Cracked and Broken

📅 Published on May 27, 2021

“Cracked and Broken”

Written by N.M. Brown
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.20/10. From 5 votes.
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“Hey, you’ve reached Aaron and Katie. We aren’t home right now but leave us a message, and we will get back to you! Thanks!”

“Katie, this is your mother. You didn’t call last night and missed lunch with us today. I am getting very worried. Please call us back, okay?”

I listen to the message and look down at my wife’s bruise-colored face, her eyes glazed over and lips contorted. Her fingers fall limply from their grasp on my arm, finally dangling lifelessly at her side. My hands continue to shake even after I let go of her neck, and she drops to the floor. Rage still burns through my veins while my heart continues to break. You’re probably wondering what happened or why I find myself in the situation that I’m in. You also may already think that I’m a terrible person.

Before you jump to any definite conclusions, let me tell you the whole story of how I got here. Katie and I met in our early 20s, and she says it was love at first sight. She said she noticed me before I noticed her. We hung out after work one night, and that night turned into a relationship that lasted eight years. She entered my bed and never left it. We seldom left each other’s side. We lived together right away, always hung out together, and we even worked together at a few jobs over the years.

We had a wonderful five years or so until we started to try to have children. That’s when her depression started. She would withdraw and go quiet. Her silence was like ice too cold for me to touch. I couldn’t understand why things couldn’t be happy with just us. I know how badly she wanted to be a mother, but we still had each other. We had a connection we dreamt about for most of our young lives that some people never find. We started with just the two of us and were happy. We could still be happy just the two of us.

After about two years, I made an appointment with a fertility clinic. We both needed to be checked to see what the hold-up was. They were able to find that Katie’s fallopian tubes were ravaged with cysts and, sadly, had to be removed. Right along with any hope or chance we had of having a biological child.

Honestly, as terrible as it sounds to say, I’m glad we went. Not because of the result but because they could find a problem that Katie had and fix it. I tried to be there for her, to sympathize and help her cope. The upcoming winter season didn’t seem to be helping either. We tried marriage counseling and individual therapy for her.

I even spoke to a few adoption lawyers to ask about the process to give us options. It’s not what we… she…had planned, but I always supported her and her dreams. If she wanted a baby and I couldn’t give it to her, then this was the next best option for me.

She wouldn’t hear of it, of course. Adoption was like a dirty word to her. She cringed when I first said it. She couldn’t handle the idea of raising someone that she didn’t nurture and grow in her womb. Forget about saving another child’s quality of life. She was too narcissistic for that.

“I’ll only be a disappointment to them, Aaron. If I don’t feel that connection, they will sense it, and that’s not fair to them. You raise a child for the majority of their life, and that’s just fine. However, when they get to a certain age, they want to know their birth parents. And you have no idea how many birth parents pop up ‘wanting to know their kids and wouldn’t you know. It always seems to happen after they turn 18.” She would say.

No matter how I went about it, it always ended in tears, nights on the couch and the silence of a frostbitten atmosphere.

She seemed to have started to come around after about a couple of months. I came home and found her listening to music and swirling around the kitchen tiles in her socks. She had painted her fingernails a metallic baby blue. “In honor of wintertime!” she told me excitedly. To me, her painting her nails was a great thing. If she’s pampering herself, she was happy. She was present. She was my Katie again. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the woman I had married so many years ago.

She even told me she joined a social media group about infertility and loved her support. It gave her strength to hear other people’s struggles and get to share our own with people who truly understood. I was happy for her. I wanted to tell her that I was there for her too, and I also understood.

That if she shared with anyone, it needed to be me, her partner. I was the other person sitting in the chair when the doctor told us. I had visions and dreams crushed too! She didn’t need to hear that right now, though. Now she was happy, so I was happy. She certainly was getting support. Her phone would constantly vibrate with notifications and messages, sometimes at all hours of the night. I figured, well, it was a big group, and it’s not the same time everywhere in the World. She must have set it to notify her every time someone posts something or likes something of hers. She needs support from women right now who understand. Katie took it very seriously. I’d hand her her phone when it was near me and went off.

