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Spring – a microstory

I knew this day would come. It was clear from the start, but I ignored the neon warning signs and charged ahead. Straight into the arms of someone else’s man. Am I a total fool? Yes. A selfish, self-indulgent bitch? Yes. Damned to the cheap lace hell of adulterers? I certainly hope so, sir. Pleading guilty to all charges. Going down in a flash of someone else's fireworks.

She will love him, surely. Most likely, she always has. He will play the good husband, married to the perfect lady. A couple inspiring future generations of perfect couples. They will have well-behaved, perfectly-mannered children a la Emily Post. They will attend charity galas and host holiday gatherings.

I, however, am single at 41. Not the best odds for chocolate Labradors and white picket fences, returning home to a full house, and retiring early in a nice New York suburb located within a fantastic school district. Whoopee. Instead, chocolate martinis and white leather barstools, turning the lock to a silent home, and retiring early to the latest New York Times bestseller on my bedside table. At least I will be well-read in my old age.

I am not complaining. Didn't make a bed, don't have one to sleep in. Father Nirrem will be so pleased come confession after Christmas mass. Time to consider a few charitable contributions to even out the scales. Doubt God is really paying attention anyway.

I never meant to feel anything. Ah, who am I kidding? But, I never meant to fall in love. I'm no Diane Lane or Kyra Sedgwick looking 35 at 45. I'm just me, having an affair with my 34 year old VP. Just about as classy as the 200 dollar Bloomingdales's gift certificate my assistant picked up for Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Greer.

They'd planned a spring wedding because Jessica wanted tulips and April was the month for tulips. So Wayne and I had given ourselves a deadline. Deadlines for affairs of the company; deadlines for affairs of the heart. It had seemed so efficient then.

And now it was spring. Neither of us said a word, but the snow had receded weeks ago and Manhattan was blooming. Wayne skipped a few meetings to attend fittings. Then a couple more for rehearsals. Early this week he'd applied for vacation. And now, here we are, on the front steps of St. Patrick's. He's not even Catholic. Or Irish.

Walking up the steps, I rearrange my expression to one of polite joy that is expected of a boss. Wayne breaks into a smile when he sees me. He gives my arm a meaningful squeeze, except I can't be sure of the meaning. We'd never discussed the end. This could be goodbye, for all I know. I squeeze back.

"Thanks for coming, M," he says, all smiles.

I break eye contact and continue past him to make way for others, heart clenching. I didn't think it would hurt this much. Did he hurt, too? God, I’m pathetic. The lady at the reception table asks for my name.

"Matilda. Matilda Gallagher."

"Here you are," she says, crossing my name off a list. “Groom’s side.” I redden.
 
"Plus one, or?"

Should really be Minus One, given the circumstances. I flash a smile in case she detects the heavy dose of guilt mixed with the heady pulp of a mangled heart.

"No. Just me," I respond. 

Leaving the spring sunshine behind, I enter the chilly cathedral and pray for grace.

 

 

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