She hates herself for what she is about to do. Tension tightens her throat and with difficulty she swallows a piece of sausage. Samuel brings his fork to his mouth and she catches his carefree look as he takes a bite of meat. While chewing, he smiles at her and she smiles back tensely. He hasn't a clue what lies she has told him these past few weeks. But what could she say? How she feels energized when she is with Jon? That she only feels happy when she lies bare against Jons naked body, when she runs her fingers over his warm skin? How aroused she gets when Jon kisses her in places where Samuel, no matter how hard he tries, hasn't been able to stimulate her. The last thing she wants is to cause him pain. That was never her intention. She knows leaving him will break his heart. She means the world to him. He will never get over it. She taps the screen of her phone next to her plate. Seven minutes to go.
'Are you expecting something?' asks Samuel.
Miranda raises herself from her screen and looks at him for seconds. 'I'm sorry.'
'No problem.' He nods at her phone. 'Feel free to check, I was just wondering if something was wrong.'
She knows his concern is sincere. After thirteen years of marriage, she knows everything about him even the subtle intonation in his voice when she detects a slight frustration he's trying to hide, but his voice sounds just the same. He has no idea what's in store for him. Maybe it would have been less painful if he had seen it coming. If he had been enraged with her and protested, but it is too late for that now. It will completely overwhelm him. Her stomach turns at the thought and tears burn behind her eyes. She would have gladly spared him this.
'Hey,' he says when he notices her moist eyes. 'What's wrong?" he slides his chair back and walks around the table towards her. He places his fingers against her elbow and guides her up. He wraps his strong arms around her and she lays her head briefly against his shoulder. She smells the familiar scent of raw meat that, despite the white coat he wears in the butcher shop, still manages to penetrate his clothing every day. She straightens her back and searches for Samuels' eyes. Time is running out.
'Know that I love you, Samuel,' she says.
He smiles and puts his giant, rough hands against her cheeks. She smells the spicy scent that soaks into his hands every day as he kneads the mincemeat. Deeply she inhales and closes her eyes. A tear rolls down her cheek towards Samuels' thumb, and tenderly he wipes the moisture over her skin. She clasps her hands around his wrists and gently shakes her head.
'Shh,' Samuel soothes. 'It's okay.' He kisses the top of her head and let's go.
His obliviousness moves her. If only it could be painless. She looks at Samuel, who has returned to his chair and takes another bite of his bratwurst. This is the moment. Her nerves are jangling as the blood courses through her body. She presses the screen of her phone again. Any moment now and her life with Jon can start. Her suitcase is already packed.
'Come, sit down, your dinner is getting cold,' says Samuel.
'I'm leaving,' she says.
'Now? Eat first. You've barely touched your sausage.'
'I'm leaving you,' she blurts and she waits with bated breathe as to how he will react. He holds her gaze and smiles, as if the words haven't reached his ears and have lingered in a void between them. 'I met someone at work. We're in love.
His gaze narrows. And his smile disappears. A stitch shoots through Miranda's lower abdomen as she imagines the pain she is causing him.
'I'm sorry,' she whispers and she casts a glance through the kitchen window that overlooks the road. Where is Jon? she wonders.
'Are you waiting for him?" Samuel asks and he takes another bite of his bratwurst.
'I would have told you sooner.'
'Everyone has secrets,' he says shrugging.
Miranda presses the screen of her phone again. Five minutes left. She hasn’t missed a text message or call and his car isn't here yet either.
'Is he coming to pick you up?" asks Samuel.
Miranda sees him pour gravy over the last few potatoes on his plate and he puts the spoon back in to the pan. Surprised, she realizes that his reaction is different than she had expected. Samuel doesn't seem to be broken. Nor does he seem hurt. She does't even detect anger. He scrapes his fork across his plate to slide the last morsels onto it. He puts the fork in his mouth.
'Are you going to eat this?" he asks her and nods at her plate.
'I said, I'm leaving you.'
Samuel stabs his fork into the bratwurst on Miranda's plate and lifts it up. 'Then I'll eat it.'
'Doesn't it bother you then?" she questions.
'I forgive your mistake. Will you get the dessert?'
'I don't think it's dawned on you that I'm actually leaving you.'
Samuel looks up at her and shakes his head morosely. 'He's not coming.'
'What do you mean?" says Miranda.
Samuel takes a bite of his bratwurst. 'I mean that you are waiting in vain for Jon.' Miranda stiffens. Immediately, she recalls her confession to Samuel. She hasn't mentioned Jons name. Samuel can't know his name. He doesn't know Jon.
'Better yet, he's already here,' Said Samuel whilst chewing. 'I must admit you've got good taste.' He nods at the piece of bratwurst on his fork. Appalled, she looks at him and clenches her fists out of frustration and despair.
'Where is he?" she screams. 'Where is Jon? What have you done to him?''Everyone has secrets, Miranda.' He smirks, then takes another bite of the meat he himself slaughtered last night and winks at her. 'So do I.'
Sietske Scholten is a Dutch writer of psychological thrillers and a biographical novel. In the upcoming months, all of Sietske's books will be translated into English. To keep you notified the English website will be launched very soon!
Can't wait to read more? Receive more short stories by Sietske:
Sietske Scholten started writing after she lost her partner (41 years old) to the effects of Lyme disease? Because Sietske was left alone with a baby and a toddler, she hardly had time to mourn. After several months she started writing about what had happened. Every day she posted part of their story online and within a week it was followed by thousands of people. A year and a half later, she published her autobiographical story as a book with the Dutch title 'Beet'. Since 2017 'Beet' has been in the top 10 of Dutch biggest online bookstore as 'Best rated Dutch-language literary novels'. The English version of 'Beet' will be published this fall.