Letting Go is a 3-part short story about a marriage that has fallen apart. It shows what happens when you either let a person leave with dignity or anger. Enjoy Part 1. See if you could let it go.
Mary Cargell turned the key in the lock and opened the front door. She walked inside the house and quietly closed the door and waited. Noises came from the bedroom on the bottom floor down the hallway. They were unmistakable. She wanted to rush down the hall and make her presence known. But, she knew she would be embarrassed the most by it. So, she waited. She waited for ten minutes. It was one of the most painful ten minutes of her life.
Footsteps came toward Mary’s direction. Her heart pounded against her chest. She considered walking toward the footsteps. Then, just as fast, she thought about leaving the house and getting back inside her car. It was too late for that.
Mary stood in the middle of the family room with her hands on her waist. She watched Darren almost walk by the family room on his way to the kitchen. He wore only a pair of flannel boxers. He jerked to a stop when he saw her. A slight smile came onto his lips. That was all he had to give until he could gather his words. He opened his mouth to speak.
“Call her out here,” Mary said. Darren found her calm demeanor uncomfortable. His smile grew. “Call her out here.”
“I wasn’t expecting you,” Darren said.
“You have three minutes to call her out of hiding,” Mary said. “Then, I’ll set the place on fire. All four thousand square feet of it.” Darren told her she was being ridiculous. “Her name is Romana.”
Romana worked for Mary and Darren. She ran errands, scheduled and oversaw household repairs and any other household duties that needed to be done. Mary gave her the job after Romana’s mother had been their daughters’ nanny.
“Romana is not inside this house,” Darren said. “There’s no reason for her to be here.” He explained he had come to the house to catch up on some paperwork and alone time. Mary insisted if he wanted some alone time, he would not have brought Romana with him. Darren told her she was being paranoid and silly.
“We’ll see about that,” Mary said. She then threatened to publicly expose his affair. Their divorce would be fought out in open court. She and her family would be embarrassed by the spectacle of their divorce. Everyone, however, would be on her side, since everyone knew that her father had warned her that he was no good. And, everyone also knew that she stood up for him. She had professed her love for him in every way possible. He could rest assured he would not get one dime out of the divorce. He would be forever known as a cheating, philandering husband who hurt his innocent wife after all she had done for him.
The wheels began to move slowly, then quickly, inside Darren’s head. He had earned whatever divorce settlement that he was entitled to. He had been with Mary diligently for the last twenty years. It had been a life from hell during that time. Her demands were almost unbearable. If not for the reward at the end of this pathetic marriage, it would have been unbearable. That money was his.
Darren sighed and came to the conclusion there was no graceful way out of the present situation. “Romana,” Darren said. He waited for a response. Mary looked at him, as if unfazed by what was unfolding before her. “Romana. It’s alright, sweetie.” Mary clenched her teeth but hid it well. “Come out. We need to talk to Mary. We don’t have a choice. Come out.”
Mary watched as a barefoot Romana, with lots of brown hair and a blanket wrapped around her, walked into view. She was medium height. Her neck said she either exercised or was younger than she appeared. Even though the blanket covered her body, it did not hide her small curvy figure. She walked up to Darren and stopped. Side by side and touching one another they stood defiant against Mary.
“I hope you’re happy that you’ve embarrassed everyone with your antics,” Darren said to Mary. “This could’ve been done differently, without all the fanfare and intimidation. But, have it your way.”
“Do you have no decency?” Mary asked. She glanced back and forth at them. “You stand naively as if neither of you has anything to be ashamed of. Did she put you up to this, Darren? Was this supposed to be the final nail in the coffin? You’re my husband, Darren. Not some young floozy’s puppet.” Darren sighed and stared at Mary. “Say something. Say you want to come back home. Tell me you’re sorry. Tell me we still can work it out. You made a mistake. I’ll forgive you. We’ll fire Romana and get our lives back. All you have to do is say what’s right. Darren…”
“Stop hounding him,” Romana said. “He left you. There’s no more love between you two. Not like ours. You’ve never had what we have. Look at you. You’re old.” Mary was too stunned to reply. “You’re sixty-four. You have a twelve-year age difference. Your best days are behind you. You’re just an old rundown hag. Your money is all you have going for you. And, even that’s not enough. Just leave us alone and except fate.”
Mary was appalled at how this cheap woman was talking to her. Where was Darren? What was he waiting on to intervene? She shot Darren a stare.
“Romana,” Darren said.
“No,” Romana said. “It’s true. Tell her. It’s what you’ve told me.”
Mary’s eyes widened. Her gaze fixed on Darren.
“Romana,” he said.
“No,” Romana said. “Tell her the truth, for once. She can’t hold your interest anymore. Tell her.”
Darren grabbed Romana by her shoulders. “Please, Romana,” he said. “Stop this.”
Romana jerked free of him while holding the blanket together. “It’s true,” Romana said. “Take off your clothes old woman. I’ll prove it. Take them off. Let me see.”
“I’m not going to degrade myself for you,” Mary said. “You’re just…”
“It’s not me you’ll degrade yourself for,” Romana said. “It’s you who’ll be ashamed of you. You’re yesterday’s menu. Face it.”
“Romana, stop this,” Darren said.
“Why? Because when she takes those expensive clothes off, there’ll be nothing to hold your attention?” Romana asked. Darren told her that was enough. “Take your clothes off and see. You’ll be nothing but an old body standing naked.” Mary looked at Darren. Darren told Mary to ignore it. “Yes. That’s a great idea. Ignore the obvious. You’re nothing but a bag of old skin. Nothing. You’re nothing like this.”
Romana let the blanket drop to the ground.
Thank you for stopping by. That Romana is a gutsy gal. You wonder if she’s too gutsy. See you Wednesday.