MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Death of Salome by Kristina Gehrmann

Fiction
Seeking Change

Lisa Shea

Jan 1

Happy New Year! I realize New Years are always full of fresh resolutions, often not followed through on, but I am a perpetual optimist. I have made my goals and plans. I want to enjoy my life with hubby Alan, of course. This spring marks 10 years together, and weīve drifted a little, but we can work on that. My new microfinance website, BellArtistry, is already doing much better than I could have hoped for. Weīve gotten in over $20,000 in donations to help out people in a variety of small countries, and each success story drives me to do even more with this concept. Itīs amazing how a tiny loan of $300 can change someoneīs life! I also made a promise to myself to eat and exercise better. Alan gets his exercise out golfing, but I just sit in front of a computer all day. Itīs time to make the effort. I have spent my entire adult life seeking to help others - maybe itīs time to seek those changes in myself.

Jan 2

Hey there, journal! My mother in law always told me how important journaling was. I donīt know how she found time for it, with the daily work of the charity foundation she ran with her husband. I think she was right, though - I am enjoying sitting down in the evening and taking a few moments to collect my thoughts. It seems to bring closure to the events of the day. Today was a bit nippy out, typical wintry Maryland weather. We got full repayment today from a rugmaker in Kenya, a widow with two children who now has her own shop. Sheīs doing really well. I wanted to celebrate with Alan, but he was out at a late appointment with Dr. Mary Pfeizer to look at his knee. Iīm so glad heīs taking these therapy appointments seriously now. What is it with guys and doctors? I figured Dr. Pfeizer would get through to him, sheīs got a great sense of humor. Maybe heīs made a New Yearīs resolution, too, to start taking better care of his health. Weīre not getting any younger, after all. Which reminds me, I havenīt done any exercise yet. OK, tomorrow it is.

Jan 3

Alan surprised me this morning with a warm bowl of oatmeal. We never eat breakfast! He said heīs going to work on helping me to eat more healthily. What a sweetie! Oatmealīs chock full of fiber and nutrients. I talked with the NY Times for an hour this morning, then, would you believe it, I rode for five minutes on the exercise bike! OK, I know that doesnīt sound like a lot, but you have to start somewhere. Alan went off golfing, and I spent the afternoon working with the developers on a new set of web interfaces so that smaller investors could donate in to a given loan. I really think this could help expand the number of people we can reach.

Jan 4

Iīm really liking this oatmeal in the morning thing. It gives me such a boost of energy to work on things. I spoke with a few smaller papers in the morning, to spread the word, and then I pushed myself to do 8 minutes on the bike. That thing is harder than it looks! I helped test some of the website pages during the afternoon, making small donations of $20 or $30 in to loan requests. I think weīve hit on something here.

Jan 8

Sorry about the lapse, maybe every day was asking a bit much :) I think Iīve hit on a schedule that is working well, though. The beauty of working from home is that you can tweak your routine until it flows. Breakfast - oatmeal. Morning - talk to press. Lunch - salad, bike for a short while. Afternoon - work on company internals. Dinner - Alan gets back from golfing and we catch up on things. I hope his parents are looking down on us with a smile, proud of whatīs being accomplished. They did so much good with their foundation, and I feel honored that they left it to both of us to continue the work. They were almost my adoptive parents. I spent more time with them than I ever had with my own parents, and heck, probably more than Alan had! We were a great team. I really feel content that this direction is going to help even more people than they could have imagined.

Jan 9

See, Iīm back on schedule! Iīm up to 10 minutes on the bike now. I didnīt get any press calls scheduled today. I had a new thought - tomorrow Iīm going to watch all the talk shows - Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc. Maybe I can get myself onto one of those shows, and reach a large number of people at once. Print media and newspaper are good, but I need to branch out and reach cable and net audiences. During our afternoon conference call, I set the developers loose. We have a full timeline laid out, and their testing staff is ready. I told them to plow ahead for the next few months, that I trusted them to know what they are doing. I feel strongly that this website will change lives.

