There was something wrong with Sara’s husband. The change in his behavior was subtle, but after being together for ten years she could feel that something was wrong. She asked him about it but he insisted that everything was fine. She tried to let it go but the feeling persisted and after two weeks she couldn’t stand it anymore; she needed to find out what was going on. Her first inkling was that he was cheating on her. Just a few weeks earlier she wouldn’t have believed he was capable of cheating, he was far too introverted for that, but all other possible reasons were even less likely. She resolved to check his phone to confirm if this was indeed the case.
One evening when they were slouched in front of the TV, watching some show on Netflix, she couldn’t remember which one, she asked him to see his phone. The excuse that she’d come up with was that he had a photo she wanted, but she couldn’t describe which one and thus wanted to scroll through his Photo Gallery to find it. Without taking his eyes off the TV he unlocked the phone and handed it to her without question. She started scrolling through the pictures, making a comment here and there while quickly flashing him the screen. He was too absorbed by the show to care but she did it anyway, as a kind of alibi, mostly for her own peace of mind. Ever so often she would check that he was fully focused on the TV and then quickly switch over to a messaging app and start searching for dubious messages. She checked all his messaging apps: Whatsapp, Line, even Facebook Messenger. There was nothing, not even the slightest hint of flirting with another woman.
Sara felt conflicted: she was relieved she could find no evidence of her husband cheating, but at the same time she was disappointed she hadn’t found out why he had been acting so strange. She tried asking him again, and again he insisted that nothing was wrong. She tried to put it out of her mind, pretending she hadn’t noticed that something had changed. She only managed for a few days before the feeling at the back of her mind became too strong. She had to try again to find out what was going on.
That Sunday afternoon she told her husband she wanted some time on her own to go get a coffee at a nice cafe and relax with a book. He, quite nonchalantly, agreed that it would be good to spend a few hours apart. She immediately started gathering up her stuff while he booted up the Playstation then went to the kitchen to prepare some snacks. She did actually go to the cafe like she had said, but reading a book was about as far from her mind as could be. Instead she spent the entire afternoon trying to come up with ways to find out what was going on with her husband. She researched several ways to spy on people, then rejected most of them, she wasn’t quite ready to go to such lengths yet. She looked up contact details for private detectives in the area, but never wrote any of them down. She pondered the issue for from every angle, and when she left, after three cups of black coffee, she finally had an idea that could work.
During the next three weeks she made sure to contact her husband during work hours, every single day. It had long been her habit to send him some little message almost daily, a mix of practical matters – what to have for dinner for example – and cute/funny memes she would see in her social media feed during breaks. As could be expected, she had sent all those messages to his cell phone, but now she would come up with plausible excuses to either call his desk phone or, just to break up the pattern a bit, send an email to his work address. She made sure to always call or email at different times during the day so he wouldn’t notice a pattern. What she found out was that he was at the office every day during those weeks. She didn’t dare contact him more often to confirm that he was actually there the whole day, but given that he would answer the phone no matter what time she called, she had to assume he was. Sara was disappointed: she had come up with what she considered to be a fool proof way of finding out if her husband was actually going to work, and it turned out he was living his life completely according to routine.
Over the next few days she contemplated other methods of finding out what was going on. She was so focused on this, that her husband reacted. One evening at dinner he commented that she had seemed distracted lately, and he wondered if everything was alright. She wanted to scream that he was the one who had been distracted lately, that she was only distracted because he was acting strange, but she held her tongue. Instead she told him, as nonchalantly as possible, that everything was fine, she was just a bit stressed at work. He accepted this explanation with a nod then went back to eating. This was a wakeup call for her, if she wasn’t careful her husband was bound to start thinking that she was acting strange. While she couldn’t pretend that things were normal, she resolved to act like it in front of her husband.
The following week she tried her best to put the whole thing out of her mind while at home, but when she was alone, on her drive to work in the morning or during her regular evening jog, her thoughts inevitably wandered back to the problem. She thought about taking a day off and following her husband around like some kind of stalker, but given the result of her phone calls, she would most likely end up just sitting outside his office building for eight hours. If he ever left the office to do something out of the routine, there was no way for her to know when it would happen. She would have to find a way to track his movements all day, every day for God knows how long, months perhaps, and it might not even result in anything. On top of that there was the risk of getting caught. The simple truth was that spying on him directly wouldn’t work, she had to find another way.
One evening when Sara and her husband were relaxing in front of the TV the answer came to her. They were watching a police procedural on HBO about some cops investigating organized crime. In one scene a young detective was struggling to find leads and his older colleague gave him the advice to ‘follow the money’. She immediately knew that this was the way forward in her investigation. She felt so excited, she actually had to restrain herself from jumping up from the sofa and starting immediately.