Helen and her husband were returning from the city where his parents lived. The husband liked to visit them, but since they lived far away, the couple did not go there very often. Benjamin went out to pay for gasoline at a gas station, and Helen sat in the car and looked out the window, watching the raindrops slowly sliding down the glass.
The woman was very sad at the thought that she and her husband had been living together for 25 years, but recently their relationship had become much worse. Helen did not understand what caused it because before they loved each other and together found a way out of any situation, and then suddenly something broke between them.
The woman remembered the person Benjamin had been before: a jolly, kind, reliable, and always ready to help. Now she saw a sullen, serious, and almost alien person in front of her. Perhaps the reason was a change of her husband’s job. When Benjamin was promoted to a senior position, his work took up a lot of time, and the family gradually faded into the background. Helen never resented her husband because he dreamed of a promotion so that his family did not need anything, but in her heart, she was anxious.
Paradoxically, money did not bring the happiness she and her husband had when he was a junior manager. The only thing that made Helen happy was that she and Benjamin had raised two beautiful daughters, Angela and Molly. Angela was already a student and lived in another state, while Molly went abroad for an internship a few years ago, married a man, and was expecting her first child. Except for her husband’s cool attitude, a better life couldn’t have been wished for.
Benjamin returned to the car and interrupted her memories, irritated. He slammed the door, and they drove away in the direction of the house. Helen again stared out the window and sunk into her thoughts. She had been a housewife all her married life, taking care of the house and her husband and raising her daughters.
Benjamin believed that his wife should not work and therefore always fully provided for her. But lately, when their relationship soured, the woman had almost no money of her own. They went shopping together, and it was always her husband who paid for it. Helen could not remember the last time she bought something for herself. Her best friend, Nora, repeatedly advised her to find at least a part-time job, but her husband was adamantly against it.
Benjamin felt that he would be without the comfort of home because if she went to work, the house would not be so clean, and in the evening, a delicious dinner would not be waiting for him. She often offered him the option of finding a small part-time job so she could do everything, but the result was the same. The husband usually became angry and forbade her to talk about it.
Under the influence of her memories and pangs of longing, the woman decided to talk about it again. “Benjamin, let’s talk. I know you don’t like the idea, but I have to go to work,” calmly said Helen. “Are you starting it again? What’s wrong with you at home? If you need money, tell me how much, and I’ll give it to you right away,” got angry Benjamin.
“I do not want to constantly ask and remind that I also need to dress, buy makeup, or be able to go with friends to a cafe. I want to earn my own,” firmly said Helen. “But I do not want everyone to say that the wife of such a successful man like me is working a low-paying job. Who cares about that now? These aren’t the times,” Helen tried to object, but Benjamin drove silently, making it clear that the conversation was over. They drove the rest of the way in silence.
When they arrived home, the scandal erupted with renewed vigor. “Look, your best friend’s wife works as a salesman,” Helen gave an example. “Are you crazy? You don’t appreciate anything! Think about it. There are many women who want your place. Everyone just wants to sit at home and do nothing!” “Are you saying I do nothing? I’ve been running around this house like a horse all morning, picking up your socks, doing laundry, cooking, dusting.
I have too much to do around the house, and I’m tired of being just a housewife. I miss socializing with people. I’m glad to go to the store because there I can talk to somebody. I told you everything. If you go to work, I’ll divorce you immediately! Stop bringing up this topic! I’m fed up already!” honestly Benjamin looked at his wife menacingly one more time and then left the dining room.
Left alone, Helen was thinking tiredly again. She already doubted whether her husband really loved her, whether there was anything left of his former feelings. Their wedding anniversary was approaching, and Helen wanted to celebrate the occasion in a restaurant, but Benjamin decided otherwise.
By his opinion, it would be better and easier to invite family and friends to their house, and he did not even think about the fact that Helen would have to cook for such a big company for the whole day. All he wanted to do was brag about his house and what a hostess Helen was. The woman felt tired of being alone and lacked companionship. Her best friend, Nora, moved to another city, and they rarely saw each other. Her husband was no longer interested in her, and her children had left their home, and the only hope she had was to get a job soon.
