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The box in the closet held my husband's shocking secret

It began with the box. Hidden, but not that hidden in my husband's closet was a box I had never seen before. We had been married for 7 years and I had never felt such an inclination to want to look through something of his.

It was as if it was some mysterious item that one would find in a dark cave in some foreign land. The ‘curse of the mummies,’ I thought and then told myself I’d been watching too many movies. I put down the laundry and knelt on the floor. I lay his laundry next to me and slid the box out of the closet. I opened it.

The first thing I saw were stockings and lots of them. That wasn’t new for him or me as we had been playing around sexually with garter belts and stockings. But there were more. Synthetic breasts, bras, high heel shoes. I saw red and every other shade of anger and hurt. Was he having an affair?

I glared at his things. My heart raced. I felt sick. I paced around the house. That only made me feel worse. I grabbed the phone and dialed his number. He was working on the ski hill.

Rick had worked in the ski industry most of his life. His skiing had been called “poetry in motion.” Truly gifted in his sport and his work, Rick always became an expert in everything he pursued. Golf, drumming, running. It didn’t matter what it was, he always needed to be the best. His need to excel came from his father.

Not his biological father, but a man who had adopted Rick and his sister when they were just 5 and 7 years of age.  They didn’t get along in the early years and both of them resented him for ruling the family with an iron hand.

He had been particularly hard on Rick.

I waited for Rick to answer the phone. Time crawled. I barely heard his voice before I was yelling, “Get the hell home. NOW!”

“Why, what’s wrong?” he said.

“Just get home." My whole body shook.

It only takes ten minutes to get from the ski hill to our house but it seemed like hours. As I waited for him to arrive home, I thought, please let it be an affair. But already, something inside me knew that it wasn’t as ordinary as that.

Rick entered the living room of our beautiful bungalow. It was nestled in the forest of southern British Columbia.

“Look in the box,” I shouted.

 “It means nothing”, he said.  He didn’t have to look. He already knew what I had found.

“Just get it, please,” I said. I tried to slow my breathing and the pounding of my heart. I heard a dull roar in my ears, as he placed the box on the table. Tears streamed down his face.

“I’m not trying to hurt you,” he said. His breathing was labored.

“Well then explain what this stuff is,” I said.

“I’m just experimenting. I’m not having an affair. I love you. I don’t know why I’m doing this, please I don’t know why.” He stared at the floor. As awful as this sounds, I wanted to hit him, to make him feel like I was feeling right at this moment. Rick slumped onto a chair. “I won’t do it again,” he said. Time slowed down even more.

“Get rid of that box,” I said. “Burn it, bury it. It can’t be in this house, in our
lives.” I didn’t want to know what he was doing with any of it. I just wanted our life back to normal. We held each other. We both sobbed.

“It’s ok,” I said. “I love you, everything will be alright.”

The box became a secret. It was a box full of stuff we didn’t want to discuss.

I told myself it would never happen again. Months passed. I thought it was over. Then one day, there it was again in his closet.  This time, I didn’t hesitate to look inside.

Black patent, 6” strappy, opened-toed stiletto shoes. They were, I guessed a size 9. Only someone tall would wear them. Several pairs of stockings in shades of black, grey and taupe. Some sheer others with a single welt up the back of the leg in red or black.The stockings were very long.

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