From the Author
For the first time I find I'm at a loss for words to describe exactly how I feel. I need somewhere to park my anger, and even though you'll never read this, I need something tangible in my hands, written in black and white. When I look back, I thought we had some kind of life together: maybe not a great one, but, at least in the beginning, one I thought was worth my emotional investment. Now I'm not so sure. The big shocker? I didn't expect to be a widow. It stopped me cold. How and why did this happen? It now dictates my search for the truth, regardless of what that truth might turn out to be. I need a better understanding of where things went wrong. Initially, I felt vulnerable. But not for long. Not when I learned of your betrayal. Not when I discovered your deception. Not when I realized you used your lies and my anxiety to manipulate me. Why did you do it? Enough of my naiveté and making excuses for your odd behavior! Our last conversation, your confusing remarks, still bewilder me. What strange bedfellows we ultimately became: me with my ignorance and you with your secretive duplicity. It still takes my breath away.
I felt like I was losing it after rereading the letter I'd written, still wondering if learning the truth about Stephen would be the death of me. Little did I know that it would be the death of him that would force unspoken issues to the surface. I paused to sip my wine, thinking it through. I wasn't writing the great American novel, just another book about commitment and making choices.
Pretty straightforward, right?
No. Not this time. All bets were off. I thought by venting my hurt and anger, I could finally move on, but it didn't help. My concentration still stunk. Everything had become a jumbled mess. My fiction and reality had merged. I sighed whenever I looked up and saw that damn clock ticking away, reminding me my novel was behind schedule. I had to figure this out. I flipped open my laptop, giving my book another shot. But the haunting memories stopped me...
No! Go with it. Don't fight it. Remember. Get it all out there. Then make a decision.
I breathed in deeply and began typing...
* * * * *
He turned back to me, grabbing my shoulders. "I'm sorry. I swear this time I mean it. I have to tie up a few loose ends and have a feeling everything will then go my way. And if it doesn't, well you know me, I'll still manage to cover all my bases."
I searched his intense, unreadable eyes, not willing to let it go. "But what about me? Us?"
Stephen smiled. "We'll always have us," he reasoned.
Was I overreacting? I tried yet again. "But, Stephen...."
His smile abruptly vanished as he released me. "Samantha, don't push. This is important to me. Now drop it!" He glanced down at his watch. "Let's go!" He turned, grabbed his bag and walked out toward the car calling over his shoulder, "Are you coming? You have to drop me off at the airport, remember?"
I had stood there staring down that hallway, still hearing his words. How could I forget them and all the anger that still lingered? I remembered closing my eyes briefly, taking a deep breath and moving on. How many times had I gone that way? It was always twenty-four, and then six footsteps: so predictable, just like our arguments. I had descended to the landing and was about to swing to the right and go down those last steps, but stopped. Something had caught my eye so I turned to the left.
There on the wall hung a familiar picture, another reminder of my former life, the one that used to include Stephen and me. I was still trying to piece together something I may have overlooked. How could I have been so oblivious? What I had assumed was secure had been unexpectedly reduced to nothing. Poof! Right for the jugular! Just like that!
Stephen, why did you lie? Were you dishonest with me from the beginning?
These concerns were long overdue. I was finally questioning his motives and confronting mine. How could I ever hope to change my future if I didn't understand Stephen's past?
* * * * *