Linh still couldn’t believe that Thao wanted a divorce or that he had been cheating on her all this time. Who was the other woman and why wouldn’t he tell her? It couldn’t be someone she knew. She didn’t know anyone there in Seattle. Most of their friends were in Da Nang or Hanoi. Was it someone Thao worked with? Was that why he didn’t want to say who it was? Was he afraid that she would show up at this office and make a scene?
She wondered if his wretched housemaid knew. Even if she did, she probably wouldn’t say anything. Did Thao bring his lover here to the house? Did they make love in his bed or in one of the guest rooms? Was she beautiful? Asian? White? Older? Younger? Who was this faceless woman who had stolen her husband away from her?
She spent last night in the guest room because it was clear that Thao didn’t want her in his bed. It took a long time for her to fall asleep. She lay there in the darkness, staring up at the ceiling, tears running down her cheeks. The light from the moon streamed into the room, giving it a ghostly appearance. How could she go back to Da Nang and tell her family that Thao wanted a divorce? How could she face them and her friends? Marriage was meant to be a lifelong commitment. No one in her family or Thao’s had ever been divorced. Divorce was a shameful thing.
The next morning when she went down for breakfast, Thao had already left for the office and the housemaid was in the kitchen. Linh didn’t say anything to her, not even when she set the plate of Chao (rice porridge) and a small bowl of fruit. After she finished having her breakfast, Linh got up and went upstairs. She brushed her teeth and grabbed her handbag.
She went downstairs and slipped out of the house. She needed to get out for a while to clear her head. She didn’t want to be alone in the house with that wretched girl. She hoped that when she returned, she would be gone.
Thao called the house and Marguerite answered the phone. “If you’re calling for your wife, she isn’t here.”
“Where did she go?”
“I don’t know. When she comes back, I will let her know that you called.”
“I didn’t call to speak to her, Marguerite. I wanted to talk to you.”
“Are you calling from the office?” She could tell that he was calling from his cell.
“No. I’m on my way there now. Had to make a stop first. Marguerite, meet me for lunch.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“Linh wouldn’t know that you’re meeting me. She’ll probably think that you’re running errands.”
“I need to be with you, Marguerite. It’s torture seeing you around the house and not being able to spend any time alone with you. I can’t wait for Linh to leave so that things can return to normal.”
“How can they return to normal if she’s pregnant?”
“She isn’t pregnant.”
“She isn’t, but how–?”
“I’ll explain when I see you.”
“All right. I’ll meet you for lunch. What time?”
“Twelve-thirty. I’ll be waiting for you outside of The Capital Grille.”
“All right, I’ll see you then.”
The call ended and Thao slipped his cell back into the breast pocket of his jacket.
When Linh returned to the house, Marguerite didn’t mention that Thao had called. Linh didn’t say a word to her as she walked past her in the foyer to the terrace when she spend most of the morning.
Before she left to meet Thao, Marguerite informed Linh that she was going out and that her lunch was in the oven. Linh looked at her coldly before turning her head away to gaze at the rosebush. Marguerite went away and minutes later, Linh heard the front door close behind her. She was alone. It was quiet, except for the birds and the breeze rustling the leaves. Such a beautiful and idyllic place. This could have been her home. Thao and she could have been happy here with their children and that wretched girl would be long gone.
Although, she wasn’t hungry, Linh got up and went inside. She went into the kitchen and opened the oven. She took out the plate which was covered. She took it over to the table and uncovered it. It was Vietnamese lemongrass chicken served with coconut flavored jasmine rice. It looked and smelled really good. In spite of herself, she sat down and ate it. It was delicious and she ate everything. Where did that wretched girl learn to cook Vietnamese food like this?
She got up, took the dirty plate and left it in the sink. Opening the fridge, she took out a carton of Apple Juice and poured some in a glass. She drank it slowly. After putting the dirty glass in the sink, she put the carton back in the fridge and left the kitchen. Instead of going back on the terrace or upstairs to brush her teeth, she went into the study where Thao worked sometimes. There were two bookshelves lined with all sorts of books but she wasn’t interested.
She went over to the desk and sat down in the chair. Resting her head against the back, she closed her eyes. Who was this other woman in Thao’s life? If only she knew what she looked like. Her eyes opened. Would he have a photo of her knocking in the drawer? She opened it and carefully moved things about, her eyes searching. Then, she saw something. It looked like a picture. With trembling fingers, she took it out and held it up. It wasn’t a photo, it was a drawing of…Her breath caught in her throat and her face turned pale.
Linh stared at the girl in the picture. It was her. Thao had a drawing of his housemaid in his desk drawer. She turned it over and her face grew even paler when she read the neatly written words. To Thao, the man who has all of me, my heart, my body and my soul. With all my love, Marguerite.
This was the other woman? This wretched girl was Thao’s lover? No, it couldn’t be. She felt faint and shrank back in the chair, her head throbbing. The thought of Thao and this girl in bed together sickened her. How could he prefer her to me? How could he be cheating on me with her? What does he see in her? She’s ugly and looks like a boy with that haircut.
She wanted to rip the picture into pieces but, she put it back in the drawer and slammed it shut. It all started to make sense now why he didn’t want to replace her and why she was living there instead of somewhere else. She remembered the morning when she had walked into the kitchen and had found them together, how she got the feeling that she had interrupted something. It was a feeling she couldn’t shake. And now, she had the proof that there was something between them. They were lovers. Jealousy and disgust filled her. How could he do this to her? How could he cheat on her with the maid?
Fresh tears ran down her cheeks. What should she do? Confront him as soon as he got in? Or confront the maid when she returned? Should she even confront them at all or should she just act like she didn’t know anything? Her head was throbbing. Getting up from the chair, she made her way unsteadily out of the room and upstairs to the guest room. She went in and closed the door. Going over to the bed, she lay down on her side and curled up with her eyes closed. Her head and heart ached. How she wished that this was only a horrible dream and that she would soon wake up.
She heard the front door open and close. The maid was home. Should she go down and confront her? No, she wouldn’t do it. She wouldn’t humiliate herself in front of that wretched home wrecker. No, she would keep her discovery to herself. And, then, she would return to Da Nang.
And as far as the divorce was concerned, she was going to refuse to sign the papers which would force him to go to court. She was going to make sure that it cost him time and money. By the time she was done with him, he and his whore wouldn’t have much to live on. It will serve him right for wanting to end our marriage so that he could continue to shack up with her. Yes, she was going to make him pay.