Behind the Firewall
by Laura Pylypow
Once Galina made up her mind, it was easy to hack into Kirk’s computer, his cloud files, and his email. He used the same password — his mother’s birthday — for everything.
Complacent,” she thought, proud of knowing the word in English. Kirk had never considered her technical skills. When she’d resorted to the desperate measure of listing herself on an international dating site, it wasn’t her qualifications as a software engineer that he was interested in.
She’d been his Canadian wife for twenty-seven months now, but Kirk had never thought she’d be blinded by gratitude forever. Galina would always appreciate the opportunity to get out of Russia that Kirk had provided. That was why she’d thought he deserved three years. But she knew the signs from watching too many stepfathers and “uncles” lose interest in her mother. Kirk was on the hunt for a fancier trophy. He was richer and better-connected now; he wouldn’t have to settle for another import.
In under an hour, she had all the proof she needed to make Kirk regret the infidelity clause he’d put in the pre-nup, and not all of it was planted. She rummaged in the back of the bathroom cabinet where she kept her menstrual supplies, pulled out the baggie containing her burner phone, and made two calls. The first was to the lawyer whose business card was always on the notice board at her favourite Russian deli.
The second was to Sergei.
She’d been carefully transferring Sergei’s number from one secret safe place to another for eight years, since his parents had moved the family to Canada. As soon as he got a Canadian phone, he’d emailed her the number and they’d exchanged childish vows to be together someday, whatever it took. A year later, Sergei had told her, his voice breaking, that he didn’t think he’d ever be able to help her immigrate. She’d told him not to worry, that she’d find her own way. Since then she’d only sent rare, cautious messages, and kept her plans to herself. But now she finally had something to tell him.
The next day she showed her pre-nup to the lawyer. The infidelity provision, he assured her between glances at her breasts, would work both ways. He whistled at the emails and browser history files she’d brought, and said they were “plenty to work with”.
The day after that she saw Sergei.
They met in a discreet booth at the Matryoshka Café. He looked just the same, except even more handsome. He kissed the trail of suture scars along her hairline (it was the only time Kirk had ever left a mark), and whispered that somebody ought to hit Kirk with a skillet and see how he liked it.
Two minutes later, he stirred a second spoonful of rose hip jelly into his tea, and told her with lowered eyes that he hadn’t waited. Since there was nowhere else to go, she went back to Kirk’s house. His, even though he was rarely there anymore. Maybe hers someday.
Sergei had given her pictures of his son and daughter. They looked just like the children she’d imagined they’d have together. The older one was only three; young enough to bond with a new mother.
Galina opened her laptop and typed the name of Sergei’s wife.