Privilege Chapter Three: The Shelved Items

Addy would have loved to say that her honeymoon was the opportunity to get to know her now-husband on a much more personal and intimate level. Sadly long nights of in-depth conversation and romantic embraces were not included at their resort, or Emmet would have seemed to feel as much anyway. He did consummate the marriage on the first night but was hardly available thereafter outside of a few daily tourist activities with Addy that ended with them cooly parting. Addy being an easily distracted young woman hardly noticed as she was initially dazzled by the thought of being a rich man's wife. With his money in her hand, she went shopping, occupying her time in frivolous pursuits. It didn't occur to her until the last night there that Emmet hadn't slept in their bed through the night once. It started to concern her when she considered that she had no clue as to where he was the majority of the day as well. She couldn't bring herself to talk about it though it bothered her deeply on the last night of their honeymoon. She knew that the routine had already been established as she watched Emmet go through the motions of finishing his dinner and making more excuses to be unavailable until the morning. It was then that Addy realized how unbalanced and inequal their relationship was, which was why she didn't have the courage to open her mouth to object or even so much as question him. She could almost tangibly grasp that she was less his wife and more of an employee with petty cash incentives. This sudden understanding of their dynamic hit her akin to an impact from a fall causing her body to nearly jolt a little in her chair. Emmet aloof to her in general merely kissed her forehead as he walked away, having paid the check.

All the flight home Addy mulled her situation with Emmet. There was so much that she had wished she had been able to cover with him. Where was his ex-wife? Why was she kept at such a distance? Would he ever show her respect, instead of treating her like an owned object? No sooner had they arrived at the airport, than Emmet had Addy taken to the new house, which she had visited only a handful of times when it was under renovation. Emmet went to his practice to check on some "legal documents" for a "board meeting in the morning." The loneliness of the massively empty house had Addy combing the place for the few items that were delivered directly to the house as arranged by her. Yet, all she could find was a single box marked "Sorority." Addy had no idea who had labeled it as the boxes she had sent over contained all the personal items that she owned from her parent's house. She opened the box expecting to find her winter clothes neatly folded, instead there were no clothes at all, just her dorm room things. This sent her on a journey through the house to find the rest of her belongings that had been shipped over from her parents. The only clothing items she could find for herself were the things that Emmet had picked out for her in the master bedroom's closet, matched with the makeup on the vanity. Tightly fitted dresses, dark red lipstick, high heels that looked like they were inspired by a gothic pole dancer's stage performance. These were the things she had for herself now and nothing else. The clothing may have been designer labels, but it was in a style that was overtly sexualized, bordering sleazy. Addy nearly laughed to herself when she realized she did not even have pajamas to put on, there was only skimpy lingerie. It was funny, she thought to herself that a man would pick these things out for a woman, but she would never want to wear those things in public. In a strange way, this gave Addy some hope that maybe although others had spoken highly of his ex-wife, that maybe Emmet himself found her to be lacking something he was looking for in their marriage. Addy had always known Emmet to send her gifts of jewelry to wear to the events he brought her to. Now she assumed that this same attempt to indirectly have an input with her was being carried over. Addy decided to look at this as a positive trait and not as Jen had once labeled Emmet's behavior as "controlling."

Addy had slept nearly all day by herself. When she woke up it was night time and she realized that Emmet had not come home since their trip according to the maid, who was leaving as Addy walked down the stairs. Seeing Addy's expression of concern, she explained that "the Doctor" was likely at his condo in the city and that he slept there often. Addy put away her things from her trip and sat alone, while wide awake from her too long of a nap. The night was restless for her as she fiddled about silently thinking what life would be like for her there. The next day was shaping up to be the same. Soon it was evening once more and Emmet had not come home or called. Trying to play the situation as coy and not the off-putting freeze out that it seemed, Addy called Emmet on his cellphone. He answered in a flat tone as if he were intensely annoyed with her. She had to remind herself that he knew it was her who was calling because she had seen him save her number himself. "What?" Emmet coldly said. Addy instantly regretting having called him responded, "I was just calling to say 'hello' and ask you if we had any plans together this weekend?" She felt so awkward saying that, it was as if she were asking out a stranger who didn't like her. She had never felt like she was groveling as much as she did just then. Emmet told her with an attitude in his voice that could almost be equated to contempt that he would not be home until he "was finished working" and that he was on call with the hospital all week. Addy feeling like she had been reprimanded, flinched as he ended the call by warning her not to be so "needy" then hanging up. Addy felt so unwanted at that. She wanted to call Jen to vent, but she stopped herself remembering that Jen would likely gloat at her marital problems. Instead, Addy called Frances to try to reconnect with her life before she became a wife. Only she found Frances to be difficult to have a conversation with because she was so vague and ambiguous no matter the topic. Addy had always found Frances to be a letdown of a person, even now with her reaching out to treat Frances like a true sibling she found Frances to be a waste of energy and thus gave up on her in total.