She would give me looks like a kid gives his peeping neighbor during a test before covering his paper so he can’t copy.

“Hey, babe,” she said, looking at me with dancing eyes, “ya know, some of the women of the group are talking about picking a weekend and doing a spa meet and greet. It’s to help put more people in contact with each other. For women to get pampered and cry on each other, things like that. It’s not like we have to find anyone to watch our kids.” She tried to joke with a pained smile. “Does this sound like something you would like to go to with me?”

Honestly, all of the crying would be so unsettling and awkward for me. Yes, I did love my wife. She’s the only one I have ever loved in my life. However, infertility was already something I had made peace with and accepted months ago. I couldn’t bring the level of understanding to the table needed for this.

“Uh… would you like me to, honey, or do you need to be with your new women friends? I honestly want to go and support you if you need me. However, it would be super awkward if I was one of the only men there. There are men in this group, right?”

When I said this, she tried to stifle a giggle by biting her lower lip. She shook her head no and then burst into giggles, apologizing in between breaths. “Not really, no. There are just a couple, and those are mainly joint accounts. Aaron, you don’t have to go. I will be okay and understand, but I think this will help me. Besides, this will give us a chance to miss each other. I’m sure I will come back refreshed. I won’t think you’re un-supportive or uncaring.”

It turned out that it was two weeks away and in the next state over. It would only take her three and a half hours by car from where we lived. She would have no problem getting there and having her weekend and then driving back when she woke up on Monday.

I planned to surprise her by making a meal and rearranging the living room while she was gone. I wanted to take care of all of the little tasks she nagged me about, but I never got to while I had the time to myself.

The time came for her to leave. I sent her off with a kiss and my favorite T-Shirt. I told her, “You wear this on your saddest cry day. I want to still be the one to wipe your tears even if I can’t be there.” Again she got a pained look on her face, but she shook it off with a smile. “Thank you for understanding. I will miss you and will call you every day,” she told me. I kissed her, and then she left, driving off into her weekend of healing.

After picking up and cleaning the floors, I was almost ready to start rearranging our living room. I had been putting off cleaning the dust off of the ceiling and fans for way too long. Neither of us wanted to do it, but I was the taller one, so the task generally fell on me. She would be so happy. She’d be proud that I did that when she came home; a refreshed Katie coming home to a refreshed house.

She called at around nine pm and let me know that she got there alright and missed me already. She blew phone kisses after a knock at the door. “Hey, that’s my friend. I’ll call you in the morning, okay? I love you,” she said before getting off the phone. I hoped this would help her and help us be what we once were.

Around the middle of the next day (Saturday), she informed me that her phone was dying. I looked to the counter and saw both of our wall chargers lying there. So I called her and told her just to use the car charger but not to leave it in while the car was turned off because

A, someone could steal her phone


B, it could kill her battery.

She promised me that she would be fine. That she couldn’t talk long but she loved me and missed me like crazy. For the rest of the day, when I called it would go to voicemail. I was just thankful she could tell me what had happened, so I wasn’t worried when I suddenly couldn’t reach her.  I mean, she hadn’t ever met these people before. They could have been anyone. Who knows the conclusions my mind would have jumped to. I should have made sure that she packed the charger, I thought at the time.

I sent her a ‘Have fun! Our bed is cold without you’ text from work. I wanted my message of love to be the first thing she saw when her phone had more battery life. I couldn’t wait to smell her hair again. Before long, it was Monday, the day she was to come home! We chattered excitedly on the phone for a minute while she packed. I rushed off the phone to get last-minute things ready for her arrival. Our home missed her as much as I did, I thought. It was so much darker without her here, the emptiness swallowing me. I would be glad to have her here in my arms. I bought some ‘reunited, and it feels so good’ alcohol for us to enjoy and then went home and waited.

