Buying the Fairy Tale

September 20, 2016

 

“It’s not impossible to be in love with two people at the same time... it’s just a terrible idea." I avoided her eyes and picked at my salad.

 

Rebecca, one of my closest friends, drained her wine glass. “That sounds like a line from one of your novels.”

 

“No, but I should write it down.” I knew she wanted a different answer—an answer that would make it all okay.

 

“I’m serious, Kate. I don’t know how this happened. I never meant to hurt anyone.” She sat back and pinned me with her eyes. “You of all people should understand.”

 

I did understand, but I also knew she lied when she said she was in love with two men. She may love them both—after all love comes in many varieties. Rebecca loved her husband like she loved rum raisin ice cream, but her feelings for Derrek ran white-hot and would likely end in a flash-bang.

 

“Was it a God voice or a David Byrne moment?” I tossed my napkin onto my half-eaten salad.

 

“What?” She leaned forward.

 

"When you looked around and asked yourself, Is this my life? Did the answer sound like James Earl Jones's voice saying ‘...and God said, Let there be light, and there was, and it was good,’ or was it whiny like David Byrne singing, ‘This is not my automobile! This is not my beautiful house!’” I wanted to believe that whichever voice she heard, whichever message, was a life-defining moment for her.

 

“Definitely, David Byrne.” She motioned to the waiter for another glass of wine. “Which did you hear?”

 

“Neither.” My life-defining moment felt more like a season of discontent. It started around my thirtieth birthday when I looked around and thought, This is it? I asked the same question every day for two years before I threw away a five-year relationship in the hope of something more.

 

"I can't stay in a marriage without passion." Rebecca nodded as if she needed confirmation.

 

“I understand.” I smiled. I couldn’t tell her that I’d woken in tears yet again. I hadn’t realized how much I would miss waking up next to someone who remembered my name in the morning. I longed for boring, the security of familiarity, and the sense of understanding that came from mature love.

 

“I’m going to ask for a divorce.”

 

“To be with Derrek?”

 

“Yes. Kate, you are going to love him. He’s funny, and interesting, and seriously hot. Let me show you…” She continued to prattle on about her lover while scrolling through her phone.

 

“Do you really want to be with someone who would sleep with a married woman?”

 

Rebecca's eyes widened as shock, horror, and finally, anger settled on her features. "You did."

 

I tilted my head and held my hands up. She had me dead to rights. I had pressed the self-destruct button on my life three years ago. My sister said I couldn’t settle down because I’m a Leo. My mother blamed it on being a first born and bossy. Rebecca said I was a natural flirt and needed someone who wouldn’t stifle my creativity. I knew the truth then, and I know it now. I destroyed my marriage because I’d bought into the fairy tale. I thought I’d fallen out of love when the new relationship hormones settled, the sex slowed, and the marriage grew predictable. In novels and movies, the story ends with happily ever after, but no one tells you what that means.

 

“I thought you would be supportive.” She folded her arms, pouting.

 

I smiled despite my concerns. “I’m behind you, no matter what. I just want you to be happy.”

 

Rebecca narrowed her eyes as if considering whether to forgive my lack of enthusiasm.

 

“Show me his picture? When can I meet him?” I tried to convince myself her life would turn out different than mine, but I knew Rebecca had bought the fairy tale.

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