Jan 10

Oprah did a special on seeking to become a better person. It was very moving. However, after watching TV all day long, Iīm feeling worn down. I did get up onto the bike for 11 minutes, but other than that I had my oatmeal in front of the TV, my salad, and I even had Alan bring my dinner in there too, so I could do a day long sweep. He went into the den to watch his golf shows. While the couch was comfy, it was almost a little too easy to sit there all day while the TV cycled from show to show to show. I did make a lot of notes. Iīm not sure if I can make a full judgement based on one viewing, so Iīll do this tomorrow and then start making calls.

Jan 15

Wow, is it Saturday already? How time flies. I really liked the guests on Oprah, and Dr. Phil had some great advice. Itīs amazing how wise he is. Iīve put off biking for now, it was hard to hear the TV over the WHIRRRRRRRRRR of the wheels. Maybe Alan can oil them or something. Itīs sort of fun having him bring me in dinner to eat from the couch. I think the Romans ate lying on couches. Luxury.

Jan 22

Jeez, Saturday again. Time just goes by so quickly now. Alanīs doing well with his physical therapy, twice a week. The office tried to call during Oprah several times! The fools. I have the phone set to go straight to voice mail now. Heh heh, smart! I also discovered that Dominos delivers for lunch. Pizza is much easier than making a salad. Alanīs still sweet to bring me my oatmeal breakfast and dinner of the day.

Jan 29

This week Oprah was helping a lot of women do things with their lives. She is so inspiring. I donīt know how women like that do that. Dr. Mary called looking for Alan, something about seeing him to work on his knee. Sheīs so sweet to spend that time with him. Alan is busy with some project and wanted me to sign some papers, during Dr. Phil! Men. I put them somewhere safe. Iīll look at them next week. Weekends are my time to watch movies that are mentioned during the talk shows! Tomorrow is Gigli and Failure to Launch. Itīs important to stay educated.

Feb 5

Alan wanted to know where his papers went. Like Iīm in charge of his papers! He seemed annoyed and said heīd go get some more made up. Papers Schmapers. Oprah says to let go of clutter and to embrace the moment. Iīm going to embrace some chocolate chip ice cream.

Feb 17

Alan and I actually had a fight today. Dr. Phil said we all had to do a week long fast with only blended fruits and veggies. Alan thinks itīs silly. He said I couldnīt do it. I was in tears. I have to do the fast! Alan finally gave in and said maybe a week wouldnīt really hurt. Yeah!!

Feb 19

The first day of the fast! Dr. Phil had a whole special episode on it. We all downloaded the instructions and recipes from his website. Alan was mean, he put my oatmeal out for me and I could smell it! But I held strong. Dr. Phil said this was important. I took my vitamins, kept track of my 8 glasses of water, and blended up a peach shake for dinner. I even gave one to Alan and he had to admit it was tasty. See! One day down, six to go.

Feb 20

Day two! Alan tried again with the oatmeal, but it was easier to resist it. I believe in Dr. Phil. He was just so proud of us all, he had women on the show who were doing the fast live. I think Alanīs parents would be proud of Dr. Phil, helping all of us to seek better lives. I took all the clothes pile off the bike, maybe I will actually ride it tomorrow.

Feb 21

Dr. Phil said today that the fast cleanses our body and focuses our mind. He is so smart! I rearranged the back speakers and I actually could ride the bike and hear what he was saying. I got through 3 minutes. Itīs a start! Alan brought home a new set of papers for me to sign. I was exhausted and said Iīd do it soon.

Feb 22

While Alan was off golfing, I took a look at the papers. The wording is a little tricky but I *think* they put the foundation and everything into Alanīs name only. Or it could just be a change in our titles. Iīm not really sure. One of the women on the Dr. Phil Fasting Plan forum is a lawyer that lives nearby. Her name is Debi. She said I could go hang out at her place tomorrow and sheīd take a look. She works from home, too.

Feb 23

Alan seemed really happy that I was going to spend the day at a friendīs house watching Dr. Phil there. Maybe the weatherīs bad for golf or something. He made me promise to call before I headed home, in case he needed for me to pick up something from the store for dinner. Debi took a look through the papers and said they did transfer all control of the foundation into his name. It seems strange to me - heīs never shown even the slightest interest in doing anything at the foundation. His parents tried to involve him when they were alive, and I did too after they passed away. He said heīd rather play golf and schmooze up the donors. Debi said sheīd make some calls, and for me to come back in two days.

