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The separation had been particularly hard on her. He seemed to take it in stride like nothing of their 18 years together mattered. He lost his spark for her, it was gone and she was slowly fading away. She noticed it first the week after she moved out. She arrived at his house, the house they once shared, to find all of the pictures with her in them, gone. The ones with him and the children remained, but any image of her ceased to exist. All of her touches on the house: the mantle arranged just so, the kitchen counter, the chairs at the dining room table. Different. Gone. They hadn’t vanished. They weren’t missing..... they were missing her. The process was going faster than she’d thought. She was being wiped away. Wipe by wipe, she was being erased. She pictured herself as the remnants of eraser leavings on a piece of paper. The kids remained, he remained, the house remained, but she was erased out and blown away, just some rubber pieces brushed away to the floor.

She moved out five months ago. She couldn’t stay in a house that had so many memories of her happily oblivious life. The happy life she led with her amazing doting husband who was supportive of her career, her choices, their relationship. He was wonderful. He loved her. She knew it. She worshipped him and hung on his every word. Anyone who knew them, knew, they loved each other. He did not spend his time in the same oblivion she did. His lens was muddied. Murky with lies, other women, cheating, and disrespect. The stench of adultery, the pain of guilt and regret, no so much, she suspected for her, but more for himself. He was sad? Probably. Sad he got caught? Maybe. Sad he had to go through this? Could be. Sad over his own guilt? Most likely.

Guilt wasn’t a player when he became emotionally attached to a nobody. Certainly not guilt for his wife, their children, their life. It didn’t matter to him. His spark for her was gone. He could no longer fake it. He could no longer pretend he wanted her as his wife. He wanted new. A new chase, a new romance, a new spark. A nobody who could show him that he was never happy with her.

She can’t give you what you need like I can.
I love you and will be whoever you want me to be—need me to be.
I am here for you whenever you need me to give you what you want. What you aren’t getting from her. 

The nobody is suddenly a somebody and the process begins. Wipe.

She tries to make it work. She loses herself in fixing the mess she somehow was led to believe she made. She accepts what has happened and shifts her gears. She becomes her own hero and works to forgive. She becomes her own hero by rising past and rising above. However, she cannot be his hero, it is too late. Wipe.

There would be no counseling. There would be no forgiveness. He would not gravel. She could never take him back. He would freeze her out. He told her things to push her farther away, to make her angry to make her hate him. It failed. She would never hate him. It took more of her energy to hate than it did to simply step back slowly from the situation.

He told her he could not forget about the nobody because now she was a somebody. Wipe.

“ I will always love you Claire, I have just lost the spark I had for you. She gives me that. I want that and I deserve

to be happy.” WIPE.

She could no longer take it. She didn’t have the tears to give. He had tapped her out. She didn’t have the strength left to fight for something only she wanted. Exhausted and defeated and in an effort to take the high ground, she left him. Wipe.

“Claire? Wow! We certainly haven’t seen you around in a while!”

It was one of the neighborhood mothers, Jen. She knew she risked running into one of them when she went to this grocer, but it was close to her apartment. She thought she could go in unnoticed and get out unscathed.

“But, we have definitely seen that husband of yours around...oh he still your husband? Your ex? Soon to be ex? You know I never know how to address or say the right thing in this type of unfortunate circumstance”
She called it circumstance. She called it unfortunate. Pity AND ignorance? Claire wondered to herself if she ever was truly friends with her. Someone who took an 18 year relationship and reduced it to an unfortunate circumstance? She didn’t ooze confusion, it was toxicity.

“Peter, his name is Peter. You can call him that.” Claire smiled and looked past her. Standing behind Jen was her 8 year peeking out from behind her mother, clearly, also uncomfortable with the current ’circumstance’ going on in the grocery store.

“Well Peter has certainly been making his way around the neighborhood parties, school functions and other goings on. We just saw him at the kids band concert. It was quite fun. Where were you?”

Concert? Peter didn’t mention there was a concert. WIPE

“Oh yes well I started a new job and couldn’t get out of work. I heard it was wonderful though.”
Claire smiled.