She walked through the door. I gave her a hug that lifted her off of the ground. She did look different, I couldn’t place it, but it was different. She almost held the glow of being centered, finally able to find some peace with herself. I was glad for that. We had both needed that for her. Seeing her so rejuvenated made me feel the same, and we relished our time together. We were so wrapped up that she completely forgot to say anything about the house. That’s okay, though; she’s here now, and that’s all I ever wanted.

The holidays came and went with Katie seeming like a bulb growing brighter every day. I was thankful she was able to turn it into positivity. For some childless couples, the holiday season can be a big slap in the face. Her group even did a Secret Santa, one of the members sending Katie a very name brand, very expensive, very… out of our budget gift. I was happy for her. She deserved nice things. She really lucked out on her Secret Santa.

One day I had gotten a call when Katie was in the shower. Her mom said that her father had some chest pains, so she took him to the hospital. I relayed the message to her, and she rushed out. I handed her some clothes, her purse and the keys. I lovingly told her to keep me updated on her way out. I hoped that my father-in-law was going to be okay. I would have gone with her, but I had to work in a little over an hour.

I heard a buzzing and looked around our room to see where it was coming from. It sounded like a phone. I opened my phone to see that it wasn’t mine. I got on the floor and peered under the bed, and there was Katie’s phone. I figured it probably fell out of her purse when I picked it up to hand it to her earlier. I couldn’t help myself. I unlocked her screen. What I saw made the color drain from my body and curdled my stomach instantly.

-Katie: I had so much fun this weekend. I can’t believe how amazing everything was. I didn’t even want to sleep! It’s crazy how well things went. Now we know.

-Allen: Oh my god, hard same. I felt so comfortable with you. Three and a half days. It’s like we have been together for years.

-Katie: I think this ‘group’ will have monthly meetings if I can manage. We have been talking for so long. Then we met, and it was like an instant connection. I can’t wait to see you again. I knew I loved you, and then it was confirmed for me 100% when I saw you. I can’t wait to meet your son.

-Allen: Me too. It’s all I can think about. I know that my kid will love you just as much as I do. You are perfection, the total package, a trophy to be shown and proud of. To say you’re hot would be an insult. You are beautiful in every way. Now that we know it’s real, you have to work on your end of the… situation. I won’t be played for a chump. If you do love me and want to keep me, you need to do some decision-making. This isn’t a game, and it’s not a fairy tale. If your husband makes you happy, I’m out, but if you want me, do the work. Text me when it’s okay to text back. I love you, gorgeous.

I read the messages over and over again until the words blurred through my tears. My mind raced to try to think of something, anything to make this look different from what it was. My wife knew when she asked me to come with her that I would say no.

That’s why she made it so easy for me. We had never taken separate getaways before. All of our vacations were always spent together. She had changed. She was happy, and now I knew that it was because of him.

She had healed alright, healed herself right into someone else’s family. She reacts like I say the word abortion instead of adoption, and now she can’t wait to meet HIS son?!? It was all too much. She had thought that I wouldn’t understand her healing process, and she was fucking right. There was nothing to make me understand this. When was she going to tell me? WAS she going to tell me? Would I just have come home one day to a note saying adios Aaron, it’s been fun?

I raced to the trash can and threw up, my love turning to bile in my throat and spewing out. All of her words – all of the love, plans and promises – turned to poison in my heart. Every memory proved to be a lie, every struggle ultimately un-felt by her. Did she even want children with me? Did she ever love me? What was the point of all of this? Every single question branched off into five more questions, attacking my mind like a murder of crows.

I lit a cigarette on the way to my car., drove to the corner store and bought a lot of beer. I never drank but if there was ever a time for it, now was that time. I chugged one in the parking lot and opened another for the ride home. My father always said that the road to a man’s self-destruction always began with a woman. It looked like he was right, I thought as I threw a crushed can out of the window. I lit another cigarette as I pulled into the driveway and saw her car there. Without thought or care, I drank two more before going inside, lit cigarette and all.

She was sitting there on our bed with her phone lying in front of her with the screen lit up. Her eyes widened when she saw me smoking in the house. She opened her mouth to say something about it but then quickly closed it, realizing the shots weren’t hers to call here. She wasn’t upset or crying. She just looked… numb. I’ve never wanted to hit a woman in my life, but my hand throbbed with the desire to. I rubbed my hand on my jeans to try to disperse the energy.

