DICE

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The Gold Earring

Gold-plated earrings are like cheap fishing lures. Used to bait unintelligent men by flashing them with false hopes.

Nothing could be more poetically horrifying than finding a single gold-plated earring in the bed where you and your husband lie. Well, maybe a pair of panties. Lace ones. Red lace. Scarlet, the color of blood and betrayal.

Would that be worse?

No. What would be worse is finding what I’ve found. A real gold earring in the bed where you and your husband lie, insinuating your man was with a woman of class, and not just some cheaply bought hooker.

I twirl the tiny gold hoop earring between my forefinger and thumb, feeling a strange disbelief that rattles me to my core.

How could Thomas cheat on me?

We’ve been so much better since talking with Dr. Peterson. At least, that’s what I’d thought. Finding better ways to communicate after our loss had really helped to open my eyes to healthy communication. As he says, communication is key in any marriage. But as it stands, it appears the communication between us is lacking.

How could he do this?

I sigh as my eyes scan the room. The sheets are still intact, the bedspread neatly folded and in place. The stack of clothes in the corner piled in perfection on the wooden chair from his mother’s house, just as it was this morning. Nothing looks out of place. As if no one was here since I left this morning. I would never have even noticed had I not gotten off work early to come home and start a load of laundry. Literally, nothing looks different.

Except one thing. This gorgeously expensive, little gold earring.

He didn’t even think to wash the sheets after? Fucking heartless.

She was in here. A woman, in my bedroom, opening her legs for the man I thought loved me more than anything. More than peanut butter fudge, he once said. If someone can admit they love you more than peanut butter fudge, they’re a keeper. At least I’d thought. The question was, was our past too traumatic to conquer?

I close my eyes and rub the back of my neck with my free hand, attempting to roll out the sudden pain and tension I’m feeling there. I think I’m going to be sick. The door downstairs creaks open and my back straightens instantly. The earring slips through my sweaty fingers, onto the shag carpet of the rug beneath our bed.

Of course, it would land on here and not the dark wood floor where it would be more than obvious where it fell. I fall to my knees, needing to find it, as my fingers spread and scour the light blue, grey, and navy shards of fabric as the sound of footsteps climbs the stairs. Why I’m the one that’s nervous right now is beyond me. I should be nothing but furious at Tom. I should literally push him over the banister as soon as he appears in the door frame for doing something so heartbreaking to me. He’s ruined us.

Even so, I feel like I need to stall. I need more information, more clues to process this. I just can’t wrap my head around it yet. Tom’s a cheater?

My fingers glide until I hit something sharp with the pad of my finger. The earring. I grab it, quickly tucking it behind my back as the floorboards creak with the presence of the weight of someone. I turn, sitting abruptly, trying my best not to look suspicious. Pulling a breath between my lips, I blow it all out dramatically at the sight of red rubber Crocs.

“Jesus, Deena.” I roll my eyes, looking to the ceiling. “You scared the shit out of me.”

“What the fuck are you doing down there?” she asks, cocking her head. Her loose, messy bun of wild, bright-red hair flops to the other side of her head.

“What do you mean?” I ask nonchalantly, running my hand along the carpet as if this was the most normal place to just sit and feel things.

“What’s that behind your back?” she snaps, placing a hand on her hip. “I’m not playin’, girl. Show me.”

One thing I love about my best friend is she’s straight to the point. She’s brash. She’s honest. She’s annoying as fuck sometimes because she knows everything, but she’s everything I needed when the world around me crumbled.

I gaze up at her through strands of blond hair with tortured eyes. Eyes that give me away entirely. The feeling in the pit of my stomach returns and I can’t for the life of me get any words out without tears wanting to spill over.

Deena knows my life better than anyone. She knows my pain. She held my head in her lap as I cried countless nights until I fell asleep. Deena was my rock during a time when I couldn’t yet find a way to talk to open up to my husband about it.

When you lose a child that hasn’t even been born yet, you’d think you wouldn’t be so attached. I never saw him or her. I do not know if it was a him or her. It was a blob of cells. A bundle of hope for a future I’d never know. I could’ve lost a tumor for all it meant, really. It wasn’t anything yet. Nothing but a possibility. But seeing those lines on that stick, and then being told by a professional that there’s nothing present...well, it was devastating.

It’s the mental mind fuck that takes over as a young wife wanting to give her husband a baby. I felt my purpose was finally being fulfilled. I was giving him everything after he gave me the world. But now, after breaking his heart by taking away his chance at being a father, righting a broken system of parenthood from his side of the family, it appears he’s broken mine by taking the trust out of our marriage.

“What’d you find?” she asks, her eyes stuck on me as her chest heaves.