Feb 24

I found a pair of Champagne flutes up in the bedroom this morning. Alan blushed and said he was planning a surprise for me. It seems really sweet of him, but something is nagging at me. I canīt quite put my finger on it. Iīm sure itīll come to me eventually. The brain is a funny organ and only seems to divulge information when you let it do its own thing. I read through Pride & Prejudice this afternoon, Iīd forgotten how much I loved it. My only gripe with Lizzie is that she seems to descend into gold-digging when she inspects the riches of Pemberley - "And of this place, I might have been mistress!" Still, we all have our little quirks. In general, I am feeling really good. The fast is now up to day six. Just one more day! I did 6 minutes on the bike today. Day six, six minutes, maybe itīs a good sign.

Feb 25

The final day! Debi and I met at her house to celebrate. She seemed a little somber when she let me in. She told me that Alan has been making plans to sell and dismantle the foundation. I couldnīt believe it! This was his parentsī dream, and I thought it was our dream too, to help others. Iīve been working there 12 years, helping to manage and direct the funding. Itīs been my whole life since I earned my MBA. The foundation was where I first met his parents and, through them, him. Debi asked if Alan was in any financial difficulty. I donīt know, I let Alan handle all of our finances. Heīs never mentioned any problems. I told her Iīd take a look through the records tomorrow.

Feb 26

Alan was sick this morning! Poor thing, he came down with a stomach flu. I told him Iīd make us both oatmeal. Alan normally handles all of the culinary tasks, so it took me a while to find everything. Just behind the oatmeal box was a medicine vial from Dr. Mary, for Desmopressin. I wonder what that is for. Iīll look it up on the internet tomorrow. Todayīs task was to track down the financials for Debi. While Alan slept, I went through the files. Debi was right. He has burned completely through our savings including my inheritance money. My salary is what keeps us solvent, and itīs apparently not enough to pay all of our bills when you include his expensive greens fees and dinners out. I sat at the kitchen table for hours, looking through the papers and wondering how this had happened.

Feb 27

Alan was feeling a little better, enough to sit on the couch and watch the Golf Channel for a while. I told him Iīd watch my shows in the den. I did leave the denīs TV on in the background, but I spent my time surfing the web. It turns out Desmopressin is a drug used for water diabetes or bed wetting. Neither of us has those problems. I think I would have known if we did! Desmopressin does have odd side effects - weight gain, drowsiness and confusion. A thought has formed in my head, but I hesitate to even put it down to paper. It seems too wild. Still, I did run out in the afternoon and get a wireless webcam. I figure I can use it to watch the birds on the back feeder, even if this idea of mine turns out to be false.

Feb 28

Iīve been in shock all day. Late last night I set up the wireless webcam on the top of the fridge, pointing at the kitchen counter where the oatmeal is stored. In the morning we had our oatmeal breakfast, as usual. When I went to begin my daily TV regimen, Alan headed out to the golf course. He seemed to be in a very good mood. As soon as he left, I went to my computer to see what it had recorded. There it was, on film. Alan put the medicine into my pink bowl, and none into his blue bowl. Here I had always thought it was cute of him to get us different colored bowls. I donīt know what to do. I feel completely lost.

Mar 1

After breakfast, I told Alan Iīd go over to Debiīs for the day to watch on her big screen. He seemed thrilled and told me again to call before I headed home. Debi listened to the whole story, then tucked me in with a blanket in front of the TV while she made some phone calls and went out. It seemed no time at all before it was time to go home again. Somehow sheīd gotten a bottle of pills that looked just like the Desmopressin. She told me to swap the pills out without Alan noticing, then to wait three days and come over again. I didnīt really understand, but I said I would.

