Tina parted the window curtain of the nursery to see clearly and be sure that her eyes were not playing tricks on her. One of her mother's favourite sayings came to mind at that precise moment - always look beyond what your eyes see.
It was a cool night on Heigh street, a suburban area filled with well built and fenced detached houses and mansions owned by wealthy citizens. On this street, everyone knew each other's business. The housewives make it a date to meet twice every week to play bridge, drink expensive wines and share stories.
Adjacent to Tina's four bedrooms detached house was St. Francis Catholic church. Anyone could get a full view of activities on the church's ground directly from Tina's nursery window on the first floor.
Tina woke up and saw the time was just 1.20 am but her husband, Dave, a neurosurgeon, was not beside her. She remembered going to bed while he was busy working in his study. Maybe he was still in there.
Tina did not find Dave in the study nor any of the rooms. She strolled into the nursery, wondering when they would be blessed with a child as they had been trying for three years. That was when she pulled back the window curtain and made out Dave's grey tee shirt with his hospital logo designed on its front. Dave stood in deep conversation with Anne Edwards, a neighbour, beside a tall tree besides St. Francis church.
Her heart skipped a beat. Tina became worried for two good reasons - Anne was a beautiful woman in her late twenties, slender and shaped like lingerie models. Most men on Heigh Street ogle her often and wish their wives looked like her. Interestingly, Anne's husband was a much older man in his mid-sixties and may be mentally ill though they are yet to get concrete evidence on it. No one had seen Anne's husband for months.
What was Dave up to with Anne Edwards at 1.30 am? As though her thoughts conjured Dave out of the shadows, he crossed the empty road and jogged towards their house. Tina fumed silently and planned to catch them both red-handed next time.
She hurried back into their bed just as Dave sneaked silently into the house through the back door. He came into their bedroom, quietly pulled off his shirt and got into bed beside his wife.
When it was morning, Tina stood chewing her lower lip in anxiety, staring at Dave as he gulped down his breakfast. Dave glanced up and noticed her stare. He froze in his chewing, "Baby? What's the matter?"
Tina shook her head and walked out of the kitchen area. She stopped and looked back. Dave had resumed eating without a care, as though all was right in their world. Such nonchalance! It could only mean one thing - Dave was having an extra-marital affair with Anne.
Tina knocked on Clara Mingle's mahogany door, the bridge meeting point for the day after Dave left for the hospital. Clara, still in her apron and wearing rubber hand gloves, answered the door. "Tina? You are quite early," she said, clearly not happy that she was caught off guard. Tina matched in without invitation as her 3-inch heels clicked on the tile floor.
"I'm sorry Clara but I need to talk to you. You know, before the other ladies arrive."
"Oh. Sit. Everything okay?" Clara removed her gloves and placed them on a coffee table before sitting beside Tina.
"No! Have you seen Captain Edwards around lately?" Clara could see Tina was fuming and needed a companion to help with her self-imposed burden.
"Anne's husband? Nope. I'm not sure if the poor man has left the house since he returned from his last tour. Why? Seen him?"
"I think Anne may be planning to divorce him. And she has her pretty, little sight set on my Dave!"
"What?! Oh no! Are you sure about this, Tina?"
"Very sure. I saw them both last night at St. Francis."
"Oh, Lord!" Clara exclaimed in exaggerated shock, touching her shoulders as she made the sign of the cross. Tina began to sniff, pulled out her handkerchief from her Versace handbag and blew her nose. "Tina, I'm so sorry. Well, what are you going to do? You know I'm here for you."
Tina got the invitation she wanted. "I say we ladies storm her house, demand to speak with her husband and let him know that his dear, lovely Anne is cheating on him!" She made an expression of disgust.
Clara looked at Tina skeptically, "Um, are you sure about that? You know she hosts the summer parties for our children and also pays for the Junior league competition for our boys. What if she stops?"
Tina covered Clara's hands with hers and looked into her eyes. "Trust me, Clara, she won't. And if she does, we can find another donor."
Just then the doorbell rang and the other housewives arrived. After they were brought up to speed on the latest mission, the expensively dressed housewives marched in unison to Anne's mansion down the street with Tina and Clara leading the way.
Tina pushed the doorbell with some force that the bell shrilled for some seconds longer than it should. A plain-looking maid dressed in sky-blue uniform opened the door. She stared them down with an air of self-importance. "Hello, Mrs Brown," she addressed Tina. "My madam is busy upstairs. Would you like to wait?"
Before any of the housewives could address her behaviour, the door opened wider revealing Captain Edwards in a wheelchair like he'd been waiting behind the door. He smiled at the ladies. "Ladies, what a surprise. Please come in."
Tina turned and smiled at her fellow housewives because their plan seemed to have worked perfectly. The ladies made themselves comfortable in the living room while the maid served drinks. After the maid left, Tina launched into her pity story of how Anne had been meeting with her husband at night. Captain Edward paled a little from shock. Then Anne walked into the room.
"Tina! How could you think such a thing? You have no idea what is going on." She looked at each lady. "How could you all do this to me? You should have talked to me first."
Two of the housewives got busy staring at their well-polished nails while some chose to stare at the paintings on the wall.
"Anne, is this true?" her husband asked softly.
"Well, go on. Explain yourself!" said Tina heatedly. Anne turned to Capt Edward's. "Darling, it's not true…"
"Liar!" Tina exclaimed.
Anne faced Tina, clearly pissed. "You confused woman! I called your husband just as I heard the rubbish you were spewing so he's on his way here. You have no idea what you just stirred up!"
Tina blinked repeatedly then stood with arms akimbo, "What did I stir up? Pray, tell Anne."
Just then Anne's plain-looking maid walked into the living room dressed in a lovely silk charmeuse top and trousers and a 3-inch black Jimmy Choo. She stood beside Captain Edwards. The room became quiet. Everyone stared at the maid-turned-star and Captain Edwards.
Captain Edwards cleared his throat and looked at his wife who had turned white as a sheet. "I was waiting for the right moment to let you know that Christy and I are in love. Your affair with Dr Dave Brown makes it easy for me now."
Anne gasped, covered her mouth but her whimpers could not be drowned. The housewives stood quickly to hold her. Anne leaned into Clara who was the closest to her. "Greg, how could you? I was not having an affair with Dave. You have been suffering from PTSD since your return from the last tour. The night terrors, your constant headaches, your hallucinations, your angry outbursts are all signs. I asked Dave to help get the best care for you so we could leave together and the neighbourhood would not know about it. I was trying to protect your reputation!"
"You!" Anne pointed a fine polished finger at her former maid. "He is not mentally stable. He needs to see a doctor!"
Just then loud siren sounds filled Heigh street disrupting the chaos as Dr Dave Brown arrived with his hospital staff. He took a look at Tina and shook his head sadly. Tina was speechless and close to tears. He spoke quietly with Captain Edwards who nodded and the staff helped him out into the ambulance.
Before Anne would follow them, Tina held her hand. They both looked at each other. "Will you ever forgive me?" Tina whispered. Anne's face was red and blotched with tears. "I-I don't know yet, Tina. Just give me some time." Tina let her go.
Tina watched her husband and the ambulance drive off. The housewives filed out of the mansion, whispering among themselves. Tina knew her story would be the theme of the next two bridge meetings.