Jill woke up, looked across at the tangled sheets on the other bed and wondered, with a slight catch in her breath, whether a miracle had occurred and Anthony had actually remembered their anniversary. She took some deep breaths. After 14 years and three kids, can you expect it? The magazine articles all said yes, you should get something, some acknowledgement that you had somehow managed to last 14 years together. She carefully washed her face and got dressed. She decided to wear something attractive, something nice.
Still taking those deep breaths, she came downstairs. There was Anthony, buried behind the newspaper. Imagine, he had the capability of messaging on his phone while reading the newspaper. Just as she came downstairs, he glanced her way, said, “Gotta run,” and left the house. Ever the realist, Jill noted that at least his glance was not mean—something that could flicker up from time to time.
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But she could only hold that positive outlook momentarily, and then the façade came down. A stab of pain went through her. Was this going to be my life forever? Is this the way it really is? Crumpling up into a ball on the floor, Jill broke down into uncontrollable sobs.
She didn’t know how long she sat there on the floor, crying. Eventually, she got up, and, in a daze, went about her chores for the day. She made it to work, late, made it home, attended to the children, all the while as if in a dream. An idea was forming in her mind. The idea tickled her; it embodied both revenge and, more importantly, a goody for herself.
Jill hung onto her daydream for two more days, contemplating a way, an emotional way, out of her prison. She recognized that she had no intention of ending the marriage. First of all, Anthony was an excellent, loving father. The kids adored him. And she knew of plenty of children who were forever leery of relationships because of their parents’ breakup. She was not about to do that to her children.
Second, there was a bond with Anthony, and she couldn’t shake the truth of that. They had been through so much together. When the chips were down, like when her father suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack, Anthony had been there for her. She’d been there for him, too, and he knew it. Jill couldn’t envision a world without Anthony, as much as she felt left out of his.
But there was this guy who popped into her office now and then, an absolutely gorgeous man, Brett, who always said something funny. He lifted her spirits. And he’d been asking her for coffee. She’d always refused. What if she went? What’s the big deal about coffee, anyway?
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She could see this liaison as a solution to everything: There would be someone out there who made her laugh, made her feel special, cute, intelligent, fun-loving, all the things she thought she had been which seemed to have died on the vine in her marriage. And best of all, she wouldn’t be doing anything wrong. Her empty cup would fill up and no one would get hurt.