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Short Story by Marva Seaton

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Abandoned but Not Defeated

`     I remember quite clearly just like it was yesterday, the day my world fell apart.  I suppose now looking back I should have seen it coming.  I had heard the rumors and I had seen the signs but yet somehow I would not let myself believe that Robert would  do me wrong.  We had four children together, the youngest being only four months old at the time.  What man, I told myself, would walk out on his family especially with a young child just added to the family.  I was wrong.

Robert had started going to church very regular.  He never once asked me to accompany him, but I did not think much of it. Then the rumors started flying around that he was involved with one of his church sisters.  I chose to ignore the rumors.  I wanted to believe that his reason for going to church was to give thanks to God and nothing more.  Until he actually told me he was leaving me, I never believed any of the stories I heard.  I was in denial.

It was a weekend I will always remember.  It was Saturday and I was getting ready to take the children to my mom‘s place for a long overdue visit when Robert came into our bedroom.  He had gotten up early and was ready to leave for church.  He came towards me and I could tell that he had something on his mind.

“When will you be back?” he asked.

“Late Sunday evening,” I said.

“I won’t be here when you get back,” he said.

I nodded not quite understanding what he was trying to tell me.

“Are you going out somewhere?” I asked.

“No,” he said.  “I am just not going to be here anymore.”

For a split second my heart stopped.  I looked in his eyes and my worst fears were confirmed, he was leaving me!

I felt as if I had been punched in the gut and yet I managed to keep my voice steady and controlled as I said to him, “Would you mind explaining to me what this is all about?”

“I have met someone,” he said.  “I am going to marry her.”

I looked at him this man who was my childhood sweet heart.  I remember how much I had defied my parents to be with him.  I remember how warm and passionate he had been back them.  Now there was no warmth in his eyes.  He was so calm about it to the point of coldness.

Tears threatened.  He was surgically dissecting me.  The knife was plunged into my heart but I knew I should not crumble.  It hurt like hell but I swore I wouldn’t let him see me cry, not over him.

If Robert found it so easy to walk out on us I was not going to beg him to stay.  If the life we had meant nothing then he could go.  He took my virginity at fifteen.  I bore him our first child at eighteen.  We were together for fifteen years.  I was apparently good enough for sex, good enough to give him children but not good enough to marry.

“Well best of luck,” I said.

He looked at me kind of weird.  This was definitely not the response he was expecting.  Truthfully I didn’t quite know what I was saying.  I was feeling all numb inside.  The man I had given fifteen years of my life to, was leaving me, not just me, he was abandoning our children.

I wanted to ask him why but then I thought whatever his answer was, it wasn’t going to ease my pain.

“You need to tell the children, ” I said.

He nodded and walked out of the room.

The baby started crying, I picked him out and rocked him against my chest.  I wanted to cry too, but I knew I couldn’t.  I had to be strong.

I don’t know what he said to the children because shortly afterwards my two girls ten year-old Natasha and nine year-old Melissa came to me crying.

“Is it true?” they both asked.  “Is daddy really leaving?

I nodded, I couldn’t speak.  I just wanted to hold them close and tell them everything was going to be okay.

Robert Junior came into the room. He didn’t say anything, he just looked at me as I stood there trying to keep a brave face as I reassured the girls that we were going to be fine.  He came and put his arms around me.

“You are going to be okay mom,” he said.  “We are going to get through this.”

I was surprised yet proud of the mature manner in which he was handling his father’s announcement that he was leaving.  I hugged my son.

“Yes we are going to be okay,” I told him with more conviction than I felt.

That morning all I had was my pride, my stubborn pride that would not let me cry or beg him not to go.  I did not cry in front of the children either.  I did not cry until I got to my mom‘s place and was alone with her in her room.

My mother was furious when I told her that Robert was leaving me to get married.  At first she thought I was joking and then she said “Are you sure he is not on drugs?”

I guess she thought he was not in his right mind.  But then I told her about the rumors and about the woman he was leaving me for.

She went all thoughtful and silent. Finally she said, “You know what if he wants to walk out on his family there isn’t much you can do, just make sure that he takes care of his children.  He is an ass and maybe someday he will realize how much of an ass he is.  You are just thirty, you are still young and you still have your life ahead of you.”

