My husband went missing six months ago. Just… went out to work one day and never came home. It was a horrible shock to the whole neighbourhood, because things like that just didn’t happen in our little slice of white-picket-fence suburbia. The police launched an investigation, and the neighbourhood watch sent out search parties, but no one ever found any evidence to indicate what had happened to him. Our families were devastated. Recently, the missing posters have been taken down or papered over. The updates from the police became less frequent and dwindled away. I accepted that, hard as it was to admit, my Rick wasn’t coming back.
Until he did.
A week ago, I was in the back garden watering my petunias when I heard the garden gate creak open. I jerked my head in that direction and- there he was. Exactly the same as he was the day he disappeared. Same windswept blond hair and bright blue eyes, same curl to his pink lips. I was in shock. Our families had mourned for him, and yet there he was, standing in our garden like he had just popped out for milk or something. When I asked where he had been, he said he didn’t know. He couldn’t remember anything about the last six months.
All our family and friends are beside themselves with joy. They almost can’t believe it. But that’s just the thing: I don’t believe it.
Look, I understand how crazy this all sounds, I do. Our families would never believe me, and I can’t go to the police unless I want to end up in a straightjacket. But I just know that the man sleeping next to me isn’t my husband. I don’t know what to do. I know I should be happy, but I’m not. I’m terrified. I don’t know much about anything supernatural or paranormal, I don’t even like watching horror movies. But something about this whole situation makes my skin crawl.
Just let me explain why I’m so sure. Once I’ve done that, hopefully one of you will believe me, and you’ll be able to tell me what to do.
The morning after “Rick” came home, I made him a cup of tea. When I handed it to him, he gave me the brightest smile. Then he took a sugar cube from the dish on the table and dropped it into the cup. Our house was in chaos with his return, and I was still in shock, so I didn’t think much of it at the time, but its been replaying in my mind ever since. I know it doesn’t sound very significant, but my husband never put sugar in his tea. He was always adamant that it ruined the taste, and he’d get so frustrated if I ever put sugar in his cup by accident. And yet, this man had sugar.
Then it was the golf. A few days ago, when he was out visiting his mom, I recorded a golf tournament that was showing on the TV. It was one of Rick’s favourite golfers that was competing, and he never missed it. Once, he even skipped out on an anniversary dinner just to watch a championship. Only, when he came home from his parents’ and I told him what I’d done, he just seemed…. unbothered? Like, he said thanks and everything, and then he asked if I wanted to get dinner.
He didn’t even watch it, and that’s just so out of character for him.
Then one night I woke up around 2 a.m. to see Rick’s face inches from mine just… looking at me with these blank eyes. I kinda gave this nervous laugh and asked “Baby, what are you doing?” And he didn’t answer. For like a solid thirty seconds. He just stared, almost like he was looking right through me. Then he suddenly smiled and said, “Sorry, honey. Sometimes I just can’t believe this is real”. Then he just rolled over and went to sleep. I didn’t get much sleep after that, myself.
Yesterday, about a week after he came home, the neighbourhood threw a street party to celebrate his return. Everyone from our street and the streets on either side turned up to see him and tell him how happy they are that he’s alright. When he wasn’t standing with his arm around my waist, he was milling around chatting amicably to each and every one of our neighbours, even the little kids. Jackson, our next-door neighbour Sally’s toddler, wanted to play peek-a-boo, and Rick happily played along with a smile on his face. Now, my husband never did that. Rick always said he didn’t like kids – that’s why we never had any – and so he never wanted to play with any of the neighbourhood children. Especially not Jackson: Rick all but avoided him. Before he disappeared, I had started to suspect it was so I wouldn’t see them together and notice the subtle but unmistakable similarities.
The final nail in the coffin, proverbially speaking, was Sally. Just this morning, she came knocking on our door. Her excuse was the tray of brownies she carried, but I think she just wanted to push her way into our morning so that she could see for herself what the situation was. After she left, I called her a nosy busybody. Rick laughed, kissed my head, and agreed with me. That was when I knew for sure that it couldn’t really be him. Rick always used to get so mad whenever 1 insulted Sally, like I didn’t have any right to hate her even though she’d been fucking my husband for years. But today there was none of that. He didn’t even try to defend her.
I know what you must be thinking. If he was in an accident or something, he might’ve had some kind of traumatic brain injury that caused him to forget some things about his life, maybe even change his personality. And that’s a valid, reasonable explanation. I have no doubt it’s what the police would tell me if I reported all this.
But you know why I’m dead certain that man isn’t my husband? He doesn’t have a scar. If he was really Rick, he’d have a scar on the side of his forehead shaped like the golf club I hit him with. But there’s nothing. Not a mark. Honestly, I’m this close to going out tonight and digging up my petunias just to make sure he’s still under there.
I don’t know what I’m sharing a bed with, but I know it’s not my husband. So what the hell am I going to do?