These days, Fannie found only one way to relieve her stress – with a good workout. She always tried to get to the gym two or three times a week. Her body was her strong asset and she took good care of it. But now she was attacking the machines as if they were her enemies, and when she was running on the treadmill there was an expression of fierce determination on her face.

One day after her workout, Fannie was sitting in the sauna with her eyes closed when she heard a man’s voice, “So, where’s the problem: at the office or at home?”

Fannie had mentally divided the male gym members into two categories: jocks and slobs. She opened her eyes cautiously to see to which category the intruder belonged. Jock, definitely a jock and a handsome one at that, Fannie mused silently.

“As a matter of fact, both places, if you really want to know. But at home, it’s worse,” Fannie confided.

John had taken notice of this sharp-looking woman a long while ago, but observing her apparent frustration, he had decided that this was now an opportune time to make his move. “I know all about problems at home too. I’ve got them myself, all the time. Listen, beautiful stranger, why don’t we both delay that unpleasant moment of going home? Would you like to join me for a drink at the bar?”

“Fine, but only one,” Fannie replied cautiously. “I have a husband and a daughter at home.”

While sharing a drink, they soon found out that both were working downtown at nearby offices and agreed to meet the following day for lunch.

From the onset, John’s courting was very different than Tom’s. He was much more direct and assertive. He was referring to his wife of fifteen years as ‘my bitch’ and indicated bluntly that he was only staying in his marriage for the sake of the children. But there was just so much a man could endure! John didn’t intend to sacrifice the best years of his life to that bitch and he was almost out of patience. At least that was the impression he conveyed to Fannie.

After just a week of daytime rendezvous, John unabashedly asked Fannie if she could take a vacation and disappear from home for a week.

“Why would I do that?” Fannie asked innocuously.

“Because I’m going on a business trip to Miami and I’d very much like you to come along with me? We’d have plenty of time to get to know one-another better and to talk about our past, present and maybe even the future,” John said with a bit of a leering smile and a chuckle, as he added, “Don’t worry, I’ll pay for everything.”

Fannie pondered John’s proposition for a couple of days. It was a crazy idea; she didn’t know anything about him and besides, what sort of credible excuse to be away from home for so long could she possibly come up with? What ‘story’ could she invent to tell Sam?

At home, everything was the same as always – the old apartment, Janna’s homework, and Sam’s adoring eyes.

I wish, Fannie thought, that he would spent less time on adoring me and more time to think about how to get enough money to get us out of this wretched place.

In the end, Fannie agreed to accompany John on his trip. At home she left a small note for Sam: I am tired. Need a vacation on my own. Take care of Janna. See you in a week.

That week in Miami was simply marvelous. They stayed at a five-star, beachfront hotel. The service was superb, the food excellent, and John had proven to be a powerful and exciting lover.

In the daytime, he was attending to his business and Fannie was sunbathing near the pool. In the evenings, they were going to the best restaurants and attended several live shows.

This is the life for me, Fannie reflected. I belong in this resort. I belong in one of those houses on Post Road. And soon, very soon, my dreams are going to become a reality.

One day, Fannie had discovered a beautiful gold necklace hidden in one of the chest drawers in their hotel room. She withdrew the exquisite piece from its velvet box and tried it on.

Yes, I deserve this, she was rejoicing. Fannie then carefully placed the necklace back in its place. Let John present it to me when he thinks the time is right, she decided.

The week passed by very quickly and before they knew it, it was time to return home. There was not much talk about the future or anything else for that matter, and the necklace had still not been presented.

Upon their arrival at the Toronto airport, John hailed a taxi and gave the driver Fannie’s address. “Fannie, thanks for a great week. It was terrific. Hope to see you at the gym soon.”

“What about you, John? Aren’t you going in the same taxi with me?”

“I don’t think that’s a smart idea. My bitch will be angry with me as it is for not calling home often enough. But I bought her a little something so that should pacify her. Ciao!”

The taxi stopped near Fannie’s apartment building and the old ladies sitting on the benches near the entrance blatantly scrutinized her travel suitcase and her freshly tanned appearance.

Let them talk! I don’t care. I don’t care about anything right now, Fannie told herself. It’s all Sam’s fault. Tom, John… If I had a decent husband I wouldn’t have to look around for someone better and suffer through all these insults. How could John treat me like that? Who does he think I am? It’s Sam’s fault that other people are treating his wife the way they are.

At home, Janna was overjoyed to see Fannie. “Mommy, I’ve missed you so much! Did you buy me anything?”

Sam, on the other hand, just greeted his wife with a restrained “hello.”

That evening, after Janna went to sleep, Sam sat down near his wife. “Fannie, I don’t want to know where you’ve been or what you were doing for a whole week. It doesn’t matter. I know you haven’t been happy. I want to talk about what can be done to help you be happier and to save our family. I do love you very much and I love Janna just as much. I don’t want to lose you; I don’t want to lose my family.”

Ironically, Sam’s placid acceptance of her furtive betrayal infuriated Fannie even more. “You’re such a loser, Sam. You squirm like a worm, but I need a man, a real, strong and successful man. Get out of here. Get out of my life, you…you miserable loser!”

Without a word of protest, Sam silently got up, walked to the door, then stopped, turned around and quietly said, “Please, explain all of this to Janna.” Then he left.

Well, Fannie thought, maybe I went a little bit too far. It doesn’t matter. Besides, that loser will be back tomorrow. He didn’t even take any of his things.

When Fannie returned home from the office the following day, she noticed that Sam’s clothes were gone. She wasn’t even the slightest bit upset.

This is my opportunity to start a new life. And if it doesn’t work out, I can always call him and take him back. All I have to do is place one phone call. I can have Sam back anytime I choose, a smug Fannie rationalized.

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