January 22, 2025

Today was the day I put an end to everything. I had to find a way out of this hole I got sucked into before it was too late.

The morning started with me waking up next to Ethan, my neck and shoulders itching me like hell. Around me, I could see dead skin covering my pillow and sheets. I touched my neck and slowly peeled off as much of the dead skin as I possibly could. I was glad I was finally healing. I took a shower, got dressed then grabbed my laptop and searched online for Gisele Steingel, Ethan’s mother. The results I got were mind-blowing. For some reason, I thought of her as a stereotypical housewife down on her luck. As it turns out, she’s the total opposite. She’s a wealthy, well respected business woman which immediately made sense. Matt knew exactly what he was doing by marrying her. She is one of the most powerful business women in the world, working as a CEO at Kramer & Madison, a huge asset management firm in the United States. In 2018, the company’s revenue has risen 50%, to 13 billion thanks to her. She’s also a feminist, notably involved in promoting gender diversity in the work place. Matt rebooted his life with an admired profession, a marriage to a beautiful, successful lady, and a kid. With this new image he created for himself through his family and his high-paid job, he managed to complete his disguise as a normal family man everyone could trust and look up to. Until now, of course. When I first saw Gisele’s images online, she didn’t strike me as one of those women you can mess with. That’s why Matt is going through the hardest time of his life right now. His wife probably knows things about him just like I do. And although Matt knows I’ll never betray his confidence, even if I leave him, Gisele wouldn’t hesitate for a split second. After all, her reputation and dignity are on the line. And if she was a human being with a conscious which I’m pretty sure she is, she’ll immediately turn him to the police if she knew about his mischievous and deceiving nature.

It took me a couple of hours to look up her address, and before I even knew it, me and Ethan were back on the road. I was running out of time. Matt might not have called the police yet, but she undoubtedly would’ve done that in a heartbeat if she found out her son was missing. Matt was probably freaking out because he didn’t know our whereabouts. Deep inside, I knew I was making the right thing by bringing the kid back to his mother. She’s the only one who can protect him.

We arrived in front of the big million dollar brownstone house. The butler invited us in, then went upstairs to get Gisele. In the meantime, I paced around the house. It was elegantly furnished with original paintings, mirrors, sofas and ottomans and a variety of other costly furniture. The walls and table tops had family photos and portraits on them. Of course, Matt wasn’t in any of them. A beautiful staircase was located at the center of the double house. As my eyes moved from the bottom to the very top, I suddenly saw her; Gisele gracefully walked down the stairs. She had thick brown hair with a hint of golden highlights. Her bangs were heavy and her wavy hair was neatly pulled back from her face. Intimidated and feeling unconfrontational, I slowly started walking backwards towards the house door. Ethan ran to his mom and she embraced him in her arms, almost crying. I heard two other people come down at that point. They sounded like old people; presumably, her parents. Gisele looked at me and asked for my name. I didn’t utter a word. I couldn’t. She walked up to me and I immediately left. She called me various times, but I didn’t answer. Part of me wanted to warn her about the real threat her husband is, but I didn’t because I knew the questions that’ll follow. And I didn’t want to be part of any of it. I’ve just had enough. I wanted out of that whole equation.

I’ve lost myself completely in the previous months, allowing myself to be manipulated and controlled, constantly. That night Matt handed me the axe and I took it. I never really agreed to do anything with it. I felt obligated. Going to prison wasn’t an option for me, and I knew I would end up there have I not decided to make this move. I can’t survive jail. I would kill myself before I would let myself die a slow and painful death trapped in a cell. I’m not strong enough for prison. That’s why I needed to find a better way to live. I needed a breather. I needed my life back.

I drove Matt’s car back to his place and parked it in the parking lot of his building. I walked out of the property and looked high up at his apartment. The lights were off. I walked away with my belongings to the bus station and took the bus to the airport. On the way there, I found myself planning for my future. I wanted things to move fast and smoothly. I needed to replace those dreadful months with better ones — as soon as possible.

When the plane taking me back to Iowa took off, I looked out at the sky and for a split second, I could glimpse an easier life ahead.

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