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Twist in the Tale Winning Submission


 by Penny Carter 

Twenty years of marriage and this was the worst set of arguments that they had ever had. Not even the trials and tribulations of raising twins had caused them to fall out on this scale. Marilyn breathed in the familiar scent of her husband’s cologne, loving his silent form so much that it hurt. She had brought the cologne for him on his birthday a few months ago and now the evocative scent brought her memories rushing back. They had spent such a perfect day together, no children, just a peaceful day out on the river, splashing about as if they were young and carefree and not venturing into their 40’s. Who could have predicted that their love would be under such pressure just weeks later? His anger and hurt, resolute and firm from the moment she had told him her news.

 Marilyn couldn’t sleep. Butterflies danced in her stomach and she felt sick, more than sick, terrifed. She had made a mistake, the biggest mistake of her life probably.  Marilyn turned over, sliding her arm around the sleeping form of her husband, sighing as she realized that he had fallen asleep as far away from her as possible, and he lay facing the wall in preference to her.

The alarm clocked ticked away the minutes until the pale streaks of dawn stretched fingers of light across the sky and through their partially drawn curtains.

Marilyn slipped out of bed, throwing her silk dressing gown around her ample frame. She needed coffee, hoping that the caffeine would filter energy into her tired body. Nursing the hot cup and sipping the strong black liquid, she considered her options, not relishing any of the suggestions that popped into her mind. She had never been one to quit but now….she would do anything to turn the clock back and to avoid making the decision that was threatening to tear her life apart. Perhaps she should apologize to Malc, say that it wasn’t worth falling out and it was just a silly, silly mistake and that she had changed her mind? Marilyn didn’t realize how long she had sat there with tear blurred eyes but she was suddenly aware that she wasn’t alone, she glanced hopefully in Malc’s direction but he was intent on making his own coffee, ignoring her as if she was no longer a part of his life. His grey eyes were remote and showed his disdain for her actions.

Marilyn walked away to get ready for work. It seemed Malc had made the decision for her, he didn’t want her and she couldn’t afford to lose everything. Fortunately, make-up held the power to dim the shadows under her eyes and to reduce the sleep deprived strain away from her features but this wasn’t how she had imagined looking and feeling.

Her arrival at the office caused a stir and she hardened her resolve to paste a confident expression on her face when every little step only increased her sense of dread. She hadn’t realized just how long the walk was through the open plan office and it seemed as if everyone was there witnessing her journey through the plush suites towards the office where no doubt a confrontation awaited her.

Swallowing her sense of dread, she re-played the years of study that she had endured to reach this moment in her career, months of juggling home-life with study, caring for their children and forcing herself to push her work to an ever higher academic level that had kept her active brain from turning to mush.

Finally, she entered her own office, the brass plaque on the door ‘Marilyn Walters – MD’ on the door silently mocking. The office led to an outer reception where her PA’s worked, she knew one but not the other and still hoped she would receive support of sorts in these early stages, Marilyn wasn’t sure she could cope with this role if she was truly alone. All those years of study hadn’t prepared her for the sense of isolation she felt right at this moment and any feelings of achievement were marred by the tattered remnants of her marital situation.

Sighing, she noticed a large bouquet of flowers lying on the desk, and reaching for a card, reading eagerly, tears welling up as she recognized the handwriting…


You have my always..Good luck in your new role, boss!  Malc

Tears welled up in her eyes as she turned to look at the PA’s desk, absorbing the look of love emanating from her husband who was big enough to welcome her into his work environment as his boss and yet, who would still be there to support her in this brand new role after all.

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