Come on an adventure with Jack and follow along as he writes his new book in real time! Here is chapter 16.
by JACK DEY
A whisper from the wilderness calling.
Pausing at the door and accompanied by the entry light, Matilda waited for an answer. Being late home from work was normal, but missing this important date would have major consequences and by his silence, Cody was letting her know she’d blown it big this time. Feeling her stomach tighten with stress, a trembling lip attended by misting eyes followed Matilda as she cautiously ventured further inside the darkened house. She had no idea how this would end, but it certainly wouldn’t be a pleasant encounter in anyone’s book. The only sound was the constant tick of the loungeroom clock, counting down her heartbeat until the expected disaster exploded. Catching its face with a guarded glance, the timepiece snitch reflected its shining arms and warned her it was well after 11pm and the consequences were duly under way.
Approaching the kitchen, a stream of insignificant yellow light threw unsteady silhouettes against the wall and as she turned the corner to enter, she could see the source of the of the light and the unmistakable scent of melted candle wax. Swallowing hard, Matilda recognised their kitchen table garnished with their best tablecloth, silver cutlery and fine bone china. At one end and positioned in an elegant crystal vase, a massive cluster of flowers graced the large setting and at the other, two places were meticulously positioned for an intimate meal complete with silver candleholders and candles that had almost burnt down to the point of self-extinguishment. At the head of the table, the setting had been used and the plate was empty, with knife and fork regimentally placed side by side, but the corresponding placement next to it was laden with a half lobster and cheese sauce… Matilda’s favourite meal.
However, the thing that really hurt and caused Matilda to cough as if she’d been punched and for the tears to flow, a scribbled note on a fancy napkin had been deliberately left on his empty plate for her to find… happy 40th birthday to me. Wiping a stream of emotion from her face with a soggy tissue, Matilda reached for the kitchen phone and began to call every one of Cody’s close friends, but each one offered the same answer.
“No, haven’t seen him. He wanted to celebrate his fortieth with you and you alone.”
Each friend seemed a little miffed at Cody’s decision for an intimate celebration with his wife, effectively cutting them out, but before they could ask uncomfortable questions she thanked them and quickly hung up.
Parked by the kerb in front of a seedy looking suburban house, a dark green SUV rested, waiting patiently for its owner to return. Concealed by the lateness of night and at the door to the house, two figures engaged in some kind of intense dialogue. One figure, cloaked in mystery and obviously a man, tried to hide himself from the streetlights and from any passersby. The other, a young woman dressed in a pink bathrobe, toyed with the man, teasing the high level of discomfort until the man finally pushed past her and disappeared within. Looking around the vacant street, she pulled a face and then vanished inside, closing the door behind herself with a gentle plunk that mischievously echoed out into the quiet street.
The wretchedness of her night reflected in Matilda’s face. Dark rings surrounded her bloodshot eyes and her hair tangled and knotted like a birch broom while her mind replayed the note Cody had intentionally left for her to find… happy 40th birthday to me. Tonight, the bed they shared together had been a lonely, morose encounter as she tried to sleep. Cody’s place beside her was empty, and his cologne had haunted Matilda and left her crying all through the night. He’d never stayed out before and if he was going to be late he’d always ring and let her know, but this was different. Finally having had enough of trying to sleep, Matilda slipped out of bed and headed for the shower, endeavouring to wash off the trouble and anguish. However, all she found in the process was more tears and an emptiness that left her despairing.
Although they were in need of money, Cody hadn’t been in agreement with her in her decision to pursue lucrative employment with the wealthy white sheep, and it drove a wedge between them when she decided to worship there, as well. Matilda had hoped he would see the light and join in, but the only time he’d attended a wealthy white sheep service, he was scathing and called both Pastor Warren and the General… performing seals. Even in this, he was always there when she needed him, although he spent most evenings alone or with his friends until she eventually came home, worn out and with little energy left for him.
