How Many Lies = One Marriage?

Twisted Fate by Terina McIlvaine is a 72-page Kindle short story available as a free download through Kindle Unlimited (KU). It is probably a mystery in that you do not know what is going to happen. You are led to believe that a crime will be committed. There is a surprise ending but most of this short novel, approximately through 85% of it, is a long, slow, tease. That can be good or bad depending on your reading preference. The writing is good but heavy on emotional descriptions.

As the story opens we find Cindy tearing up papers, pictures, and documents reminiscent of her married life. Matt had not been gone that long, just four weeks, but he had left without a word and there had been no communication with him. Where was he and why had he left? Cindy was determined to find out. But first, she needed coffee. So, off to her favorite coffeehouse to formulate a plan.

And there was Matt with somebody else. Matt didn’t see her even during the time Cindy was getting her coffee. She sat down at a table where she would likely not be seen, drank coffee, and was emotionally distraught until she attracted the attention of Richard. Richard offered her coffee; there was small talk. They separated and acknowledged the possibility of future meetings. Cindy knew she would be returning to the coffee shop. She knew of no other way to find the identity of Matt’s companion.

Each time Cindy returned she met Richard. As their conversations proceeded and became more detailed, Cindy revealed her husband’s affair to Richard, revealed that her husband was then present in the coffee shop, and told Richard that she was only there to find the identity of Matt’s mystery woman. After she pointed out her husband, Richard told her that the mystery woman’s name was Katie, his wife. He also had been coming to the coffee shop to observe his wife’s affair.

The rest of the short story is one of plotting revenge. Cindy takes the lead and comes up with a plan. She encourages a reluctant Richard to help her. By this time there have been dinners, wine, and deep conversations leading to almost intimacy between Richard and Cindy. Richard is finally won over and Cindy’s plan can proceed.

There are an awful lot of people with secrets here. A phrase ascribed to Winston Churchill is “A secret known to more than one isn’t a secret.” There are too many moving parts for something not to fall apart. This is a pleasant short read with an ending similar to some that I have seen on early “The Twilight Zone” episodes. Alfred Hitchcock also comes to mind. This is a nice diversion for spare minutes when the clothes are in the dryer and you don’t want to get sucked into the social conversations at the laundromat.

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