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A smiling older man with an open car truck | Source: Shutterstock
A smiling older man with an open car truck | Source: Shutterstock

FIL Gave Me a Pack of Gum – When I Saw What He Scribbled Inside, I Gasped

Prenesa Naidoo
May 13, 2024
08:50 A.M.

Since Marissa married Nick, she had found a home in his family — creating a special bond with Eric, her father-in-law. When Eric slips her a cryptic note pushed into a pack of gum, Marissa is left gasping. As she follows Eric's instructions, she discovers all about her husband's affair.

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My father-in-law, Eric, is a man of few words and stern expressions in general. But he has always welcomed me into the family. Even when my husband, Nick, and I began dating fresh out of high school, I was always pleasantly surprised to get all the extra affection from Eric.

A young couple using  a laptop | Source: Pexels

A young couple using a laptop | Source: Pexels

"You're part of this family now, Marissa," he would say whenever they invited me on family outings.

Once, at a picnic, Eric had gotten moody and refused to interact with anyone else. The family did test his patience with their constant whining — even Nick.

A picnic setup | Source: Pexels

A picnic setup | Source: Pexels

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My husband was wonderful, but if something wasn't up to his standards, he would loudly complain about it.

At that picnic, Nick and his cousin Nancy complained about the sun making their freckles stand out.

A close-up of a woman's freckles | Source: Pexels

A close-up of a woman's freckles | Source: Pexels

"What did they expect, Marissa?" Eric asked me as he shuffled a deck of cards for us to play with.

The rest of the afternoon went just like that — Nick and Nancy sitting on their phones, scrolling through social media and chasing away bees. Miranda, their mom, read the latest fashion magazine, and Eric and I entertained ourselves.

A person shuffling cards | Source: Pexels

A person shuffling cards | Source: Pexels

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But that was our relationship, and I trusted him.

So, when he gave me the cryptic note wrapped in a pack of gum, I knew that he was being serious.

A pack of chewing gum | Source: Unsplash

A pack of chewing gum | Source: Unsplash

My father-in-law was a mechanic by trade. His hands were constantly stained with grease and oils, but he had a gentleness that often went unnoticed.

That Sunday evening, just before the incident occurred, everything was fine. Nick and I had spent the day with his parents, and we ended it with a long, laughter-filled family dinner at their house, the kind that left you warm and content as you prepared to head home.

A family having dinner together | Source: Pexels

A family having dinner together | Source: Pexels

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Since I married Nick, I didn't get to see my family as much because we lived a few hours away. So whenever I craved family time, Nick knew that we needed to be around his.

"Are you sure you're okay with spending the day here?" Nick asked me as I took over his mother's kitchen ready to bake our dessert — a pecan pie.

A close-up of a pecan pie | Source: Pexels

A close-up of a pecan pie | Source: Pexels

"Yes," I replied. "It's what I need today."

My husband left me to my own devices, while his mother began to stuff a chicken across from me.

While I worked, I could hear Nick talk to my father-in-law about taking his car in for an oil check the next morning.

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A roast chicken | Source: Unsplash

A roast chicken | Source: Unsplash

"Sure!" Eric boomed over the TV where live football commentary blasted through the speakers. "Drop off your car in the morning, and I'll slot it into my day."

As the day progressed and we ended up watching a movie together before dinner, I didn't think anything of Nick's request to his father. Eric was always checking out our cars, and he did our routine maintenance, too.

A person holding a remote control | Source: Pexels

A person holding a remote control | Source: Pexels

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But what I didn't know was the hidden drama that was going to be revealed the next day.

The following morning, I was up and making our breakfast while packing lunches. Nick was always in charge of our dinner at the end of the day, leaving the morning rush to me.

A woman with her hands in a plastic bag | Source: Pexels

A woman with her hands in a plastic bag | Source: Pexels

"I'll drop my car off at Dad's garage and get a lift to work, Marissa," he said, buttering his toast. "But I need you to fetch me after work so that we can pick up my car before coming home. Dad said that he'll have it ready by then."

Buttered toast, coffee and cereal | Source: Pexels

Buttered toast, coffee and cereal | Source: Pexels

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I agreed and told Nick that I would be waiting outside his office at the end of the day. Then, like our daily routine, I did the dishes and was on my way to work.

The day passed slowly and I didn't think anything of what was to come. In fact, I was looking forward to seeing Eric — through the years, he had carved a special spot for himself in my heart.

A person washing dishes | Source: Pexels

A person washing dishes | Source: Pexels

The end of the day approached and I still had an hour to kill before going to fetch my husband. So, I went to get a coffee.

As I stood in line to get a box of donuts for my father-in-law, Nick called.

"I'm ready, you can come and get me," he said simply.

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A woman holding a box of donuts | Source: Pexels

A woman holding a box of donuts | Source: Pexels

At the garage, my father-in-law shook off his overalls to hug before putting them back on.

Eric told Nick about what he had done in the car and so on. While they were talking, I went to the back room where Eric had his little kitchenette and made him a cup of tea to go with the donuts.