The doctor was apparently on call a lot at the hospital. Emmet swore it was a necessary evil to keep up his skills and maintain his admitting privileges. Their marriage was a mirror of their dating life, seeing one another once every week or so. Never spending the entire night together. Him very much involved in his career, her busying her days with small insignificant things based on maintaining her beauty, waiting on him to call her again. The only difference was that now she had his last name and the money he let her use to entertain herself. Emmet started to cut back on her unbridled spending though after he saw that she had bought a slouchy wool sweater for a late lunch with him. It was a very fashionable look, that was age-appropriate, still, Emmet looked at her as if she were wearing roadkill with an upsidedown cross painted on her face. He was so dissatisfied with her when they met, that he pulled away from her when she leaned in to kiss him. "Throw away that ugly thing, you look like a homeless person," Emmet said to her as they parted. "Sorry, I thought you'd like it. The stylist at the store told me this look was very popular," Addy said apologetically to Emmet who replied by saying, "I bought you nice clothes to wear, so wear them. Jesus Addy, I have a reputation to protect. Do you ever think of anyone but yourself? If you keep buying garbage like that I'm cutting off your credit card." Emmet finished by straightening his posture as the valet pulled up with his car. Addy stood there as he sped off, feeling like she had been picked apart. She threw her new Brunello Cucinelli sweater on the sidewalk. All she had wanted was to have a nice meal with her husband, whom she missed. Now she felt like a failure in his eyes.

As the weeks passed, at an introspective moment Addy figured out that there were two types of people that live in upscale gated communities. The first being the career-focused family types who come and go from their home constantly. These people have little room in their schedules to take up company with a twenty-something abandoned housewife. The second type was those who were never at their home at all because they owned more than one property and rarely dropped by any of them. It took trial and error to learn this, along with a hefty dose of humiliation as Addy tried to get herself invited to other people's family gatherings. Jen's prediction of doom for Addy's marriage was starting to seem very real for the young woman who was now like a butterfly pinned to a reference page in a scientist's study. Addy's world had shrunk significantly after marrying Emmet. The wedding had put a bitter rift between her and her sorority sisters. Also even though Emmet never specifically said that he did not want Addy's mother around, his verbiage and demeanor gave away his distaste for her presence. Whenever Addy spoke of talking to her mother, Emmet would become standoffish and imply that her mother was beneath their dignity. Addy thought that maybe he was right after her mother was found to have returned some gifts Addy had purchased for her birthday for cash. Addy felt like all of her efforts to be held in society's good graces were failures to start. The charities were staffed, the committees filled, even her attempt to spend more time with her spouse caused her to be disheartened after a brutal dinner party let her know that Emmet's colleagues did not respect her either. She was publicly viewed as Emmet's toy that had no business being seen without him, and who was never meant to be heard. Her most innocent of comments were typically met with disapproving glances if listened to at all.