It was the anniversary day. Their daughters came to celebrate. The eldest was with her husband, and the youngest with her boyfriend. Helen was happy that at least for a few days, she could forget about her loneliness.
The woman chatted cheerfully with her daughters in the kitchen as they prepared the celebratory dinner and listened with interest to how busy their lives had been. But the daughters could not help but notice that the mother was troubled. They had long suspected that their parents’ relationship had soured, but when they arrived for their anniversary, they realized that their fears were real.
“What’s going on with you and Dad?” Angela asked excitedly. “What are you talking about, honey? We’re fine,” Helen said quietly, trying to remain calm. “Are you sure? I think there’s something you’re not telling me. If you won’t tell me, I’ll talk to Daddy,” Helen protested, but it was difficult to change Angela’s mind.
She was determined to talk to her father about the situation because she believed that her mother did not deserve such treatment. Benjamin, on the other hand, was reverent toward his daughters and diligently portrayed himself as a caring husband. He constantly hugged his wife, showered compliments, and even gave her a huge bouquet of flowers.
Helen was happy. She thought that her husband was influenced by the conversation with his daughter, and that now everything would be fine. But when the daughters left, Helen’s happiness melted away without a trace. The woman realized that it was just a play, and that they would never be like before.
Benjamin returned to his usual frame of mind, and the expression on his face did not bode well for her. “Why are you telling our girls about our relationship? Are you trying to turn them against me?” said the man angrily. “I didn’t tell them anything. Angela guessed it herself that you and I have difficulties,” said Helen confusedly. “Never dare to say anything bad to them about me. You’re always making me uncomfortable,” Helen was upset, and Benjamin rose abruptly from the sofa and, slamming the door, left the house.
He returned toward nightfall. The couple did not speak and, in silence, went to their rooms. Helen could not sleep and kept thinking about what to do and how they would live together. They would never be able to become a couple again, but divorce really frightened her because then she would be all alone, and the woman had no idea what she would do then because she still had feelings for Benjamin.
She decided to try a last attempt to restore, at least, some kind of peace between them, but no matter how much he cared about Benjamin, he only responded with aggression. He gradually distanced himself completely and even stopped coming home. Helen slipped further and further into the abyss of loneliness.
One day, while shopping, she overheard a conversation between two cashiers that changed her life dramatically. One of the women was telling her that her acquaintance had opened a new hotel downtown and now she was looking for maids. Helen suddenly realized that this was her chance to try to change something in her life.
She timidly apologized for inadvertently overhearing the conversation, said she was just looking for work, and asked for the number of the hotel manager. After receiving the required number, Helen thanked the woman and went out into the street. Her heart was beating frantically, and she could not believe that she was going to go against the will of her husband to avoid unnecessary scandals.
Helen decided not to say anything to him, though even the thought of deceit disgusted her, but there was no other way out. In order not to change her mind, the woman immediately called from the car and arranged a meeting at the hotel tomorrow to discuss all questions of her employment.
The hotel hostess said goodbye, and Helen stood for some time happily smiling. She was overwhelmed with emotion. At last, something would change in her life. In the morning, she was afraid that her plans might be ruined, but her boss, Veronica, turned out to be a wonderful woman, and Helen’s fears vanished from the heart. Veronica told the woman all the details of the work, the rate of pay, and the rules of conduct with the guests. Helen nodded happily and immediately went to work.
At first, it was unusual and difficult, but then the woman managed as she had planned. She could do all the work and take care of the house, and it was easy to keep the secret because her husband paid little attention to her and could not notice changes in her behavior and mood. Meanwhile, Helen’s mood improved considerably. The woman enjoyed her life to the fullest. She liked her work; her salary was paid weekly, and her co-workers were wonderful. Several wonderful months passed that way. The woman was so happy that even her husband’s rude attitude did not upset her anymore.
On one of her weekends when her husband left on another business trip, Helen decided to devote a day to herself and go shopping, then cook something delicious. But when she returned from shopping, her boss asked her to relieve her colleague who had fallen ill. Helen saw no problem and agreed.
After a while, Helen received a complaint from one of the rooms she handled. Guests complained about dust in the room and the lack of drinks in the minibar. The woman rushed to fix the problems. When she entered the room, she did not see anyone and only heard the noise of pouring water. She began to dust and make the bed, and when she had finished, she saw a young woman in her 20s with wet hair. Her body was wrapped in a bath towel.
