Her heart broke with the sight of the thong.
The minuscule scrap of black silk and lace lay like a beacon on the white sheets underneath the burgundy and cream-striped down comforter. A bra of the same material sat beside them. They looked fresh, but Winnie did not even want to touch them with a stick. Her green and white checkered purse fell from a limp hand and hit the floor with a soft clatter. A tube of lip gloss rolled out with a black pen as the purse tipped over.
She felt sick at her stomach, and black dots danced in front of her vision. Winnie sat down on the edge of the bed. It was obvious this person was not a house guest, nor one of their friends who occasionally stayed over. Brad, her boyfriend of four years, had brought a woman into their home, into her bed. That realization was slowly sinking in.
Winnie looked into the closet on her side and saw three unfamiliar dresses hanging on the rack. She cried. It had not even been a one night stand. They had been here for awhile while she had been gone to Chicago on a class trip.
Suddenly terrified of their return, she hastily threw the comforter over the bed the way it had been, and walked into the living room from the bedroom of the small apartment. She needed time to think, needed to come up with a plan of action.
Winnie ran her hand through the short length of her dark blonde hair.
“What am I going to do?” she asked herself sitting down on the brown leather sofa.
Winnie did not know if she wanted to stay and confront him or leave. She was angrier at the fact that he defiled their home more then the fact that he had cheated on her. What was the other girl like? Was she prettier then Winnie? Did Brad have feelings for her? She could not even think if he had feelings for the other girl. An angry tear slid down her cheek, bringing a wet streak of black mascara with it.
She curled up as tight as she could into the corner of the sofa and hugged an orange pillow to her mid-section. Her bags still lay by the door on the backside of the couch. She could easily up and leave and never look back. Winnie thought that would be too easy. Her anger built as she twisted the soft muslin and cotton of the pillow in her hands. She needed to do something that would make him suffer as much as she was at that moment.
Winnie looked at the clock on top of the television. 3:30 p.m. It was only thirty minutes since she found out, thirty more minutes from now if he went to work he would be home from his job as a mechanic. The same questions kept floating through her head. Did Brad not desire her anymore? Was the girl tall to match Brad’s six foot stature? Winnie knew she was not that tall at 5’4”.
Winnie looked up at the clock again. 3:45 p.m. Her anger was simmering. He would be home in fifteen minutes. A quick, but crazy idea sparked in her mind. She got off of the couch and walked back into their room. The closet they shared was her destination. She walked to his side, sidestepping the dresses in the cramped walk-in. She would leave them there as evidence. Winnie pulled down anything she could grab from his side and threw them on the bedroom floor.
There was the dark blue dress shirt she bought him for Christmas the year before, and the dark brown khakis that went with it. There was his prized black Stetson that his father bought him after winning the last rodeo he was in. When the right side of the closet was completely bare, Winnie walked into the bedroom and picked up everything she could grab and walked to the bathroom to throw them haphazardly into the tub.
It took her two trips to pick up everything. Winnie took a deep breath, and pushed away a quick bite of consciousness when she rubbed her forehead. All of his belongings filled the white tub to nearly overflowing. She picked his Stetson off the floor, looking at it. She knew the memories behind the hat, but put it on top of the pile anyways. Winnie turned the water on, letting it soak all of the clothes.
She left it running and walked to the kitchen to the small alcove that held the washer and dryer. She pulled the nearly full bottle of bleach off the shelf above the dryer. Winnie looked at the broom by the washer a moment and picked it up too.
The water nearly sloshed over the top of the tub as Winnie cut it off. The clothes were completely and thoroughly soaked. She felt a pang of guilt, but stamped it down as she opened up the bleach and started to pour the whole bottle into the water. The caustic smell made her see black spots in front of her eyes and her head dizzy. Winnie put the bottle down by the toilet and walked out of the bathroom to catch a breath of fresh air. She opened up the window in the bedroom and went back into the bathroom. The smell was not as pungent as before.
She felt like a witch stirring the brew in her cauldron as she stirred the bleach through the clothes and flipping those underneath up to the top. Winnie saw the nametag on the shirt of one of Brad’s work shirts, halfway white from its original navy color. Revenge was such bitter sweetness, she thought.
The door in the living room opened with a whisper. Winnie heard the key in the doorknob to lock it. She knew that Brad was home by his heavy footfalls through the living room to the kitchen. He was following his usual routine, she guessed. He did not want her to suspect he had had another woman in their home, she thought.
“Hey babe, I’m home,” he called from the kitchen.
Winnie did not answer. She kept stirring the clothes. Most were beginning to turn pale yellow or completely white. She heard the pop top of a can. The refrigerator door closed loudly from the kitchen and she could hear his footsteps through the living room.
“How was your tri--…What the hell are you doing?” He yelled aghast. The bottle of Bud Light fell from his hand and clattered against the white linoleum floor. White foam and yellow drink poured from the top.
Winnie did not say a word. Her eyes fixed on him, and Brad saw the anger in them. She held the broom in front of her, the bristles up near her face. She took the broom in both hands and swung it as hard as she could, catching Brad in the left side of the face. He did not have enough time to react and cover himself.
“You bastard! You brought someone else into our home, into my bed,” she yelled.
She continued to hit him in any place she could reach with the broom.
“Hey, hey! Stop!” he screamed.
Brad grabbed the broom handle and wrenched it from her grasp. Winnie could not get at him with the broom and she continued to pummel him with slaps and punches. Brad grabbed her shoulders holding her in place.
“Winnie, what the hell are you screamin’ about?” he yelled into her face.
Winnie tried to shake herself from his grasp. She yelled, “Let me go. Don’t touch me.”
“Now what the hell are you yelling about?” Brad asked again more calmly.
“What am I yelling about? What the hell am I yelling about? You cheated on me. You brought someone into our house,” she yelled, her voice rising in volume. She pointed towards the bed.
“What?” Brad asked dumbfounded loosening his grip on her shoulders.
“Whoever she is left her underwear in my bed,” Winnie yelled emphasizing each word.
She threw off the bedspread and picked up the thong with her index finger. She put it in Brad’s face as evidence. Brad took the underwear from under his nose and looked at it and began smirking. Within seconds, he was in full laughter. His riotous laughter made Winnie confused.