I loom over her and shout, “You can tell Allen that it’s safe for him to message you now. He can message you any time he wants, and it’s not my problem anymore. You’ve never been who I thought you were. The past eight years were all a lie!” I said as my words turned to shuddering sobs. I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of seeing my heart break, but I couldn’t help it. Through all of my anger and hate, I still saw her sitting on the bed. She looked so small and lost. All I wanted to do was hold her. That wouldn’t happen, though, not ever again if I could help it.

She finally cried and apologized. She promised that she would end it and block him, and get rid of social media entirely to work on us. She said she wanted to be a better wife and got lost. She said she got mixed up, and the situation became too big for her to get out of. She needed help. She had the gall to tell me that she was glad she got caught, and now I could help her get out of it.

She said she never stopped loving me and never loved him. “I felt neglected by you, Aaron! I felt like I lost you and myself when we couldn’t have kids! I thought I had found myself and figured out life, but I was wrong. I went to leave you, and I couldn’t do it. Aaron, I will do anything to fix this. We can come out of this stronger and with a better understanding of each other.” She said.

We spent an entire week apart, me taking a trip of my own out of state to clear my head. She went to my parents and cried to them about what she had done. She apologized for hurting their son and asked for forgiveness, figuring it would eventually lead to mine. Though manipulative and inconsiderate to my parents’ mental health, it worked. She picked me up from the airport, and again I hugged her so hard I lifted her off the ground.

We went home and reconnected. We talked for hours into the night and then again when we woke up the next day. We had worked a lot out and decided what we needed from each other to get past this and not let it ruin us. The only thing I asked of her was to block his number from her phone and to never, under any circumstances positive or negative, have contact with him again. This was MY time to heal, and that was the only way I would be able to do it. I wouldn’t forgive her twice.

Though I didn’t tell her at the time, she did ruin us. I saw Allen’s picture next to his messages, so I knew his face. Every time I would kiss her or touch her, I would see his face, like a ghost. Allen making her laugh, him kissing her forehead, him making her sweat. I hated it. I wanted to hate her, but I couldn’t. Despite everything, she was still the woman I loved and always would be, even if I did leave her. We would get through this. A part of me died when I found out what she did. Maybe that part will grow back stronger… better.

A few more months went by; Valentine’s Day came and went with no issue. I was nervous about it, but Katie tried her best to make sure it was a good day for me, for us. I started to see the ghost of Allen less and less. Katie was turning into the woman I married again. It was terrible that she needed this to get back to that, but I could work it out as long as I had her. She would never leave me again, she promised.

She had deleted social media as promised, and Allen’s number remained blocked. My heart started to heal slowly. I was well on my way in love with her again, not like nothing happened but like we didn’t let it break us. I stopped checking up on her as much. She felt terrible about it and seemed to punish herself more any day than I ever could. So we let it fade into the past. She’d never leave me again, she promised.

“Hey, Aaron can you please look at my phone? I think I have some sort of virus.” She asked, her grey eyes heavy with concern. I laughed at her and joked, “You know how you get that don’t you? Too much freaky-peeky. What kind of sick shit have you been looking up?”

She slapped at my arm, giggling on her way to our kitchen. “Nooo. Come on, I can’t get any of my pictures to load, and I wanted to send some to my mom. You’re off today, please?” I told her I would help her and to give me an hour with her phone. I would back up her pictures and factory reset if the problem was too bad.

I transferred her pictures over to our computer just in case. Then I unplugged her phone and looked through her messages to make sure she didn’t lose any critical numbers or pictures if I reset it. I went to the text settings to see any locked or starred messages with pictures of us. I saw an option on the phone that said blocked messages. With very wary but overwhelming curiosity, I opened the folder.

There were so many, all from Allen.

– I’m sorry about how I act sometimes. You know I love you. I just think that when two people want to be together that they should do anything they can to do so. It’s hard for me to imagine the situation you are in at home, and I just get frustrated. Tell me you are thinking of me. I love you, toots.