The woman was indignant and showed her displeasure, demanding to be treated as a regular customer. She listened in silence, smiling politely. The young woman wanted to say something else, but then a voice came out of the bathroom, and Helen would have recognized it from a thousand others.
“Honey, don’t be so rude to the staff. I think they all understood.” Helen was astonished. “What are you doing here?” dazed Benjamin spoke and froze on the spot. “Hello, my darling. How was your business trip?” Helen sarcastically remarked. She was unbearably painful, but she tried not to cry so as not to show weakness in front of this man unworthy of her tears.
Benjamin was clearly shocked. He, in no way, expected to see Helen here, and the only thing he could say in justification was that the young woman was his colleague. “Do you take showers with all your colleagues?” asked Helen, looking at her husband’s wet hair and bathrobe. Benjamin tried to grab her arm, but Helen ripped her arm out, threw a dagger at her spouse, and left the room.
The young mistress watched with a grimace of displeasure at her lover’s unsuccessful attempts to hold on to his wife, then she quickly dressed and tossed him goodbye, telling him what she thought of him, and left the room cursing after her.
Benjamin did not try to catch up with her. Now he cared only about Helen. Her behavior surprised and greatly enraged him. Helen went to the boss’s office and, after explaining the whole situation, asked to let her go home.
Veronica was a very tactful and understanding woman, so she let Helen go and gave her a few days off. And at home, there was a huge scandal waiting for Helen. Benjamin knew very well that the best defense is an attack, and so he played the extreme dissatisfaction that his wife deceived him so cleverly and went against his will.
Helen, on the other hand, and a crystal calm, rage reproached her husband for adultery and even with a woman younger than their daughter. “Benjamin, we’re getting a divorce,” the woman said firmly, finally. “Who needs you? Don’t make me laugh. You’ll stay alone and beg me to come back,” Benjamin yelled angrily.
“I’ll be fine, you’ll see,” Benjamin tried to appeal to Helen’s mind and even promised to improve their relationship. Not yet believing that his wife was capable of leaving him, he had almost begged Helen and assured her that he did not need anyone but her. But the woman was adamant. Soon, the couple divorced. They exchanged the house they had built together and the hope that it would become a cozy family home for them, and Helen got her own separate apartment.
Sometimes Benjamin made attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife, but Helen hated even seeing him, much less talking to him. He finally realized that he would never meet a better woman, but it was already too late. Sometimes Helen shared her worries over the phone with her friend Nora, the one who had moved to another city several years before.
Nora was always trying to support her, and one day she had a wonderful idea. In her city, she unexpectedly met their classmate Paul, who had also recently divorced, and she decided that he and Helen should meet again. They had been friends once when they were young, but then their paths parted. Nora invited a friend to come and visit her, and Helen, who was just on vacation, agreed.
Nora did not let the woman get bored, and one day arranged for a meeting between Helen and Paul. Helen did not immediately recognize this handsome, positive person as a friend of her youth. They quickly found a common language, and Helen couldn’t help noticing to herself that Paul’s age suited him extremely well and that he hadn’t changed at all in his soul. Soon, Helen and Paul realized that they were strongly attracted to each other.
Back in his youth, he had been in love with her and even wanted to open his feelings to her, but when he heard that she was getting married, he decided to disappear from her life. And now, a quarter of a century later, he had a new chance to conquer this beautiful woman.
Helen hesitated at first to reciprocate Paul’s feelings, but after a brief visit, she left, but she kept thinking about him. She was both sad that she had not stayed with Paul and, at the same time, ashamed that she had moved so quickly away from the separation with her husband, fearing the condemnation of her daughters and friends. But daughters were on her side and advised not to think about what people say and just try to be happy.
Meanwhile, Paul was not going to give up. He came to Helen to convince her to give him a chance. The woman could not refuse him, and she had never regretted it. She felt like a beloved woman again, and she responded to Paul in the same way. Soon, they got married, inviting only the closest people to the wedding. Helen was happy to have found a man with whom she was ready to go through life together.