Jennifer placed the weighty grocery bags on the floor and peered into the living room, spotting Cody engrossed in his usual computer game. “Are you playing again?” she asked in a disapproving tone, noticing the abundance of tanks displayed on the screen. Cody shrugged off her comment, causing Jennifer to let out a deep sigh before heading to the kitchen to organise her shopping. After a long day at work, Jennifer had a pounding headache and yearned for nothing more than to rest for a brief period.
Suddenly smiling, Cody appeared at the door and asked, ‘Honey, are you going to feed your loved husband?’ Realizing that her dreams of rest failed to come true, Jennifer tiredly said that she would cook immediately and he just needed to wait a little while. A disgruntled Cody grabbed a sausage from the table, greedily took a bite, and with a stuffed mouth muttered, ‘By the way, Mom is expecting us on Saturday for the anniversary. Don’t forget to buy a present.’
Jennifer felt uneasy at the idea of visiting her mother-in-law’s house. Their relationship had been strained from the start, with the mother-in-law showing a disapproval of Jennifer as a spouse for her son. This resulted in constant criticism and negative feedback towards Jennifer. Despite her efforts to win her mother-in-law’s approval, Jennifer eventually gave up and limited their interactions to only family gatherings.
After putting food on the table, Jennifer went out into the yard to feed the dog, the cat, and some of the chickens. When she returned to the kitchen, she found that her husband had already finished the last meatball. With a satisfied smile, he praised his wife, ‘Jennifer, you’re a first-class hostess. I love you very much for this.’ Jennifer smiled back and made herself a sandwich and tea. Then she sat opposite her husband and asked, ‘Cody, I want a baby. It’s been five years since we got married, and you still haven’t made up your mind. Are you crazy?’
Cody got angry right away, ‘We can barely afford to live ourselves. Besides, I haven’t found a job I want. To live normally, not survive with a baby.’ Having said this, Cody left the kitchen, slamming the door loudly as a sign of the end of the conversation.
The topic about children came up regularly in the house, and they always fought because Cody was always against it and found a lot of reasons why they should not have children yet. Jennifer cried and went to her bedroom. She wanted to sleep a little, but as in the morning, she had to get up early again and go to work. But sad thoughts did not let her sleep a wink.
Cody stayed up all night too, playing computer games, while Jennifer pondered her own fate. She loved Cody very much, to the point of fanaticism, and the thought that he might leave sometimes drove her to despair. At the same time, she knew that he was aware of her feelings and took advantage of them in every way. Lately, he had sat on her neck. Jennifer could not do anything about it and only kept hoping that he would finally get a job, they would have a baby, and life would be better. But so far, it was just a dream, very far from reality.
In the morning, Jennifer found Cody sleeping peacefully in an armchair in the living room. She carefully covered him with a blanket and began to get ready for work. All Friday evening, Jennifer spent in search of a gift for her mother-in-law, even though she realized that it would hardly be able to please her. When she and Cody crossed the threshold of her house on Saturday, Jennifer immediately felt that she was not welcome here. She would have loved not to come, but her husband had insisted. As a result, Jennifer spent the whole evening with Cody’s little niece, and the mother-in-law and her husband didn’t even call her to the table or mention her once.
At one moment, Jennifer wanted a drink of water and went into the kitchen. But as she came closer, she froze because she heard that the guests were discussing her. ‘And what have you found in her? I always said she wasn’t right for you. Don’t even think about having children with her,’ said Jennifer’s mother-in-law. ‘Mom, that’s out of the question. Yes, she has already begun to annoy me too, but who needs me now, unemployed? Meanwhile, she is ready to do everything for me. I’ll find a job and then immediately look for a replacement for her,’ replied Cody.
Jennifer could not believe what she had heard. The way her mother-in-law thought of her was not a surprise, but her husband’s words wounded her to the core. The first thing that came into Jennifer’s mind was to burst into the kitchen and find out why they were treating her this way since she hadn’t done anything wrong to them. But realizing that she had no strength for that now, Jennifer quickly got dressed and slipped out of the house unnoticed. The resentment burned Jennifer from the inside, and she could hardly hold back her tears. She aimlessly walked forward at a brisk pace and did not immediately notice the man walking toward her.
Quickly, in a matter of seconds, Jennifer literally ran into him and fell from the impact. The man rushed to her to apologize and to help her up. When she looked at him, she immediately recognized him. It was Oscar, Cody’s friend. ‘Jennifer, what a meeting! Where are you running so fast? You almost ran me over,’ he sat and laughed. ‘It’s hard to do, you’re so gigantic,’ replied Jennifer and laughed too. ‘Are you hurrying? Why don’t we sit somewhere, have coffee, talk?’
