Hindsight's a wonderful thing. If I had turned the other way, I never would have seen her. Or have the fallout of razor sharp thoughts nestled in my shopping cart among fresh fruit and frozen waffles. Hate it when that happens. Why can't internal ugliness be stuffed in plastic bags and deposited in the nearest recycle bin?
Her name is Beth Ann. A blast from the past, intent on interrupting my nice cozy reality with pain that still singes like yesterday. The ache of deception doesn't always depart nor can it be dismissed by an act of will. Despite the years, a glimpse of her can catapult me back to a place I don't care to revisit. Where pride was stripped away and humiliation took up permanent residence.
I hustle through the meat section with unsteady hands, cursing the fact that I live in a small town. She and I often end up in mutual territory but resort to evasive tactics in order to avoid any physical interaction. Too bad the same maneuver doesn't get rid of the swirl in my head.
Tension always sparks whenever we're in the same vicinity and my blood begins to simmer with contempt. As she sashays by in her skimpy short-shorts and bleached out hair, I wonder if this mad cycle within will ever end. And wrestle with the fact that I really want to slap the smirk off her face.
"Reach out, reach out and touch someone." Oh, wouldn't I love to.
The old commercial jingle flits through my brain and I snicker. While the temptation is great, I restrain myself. Maybe I could qualify it with a comment about the "laying of hands?" Probably not.
My conscience begins to prick and red-hot shame stains the back of my neck. After all, I'm a Christian. Shouldn't I turn the other cheek and forgive? Be Jesus with skin on, as they say in church. But did Jesus ever suffer such shame as I had at the hands of this woman? The same hands that stole my husband and robbed me of the life I deserved.
Beth Ann's reputation preceded her from high school days. She'd been notorious for her antics with men ever since she was a teen and as she got older, ramped it up to epic proportions. Breaking up marriages became a sport and she excelled. Her skillful feminine wiles zeroed in on my spouse after they met at a co-ed softball game. She tired of him quickly and moved on to the next victim. Although her sporting expertise was mediocre, apparently she found her niche in a different arena. In anyone else, I would find the whole thing incredibly sad. For her? Not so much.
Of course, my husband was not an innocent casualty. He wasn't in a vacuum and needed to take responsibility for his actions. Personal issues plagued him at the time and he naively fell prey as she wove a web of deceit that choked the life out of our marriage vows. They never recovered.
I stared as she sauntered off and decided it was probably time to step down off my self-righteous soapbox. Maybe muster up a little compassion. I know she has been married and divorced at least once but beyond that, her life is a mystery except for what is public knowledge on FaceBook. Yes, I've cyber-stalked.
My curiosity about who she is now as opposed to then puzzles me. Unsure why I care as I remain in my judgmental little world, I still wonder what her life has become. Does she live with remorse or guilt? Are there conversations that run through her head about what she would say to me, given the chance? My catty self thinks not. Yet I yearn for some kind of closure to the gaping wound that still bleeds after all these years.
A clank of metal jerks me out of my revelry as shopping carts collide and I find myself staring at the object of my hostile thoughts.
"Oh, hi. Sorry about that. I must not have been paying any attention." Nervous laughter bubbles out while uncertain eyes search mine. And as I wheel about to make my escape, a butterfly touch brushes my arm.
"Katie, could I talk to you a minute?"
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