A wall of tools in a garage | Source: Pexels

A wall of tools in a garage | Source: Pexels

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We sat with him for a few minutes before Nick was ready to head home.

"It's getting late, Dad," Nick said, taking the keys from Eric. "Thank you for sorting it out!"

But then something strange happened.

As I was putting my coat on, my father-in-law pulled me aside. He held out an already-opened pack of gum, the silver wrappers glinting under the dim garage light.

A smiling older man looking at a card | Source: Pexels

A smiling older man looking at a card | Source: Pexels

"Here," he said, his voice lower than usual. "Take this, darling."

I remember being puzzled as I accepted the gum. It was an odd gift, especially from him. A few pieces were missing, suggesting he had been carrying it around.

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The moment felt strangely significant, but I couldn't pinpoint why.

I put it into my coat pocket and smiled at him.

A smiling woman | Source: Pexels

A smiling woman | Source: Pexels

"I'll see you at home," Nick said as he drove off in his car.

Following my husband home, I wondered what Eric was thinking, giving me the pack of gum — did I have coffee breath? But he would have told me that, and he would have laughed it off with me.

This was different. I knew my father-in-law; there was more to this.

Stopping at a traffic light, I pulled the pack out and found a handwritten note stuffed inside.

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A red traffic light | Source: Pexels

A red traffic light | Source: Pexels

Check his trunk.

My heart pounded. My father-in-law was not a man known for jokes or dramatics. If he had written this, then it had to be important.

At home, Nick kicked off his shoes while yanking his tie over his head.

Men's shoes on floor | Source: Pexels

Men's shoes on floor | Source: Pexels

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"What do you want for dinner?" he asked me. "Does pasta sound okay?"

I nodded.

"That sounds great!" I said, grabbing the vacuum cleaner.

"What are you doing?" he asked, watching me.

A woman holding a vacuum cleaner | Source: Pexels

A woman holding a vacuum cleaner | Source: Pexels

"I dropped some trail mix in my car this morning," I lied. "I'm just going to clean it up before I shower."

Nick nodded and went into the kitchen without another word.

I grabbed both our keys and dragged the vacuum cleaner out with me. The trunk popped open with a soft click, revealing its hidden contents.

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A car in a garage | Source: Unsplash

A car in a garage | Source: Unsplash

There, among the usual things found in a trunk — jumper cables, a spare tire, scattered tools, and Nick's gym bag — was a child's car seat.

It was tossed carelessly to one side, surrounded by a scattering of toys. There was a small, plush bear, a couple of plastic cars and trucks, and what looked like a worn-out picture book.

My mind reeled.

A car seat | Source: Pexels

A car seat | Source: Pexels

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We didn't have children. Nancy didn't have children. There was absolutely no need for Nick to have any of these items.

My throat tightened as the implications of the scene before me began to sink in.

Nick was chopping vegetables when I walked in. He was humming to himself as he moved around the kitchen, checking the boiling water while still holding onto the knife.

A man chopping vegetables | Source: Pexels

A man chopping vegetables | Source: Pexels

"All cleaned up?" he asked. "If not, it's okay, I can take the car to the car wash tomorrow."

"Why is there a car seat in your trunk?" I asked him.

Nick turned around slowly to face me. At first, his expression was blank, and then slowly, shock appeared across his face.

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"I can explain," he mumbled.

"Explain what?" I demanded. "Who have you been seeing?"

A close-up of a woman's face | Source: Pexels

A close-up of a woman's face | Source: Pexels

I watched my husband struggle with his words for a moment. He didn't know what to do or how to react.

Eventually, he just confessed.

"I've been seeing a co-worker, Pamela," he said. "She has a son, Leo. She's a single mother and Leo's come out with us a few times."

"Now what?" I asked him.

A woman carrying her son while using a laptop | Source: Pexels

A woman carrying her son while using a laptop | Source: Pexels

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I was floored. For once, I had nothing to say. There wasn't anything I could say. I didn't think that words could do justice to how I felt.

"I don't know what you mean," he said, mixing the vegetables into the pasta sauce.

"You've been having an affair, Nick. You've been seeing another woman and her child. And you just confessed to it. Your father was the one who told me to check your trunk."

Nick's reaction was swift. At the mention of his father, he turned around to face me, knocking a plate off the counter.

A shocked man knocking a plate off the counter | Source: Midjourney

A shocked man knocking a plate off the counter | Source: Midjourney

"What?" he gasped.

"Yes," I said, confirming that he had disappointed his father.

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"I don't know what to say," he said. "But I need to speak to my father."

I'm still at a loss for words, but it feels like a separation is the only answer. I'm also hurt that Nick's first reaction is to talk to Eric, and not me.

A crying woman | Source: Pexels

A crying woman | Source: Pexels

What would you do?

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one for you |

When Nina's fiancé, Mitchell, sends her a photo of his dog, Buster—she proudly shows it off to her colleague, Sophie. But instead of telling her how cute Buster is, Sophie reveals a much deeper secret that changes Nina's entire life, causing her engagement to fall apart before her eyes.

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Read the full story here.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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