I close my eyes tightly and a couple of pesky tears slip through, running their trail down my cheek before I can wipe them away. I fiddle with the earring behind my back, twisting it between my thumb and forefinger, almost hoping it’ll disappear if I rub it long enough, making this entire moment simply a nightmare I’ve made up. But, it doesn’t.

I take a breath and pull my arm from behind my back. Holding my palm face up, I expose the gold hoop earring.

Her jaw tightens as she glares at it. She’s more angry than I am, I can feel it. Her eyes trail back up to mine again, giving me one quick shake of the head.

“I found it under the pillow.”

“It’s not yours,” she states knowingly, finally letting out a large huff of air.

Deena knows my style. Any time we’d been shopping, finding new nose-rings or earrings for her many facial holes, I’d always chastised her need for the extravagant jewelry. I’d thrown out the ol’, “If I wanted to lure a guppy, I’d wear that tacky bait.” I’ve literally told her I thought hoop earrings were for hookers and simplicity it where it’s at.

She laughs at my “boring” collection that comprises plain studs and diamonds. I wear nothing that dangles or is coated in false paint made to look authentic. But that’s just me and she loves the little weird stuff that makes us different.

“What am I going to do?” I cry out as I drop the earring beneath me, my face falling into my palms.

She runs over to me, dropping to her knees. Pulling me into her arms, I cry into her shoulder as a gentle hand sweeps over my head, comforting me in the embrace. I hate that I’m here again, in the same position that I’d worked so hard to get out of. Crying in the arms of my best friend. I’d come so far with therapy just to be thrown back to the same gut-wrenching space.

“I got you, Pen,” she whispers against my ear. “It’s all going to be alright.”

I sniffle, pulling back a bit, trying to regain some control of my emotions. My hair sticks to the tears on my cheeks, making me look like the mess that I feel. She takes her hands and brushes it all out of my face like a mother would, wiping the tears with her thumbs.

“We’re going to hide this, and not say anything,” she says sternly.

Shaking my head, I wince. “I have to confront this,” I say. “I can’t face him knowing—”

“I’m going to trail him, get to the bottom of it before he can try to turn this around on you. I’m going to find her and put the fear of God into her slutty little soul,” she seethes. “And then, I’m going to mutilate Tom’s dick for ever doing this to you.” Her deep set scowl slowly slips into a grin, and she laughs.

I chuckle lightly before my face drops back into a frown. “If only.”

“Honestly, I hope he just fucked up and feels awful about it. As much as I know you don’t want to hear this right now, Tom has really struggled with the loss too.”

“More than me?” I snap, glaring at her attempt at the peace-keeper.

“No,” she whispers, shaking her head. “Not more than you. But a man’s feelings in those situations often get overlooked. He hasn’t been dealing with it properly. Those empty bottles of liquor in the recycling proves that.”

“So, now you’re defending his cheating?!”

“Fuck no! I just said we should mutilate his penis, Pen! I’m not defending him. Just trying to provide some understanding as to why it happened. Let’s just breathe. Just let me trail him, see what I can dig up. Hopefully, he realizes that he’s an idiot and admits the shit himself.”

I sigh. She’s right. I can’t just react. I need more evidence so I can really lay it into him. I’d hate for him to get away with this with some thought-out excuse. He’s extremely calculated like that. Intelligent as all hell. The man works with stocks for a reason. He’s practically bred for Wall Street.

“Ya know,” I begin, grabbing her hand in mine. “I was really hoping maybe you were just screwing him. Then I wouldn’t be so mad, because obviously, it was only for experimentation.”

She laughs hard, squeezing my hand in hers.

“Too bad you despise dick, huh?” I ask, looking at her hopelessly.

“It’s seriously disgusting.” She contorts her freckled nose.

“I’m starting to feel that way too.” I groan, tossing my head back against the edge of the bed.

“We’ll get to the bottom of this, Pen,” she says as I see her nodding her head in my peripheral vision. “I’m not letting you down without a fight. He’ll pay for this.”

I wince my eyes up at the ceiling. Could I still fight for him? Did I want to after this? Did I even have the strength to fight for myself? I couldn’t throw out the possibility that he had stopped fighting for me, too.

My head snaps up at the sound of the door opening for the second time this evening. Panicked eyes find hers as my heart rate increases and the inability to breathe takes over me.

“He’s home!” I whisper frantically.

My stomach aches instantly with nervousness. I think I’m going to vomit.

“Penelope!?” I hear him call from the foyer.

She licks her lips, her narrowed eyes darting to the hallway and back. Grabbing both my shoulders in her hands, she gains my attention again and a look of a protective friend sheathes her.

“Let’s go see how his day was, shall we?” she says in a devious tone, one that reeks of a best friend seeking revenge.

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