In a rare moment of quiet the week before her wedding, Amanda found herself alone with thoughts of her past. She thought she had found “the one” 18 years ago when she was in college. They married the month after graduation in her dream ceremony. Six sorority sisters in beautiful cobalt blue dresses that she knew in her heart they all hated, but had worn for her. She wore a stunning silk satin ball gown with beaded Alençon lace covered the bodice. The reception with all the flowers, food and dancing had been dreamy, a night she would never want to forget.
Ten years after that beautiful wedding, Amanda remembered taking a break from her job, and running to the drugstore to pick up some shampoo. Trouble in her marriage with Doug never occurred to her. She had heard them before she saw them. Heads together, they debated which condoms to buy. Karen, her best friend, had a wedding anniversary that would have been the next month. Maybe Doug was helping her pick out some special condoms for the occasion, though that didn’t make sense and would have been weird and creepy, nonetheless. They hadn’t seen Amanda as she ran out of the store, not stopping until she was safely in her cubicle. Preparing for this kind of situation had never been on her radar, and she tried to keep it all together so she could do her job.
Karen had been one of Amanda’s bridesmaids, and had such a happy marriage with Frank. He traveled a lot, but she didn’t seem to mind. How could Doug have chosen to be with Karen when he and Amanda had such a perfect marriage? They were soulmates! She had held back tears as she gave her boss a flimsy excuse about cramps and left work.
After the heart-wrenching confrontation and confession, she had decided to try to work things out with Doug. Living in a small town where everyone knows your business made it especially difficult, even though they had attempted to make everything normal. Amanda snorted, “yeah, normal. Hah!”
Several months of expensive marriage counseling later, it had become evident that it was not going to work out. They divorced, and Karen and Doug married.
Karen and Doug were happy, but Amanda was shell-shocked for a long time. She had hidden behind displays when she encountered them out shopping, and had sat in the front of the church they all attended to avoid seeing them and having a panic attack. Thank God (seriously, Amanda thought) they had the decency to sit at the back and sneak out early. Still, she had felt their presence everywhere.
Despite the passing of six years, Amanda had continued to experience panic attacks, and depression. She had lost weight and hardly slept. She had continued therapy, and one night, in a group session for betrayed spouses, she met Cal. They started meeting before the session for coffee, and unexpectedly realized they had become a couple. Their courtship was long, both suffering from genuine trust issues.
On an afternoon a year ago, sitting at their regular coffee shop before group, Cal pulled out a tiny box and laid it on the table. Amanda looked up into Cal’s eyes, and without him saying anything, she said yes. Like being pulled out of the dark well that she had dwelled in for so long, Amanda saw blue sky, heard birds singing, people cheering, and happy tears flowed from her eyes.
They hadn’t gone to group that night or ever again. The bright future shown before them, and they had a wedding to plan!
“Hey Amanda, there you are! The florist needs to talk to you about your bouquet.”
Jolted back to the present when she heard Cal shouting for her, she looked up and smiled knowing he meant everything to her, and the hold those cheaters had on her had long since loosened.
This fictional story was prompted by the sentence “Their hold on me had long since loosened.”