Grab your phone and overnight bag Claire screamed into her daughters room, as she frantically starting packing her toddler son’s things. I...

She Wasn’t Prepared For The Scribblings Inside Her Husband’s Journal She Wasn’t Prepared For The Scribblings Inside Her Husband’s Journal

She Wasn’t Prepared For The Scribblings Inside Her Husband’s Journal

She Wasn’t Prepared For The Scribblings Inside Her Husband’s Journal

 Grab your phone and overnight bag Claire screamed into her daughters room, as she frantically starting packing her toddler son’s things. It was nearing midnight and they had been sound asleep, but Claire needed to get herself and the kids out of the house quickly.

Claire had found something of her husbands that truly shook her to the core. Well, found isn’t exactly the right word. Claire had known about Steve’s journal for a long time. Olive green, the canvas cover raw at the edges and the odd lock that kept Steve’s ramblings private.

When Steve and Claire first met, the journal had added to Steve’s charm. A hipster-like throwback style that meshed well with his thick rimmed black glasses and affinity for jazz music. She found it quite endearing, even though he kept an unusually close eye on it and it seemed to always be with him.

Claire had inquired many times about the contents of the journal, but was always given a vague answer such as “just random thoughts, nothing important” and then the subject was always quickly changed. If she tried to swerve the conversation back to the journal she usually received a curt dismissal along with Steve leaving the room in a huff, thereby ruining the day or night. So she had quickly learned to avoid the topic.

Mysterious journal aside, Steve and Claire got along quite well and settled down into a nice dating routine. They both enjoyed quiet nights at home cooking, walking around the lake, and old classic movies. Eventually they moved in together and the transition was pretty smooth.

Claire found living with Steve to be pretty easy, but Steve had some frustrations about Claire’s disorganization. Steve was very neat, everything was organized and in it’s right place. He remembered everything – anniversaries, first time they said I love you, favorite restaurants, etc. Claire use to tease that if you looked up Type A in the dictionary, you would see Steve’s face perfectly aligned next to the word. Sometimes she would complain to her friends about Steve’s rigid neatness, but they showed no sympathy. “You are complaining about your husband cleaning too much,” they would say with disbelief.

Despite Claire’s books not always being put away and sometimes putting the toilet paper on “over” instead of “under” (apparently under looks tidier), Steve did propose. It was a beautiful proposal – lakeside, hidden photographer, star-gazing canoe ride after with champagne – everything planned perfectly.

They were about 3 weeks out from their wedding date when Claire and Steve hosted Steve’s parents for dinner. Everyone was having fun laughing, eating and drinking. Steve’s parents were strict, but they also knew how to let loose when appropriate. They were proud of the life their son had made for himself. He had a good job as an accountant, we had a nice home, he was getting married and we had made plans for kids in the future. These were the steps for a successful life his father often proclaimed.

Claire admits that she probably should have switched to beer after her first martini, but when spirits are high that energy sometimes impairs her judgement. She was feeling high and loose and maybe a little mischievous when that damn ratty journal caught her eye. The third wheel she sometimes called it — as it was always around, pulling some of the attention.

Steve was engrossed in a conversation with his parents, when Claire sauntered over to the journal and started to crack it open. She was opening it to the middle and could see neatly written dates when suddenly the cover slammed down on her hand with force.

She looked up at Steve who had a fiery scorn in his eyes like she had never seen. “We talked about this” he said through gritted teeth “my journal is private.” “I know” Claire winced, “but I figured since we are getting married, we will be sharing everything.” “Not know, not ever” he growled, the fiery look in his eyes became even more intense.

The next day is when Claire noticed the odd looking lock had been adhered to the journal. “Well, damn”, she thought, “I guess that’s for the best, If I can’t be access it then maybe I won’t ruminate on it.” Life moved on and they were happy. Marriage followed by a daughter and a son. All that was missing was the white picket fence.

Steve had received a promotion and it required a little more travel to visit clients. Claire didn’t mind, it was actually a little more fun when Steve wasn’t around. Everything seemed so sterile and routine with him there, like they were following a charted path. Sometimes Claire longed for spontaneity and would binge on shows that showed women leading wild or quirky lives. 

On his last business trip, the last one where he would be a happily married man, Steve FORGOT his precious journal. This was huge for Steve and he almost flew back home the moment he realized it. He was only a 90 minute flight away, but he had a very important meeting in the morning. He was torn and the worry was consuming him. The only reassurance he had is that Claire didn’t know that he had left the journal and he had installed a lock on it. He needed to attend this meeting because if he secured this client for his accounting firm, he was guaranteed another promotion… and a promotion was in the plans.

Claire was at home tucking the kids in, oblivious to the anxiety that was causing her husband to lay awake in a hotel room, rigid with fear and anticipation. There is no way she could get the lock off he kept reminding himself. It will be fine, he repeated to himself incessantly. 

