See you in five, that's the last thing she said to him. He wondered, after the five minutes had passed, if she meant five hours but he knew that couldn't be right. She was just going down to the shops, to pick up a pair of stockings for dinner at his parents later that night. She had to always have a good pair of stocking when she saw him parents, something about people from his mother's age considering it sacrilege if pantyhose weren't covering the legs. She was only going to get the stockings, and some flowers if they were cheap enough but diverging to the flower section should've only taken a couple of minutes.
It was now an hour later and he was worried. He had already called her phone, sent her texts and wondered what else he could do. He was in the unfortunate situation where a little while ago he ahd broken his foot and was still recovering and walking to the shops was unthought of. Maybe now was the time he could call his friend and put him onto it but he felt that was a step too far. He had considered the police but was even more worried that his greatest fear would be true and it would be the police that discovered it. What if his wife was having an affair?
He didn't even want to consider the possibility but her absence had him thinking left-field thoughts. A part of him would be happier if she was kidnapped than if she was having an affair. Mind in a fix he knew there was nothing he could do but wait.
At two hours he felt obliged to pace through the room but his foot couldn't cope with more than a few lengths. He had no idea where she was, he wasn't even one of those people that worried a lot but this was a reason to be worrying. Maybe she did mean five hours, when she had left there had still been six hours til they had to leave for dinner and maybe she needed a particular pair of stockings from a store far away. The thought only consoled him a little.
She couldn't of just broken down and she would've called anyway if something distracted her from her seeing him in five.
At three hours he was ready to call his friend to do some reconasince.
"Hey Benny, are you busy?" He sent Benny down to the store, and to drive about the suburbs a bit looking for their car.
Forty-five minutes later he heard a knock at the door and rushed to it.
"Benny." There was disappointment in his voice that it wasn't his wife.
"Sorry mate, I couldn't find her." He walked in and they sat on the couch.
"You should call the police."
"No," he shock his head, he didn't want to go that far.
"I'll do it."
"Thanks but no." He could see his friend wanted to help but couldn't think of how.
"Maybe you should go to your parents."
"I have to wait for her."
"If she comes back here she'll call you, she'll probably know where you've gone anyway. You gotta do something, stop moping around here, I can see you've already lost half your hair."
Benny was right and he knew it. It would be better if he went to his parents, they were expecting them later anyway and his sister would be there, she was one of those people that was always comforting. He called his parents to tell them he was coming early and wrote a quick note to leave by the door then hobbled out to Benny's car.
It was a short drive to his parents and when they arrived he stared at the house longingly. Already he was thinking about all the things they still wanted to do in life; the family they wanted, inviting their children over for dinner.
"Don't worry, she'll be alright mate."
"Thanks for your help Benny."
"No problem, I'll see you in."
They walked, though one still hobbled, up to the door. By now it was late afternoon and the sun was setting with a chill in the air. He remembered she hadn't taken a jacket.
He didn't bother to knock, he wasn't sure when the last time he had knocked on the front door was, there home was certainly more of a enter then announce yourself place.
They hadn't turned the lights on in the entrance hall or the lounge to the left.
"Mum, I'm here."
As if on cue his Mum walked down the hall, still not flicking on the hall light.
"Ah Matthew good to see you. It's nice to see you to Benny."
They had been friends in high school and he had never stopped calling her that.
"Come on sit in the lounge, I'll get you a drink. Benny stay for one too if you can."
Matthew let his mum lead him to the edge of the lounge
"Just wait dear I'll turn the light on, I don't you to trip."
Light flooded the room.
His heart almost stopped in shock. Around him stood a horde of people and as his eyes adjusted he saw the one person he wanted to see. She came up and pecked him a kiss.
He wanted to laugh but felt more like crying.
"My birthday was a month ago," he managed to scramble out.
"That's what makes it more of a surprise."
For a moment he forgot about his tears and laughed. With the laughter came relief, such relief that there was no affair or kidnapping.
He finally looked past his wife and saw his friends and family, a bunch of people smiling at him, for him.
"I can't believe you did this."
"It's because we love you," his wife whispered in his ear. "Now come on, sit down, your foot must be killing you."
He had forgotten but now he realised he wouldn't mind a seat. The hours of stress had made his whole body ache. As he took the couch he noticed something about his wife's legs.
"You're not wearing stockings."
She smiled at him. "Oh there was no time for that."