Tuesday, August 13, 2013. As Anna watches Tom get ready for work, she misses the days when she, too, used to go to her job as a real estate agent. She wishes she could go back to work so the two of them could make more money. After Tom leaves for work, Anna stresses herself out making Evie the perfect breakfast—the fussy Evie is in a picky phase. Anna resists the urge to cry. She realizes that it isn’t just work she misses: it’s the feeling of “being a mistress.” She was always turned on by the idea of being the irresistible other woman; she and Tom would often rendezvous at a house Anna was in the process of selling. When Evie smiles at Anna, however, Anna knows that if she did go back to work—to life before motherhood—she’d miss Evie more than she misses her freedom now.
In this passage, Hawkins shows that even as Anna strains herself to be the perfect mother and to place her child’s needs above her own, there is a part of her that misses the independence and excitement of her life before motherhood. Hawkins wants to demonstrate how women often find themselves pushed to the breaking point by societal expectations to be completely selfless as wives and mothers.
That evening, Tom texts Anna to tell her he’s going to be late coming home—he’s having drinks with a client. Anna is getting Evie ready for her evening walk when she spies Rachel standing across the street, looking at the house. As soon as the curtains part, Rachel runs off. Anna is full of fury—Tom told her that he met up with Rachel and sorted things out. Anna begins to wonder if there is a part of Tom that likes the fact that Rachel won’t leave them alone—or let him go. Anna picks up the phone and calls Detective Riley.
Anna continues to see Rachel’s presence as a threat to her marriage—but she perceives Rachel this way for the wrong reasons. Anna knows that her relationship with Tom began as an affair, which raises Anna’s suspicions of him committing adultery again. Because of her distrust of Tom, Anna wants Rachel as far away from him as possible. Anna, has been conditioned to view other women as threats—when in reality, Tom is a greater threat to her happiness and peace of mind.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Anna and Tom have sleepy morning sex. Tom says that he wants the two of them to take an extravagant vacation to Bali and focus on each other. Anna points out that it’s odd Tom thinks they don’t have enough money to move—but they have enough money for a lavish holiday. Evie begins crying, and Tom hurriedly goes to get her. Later, as Tom and Anna feed the fussy Evie breakfast, Anna mentions that Rachel was hanging around the house last night. Tom, furious, says there’s nothing more he can do. When he saw Rachel the other day, he says, she looked fine. Anna is shocked—she thought that Tom only spoke to Rachel on the phone. Tom admits having lied to Anna to make things easier for himself. He apologizes and embraces Anna. She decides to let him get away with this one thing.
In this passage, Anna begins to realize that her husband is not entirely truthful with her—and he hasn’t been for a while. Tom defends his secrets and lies as necessary in order to keep the peace—but by insinuating that Anna isn’t mature enough to handle the truth or to have a say in their finances, Tom is gaslighting her into thinking less of herself. While Anna spins her wheels trying to be the perfect wife and mother—and to keep her husband from wandering away—Tom does as he pleases.
After Tom leaves for work, Anna takes Evie for a walk. As she passes the house where she and Tom conducted their affair, she feels a small thrill. She remembers that when she used to express fears about getting caught together, Tom would always tell her what a good liar he was. As Anna continues waking, she recalls late nights early on in their marriage when she’d wake up and hear Tom on the phone calming Rachel down. She begins to wonder if he’s actually having an affair with Rachel.
Even though Anna knows that Tom used to brag about being a great liar earlier on in the relationship, she has trouble believing that he would deceive her. In this passage, she begins to fear—for the first time—that she is not immune to Tom’s craftiness.
For the rest of the day, Anna is plagued with thoughts about whether Tom has been lying to her all along. She is afraid that she’ll end up just like Rachel if she gives into her doubts—yet she cannot stop herself from grabbing a bottle of wine and Tom’s computer and trying to guess his password. She is unable to crack it—and when she hears Tom coming in the door, she stashes the computer and pretends to be busy with other things. When she catches sight of herself in the hall mirror, she sees that her lips are stained wine-red.
What Anna fears most in the world is becoming like Rachel: drunken, desperate, and sad. As Anna confronts the fear that Tom may be lying to her, she begins to see that it is Tom who made Rachel into what she is now.