgotten he went on vacation to the lake house with us. He and Peter were pests. The little fiends would take my bras and string them up outside. Once they rigged my room with those firecrackers that popped when you opened a door. They put them everywhere, including my dresser drawers. The worst thing, though, was when they put a load of dead fish in my bed. I almost killed them. Ma too. I think Reed was a bad influence on our saintly Peter. Not that he was completely to blame, but Peter only ever acted devious around Reed. I wondered now that they were adults if he would have the same influence. And what kind of influence would he be on the boys on his team?

It was weird to think that bratty kid was now teaching the rising generation. Reed mentioned he was the new Algebra II and Trigonometry teacher at the school. I admit I was shocked. Not sure why. I mean, I hadn’t seen the kid in years and Peter obviously grew up. Why wouldn’t I think that Reed would too? I must be getting old. Ugh! More bad news. Now I’m single and old. Worse, I’m becoming one of those women that look at people and go, “I remember when I babysat you; look how you grew up.” And I was referring to him as a kid. I was going to turn into my mother. I loved Ma, but that wasn’t going to do.

I took a deep breath and focused back on the things I liked to do. I think I left off at riding a bike and enjoying the outdoors. Maybe I would get a bike or go to the lake. Or both. Why limit myself? Too bad Cody had two-a-day practices until school started. Leaving town wasn’t an option. Part of me wished we could leave town period, but the custody agreement said I had to stay in state until Cody graduated from high school. Not sure why. I had a feeling Neil wouldn’t try and see Cody even though he was supposed to get him every other weekend. Neil said he wouldn’t force Cody to come, and Cody was already refusing. But I wanted Neil to try. His blasé attitude only proved to Cody that he didn’t care about him.

I shook my head. I couldn’t even think about what I liked to do without my thoughts being interrupted by Neil. Neil was no longer in my equation. I needed to memorize this new formula as soon as possible.

The light was now creeping into my room through the cracks between the curtains. Which reminded me, I was going to go curtain shopping and get rid of the dark, light-reducing panels all over the home. In fact, I was starting now. I jumped out of bed and, with gusto, ripped down the charcoal gray panels that covered the large window in our room—I mean, my room. The neighbors behind me, if they were looking, probably thought I was crazy, standing there in my pajamas pulling down curtains, not even caring that they were ripping.