Claire curled up on the couch with a hard seltzer and turned on Desperate Housewives. “Basic b*tch” she always thought when she observed her surroundings. “Routines aren’t so bad though “, she thought as we started in on her “husband away” routine. Which always started with hard seltzer and a show and ended with a usually unfruitful search for a forgotten journal.

But not this time…

There is was. There it is. Claire couldn’t believe it. He forgot it. Does he know he forgot it. Claire ran her fingers over the cover. 

The lock had a keypad on it and held the pages tightly shut. Knowing Steve, the code would not be random. Claire leaned back in the bedroom recliner and closed her eyes – think, think, think – what would a systematic man like Steve make as his passcode? Claire decided on their wedding anniversary – month, day, year. The lock buzzed – incorrect. This is silly Claire thought, I should give Steve his privacy. Claire lay down and tried to forget about the journal.

Meanwhile Steve has broken into a cold sweat. The lock he installed on the journal after Claire had brazenly attempted to read his inner thoughts was a smart lock. His phone had buzzed to alert him of a failed attempt to open it. He thought of ringing Claire, but then she would know it’s a smart lock and be all the more intrigued and their was no way to guaranteed she wouldn’t make another attempt. He started looking at the soonest flights home.

Claire had been laying down for ten minutes trying in vain to sleep when it came to her. Steve took birthdays very seriously, always a big celebration, maybe the code was the birth month of her, their son, and their daughter. Worth a try she thought, if not, I will take a melatonin and fall asleep. 04-07-11 she typed in, click, the lock slid open….

Claire was filled with all kinds of emotions – anticipation, fear, excitement. She opened the first page, Steve’s full name, vitals at birth, and then in bold: MY LIFE, ACCORDING TO ME.

Ok, Claire thought, just a regular journal. Steve’s thoughts and life memories as he remembers them.

Claire started flipping through the pages, plans for his job (came true), dreams on where his first apartment would be (came true), dates on when he hoped to be promoted – very through, very precise, very boring.

Claire kept flipping until she saw her name along with facts. Height, weight, political associations, high school she attended, sports played, family tree. Kind of weird she thought and then she noticed the date — These were posted 3 weeks before they even met. They were set up by a friend. He did a thorough background check on her and knew tons about her before they even went on the first date. She was creeped out.

Everything from that page forward were notes of how their life would play out according to Steve’s ultimate plan. Most of the notes were written weeks or years before the life event happened and most happened exactly how he wanted them too. Daughter was named what Steve had picked out for her 3 years before she was born — he insisted on that name and said it was his great grandmothers and very important.

Claire had thought she had choices, that life was coming at her spontaneously. She was finding out that it was all meticulously planned.

So far nothing criminal though, so besides feeling violated and somehow that her life was a sham, Claire could not go to the police. But when she got to the page with her kids’ careers picked out, she knew she had to end her marriage. She wanted them to have choices.

She was up to the current date in readings and quickly flipped the pages to make sure she didn’t miss anything. That’s when she say the sloppier handwriting towards the back of the notebook. The neatness of Steve’s writing seemed to really derail and it looked like he was pressing hard with a pen.

What If statements lined the page.

What if Claire divorces you…

What if Claire cheats on you..

What if Claire opens your journal and reads it…

Both divorce and cheating ended in Claire being slowly poisoned in a very thought out way. Steve didn’t mind the title of widower. He noted that it wasn’t in the ultimate “plans”, but the sympathy he received from others might not be so bad.

After what if Claire finds the journal, it was noted that he would be alerted due to the smart lock (sh*t Claire thought – so like Steve to note that too, everything noted) and would end in a house fire that Claire sadly doesn’t make it out of. Claire panicked, it had been 2 hours since she first opened the journal. Steve could easily be on a flight home. That’s when she started throwing things into a bag and told her children to do the same.

Claire and her kids made it out of the house and into hiding. She alerted the police, but since no crime had been committed, the police did not go out to the house until after Steve had arrived home. Claire’s big mistake? Leaving the journal in their bedroom as she raced frantically to get out of the house and somewhere safe. 

No physical crime committed, and his word against hers puts Claire in a very tricky spot. She is currently in hiding and there is a warrant for her arrest since she has technically “kidnapped her children”. 

Claire often wonders if she should have looked at the journal at all. She wasn’t super happy with her life, but she was blissfully unaware of the strings that were pulling it. Now she constantly thinks about how every move she made in the past was not done with free-will, but with carefully orchestrated manipulation.

What do you think? Would you have read Steve’s journal? Would you care if your life was orchestrated this way (Claire notes that her life was mundane, but not really bad). Would you have ran?

Claire will remind in hiding with her children for now – she has created her own form of witness protection and is currently safe. This story was written from Claire’s perspective. She agreed to a private phone call. All bits about what Steve was doing when not with Claire have been pieced together the best she could. Claire shared this story to bring awareness to the manipulation that can happen in relationships. 

*Names and locations have been changed to protect the family

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