THE CHEAT

Geena scrabbled around in her bag, trying to locate her phone. As usual her hand bag had swallowed everything of great importance and deposited it at the very bottom, leaving the dirty tissues and sweet wrappers to float to the surface.

She stuck her hand right to the bottom, wondering for the hundredth time why the designers of hand bag’s didn’t make the inside lining white instead of black or with a little interior light like in the glove box of her car, it would make her life a whole lot easier.

  She pulled out the offending item and glanced quickly at the screen before answering, cutting off its annoying wail, mid stream.

  “Tracey, how are you?” She answered with a smile, immediately picturing her friend, no doubt curled up on her sofa, ready for a good gossip session.

 But Tracey seemed to pause before answering. “Erm, I’m OK, but I have something to tell you. Can we meet?”  Worried now, Geena quickly agreed, arranging to meet in their favourite coffee shop.

 Geena sat nursing her coffee, black with no sugar, while she waited nervously for her friend. She took a reluctant sip and made a face, wishing with all her heart she could have a latte. She looked up expectantly at the sound of the door opening, watching as Tracey bustled in, thankful for the distraction.

  Tracey ordered her drink then sat down, her expression serious.

  “Uh oh, that’s not a happy expression. What’s wrong?”

  Tracey fiddled with the napkin in her hand, twisting it between her fingers as she looked at her, as if she was working up the nerve to speak. Finally she leaned forward and spoke in a low, secretive voice.

  “It’s about your Paul,” she paused and screwed up her face. “I don’t really know how to tell you so I’m just going to come right out and say it. He’s been cheating.”

  Geena’s jaw dropped, her mouth hanging open like a fish. She shook her head in denial.

  “No, he wouldn’t do that. He promised me.”

  Tracey reached over and gave her hand a squeeze.

  “I’m sorry, but it’s true. I saw him myself.” She pulled her mobile out of her pocket and pressed a few buttons.

 “I have proof,” she handed the phone over. Geena took the phone and reluctantly looked at the picture displayed on the little screen. She immediately felt her stomach drop. There it was, plain as day. Her Paul, doing the one thing that he had promised never to do again. She pushed the phone away, sickened, feeling the shock turn into anger.

 “How could he do this to me?” She exploded. “I’ve worked so hard to please him, tried everything. And this is how he repays me?” She slammed her hand down on the table top, slopping her coffee. “He’s not going to get away with this, you mark my words.”

 Tracey looked shocked at her out burst but nodded, supporting her friend.

 “What are you going to do?”

 Geena laughed bitterly. “Do? What do you think I’m going to do? I’m going to confront him that’s what. Can you print that photo out for me?”     

 Tracey nodded. “Yeah, I can do that. Do you want to go back to my house and do it now?”

 Geena shook her head, determination and the need for revenge tinging her voice. “No, I don’t need it today. I’m going to make the little worm suffer, just like I’ve been doing.” She smiled wickedly. “He’s gone too far this time and needs to learn his lesson. I’m going to expose him. On Friday night, in front of everyone. Maybe, if the shame doesn’t kill him, the embarrassment of being caught out will. And really, thank you for telling me, I know it couldn’t have been easy for you,” she screwed her face up in disgust, “Seeing him like that, the dirty pig. It sickens me, it really does.”

 They said their goodbyes and Geena headed home, still seething. How could he? She just couldn’t believe it. They had both made the promises, the plans, but she was the only one that was sticking to them.

 

Today was Wednesday, she only had two days to wait. Hard as it would be, she would act normally, make him believe that everything was OK, that he had gotten away with it. Come Friday he would be in for a big surprise.

 For the remainder of the day Geena tried very hard to act as if nothing had happened. She prepared their dinner, kept a smile on her face while he complained about the quality of the food, all the time wishing she could slam his lying, cheating face right into the plate. But she didn’t. She kept calm, apologized about the appalling taste and cleaned up the plates, washed up the dishes and made a cup of tea.

 She had a bath before bed, drawing the process out as long as possible, knowing that by the time she got out he would be fast asleep, meaning that she wouldn’t have to deal with him any more that night.

 Thursday morning dawned and Geena was up early, having tossed and turned all night. She made his breakfast, packed his lunch and waved him off like the loving wife she was, all the time cursing him under her breath. She couldn’t wait for Friday night, no more pretending, she was done, if she wasn’t good enough for him he could stick it.

She didn’t know how she made it through the day on Friday, the urge to blurt it out was so strong but she held back, knowing that what she had planned would be so much sweeter.

 As usual he was running late, there she was ready to go, tapping her foot impatiently and jangling her car keys. He was always mucking about with something. This time he had lost his phone. She sighed deeply and yelled up the stairs.

 “Hurry up, we’re going to be late. You know how I hate being late, everyone stares at you when you walk in.”

 She pulled a face at the indistinguishable grunt that was his answer. She sighed again and walked into the kitchen, picked up his phone from where he had dumped it when he came in and went back to the foot of the stairs.

 “I’ve found your phone, now hurry up.”  She was getting impatient, she had been waiting for this since Tracey had told her and now that it was here she was almost desperate to get it over and done with.

 Paul trotted down the stairs, a scowl fixed firmly on his face. He snatched the phone out of her hand and opened the front door.

 “Well, come on then, we don’t want to be late.” He headed out towards the car leaving her staring after him in shock. How dare he? Making it out like she was the one holding him up.

 “I’ll drive,” Paul announced, holding his hand out for her keys. “It’ll take my mind off how hungry I am.”

 She handed the keys over. “Stop moaning, we’ll eat after the speeches, you know how these things are.”

 They got into the car and drove off, Paul still moaning every now and then, but she did her best to ignore him, staring blindly out of the window, her mind whirling. It was almost over.

 They pulled up outside the hall and went in, taking their seats. The place was packed, a good turnout, all the better to humiliate him.

 Geena waited, shifting impatiently as the speeches began. She kept a smile on her face, listening to all the success stories and bragging that was going on around them.

 When it was Paul’s turn he stood up and launched into his speech, telling them how well he had been doing, all the hard work and dedication he had put in. Geena only just held back the snort of disbelief that threatened to make an appearance.

 Paul finished and smiled graciously as he received his round of applause. It was now or never.

 Geena slipped the photo out of her bag and stood up.

 “I have an announcement to make” Everyone looked at her expectantly, though Paul just looked bored. She’d fix that.

 She looked down at him then lifted her head high, taking a deep breath.

 “This man, my husband, is a liar and a cheat.” She heard Paul’s sharp intake of breath and his shocked spluttering before he launched into a string of denials. She cut him off with a wave of her hand.

 “He is a cheat and I have proof!” she opened the envelope and dropped the photo into his lap.

 Paul’s mouth dropped as he stared down at the photo. There it was in full colour. The picture showed Paul, sitting at the back of MacDonald’s, a greasy Big Mac clutched in his hands, a huge bite already taken out of it, ketchup round his face and a large fries and chocolate milkshake still waiting to be devoured.

 The leader of the weight loss meeting walked over and looked down at the picture, her lip curled in disgust.

 She shook her head with disappointment. “Well really, Paul. How could you?”