Jennifer, thinking that now she had nowhere to rush, agreed. Oscar got her in his car, and they drove to a cafe. After ordering, they settled down by the window. ‘How are you doing, Jennifer? How’s Cody?’ Oscar gently began the questioning, like everyone else, about the usual family life. ‘And how are you? Married? Kids? I haven’t seen you since the wedding.’ ‘No, I still can’t find someone like you,’ said the man quietly and put his hand on Jennifer’s arm.
Jennifer was embarrassed; she didn’t know how to react to Oscar’s attention. She had assumed that his feelings had passed long ago, but apparently, that was not true. Once upon a time, Oscar and Cody were the best friends, and they had both courted her. But then Jennifer had chosen Cody, and Oscar had disappeared. Immediately after the wedding, not wanting to ruin the friendship, Jennifer tried to move the conversation to another topic and asked Oscar how he had been living all this time. The man told her that, in an effort to forget her, he went to another city, opened his own business, and came back here only because his mother had fallen ill.
‘And why are you out so late and alone? Where’s Cody?’ asked Oscar. ‘He’s at work, and I went out to get some fresh air,’ Jennifer was ashamed to talk about her relationship with Cody and her mother-in-law. ‘
And why did you leave without saying goodbye to my mom and the guests?’ he asked. Jennifer became angry, ‘Are you kidding? Why do I have to say goodbye to people who don’t think I’m a person? I heard everything, and good for you, you’ve settled in well. And really, why would you have a child with someone who annoys you?’
Shouted Jennifer and began weeping. Cody began to make excuses, explaining his words by his unwillingness to spoil relations with his mother. He even tried to hug Jennifer, but she pulled away and went to sleep in another room. All the next day, Jennifer did the housework, and in the evening, she went to work on the night shift. But not even a couple of hours later, one of the workers came running in and said that there was a fire in her house.
The woman ran home in terror; the flames were visible from afar. People began to gather around, and everyone was waiting for the firefighters to arrive. Jennifer looked at the crowd and, not seeing Cody, without hesitation, rushed into the house to rescue him. She rushed through the rooms, covered in black acrid smoke, and suddenly, out of the corner of her eyes, she saw a burning beam falling on her.
That was the last thing she remembered. Jennifer woke up in a hospital. When she opened her eyes, she felt that her whole body ached, and that her face was bandaged. She could barely remember what had happened, and suddenly felt a touch on her arm. She turned her head and saw Cody. Her heart immediately lifted, and she smiled. ‘Thank God you’re alive,’ she said, barely moving her lips.
‘Why shouldn’t I be alive? You better tell me why did you rush into a burning house? Are you crazy?’ wondered Cody and, without getting an answer, continued, ‘Can you imagine? The doctor said that you have a terrible scar all over your face. How am I going to kiss you now?’ Hastily saying goodbye, he left the ward without even looking back. Tears rolled down Jennifer’s face.
A few days passed, and Jennifer began to slowly stand up. Cody visited her a couple of times; he usually disappeared quickly with a disgusted look. From the window, Jennifer saw as he left the hospital, hugging another woman. But for some reason, Jennifer was not even surprised. She felt emptiness inside; the idea that she had risked her life for this traitor.
One day, Jennifer asked the doctor if her scar would be visible and if anything could be done about it. The doctor frowned and said, ‘Plastic surgery works miracles nowadays, and besides, the scar isn’t very deep. But don’t you want to visit the man who carried you out of the fire, risking his life?’ Jennifer did not understand what the doctor was talking about and followed him to the Intensive Care Unit.
She was shocked seeing Oscar hooked up to all sorts of devices. Jennifer began to visit him every day; she just sat next to him and held his hand, telling him about everything. A week later, he regained consciousness and told her what had happened that night. As it turned out, he wanted to see her, but he didn’t dare, and in the evening, he suddenly wanted to drive by her house. When he saw the fire, he talked to eyewitnesses and, learning that the landlady was inside the burning house, he rushed after her into the flames.
Finding her unconscious, the man carried Jennifer out of the fire, but he himself was badly poisoned by the products of combustion. Several years had passed. Jennifer was sitting in the park, and her little daughter was peacefully sleeping in a stroller nearby. Suddenly, she heard someone calling her. She looked up and saw her ex-husband Cody. He looked bad. ‘Oh, what a meeting! How are you, Jennifer?’ he asked.
‘Fine here. I’m walking with my daughter,’ replied Jennifer with a smile, noticing Oscar returning to them with two ice creams. ‘And where’s your scar?’ the ex-husband asked dumbfoundedly. ‘Love can do more miracles than that,’ replied Jennifer. At that moment, Oscar came over and gave Jennifer a gentle hug, and then they left. Cody remained standing there, staring longingly after them.”
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