She wondered if Jen bought it.

“Well good for you! A new job? Brava! How about new man for you?” She was both patronizing and inquisitive.

No, its a little soon for me. I am more ready to focus on me and take each day as it comes. I’m really trying to heal from all of this and make sure my kids are okay. My focus is on them
Claire was blown away by Jen’s nosiness. A man? She could barely make it out of bed every day let alone think about getting fancy for another guy that wasn’t her husband. It was too soon. The ink wasn’t dry and it was ink. It’s hard to erase ink.

“Let me tell you girl, Peter has wasted no time. A few weeks ago he was at a BBQ with some ‘lady friend’ at the Nelsons. The girls and me were thinking how weird it was for him to bring someone around so soon, you know especially with all of the kids there. He seemed to act like you knew and that you were fine with it.”
Jen looked down her nose and leaned in.
“I’m sure you aren’t honey, we moms all got your back and didn’t even give that girl a chance!” she folded her arms as if proud of her protectiveness.
WIPE. Ink smeared.

Claire took a deep breath. She didn’t want to give too much to show her how angry, hurt, betrayed, belittled and disrespected she felt at that very moment. She didn’t want this stranger who seems to have only her ‘best intentions’ in mind- let her see the clenching of fists, the tightening of her chest the sinking in her stomach she felt at that moment. Getting caught off guard is one thing. Getting caught in the middle of a blizzard in your underwear was something entirely different. She wasn’t ready for this. Wasn’t ready to hear this. She felt her face flush.

“I certainly appreciate you looking out for me, but, Peter is an adult. He may not make the choices I would make but they are his to make because he has the freedom and power to choose his behavior. He has always had choices. Better to just take it as it comes and deal with it the best you can.”She had no idea what she had said or what Jen said in response. She didn’t care, she just wanted to get out of there as soon as humanly possible as she was about to have some circumstance of her own that was certain to be unfortunate, tear filled and regret laden. She was dust on a chalkboard. The remains of an eraser that had done its job. It was waiting to be blown away.

“Claire, really, we should get together more often. The next time we have a get together I will be sure to ring you, or better yet shoot you a text!” Jen looked at her sympathetically. The way people look at dogs in the cages at the pound.
“I would like that” Claire said “I’d like that a lot”. She smiled and walked off. She ditched her full cart as fast as she could and went home.

She never heard from Jen again. She didn’t hear from any of the moms who she was once so close to. They had erased her. Wipe. Easier to walk past her, wave politely and smile then to have a constant reminder of what could happen in their own obliviously happy lives.
“What an unfortunate circumstance.” they’d whisper.
“Truly the saddest case. I’m glad its not me”. they’d say relieved.

“Can you even imagine?” “Ugh I could never!” they would smile and nod to each other. Secretly each of them hoped and prayed the same really never did happen to them.

She returned home from the grocery. She walked into her empty apartment. It was warm on that Friday night. She walked out to her balcony and sat down to watch the sunset he’d never seen from there. She poured herself a glass of wine in a glass he had never drank from. She sat down on her couch that they’d never sat in together. She looked at the apartment he didn’t help her choose. She saw the pictures of her children, art work, various other pictures and memories, none of which he was in. She saw the TV that they didn’t pick out together. She walked into the kitchen and opened the microwave he’d never use. She admired her handiwork on the sticky oven door she fixed that she didn’t need his help for. She walked through her kids empty rooms and thought about Sunday,
the beginning of her week with them. A beginning of the week he wouldn’t be there for. She pictured herself tucking them into beds, he would never tuck them into. She walked into her bedroom and looked at her closets and thought about the clothes he would never hang in them. She walked to the bathroom and saw her toothbrush in the holder on the counter, he would never house a brush in. She walked into her bedroom and sat on the bed they would never again share.
She put her head in her hands and started to cry. It wasn’t just Claire who was being erased. Either deliberately or unknowingly, she was slowly erasing Peter out too. 
Blowing him away, wipe.
Just some rubber pieces wiped away to the floor.

Thanks for listening friends
With Love from,
A Horrible Mother


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