This story is by April Davis and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“He’s grabbing his things now”, Shelby told her soon to be ex- husband Jared as they stood on her large front porch. He was waiting to take their eight year old son for the weekend. It had been a hot summer day, and although the sun was going down, the sky was still very bright. Shelby and Jared were going through a divorce, as Jared told Shelby two weeks prior that he was leaving her for another woman. Jared seemed unbothered as he waited patiently for their son, but Shelby was struggling with an emotional war inside.
She wondered how after twelve years of marriage, twelve years of her sacrificing and putting him first, he could just walk into the arms of another woman. When he confessed to her that he’d been having an affair and wanted to leave her for the other woman, she slowly sat down on the big comfy sectional couch in their cozy living room and went numb. She was like a movie buffering when it needs more time to provide what comes next. She didn’t say a word. She stared past him as he apologized and told her he never wanted to hurt her, but he realized he never really loved her. The nerve of him to take everything she had given him over the years knowing he had nothing real to give her in return. He told her she could keep the house and have primary custody of their son, and then he picked up the single bag he’d packed and left.
Despite having gone through several rushes of negative emotions since that day, she found herself yet again standing in front of him on the porch they’d once shared at a loss for words. She didn’t dare mention to him the emotional anguish she’d been going through because of his selfish decisions.
Their son stepped out onto the porch with his backpack and was visibly uncomfortable with the current situation.”Don’t worry, I know you and your dad are going to have fun this weekend, and I’ll be here waiting for you when it’s time for you to come back”, Shelby said. He maintained the uncomfortable look on his face and gave his mother a hug. Jared turned to walk to the car as if he were leading the child without physical contact or saying a word. Shelby watched as they backed out of the driveway, but was suddenly hit with another rush of emotion. She stepped inside of the house, closed the door, and came to a complete stop. For the first time since she could remember, she was completely alone.
She felt isolated, like an alien in this new life she was struggling to adapt to. She leaned back, putting all of her weight on the door, then slid down as if an anchor was pulling her to the bottom of the ocean until she was sitting on the floor with her face buried in her knees. Realizing she didn’t have to be concerned that her son may hear her, she took a deep breath and let out a wailing cry, and then another, and another. She continued to cry, realizing it was much needed. She thought about the fact that she had no idea of how to move forward, and that she’d never really had anything that was just for her. After about fifteen minutes of soul baring tears, the tears stopped. She’d developed a headache and got up to lie down on the couch.
As she lay back on the couch, she looked around the living room to recognize that the house was filled with memories of Jared, most of which she’d rather forget. She seriously contemplated burning the entire house down, but figured she shouldn’t put her son through any more than he was already dealing with. He too seemed to be suffering in silence, much like Shelby within the last two weeks. She shifted her thinking to a more practical solution. “I am going to completely redecorate”, she thought. I can sell most of what we have and start fresh. The thought alone gave her spirit a much needed lift… she was actually beginning to feel a little excited.
Shelby looked at the time and realized she’d been so caught up in accepting the fact that her son now has to leave her to spend time with his dad, she hadn’t thought about what she would eat for dinner. Naturally, her appetite had been almost nonexistent since Jared left, but tonight, she was hungry. She had the freedom to choose whatever she wanted to eat without having to consider anyone else. This small freedom somehow made her feel as though she had the world at her feet, like a door had opened to lead her to endless possibilities. After a quick search on her phone, she decided to have thai food delivered. She loved thai food, but hadn’t had it in years because Jared didn’t like it. Forty-five minutes later, she received her dinner and found herself sitting in front of the television with yet another new found freedom… choosing a movie, just for her. She enjoyed every bit of her dinner and ended up falling asleep before the movie she’d chosen ended.
The next morning she awakened, still on the couch. She wondered what she might get into, realizing the entire day belonged to her. As she ate a small breakfast, she decided she would take a morning jog at a park near her house. She’d always admired the beauty of the park with its larger than life trees hovering over a well paved and winding trail, and a variety of colorful flowers to create a beautiful, scenic route for anyone walking or jogging along the trail. She finished her breakfast and quickly changed in preparation for her jog. She felt as though she couldn’t get to the park fast enough.
Once at the park, Shelby found herself jogging at a fairly slow pace and taking in the beauty surrounding her. The wind in the full towering trees, the smell of the grass, and the array of flowers all seemed to be working harmoniously to bring her a sense of peace. “I desperately needed this”, she thought.
Shelby returned home after her jog and drew herself a bath. She lit some candles around the bathtub and threw in some lavender scented bath bombs she’d had for months but never had the opportunity to use. She indulged by enjoying her bath for an entire hour, interruption free. After spending so many years making sure both Jared and their son were always taken care of, the luxury of her enjoying anything uninterrupted had become a distant memory.
Later that evening, Shelby sat under a blanket on her couch finishing up the movie she’d fallen asleep on the night before. She heard a loud roll of thunder, and a lightening strike followed, lighting up both windows in her living room. She found herself feeling a bit emotional, thinking of her son and how he’s usually nervous during thunderstorms. She wished she could be with him at that moment. She wanted to be able to calm him as she usually does, and she picked up her phone to call Jared. She held the phone in her hand, staring at Jared’s name and number for a bit. She put her phone down on the coffee table, trying her hardest to convince herself that Jared will make sure their son feels safe and secure. She then decided to grab her phone and go into her bedroom. She cracked her large window open which was fairly close to her bed. The sound of the rain soothed her, and she rested her head on her pillow, took a deep breath and closed her eyes, allowing the storm to bring her peace. Her fear and anxiety faded, and she fell into a sweet, peaceful sleep.
Shelby awakened the next morning with the sunrise feeling renewed. Her son would be back later that evening, and she was ready for him. She sat up in her bed feeling a profound sense of gratitude, so she thought she should journal about it. Growing up she journaled often, but after she married Jared, her time for journaling became nearly absolite. She pulled her floral decorated journal she’d never used and her pen from the nightstand drawer next to her bed, and began to write. She wrote about the excitement she felt for her future, and how Jared leaving and her forced isolation over the weekend was a gift. She’d been so caught up in Jared’s world, she never realized she’d completely lost herself. The more she wrote, the more she felt as though her heart would explode with joy! For the first time, she was finding herself. “It’s the start of a new journey, and I’m ready!”, she wrote. She decided that Jared’s weekends with their son would also be weekends just for her.
no matter what, twelve years was long enough to leave permanent mark, it would take a while for not feeling alone