Mar 4

Today was a whirlwind of activity. Alan practically shooed me out of the house when he heard I was going to Debiīs to watch TV. I bet he called Dr. Mary the moment I stepped out the door. Debi was ready with the files I had emailed to her; she had printed them out for us to go through. We poured through the financials, making a timeline of how Alan had raided the joint funds for his purchases. It looked like he had even used our credit cards to pay for hotel rooms and dinners out with Mary! The cheeky bastard. Debi had gotten the legal documents which transferred the foundation into Alan and my name. We discovered that there were clauses in there regarding divorce. They said if one of us was found guilty of adultery, the other would have rights to divorce plus keep the foundation. It appeared to be a standard boilerplate; undoubtedly many wealthy men are married by women who aim for money and not love. Alanīs parents had always respected me; I doubt they even knew this clause was in here. They had trusted me implicitly with their lifeīs work. If anything, they worried about their indolent child. They had hoped that, once they passed on, he would shoulder the responsibility and take up the reins. I wonder what they thought now.

Mar 5

I have never been so furious. When I think about Alan taking apart his parentsī dreams, abandoning all of those small businesses who depend on us, I could scream. I admit it - I was VERY tempted to put some of the Desmopressin into Alanīs food. Maybe quite a lot of it. I thought about it all day long. It would serve him right to have all the nasty side effects he put me through, to see how HE liked it. Despite my anger, I couldnīt bring myself to do it. It would reduce me to his level. No, itīll be amply satisfying to let his own innate stupidity and greed bring his downfall, without any additional help from me. Well, maybe just a little help. I told him I was feeling poorly tonight, and suggested he go out with friends while I got some extra sleep. Out he went, and I gave Debi a call.

Mar 6

I met up with Debi today and apparently last night worked like a charm. Alan showed up with Dr. Mary at the bar where most of the credit card slips had come from. Debi had dolled herself up and was ready for him. She flirted with Alan before Mary had arrived. A few drinks in, when Mary went to the restroom, Debi joked with Alan that she was a expert at massage and knew a thing or two about the human body. Alan boasted that Dr. Mary was a physical therapist and was the best lover he had ever known. In mock disbelief, Debi had turned to the bartender and asked if it was true. The bartender had nodded knowingly, saying that the two came in all the time and that Mary talked about her job frequently As far as the lover part, the bartender couldnīt attest to that, but he believed Alanīs stories. Debi managed to use her cell phone to get a few photos of the couple kissing rather passionately. It was less hard to look at the images than I would have thought. The realization that he was going to dismantle the foundation for cash, abandoning all of our clients, after all the work his parents and I had put into it, kept me focused on the task at hand.

Mar 7

In many ways, today was the hardest day of this affair for me. Once Alan had left for his golfing, I called in to the foundation to find out what had been going on. To be honest, I was prepared for them to yell at me, to scold me for abandoning them these past few months. Instead, they were thrilled beyond words to hear from me. It turns out they had not been calling me for progress reasons - the timelines Iīd set up for them on development had kept them rolling along and they were nearing completion on the user interface weīd discussed. Instead, theyīd been calling in fear because of the rumors of the impending sale. They had heard from various sources that a buyout was in the works and wanted to know what was going on. I calmed them down and told them not to worry about it, that I had the situation well in hand.

Mar 8

Everything went even more smoothly than I could possibly imagine. I moved the webcam to a corner of the bedroom. I told Alan I was heading to Debiīs for our day of TV watching. At Debiīs, we had two of the foundationīs board of directors meet us with the legal paperwork. On Debiīs big screen, the live webcam feed was playing via an internet pipeline. It didnīt take long for the board members to act as witnesses with us for the paperwork that was necessary. We agreed on a healthy fee for Debiīs help in this, and I signed a lease for a nearby condo. The movers will show up this weekend to box and move everything I own. We all agreed it was best this way - that I do nothing untoward for the next few days, and then simply have the movers come in and take my things away in one quick action, while the papers are filed on him. If he balks and tries to contest the obvious evidence of the bar confession and bedroom webcam, we always have the kitchen webcam footage as backup. Debi doesnīt think heīs that stupid, to risk the poisoning evidence being shown in court.

Mar 9

I got a package in the mail today, and Debi and I immediately brought it over to my new condo. It was a gorgeous blue and green rug, handwoven in Kenya by the woman BellArtistry had given a loan to. She wrote to say that her life had been changed by that small amount we had let her borrow. Debi and I laid the rug out and sat on it with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, toasting to the future. Iīll have to send those letters to Oprah and Dr. Phil, thanking them for their help. It looks like seeking a change really can make a difference in your life.

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