I knew that my mom was right.  My life wasn’t over.  Another thing that gave me comfort was the fact that although I am not a conceited person I felt I looked a hell of a lot better than the woman he was leaving me for.

He married he like he said he would and I won’t lie to you it hurt like crazy.  For weeks it was the talk of the town.  Every time I went out with the children I could feel stares directed our way.  People had conversations with each other about what had happened. A lot of people in my neighborhood were very sympathetic towards me but I did not want pity, I wanted revenge.  I wanted to get back at him.  I wanted to make him hurt in the same way he had hurt me.

After a while the need for revenge faded to be replaced by a burning desire to show him what a fool he was for walking out on the best thing he had ever had in his life, me and his children.  I wanted to show him that I was more than just a body designed to bear children.  I needed to show him that I could be anything I wanted to be.

I had always been interested in nursing and when I applied to and was accepted by a renowned nursing school, I knew I was on the way to make my dream of  being a registered nurse become a reality.  My mom was by my side every step of the way, assisting me with the children.  With her help and my part time job I buckled my belt and tried to mane ends meet.

During this period Robert hardly saw the children.  I received money from him once in a while, usually when I was too broke to provide for them and called him to let him know his children had nothing to eat.  Most times if I didn’t call I wouldn’t get anything.  He was too busy providing for his new wife and her two children who weren’t his.

My burning desire to have a profession that would at least give me some financial independence was the fuel which propelled me to work hard at achieving my goal.  I knew no matter how rough it got I would not quit.

Three years went by quicker than I had anticipated.  On my graduation day I cried, but this time it was tears of joy.  I was proud of my accomplishment.

A few months later I was working on the surgical ward of the local hospital when a patient who had been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident earlier that morning, after under going surgery was admitted to the ward.  I had heard about the three car collision when I came on duty that evening but my shift was busy and I had not gotten around to find out who the victims were.

When the porter wheeled the patient in I momentarily went into a state of shock as I came face to face with the man who had walked out of my life four years before.  Robert, my children’s father was one of the victims of that morning’s accident and he had lost both legs.  All the anger and hate that I had in my heart for him for the way he had treated me and his children melted away.  I looked at him and all I felt was pity.

His wife was there beside him and I could see she had been crying.  Her eyes were red and puffy and even as he was being wheeled in she was wiping tears from her eyes.  But when she came face to face with me she tried to put on a brave face.

I had nerves of steel that evening.  I kept my professional cool, treated him just like I would any other patient.  After the porter helped me get him into bed I adjusted his pillows, made sure he was comfortable and asked if there was anything he needed.  I kept my emotions in check while making a mental note that I would probably have to make the children come and visit him.

There was an awkward silence between us.  It was as if those fifteen years  we had spent together never happened.  Under normal circumstances I suppose I would be telling him I was sorry about him losing his legs, but this was not normal circumstances. This was the man who had abandoned me and my children and here was the woman who had allowed him to do so.

I knew he was still highly sedated and I wondered how he was going to deal with the fact that he had lost his legs when he was more alert and conscious of his situation.  I knew how much he took pride in his appearance and how he used to work out to maintain his fine physique.

I turned and looked at her.  I couldn’t help it.  I just looked, I didn’t say anything but something in my expression must have told her what I was thinking because she turned to me and said.

“I’m sorry we didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“It’s okay,” I said.

I raised my left hand to display my flashy engagement ring sparkling with diamonds and I sore I saw him wince when he saw the ring on my finger.  Life has a way of turning out just the way it was meant to be I thought.  Who could have told me I would have met someone as wonderful as Stephen.  Who could have told me a man would declare his undying love for a woman who already had four kids, but he had.

When I met him two years ago I was afraid to let my heart believe that I could love again. I did not believe it was possible for me to care for anyone again but Stephen made a believer out of me.  I thought I would have scared him off when I told him I had four children, but if anything the hurt I had been through made him want to protect and care for me even more.  Four years ago I did not dream of getting married much less becoming a doctor’s wife.  But a month ago he proposed and it was as if my wildest dream had come true.

“It’s okay,” I said once more.  “Life had a way of turning out exactly how it was meant to be.”

I knew in the present circumstances my words might have sounded somewhat unkind, but it was the truth.  It was exactly how I felt.  Sometimes the truth hurts but that’s just the way it is.

( C ) 2013 Marva Seaton

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