I wanted out. At least a walk in the fresh air would clear my head. I hadn’t slept. Leaving J.J. and Noelle in front of Saturday cartoons, I forced my husband to stay with them. He hated babysitting. With my mind tied in knots, my emotions dulled to depression, my feet drifted down to Fisherman’s Wharf, a site best known for happier times. Though crushed to the marrow of my being, I wanted to be crushed by the throngs. Christmas shoppers mobbed the Wharf, yet the coffee shops pretty much sat empty, so I took a table at a sidewalk café. Strange looks from passers-by made me realize I was crying. I had automatically wiped the tears from my cheeks without recognizing what the gesture meant.
What did I care! Let them stare! Their spouses hadn’t confessed last night that they were in love with someone else! What did these gawkers know about pain and suffering? Their worlds hadn’t been exposed as farces! In the name of heaven how could I compete? If his lover had been a woman, I could have hatched a plan, a scheme to win him back, but I couldn’t become a man. If that’s what he wanted, I could never satisfy him. Even if I had a plan, I’d already given him my best.
Mulling over my escape gave me thin relief, about as thin as the winter sunshine. I made up my mind to apply for a teaching job in Missouri where I had a lifetime teacher’s certificate, maybe around Branson near my old youth camp. Surely, I could get a job in some country school system and raise my children in a memorable place. I like having plans. One can’t deviate from a plan if there isn’t one. Even though my plans always deviated, it never occurred to me that perhaps there was a higher plan than my own turning the events towards a different goal. However, on this day, fortified, I started home.
In our neighborhood a certain church had a gold statue out front which I’d always mocked. Yet my feet took me there. What was I doing? I lay down on a back pew and stared into the vaulted space. Then the constant crying turned vocal. Did I cry out my misery? Did I explain my predicament to a host of invisible helpers? All I know is I heard soft footsteps. Then whispering. Something fluttered down, swooping back and forth as if on a gentle breeze, like a feather, maybe a dove, and spoke this word in my ear, “Stay.” Palpable peace sat on my chest and sank into my being. I would stay. When I stood to go home, I saw a priest kneeling at the altar rail in prayer.
As I approached the house, Henry’s Mach Four something-or-other of which he was so proud, sat in our driveway. Oh yes, I knew the lover well—an old family friend. We’d spent many a leisure moment with him in his beach house on Bodega Bay or him at our house for dinner. I stopped across the street, wondering what to do. Then my husband opened the passenger door, got out, and crossed the street to me.
“What’s he doing here?”
“He just stopped by.”
“You left the kids alone in the house?”
“They’re too young to be left alone.”
He looked at me, but he didn’t see me. He didn’t see the ravaged face, the flow of tears, or the pain or even my concern for his lackadaisical parenting. He only saw himself in his predicament and he seemed to be enjoying it. I realized I must establish my first boundary. “That man is never to come into my house again. Do you understand me?”
He nodded. Then I strode across the street, noting Henry’s pathetic wave out of the corner of my eye and marched up the stairs into my house. My husband got back in the car, but shortly after I heard the roar of the powerful motor as Henry drove off, and then Dan came back into the house. We didn’t speak for the rest of the day.
That night a Christmas party at the club where the two men worked required our presence. I fixed my hair into big curls on top of my head and wore a silk dress I had made in a designer’s class, but the body inside the dress and under the curls was made entirely of wood. Somehow, I managed to walk into the club for the dinner and show and to be seated at a round table between my husband and his lover. Henry, an incessant talker, filled the air with words I didn’t hear mainly because I fixated on his hands. His professionally manicured fingernails glistened with the flat glow of men’s polish. His perfectly squared nails sitting at the end of his perfectly squared fingers drummed the table. It occurred to me his body probably squared up too, but that thought made me want to vomit into the ice bucket holding the wine.
Henry evidently spoke about many things other than the obvious as Dan leaned around and said pointedly, “She knows, Henry, Marty knows.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off those hands, even as they fluttered and almost spilled his drink. Having had all afternoon to think about this question, he asked my husband, “What does she want to do about it?”
Writing has been in my blood, so to speak, but when I surren-dered my life to Jesus Christ and He told me to write, all my trepidations rolled away and I began in earnest! After all, if God Almighty says it was His idea that I be a writer, who am I to stand in His way? My hope is that you not only like what I write, but that your life is moved by it, and that your party to Jesus and with Jesus turns your life into days of Heaven on Earth.