The Third Wife
Susan P. BlevinsI should have known it would not be easy. My new husband was much older than me, he my first husband, but I his third wife. The big mistake was that I did not insist on buying a new house in which to commence our new marriage. The second wife had been a temporary blip on the screen of his life, a flash of static in his well-ordered existence that lasted just a few months. He divorced her in record time in Las Vegas, though she taunted him that it would not be possible. It was, or so he told me, and no sooner was she out of the way than he started courting me.
He never liked to admit to wife number two, but his first wife he mentioned all the time, regretting her early death, leaving him with two girls just approaching their difficult teenage years. Then he met me and thought I’d be a suitable replacement both as his wife and mother to his girls. What did I know. I was young, and I thought I could cope. It was really hard, and much as I tried, the girls never liked me, daring to make my life as difficult as possible without their father discovering the nasty side of their natures.
I could have coped with all that though, if we’d only lived in another house. Things really fell apart when I discovered a room on the top floor that was kept permanently locked. My husband said it was just used for storage, but then why did he go there at night after he thought I’d fallen asleep? I began to watch him carefully, and after some months discovered the secret place where he hid the key.
One day, after he’d left to take the girls to school and then go on to his law office, I took the key out of its hiding-place in his desk, and made my way to the locked door, treading softly, holding my breath and listening for surprise footsteps behind me.
None came and I opened the door. And then I understood. The room was intact. Clothes, toiletries laid out meticulously, a heavy perfume in the air, and the whole clean and dusted. The first wife could have been here this very day. Now I knew where he came at night, and why. He could not bear to be parted from her, he still loved her, and came to speak with her. And I felt her presence around me, and knew that she waited for him every night, faithfully, as in the years of their marriage. As my eyes scanned the room, seeking her among her possessions, I saw her! There she was, silent and jealous, glaring at me from the ornate urn on the dresser.
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