Catching a glimpse of her haggard appearance in the bathroom mirror, Matilda considered taking the day off work, but what would she do at home? Cody wasn’t here and she had no idea where he’d gone or when he’d be back. Pastor Warren and the General would return from their conference this morning, and the office wouldn’t function properly without her presence there. Once she’d realised the mistake she’d made forgetting Cody’s birthday, she’d downed tools immediately and left some very important things undone. In the least, she still hadn’t tracked down Pastor Warren’s lawyer brother like he’d instructed her to do, and that alone was making her feel panicky. She needed to catch up, and possibly the distraction would be a blessing and maybe she could carefully broach the subject of Cody with Pastor Warren or the General and get some godly wisdom and advice to help her along. Unable to stomach the thought of breakfast or confront the untouched scene of Cody’s solitary birthday meal, Matilda decided to give food a miss and leave immediately for the office.
Hoping Cody would return sometime during the day, she had a brainwave and set about to write him a lengthy apology and then pin the note to the flywire door right where he would insert the key and somewhere he couldn’t miss. After many attempts at an explanation, an emotional apology and reams of discarded paper, Matilda was running late. Quickly gathering the scattered evidence of her trial, she cleared the floor of wastepaper and dumped it in the bin. Not completely satisfied with her efforts but out of time, Matilda folded her note and headed for the door. Taking one last glance at the battlefield that was her home, she pulled the front door closed and secured the lock. Allowing the security screen door to close, she inserted the letter between the flywire and the grill. Patting the door with a tender hand and feeling a minor sense of elation, she was confident that things would soon be back to normal, but after the sleepless night she still felt like an emotional wreck. Climbing into her compact, Matilda bathed in a semblance of relief, twisted the key and turned the tiny vehicle toward work.
The hours flew by as Matilda drowned in her day. People of all persuasions—great and small—came and went, hoping for a piece of the pastors’ time, but the plane had been delayed and they weren’t expected in till afternoon. Just as she was about to duck-dive into another laborious task, a great commotion met her at her desk and when she looked up to identify the culprit, a joyful throng followed Pastor Warren and the General into the foyer. Lapping up the attention and blowing an apostolic blessing over everyone present, Matilda was the unfortunate recipient of Warren’s misguided spittle. A party atmosphere followed the enigmatic group past the office, up a private passage and into Warren’s oversized compartment while Matilda, almost reverently, wiped her face with a tissue. As time went by, the cheerleaders left Warren’s office one by one, and finally, the wealthy white sheep settled back into business as usual. Running from the moment she’d arrived at work, Matilda had little time to think of personal things and the war going on at home.
Unbeknown to Matilda, the home screendoor had been rattled by the knock of a street hawker. Finding no response, the hawker tickled at the note in the hope of gaining information, but the screen wouldn’t relent on its grip and the note remained in place. Before he was noticed, the street hawker turned and walked away, moving on to the next house. The note, however, had dislodged, slipped from its place and fallen to the ground. Teased by an afternoon breeze, Matilda’s note opened its wings and was swept up on a gust and it flew into the garden, hidden many metres away.
“What’s wrong with you, Matilda?!” a surly female voice surprised her and she looked up from her desk in shock. Both the General and Warren were standing close. However, the act of joy and frivolity had been replaced by a blank, no-nonsense air.
“W..what do you mean, Pastor Jolene?” Matilda balked. She didn’t like being in the spotlight from this knowing godly woman.
“Don’t play games with me, Matilda! I’m discerning that your spirit is being blocked from ascending to higher consciousness and it’s crying at me. What’s going on?!”
Matilda stared at the stern faces of the charismatic couple, unable to understand a word the General was saying. Losing the grip on her tongue in the General’s powerful presence, she almost broke down. “M..my marriage is in trouble,” Matilda finally ruptured, unwillingly spilling the beans and bursting into tears.
As if a fat, overflowing offering bag had somehow dropped into their midst, both pastors broke out into a beaming grin. “Is that all, Matilda?!” Warren interjected.
That was just the beginning of Matilda’s shocks.
“A nice looking woman like you could have a hundred men,” then Warren winked.
Old Warren and Joleneare “ slimy snakes”.
Or maybe they’re just misunderstood, Gwennie? We’ll see what happens.