– I am so lucky to have you. I thought of you last night before going to bed, but that’s nothing new. You know how passionate you make me.

– Just want you to know that no matter how mad I get at you, I could never stop loving you, and I’ll never turn my back on you.

– You look beautiful today.

– I love talking to you. It’s been the best part of my day for months.

-Good morning! You are rockin’ it today, babe.

They went on and on like that, and my mind snapped. The frail bandages holding my fragile heart and mentality all fell away. I looked over to her across the room. My breath was coming out in faster and bigger huffs, and my face was burning red.

She looked at me confusedly, “Wha?” Before she finished her word, I was out of my chair and in front of her. “The time for words has ended now. I only asked you for one thing… just one fucking thing.” I stood up to leave as she launched off of the couch, throwing herself on me.

“Aaron, please. I don’t understand. We have come so far, and I’ve worked so hard. Why would I do that just to talk to him again? I haven’t been talking to him! Don’t go anywhere. I know I messed up last year, but I wouldn’t do that again.”

Her sobs grew louder.

No way, there is no way that she gets to be the one to cry here. She doesn’t get to feel anything but shame right now. I’m the one who should have been crying, but of course, everything was always about her. I couldn’t even have feelings without her trying to steal them so she could end up being the victim. I had to stop it, get her to be quiet. I slammed my hand over her mouth, but she still sobbed, soaking my hand in snot and tears. Her wails grew louder and louder, repeating the same words over and over. It was as if she thought the more she said them, the more I would have believed her. The only things that I do believe are that I can’t bounce back from this twice, that I can’t live with her, and that I can’t live without her, as the saying goes.

My hand dropped from her mouth to her throat, the other coming up to meet it. Now it was my turn to feel. I cried and sobbed, and I squeezed my hands tighter… and tighter. Her eyes bulged with betrayal and fear as the edges of her face began to purple. Fragmented wedding vows grunted out through my teeth as I heaved with tears. I wanted my face to be the last thing she saw as the life that she decided to throw away faded out of her eyes.

Her wails turned to whimpers until, finally, barely any sound could escape at all. Till death do us part, my darling, and I promise I won’t be far behind.

So this is how we got here, my mother-in-law’s voice on the home answering machine. Her daughter turning colder by the minute on the floor. My hands are shaking, and my sides are sore from the sobs. The light of my life is gone. Why did she have to do this to us again? She always said she was born to be my wife and that she would die for me. Well, here we are. She ended up being true to her word in one sense, at least through all of this.

I recheck the block list and see a new message from 18 minutes ago. I love the way you smell. It read—enough of this shit. I hit the call button on the message. It rings and rings until finally, a woman picks up. Before I have any room to say anything, she starts yelling at me.

“You have to be some kind of stupid to continue to call after all that you’ve done, Katie.” The woman said my wife’s name as if it was disgusting on her tongue. She continues, “As far as his son and I are concerned, you might as well have been driving the car that killed him. Do you know he had messages set up pre-scheduled to send to you for two months? It’s nice to know you have messages from him after he’s dead, but what about his son?! You heartless slut!” She’s going on and on, hysterical with fury.

I tune her out and hang up the phone without a word. I think…really think about what she’d said. She said the words ‘killed’ and ‘pre-scheduled messages.’ Katie was telling the truth. She hadn’t contacted him. This also explained why he still went on as if they were together. It was over. She really was mine again. Oh my god, I’ve killed her!

I run to the bathroom, rifle through the medicine cabinet and grab a bottle. The neighbors heard the noise and called the police already. I don’t know if I will have the courage to take the contents of this bottle before they break the door down.

For now, I’m going to snuggle up to my beautiful bride. I will hold her for as long as I can and not let go. I hold her and smell her hair as I wait for the knock to come at the door. They can try, but I’ll never let her go. She will never leave me again… she promised.

Till death do us part, sweetheart.

Rating: 8.20/10. From 5 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by N.M. Brown
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: N.M. Brown

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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