Jack was a noble man. He had always been honest and decent in whatever he did. He was brave and unselfish. So, when Charlotte awoke in the middle of the night to find his side of the bed empty, she immediately thought the worst.
She sprang out of bed, forgetting to cover her bare feet with her slippers. She did toss on her cotton bathrobe as she made her way to the bedroom door that was left ajar. Charlotte pressed her ear against it. She couldn’t hear anything going on in the rest of their small house. It didn’t seem as though any lights were left on either. At least, the hallway was dark. She couldn’t tell if any other room in the house was awake.
The war was headed to their homeland. Charlotte and Jack knew it was only a matter of time they’d have to evacuate. Charlotte has had the spare bedroom covered with suitcases just in case they need to grab what they truly need and run. Of course, there was still packing to be done. Their hometown, as much as it pained her to feel this way, was going under with their new king. She had packed the essentials first, but she wanted to pack the whole house and find a new place before they had to. Then they wouldn’t need to leave anything behind and it wouldn’t feel like running away.
Two of Charlotte’s friends from the bakery had their husbands drafted to the war, much to their dismay. Charlotte knew it was only a matter of time when Jack would be drafted.
She stepped out into the dark hallway still unable to hear or see anything. Surely Jack wouldn’t be drafted in the middle of the night? Or maybe he was drafted a day ago and didn’t want to say goodbye? Charlotte felt her eyes well up and she bite back the tears for someone hearing her.
She couldn’t bare the thought of Jack going to war. He was courageous and did what was best for the kingdom always. He was kind to everyone, he helped out at so many of the shops. If something was broken, he’d be the first to offer his assistance to fix it. The whole village knew and loved him. What were they to do if he were to go off to war?
What would Charlotte do if he were to go off to war?
She stumbled over something in the middle of the hallway. Grunting in frustration, she stepped over whatever it was and kept moving toward the kitchen. She had been packing so much these days the house was a disgrace.
When she made it to the kitchen, she finally turned a light on. Sure enough, no one was around and the kitchen looked to be in the same condition it was when she and her husband went to bed. Charlotte sat down at the kitchen table and stared at the old, rough wood. Jack could have left a note at least.
The tears started to come regardless of whether Charlotte wanted to cry or not. He must have done off to war and didn’t want to upset her so he didn’t say goodbye. Why would he do that though? She was his wife! It would have been difficult to say goodbye yes, but he didn’t need to be a coward about it. She knew all too well Jack would want her to still leave the village. She wouldn’t be able to pack up their life and leave without him. What would happen when the war ended? If he made it home, how would he find her again?
Charlotte hiccuped, her tears suddenly hitting the brakes. She heard laughter, a light giggle. It sounded close, just outside their house. She stood, walking toward the window. Who would be laughing right outside their house in the middle of the night?
She drew back the bland curtain to the kitchen window ever so slight. She saw the back of a blond woman. Charlotte knew everyone in the village though she couldn’t make out who this one in the dark and from the back of their head. She was just about to knock on the window to ask why the woman was standing outside her house in the middle of the night when she heard another laughter.
A man’s laughter. Jack’s laugh.
Charlotte froze. Why would Jack be out there with another woman in the middle of the night? Jack was well known in the village and people went to him for a lot of things, but surely not in the middle of the night.
She watched for another moment, debating if she should knock on the window or go outside. Or maybe she should stay put and watch.
Charlotte’s question was answered in another moment. The woman moved out of the way, her back pressed up against their house.
Charlotte narrowed her eyes and could see it was one of the workers from the bakery. Her husband had just been drafted three days ago. Jack now stood in front of her, the two smiling giddily, and he leaned for a kiss.
Charlotte stumbled backward nearly knocking over the chair to the kitchen table. She quickly steadied it, hoping Jack and the woman didn’t hear. She didn’t want them to know she was spying despite it was them who were doing wrong.
The tears came again and Charlotte raced back to the bedroom. She lit a candle, not wanting the whole room to light up. Jack did not need to know she was awake and packing up the rest of his things. Jack enjoyed helping everyone out in the village, though Charlotte didn’t think that included helping the woman grieve over their drafted husbands.
Yes, Jack used to be a noble man. Charlotte now saw he was no longer honest in his marriage and certainly not decent with the village folk. He was a selfish man who claimed the other woman as his own and cowardly enough to do it behind their husbands’ backs. So, when Charlotte awoke that middle of the night and saw his side of the bed empty, she knew it would stay that way.