A Note on the Fridge in My Boyfriend’s House Knocked the Ground Out from under My Feet

Chloe finally thinks that she’s gotten a relationship right. She feels loved and happy with Jack. Until one day, she finds a note and a personal keepsake on Jack’s fridge — everything relating to her ex-boyfriend. What is going on, and how does Mike fit into the equation? Walking into Jack’s kitchen, I was floating on cloud nine, completely smitten. I was all ready to cook us a good meal for our dinner date at home. But as my gaze landed on his fridge, my heart stuttered to a halt, There, right in the middle, was a magnet that I had seen before. It was the same magnet from my trip to the Caribbean with Mike, my ex-boyfriend. I stepped closer to examine it — it was a souvenir, after all, and there were probably thousands of them on fridges. But there, at the top, was a chip I knew it, I thought to myself. It’s the same one. I remembered the chip because it was my fault — I had dropped the magnet as the vendor gave it to me, and I didn’t have the heart to switch it for a new one. But now, here it was, staring back at me .And then, the note beneath the magnet, scrawled in Mike’s handwriting, a private endearment that used to be ours. Love You, Bun!It was a portal to my past. I had met Mike when I was in university. He was a popular jock, playing football while he worked through a degree in business management.

I was studying law, and we met by accident, as I stumbled into the wrong lecture theatre in my first year. Through the years, I assumed that we were growing closer and that Mike and I were working toward a long-term, sustainable future. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Although, I probably should have known better because Mike had never taken me home to meet his family. I had never met them. Mike came from a wealthy family — to the point that he didn’t even need to study because his future was secure. “But I didn’t have a choice,” he said, one day when we went for churros. “My father demanded that I get a degree so that I can uphold the family name properly.” Justr after graduation, Mike broke up with me.”Look, Chloe,” he said. “You’ve been great. And we had a good thing as students, but now, I’m ready for something more. I’m running one of my father’s businesses successfully, and I need someone on my level.” I felt a deep betrayal because, throughout our years at university, I was the one who held Mike together when his depression crippled him. It was also when he had lashed out at his friends, leaving me as the only person at his side. Despite that, I continued with my life, going to grad school and focusing on myself. Two years later, I met Jack — a man whom I had met at a walkathon when raising funds for animal welfare. Jack was everything that Mike was not. Kind, compassionate, and caring to his core. Which is how, years later, I was in his kitchen — ready to cook when I stumbled upon the blast from the past. Jack’s face turned white when he saw me looking at the fridge. “Chloe, we need to talk,” he said, his voice strained. Jack steered me to the living room and sat down. “Mike is my stepbrother,” Jack began, his confession unraveling a tapestry of family drama and personal vendettas. He painted a picture of Mike as entitled and spoiled, a tormentor in their shared childhood. “Do you know he almost stopped our parents’ wedding?” Jack mused. “He said that his father was too well-established to be marrying my mother, who was a nurse at the time.” Yet, despite Mike’s flaws, Jack had allowed him to move in, a decision that puzzled me. “It’s only been a few nights, Chloe,” he said. “I was trying to figure out how to make it work. You have to understand, I’ve always been in Mike’s shadow. When he moved back with the family after university, he brought stories of his successful business and the girl he’d let go.” “So you knew about me?” I gasped. “Yes, and no. Mike didn’t share personal things with me; he spoke about you, sure. But I didn’t get to see any photos — you know he didn’t post you.” That’s fair, I thought. Mike didn’t post about me. It was always about his friends. “And then when I met you, it became evident that you were the same person. I should have told you a long time ago, but we’ve had such a good thing going,” Jack said. His words were like icy water, chilling me to the bone. Was I part of Jack trying to get back at his brother? “So, why now? Why are you telling me now?” I asked. “And why is that magnet on the fridge?” Jack sighed deeply. “We had a family dinner last night, and I asked my mother for our grandmother’s ring. It was always going to be mine to give to my partner. I’m that serious about you, Chloe,” he said slowly. “What?” I exclaimed. I didn’t think that we were there yet. “It’s a thought I’ve had for some time,” he said. “But I wasn’t going to do it immediately. And anyway, Mike flipped out at the table. He has known that we’ve been together for some time now.” “And then?” I asked. “And then, he came home with me last night. We had beers and spoke about you, and how I was grateful that I had gotten to meet you.” Jack went on to reveal that Mike was still watching sports on the TV when he went to bed. “I just know that I threw junk food at him and asked him to see himself out,” Jack said. “So, he wrote the note and put the magnet on the fridge?” I asked, processing the absurdity. On one hand, everything that Jack told me made sense, but on the other, it bewildered me that he had never mentioned that Mike was his brother. And come to think of it, neither had his parents when we met many times before. I went to the kitchen to get myself a yogurt — throwing the note away in the process. I needed to think. Earlier that day, I felt that everything had fallen into place for me. I was with Jack, and I was happy. But since his truth had come spilling out, I didn’t know how to react. I was doubting everything. In that moment, I felt like I didn’t know anything about Jack. The conversation that followed was a tangled web of justification. Jack admitted to using Mike’s regrets as a tool to get closer to me, believing that he could rewrite the narrative in his favor. As I processed his confession, I realized that I was out of my depth. Here was a man who I thought was the complete opposite of Mike in how he treated me, and for the most part, that was true. But at the end of the day, Jack seemed just as caught up in his own life. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t just tell me that Mike was his brother. “He always does this,” Jack said. “He comes in and ruins everything.” Jack turned the TV on and began to flick through channels. I don’t know what else to tell you,” he said. “But this is just how life is when Mike is in it. It’s the Mike show, Chloe. Do you think you could make us something to eat now?” And that was it. Jack’s confession shattered any illusion of trust or love that might have existed for me. I just couldn’t look past it — there were too many questions without valid answers. I walked into the kitchen, contemplating making Jack something to eat. But then I realized that I just didn’t want to be there any longer. I haven’t spoken to Jack in over a week, but we’re going out for dinner tonight — to discuss our future. I don’t think that there’s a future between us. Some lies are just too heavy.