The single person who was happy at Addy's downturn in life was Alice Madison who was pleased with her, for "marrying up." Alice was Emmet's excuse machine, regardless of knowing that Emmet could hardly stomach the sight of his wife's mother. When Addy would complain that her husband was screening her calls and not responding for days on end, Alice was there to tell Addy it was not the doctor's job to entertain her. When Addy spoke of how her new husband refused to engage with her outside of any cordial conversation, Mrs. Madison would explain to Addy that she was now the wife of a high-profile man and had to be understanding of his demanding schedule and pressing social obligations. She encouraged Addy to be a polished version of herself when she was in public, as she now was a representation of Emmet. "Join a gym, go to the spa, do anything but hang around here and be a house frump." That was what her mother told her when they parted after she spent the week at their guest house. The item of business that Mrs. Madison did not bring up fearing it would get back to Emmet was that an anonymous bidder had bought their family home and that due to their financial troubles the Madison's would have to retire elsewhere. Addy's marriage had had the opposite effect on Mr. Madison's plans to reenter the business world. It was as if when the wedding ring was slipped onto Addy's finger that Tom had been muted to all who once feigned interest in his latest schemes. They were done for in the entrepreneur circles and they knew it. This all but killed Tom's will to go on. As for Mrs. Madison, it was a relief when a lawyer reached out to them with the offer, which struck her as odd considering the house was not even on the market.

By the end of the first year, Addy knew there were only two occasions which she could count on her husband to be with her. The first being when he needed her to attend a formal event with him, like a public relations or political dinner. The second when Emmet was meeting a friend or colleague at the house for a family-friendly event. Addy had become a prop to a man who saw her as a thing to trot out at his convenience. She was to only say pleasant pleasing things and only when asked. At first, buying expensive things and having unlimited beauty treatments felt luxurious, but that was before Emmet was micromanaging her styling choices or before she had to stay on even when she was sick, tired, or increasingly often too sad to function. Her nice things started to feel like chains and her clothes a uniform for a company she was no longer inclined to represent. When she went to her mother about it her mother scolded her for signing a very restrictive prenuptial agreement. Addy though knew Emmet would have never invested time in her at all had she not. Secretly the prideful Addy wanted to prove to the world that she was not the golddigger everyone seemed to view her as, despite their relationship being purely superficial. Addy had to face the cold hard truth that she was too old to model, too uneducated to maintain her quality of life on her own, and too unmotivated to try to fight the prenup she had signed.

To lighten her spirits and to try to manage her growing depression, that spring, Addy went to visit her parents in their exiled state of Baja after they were settled in. Emmet had encouraged her to go, while he "handled some projects," there. She agreed to leave as soon as it occurred to her that the beaches were beautiful, the food was robust, and not having to have her wardrobe preapproved by Emmet would be freeing yet came with a tug of guilt if she knowingly didn't follow his strictly laid out protocols. Upon arriving, Addy could see that Mrs. Madison was tanned for the first time in her life as a beachside lush, but Mr. Madison was sullen as he sat on his veranda, not even bothering to stand up to greet her. He thawed out over the next few days though, as he could see that Addy understood his conditions. Night after night Alice drank herself unconscious, and Tom would reminisce about the good ole days of closed deals between over-eager bites of deep-fried food that was making his once lean frame appear cushioned. On the final night of her stay, over a late dinner, Tom informed Addy that Emmet never paid him back for the deposits he put down for the wedding, even though he found out that Emmet had planned for weeks in advance that he was going to go behind all of their backs to change everything to his liking as he had done. In response, Addy confessed to her father that Alice during a shopping trip in the city informed her that Emmet had told each person Tom was trying to make business deals with to not engage with him. Tom blinked hard as if it would undo the effects of the tequila he had been drinking all day, "I got a whiff that we were being blackballed at the wedding, but it was the debts being called in right when the house got the offer that told me that your guy was behind it." Addy thought this was odd because she was aware that Emmet had begun the process to follow through on his promise to give Frances pro-bono cosmetic surgery. "Maybe he isn't so bad, maybe he could send Frances back to school," questioned out loud, this statement had Tom astonished. Trying to be as sober as he could now that all of the playfulness had been drained from the room due to the realization that the Madison family had been taken off guard by an insidious man said in all sincerity, "Frances has been in school under a scholarship since your wedding and we haven't seen or heard from her since." This was in direct contrast to what Frances and Emmet had been telling Addy, but she knew it was true all the same. There was nothing else to say, Tom and Addy hadn't the words to piece together the whole story other than knowing that the strings were being pulled in their lives and that they were not the puppeteer.