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Perfect Love Story (Love 1) Natasha Madison 2022/8/3 13:48:47

“It’s me and you on the beach.” She points out her and me—my body bigger than anything else with two stick legs. “When you are all better, we can go look for seashells.”

With the picture in my hand, I focus on the two of us, and the dreaded feeling I’ve lived with for so long is now dull. I don’t know when it happened, but at that moment, my heart doesn’t hurt. Not even when I think about when Eric and I walked down the beach, picking up our own seashells. “Do you want to?” she asks. I look up at Delores and Heidi, who have both stopped and are staring at me.

“Whenever you want to go, you tell me, and I’ll bring a bucket where we can put them all inside.” I smile through the tears that threaten to fall. “Thank you so much, guys, for all the presents, but you didn’t have to.”

Delores pats my hand as she shakes her head. “There isn’t anything in the world that could thank you for what you did.” I nod, unable to say anything over the big lump in my throat, so I listen to Mila tell us a story about how she wants to be a mermaid.

They spend the rest of the hour with me. Heidi makes coffee, and I try to get up and serve them but am told to sit. So I take out the coloring book and color with Mila and discuss how the weather is changing and my plans for the weekend, which consists of ordering stuff for my office. They both ask if they can come with me, and even Mila says she wants to come, so we plan the shopping trip for Saturday. I hobble to the door to say goodbye to them and watch them drive off. Going back inside, I take my computer out back, where I sit on the swing and continue to work. But my mind is all over the place. The calmness of this place makes me think back to all my memories of Eric.

How come I didn’t see all the signs he had another life? I close the laptop, knowing I’m not going to get anymore work done today. I sit there with my leg propped up on the swing as the past year of my life replays in my mind.

“I just got a call,” he would say as he came downstairs with his bag already packed, “but I should be back in a couple of days.”

I never questioned anything. The calls he would make would never be at night, only during the day.

“I’m going to call you tomorrow. I will probably work through the night to make sure I finish earlier.” I shake my head, thinking I was such an idiot

He only FaceTimed from his rental car, but was it even a rental? I try to think back to remember if the seats were the same color. “The hotels have the worse Wi-Fi connections.”

How did I never suspect anything? How he couldn’t keep his hands off me, attacking me the minute he came into the house. “I can’t get enough of you.”

The times we lay in bed late at night, both of us on our stomachs as we discussed our dreams. His dream to finally have a job where he didn’t have to travel and to see me pregnant. My dream to finally be a mother to however many babies God wanted to give us.

“A penny for your thoughts.” I hear from behind me. I turn around and see Crystal looking at me. “You look a million miles away.”

I shake my head as I rub away a tear I didn’t know was running down my cheek. “Just thinking,” I tell her. She comes over to the swing, picks up my feet, and then sets them on her lap when she sits down. We swing and watch the waves crash into the sand. “You know if you think about it,” I start, my eyes never leaving the water, “the signs were all there that something was going on.” I laugh. “All there … I was just too blind to see.”

“If you were blind, then I guess we all were. None of us suspected anything.”

“But you guys didn’t live with him.” I inhale. “I was such a fool.”

“No, you weren’t.” She tries to convince me I wasn’t, but anger now replaces the pain I’ve felt for the past month.

“I hate him,” I say, my eyes watching the buoy in the distance as it sways from side to side. “Like with my whole heart. For as much love as I had for him, I have just as much hatred.” A tear slips down my face as I finally realize I will never have the answers I seek because I will never get a chance to confront him. I will never get that closure, and I will have to find that within myself. He may have left me with questions I have to look for in myself. Answers I have to come up with on my own.