Moving as quickly as a woman seven months pregnant is capable of moving, Emma McCoy headed to the front door of her house. The loud knocking had awakened her from her afternoon nap. Emma yawned, trying to appear awake. She didnâ€™t remember being this exhausted during her other pregnancies. This time, she could barely stay awake during the day.
â€œIâ€™ll be right there!â€ Emma called toward the general direction of the front door.
Emma wondered who it could be. Her best friend, Sadie, never knocked, and her husband, Jacob, was out of town on business. Her parents wouldnâ€™t have bothered knocking, knowing that she would be resting while the girls napped.
Emma opened the door and was startled to see two policemen. Fear immediately crept up inside of her chest and nearly stole her breath away. Her first thought was that something was wrong with her parents. She prayed that the policemen were at the wrong address, but a feeling deep inside of her gut said that they were not.
â€œCan I help you?â€ Emmaâ€™s heart raced inside of her chest. She willed herself to be calm.
â€œMrs. McCoy,â€ said the male officer. â€œCan we come inside, please?â€
â€œOf course;â€ Emma led them through the dining room and into her living room. She offered them a seat, but refused to take one herself. As the officers gathered their thoughts, Emma paced the living room floor. â€œSomeone please tell me whatâ€™s going on.â€
â€œMrs. McCoy, please sit down,â€ said the female officer. â€œWe need you to stay calm. Youâ€™re pregnant; you canâ€™t get so worked up.â€
Emma sat awkwardly in the antique rocking chair that had been in her family for generations. Her parents had gifted it to her when she gave birth to her oldest daughter. She remembered that her mother told her that it would be perfect for rocking her daughter to sleep in it, and she was right. Emma ran her hands across the aged wood, thinking absently of her children, who were upstairs napping. Her palms were damp and her heart was racing. She tried to slow her breathing, but it was no use. She felt the need to vomit.
â€œSomeone please tell me whatâ€™s wrong. I know something is wrong,â€ Emma looked directly at the officers, demanding answers. â€œIs it my parents?â€
â€œMrs. McCoy, thereâ€™s been an accident. Your husbandâ€™s plane went down while it was descending into Canada. The authorities have searched, but there were no survivors.â€ The female officer looked intently at Emma, gauging her reaction. â€œI am so sorry to bring you this news.â€
â€œWhat do you mean? There must be some mistake. Jacob wasnâ€™t even going to Canada. Heâ€™s in California on business.â€ Emma breathed a sigh of relief as she realized that the officers were mistaken.
â€œLook, I know this is a shock, Mrs. McCoy, but it has been confirmed. The passenger on the plane to Canada was your husband. We have copies of his plane ticket and his passport. Heâ€™s on the airport video surveillance. He boarded the plane with another passenger, a woman named Veronica Smith. Do you know her?â€ Both officers looked at one another before shifting their gazes toward Emma.
â€œVeronica Smith is our neighbor. She told me that she was going to Pennsylvania to visit her family. Why were Jacob and Veronica on the plane together?â€ Emmaâ€™s hands began to shake. â€œI donâ€™t understand. Jacob was going to California, not Canada.â€ A million questions filled her mind.
She sat completely still for a moment as she tried to wrap her brain around the information. The small, nagging voice had plagued her for the past year, but suddenly it was screaming. She was stupid for not listening sooner. She had always been suspicious of Jacob and Veronica, but she convinced herself that it was paranoia. Jacob told her that she was emotional because of the pregnancy, so she pushed aside the nagging suspicion in order to keep the peace in her marriage.
Every image that she had ignored paraded through her mind. She remembered all of the times when she accused her husband of being too friendly with their lovely neighbor. With every accusation, Jacob would become incensed with anger. Emma would always back off in an effort to avoid a confrontation.
Unable to ignore them anymore, each of the images came crashing down on her. She saw Jacob helping the beautiful Veronica trim the hedge between the houses. She saw them laughing together over a shared joke. She thought of Jacobâ€™s insistence that he was â€œjust being neighborly.â€ She recalled the way that her husband had placed his hand on the small of Veronicaâ€™s back in a way that was too familiar for Emmaâ€™s comfort. It was all too much to take in. She had been right all along, and now she was playing the part of the clueless wife.
The room began to spin. Emma felt faint. Jacob was having an affair with Veronica and they were both dead. She was alone, with two little girls and another on the way. Emma tried to stand, but her legs wouldnâ€™t support her. The officers caught Emma as her body gave way and she slipped into oblivion.