“The Visitor” by Shari L. Klase
We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Welcome page for more information about us. In this week’s story, we discover what has come between Sylvia and the man she loves.
We present our Feature Story: “The Visitor” by Shari L. Klase.
As she sat across the table from him, Sylvia thought how far apart they had grown over the past year. He would eat his meal in silence or talk to the dog instead of her. He barely listened to anything she had to say so she gave up sharing things with him.
In fact, she had decided that the dog gave her more attention than he did. The dog cocked his head with interest at her and accepted her words of praise or criticism with the rapt attention only dogs could have for the mundane things of life. But her husband hardly glanced at her. She knew it wasn’t just herself. Something was bothering him. He had stopped playing with Gwendolyn.
Gwendolyn had been the light of his life, not her. The way she babbled and clapped her hands had never stopped amusing him. When her eyes sparkled in happiness, his eyes sparkled, too. But lately, he paid no attention to Gwendolyn. He just sat there silent or worked on his papers or texted on his phone.
If she hadn’t had her volunteer work at Hospice, she would have left him. She knew just who needed her most: the ones whose families had stopped coming. The patients at Hospice always seemed eager to talk. They talked to her about their lives and their families. Sometimes she wondered how they could talk so glowingly of their loved ones who had deserted them.
She had such empathy for them because her husband had deserted her in a manner of speaking. She would take their hands. Tears would flow from their eyes.
“Thank you,” they’d say, “for being here. It’s nice to have a visitor.”
People came and went so frequently at Hospice. Yet, it was easy to get attached to these needy people. After she was done visiting that day, the day that he had betrayed her, she picked up Gwendolyn as usual from the day care. Sylvia walked home, holding Gwendolyn in her arms. Gwendolyn’s coos and laughter imprinted on Sylvia just as they did every time Sylvia held her.
She walked over to the mantle and rearranged the candle and the portrait of their wedding as she did every day. He didn’t like the portrait in the center of the mantle where they used to always have it. He had moved it to the end behind his stoneware lion. She always moved it back where it belonged.
She went upstairs to a basket in the closet to get Gwendolyn her toys. He always put them back in the basket in the closet. As she put Gwendolyn on the carpet surrounded by her favorite things, she thought about the truth of their situation.
He was not happy with her. Just yesterday, he had asked her a question. “Why are you here?” She had been startled to hear the question. Wasn’t she his wife? Didn’t she belong here? Yet, she knew why he had asked it. She was an intruder in her own home. She was a visitor here just as much as she was in the hospice center. What’s more, she was not even a welcome visitor. He no longer wanted her there.
Why had he made Gwendolyn’s room into a storage space? Just this week when she wanted to put Gwendolyn down for a nap, she noticed the crib was taken down. She could replace everything, put it back in its proper place, but he had made it clear he did not want them anymore by packing everything away. All her clothes and personal items put away beside Gwendolyn’s toys.
She startled as she heard his key turn in the lock. She heard his voice, yes, but a woman’s voice as well. How dare he bring a woman into her home? They were both laughing. He was happy. He could not be happy with his wife, but this woman could make him laugh.
She peeked around the corner and saw the wisps of brown hair and the blue dress. She could not see herself in the mirror now, but she knew her own hair was blond. Angry tears coursed down her cheeks at this different woman.
She stormed out of the house by the kitchen door, but not before she had displayed her disapproval. She began shoving things aside, hearing them clatter to the floor. She threw the pot of flowers that was sitting on the table. It was the first time he had put a centerpiece on the table for months. Now she knew why. He had done it for her! She slammed the door hard. She would know that his wife was home, and she would leave. She waited outside for them. They left silently like robbers in the night. She sighed in relief and reentered the house.
She looked around her in black anger and picked up things at random. She threw them here and there. She did not care if they broke or not. They were not her things anymore. She heard him finally come back in the house. He stood in the bedroom doorway, staring at the disarray.
“You have to leave, Sylvia. It can’t go on like this,” he was saying. “I’m sorry about the accident. I love you, but it can’t continue. I can’t live my life with you in the house. You have to go.”
Her thoughts raced back to that night when he was driving. They argued violently, and then there was a thundering crash. It ended for her and Gwendolyn. But it would never be over. She would never leave. This was her house. He sat down on the edge of the bed, put his head in his hands and sobbed.
She turned from him and glided silently back to the guest room. She scooped up Gwendolyn in her arms. She sat quietly in the rocking chair and swayed back and forth, back and forth.
Shari Klase enjoys writing fantasy stories because she sees imagination as the beginning of every true adventure. She lives at home with her artist husband and teenage daughter, who also loves to write fantasy stories.
Tags: metro fiction, shari klase, short stories