Saturday, August 17, 2013. Anna is crying—she and Tom have just had yet another fight about Rachel. Anna believes there’s something going on between Tom and Rachel—and she is furious at the idea that Tom would ever pick Rachel over her. Anna recalls hiding the note that Rachel left for Tom—and how when Tom found out that Anna had kept it from him, he accused her of acting like Rachel. The comment, Anna, says, made her burst into tears. Rather than comforting her, Tom announced that he was going to the gym.
Anna struggles to keep up with the web of secrets and lies that she’s spinning in order to prevent Tom’s attentions from wandering—but as she does so, she finds herself pushing him further away. This passage shows how difficult it is for women to thrive in a society which seeks to punish them both for lying and for seeking the truth in uncomfortable or dangerous situations.
Now, Anna cries and drinks as she works to crack Toms laptop password. Once she figures it out, she hunts through his emails, but she finds no incriminating messages. Feeling guilty, she decides to change the sheets and make the bedroom nice for Tom so that when he comes home, they can have sex. As Anna readies the bed, however, she feels something beneath the frame: Tom’s gym bag. She thinks it’s odd that he wouldn’t have come back for it if he forgot it—and she starts to believe all over again that he is out having an affair with Rachel.
As Anna stumbles upon a cache of Tom’s secret things, she fears that Tom is having an affair; her mind cannot even allow for the possibility that Tom is embroiled in something even worse than infidelity. Anna has been conditioned to examine her own transgressions and mistakes much more carefully than she considers those of her husband.
Anna goes through the bag and discovers a cell phone she’s never seen before. The phone is dead, so Anna hurries downstairs to find a charger for it. When the phone finally turns on, Anna finds several messages from an unknown number discussing meeting times. The meetings, Anna finds, go back almost a year—to when Evie was just months old. Anna has been keeping a written log of Rachel’s calls and visits to the house. She checks it against the messages and finds that many dates don’t line up. Anna returns the phone to the bag and shoves it back under the bed. She drinks some wine while she waits for Tom to come home. When he arrives, he is drunk. He says he decided to go the pub. He asks what Anna has been up to. She kisses him to silence his questions.
Anna realizes that she has been deceived—but because the messages on the phone don’t line up with Rachel’s calls and visit, she is not able to blame everything (as she usually does) on Rachel’s presence. Anna must confront that something different—and more sinister—might be taking place. Tom’s actions are made even more egregious by the fact that he is a father. He should be more giving, more responsible, and more grounded than he is—yet the characters of the novel don’t seem to hold fathers to the same standards as mothers.
Sunday, August 18, 2013. Anna wakes in the early morning darkness. She retrieves the phone and brings it downstairs with her, then takes it outside to investigate its contents further. There are no voicemails on the phone—but when Anna listens to the outgoing greeting, she is shocked and terrified as she realizes that she recognizes the female voice on the voicemail box. She is startled as a light upstairs flicks on.
Here, Anna finally solves the mystery of who Tom has been communicating with. While Hawkins purposefully ends the chapter on a cliffhanger to maintain suspense, it is almost certain that Anna has pinned Megan as the owner of the mysterious cell phone.