The Wryters' Block

Shaping, Designing, Sculpting Words

Anguished Hearts, Part II

Anguished Heart

Part Two

c. by Arsoleen Woolcock

Who would be the better man? Steve, Diane’s husband who treated her callously and asked for a divorce, or Ryan, the new guy Diane barely knew who showed her some attention?

She woke up that morning, knew which man held her heart and desires. Now she raced toward the arms of the man she loved, but in moments, her steps slowed. She knew beyond a shadow of doubt in whose arms she belonged, but in making a decision, someone would ultimately get hurt.

Her thoughts turned to Steve. Her husband loved her. Imagine that he’d always loved her! On the other hand, she recalled Ryan’s gentle, understanding ways, ever coaxing her into laughter. He made her feel alive and vibrant. Even so, her heart, soul, and very being remained faithfully committed to Steve. She was his till death they parted.

A tremor coursed through her. What must Steve have thought and felt when he stepped inside the cottage yesterday, seeing her with another man? It could not have been easy for him.

With a made up mind, Diane walked forward. Before going to Steve, she felt obligated to render an explanation of some sort to Ryan. She needed to say goodbye to him, if nothing else.

So Diane found herself walking past cottage one, heading toward the welcome center. When she reached the cottage that Steve spent the night in, she paused just in front of it. How she wanted to run in, to soothe away any doubts and fears that Steve might be experiencing, but there would be time enough for that later.

She tore her gaze away instead and moved on to where she thought Ryan was, not knowing that Steve watched from a bedroom window, filled with a wild hunger and fierce hope that she was coming inside to him, not knowing that he saw her walk away, and he tossed his suitcase on the bed and began to pack.

Diane stood on the porch, lifted the brass knocker to Ryan’s apartment door. His apartment was a series of rooms which he built and had added on to the welcome center. She frowned. No answer. How she wanted Ryan to be home! She wanted this behind her.

Just as she was about to walk away, the door opened, and Ryan stood there in the doorway, half-dressed.

“Ryan, darling, I can’t find the can opener,” a woman spoke from behind him. The woman’s eyes widened when she caught sight of Diane. “Oops! I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had company.”

“That’s quite alright,” Diane spoke, immediately recognizing Linda Nivens, the new receptionist. Diane felt humiliated. Here she was, sorry to break the news to this stranger who still held the door opened, apparently unable to find his voice. This merely confirmed what she had known all along, that she was making the right choice.

“Ryan, I wanted to tell you in person that I am going home.”

He reached out, grasped for her arm. “Look, this is not what you think, Diane. Don’t leave. I can explain.”

“Don’t bother. My mind was made up long before I came. I still love my husband.”

Diane turned away. She could not say that seeing Ryan with someone else did not wound her ego, but at least, she knew he would be fine. She would be fine. They’d all be fine! She raced back to the cottage to load her things in the station wagon. In seconds, she drove up to Steve’s cottage.

It was strange that she did not see his car parked outside. She got out and knocked. No answer. Finding the door opened, Diane turned the knob and walked inside. Empty! All the rooms were empty! What did this mean? Steve had gone, left without a word or note. There was only one thing left to do. She had to go home.

Much later, Anne nervously pulled up into the drive. There was no sign of Steve’s car. Hopefully, he would be back soon. She lifted out her luggage and began the task of unpacking. It was great to be home! Everything was just as she had left it. Only this time, there would be no need for separate rooms. Her heart soared with that fact.

At least an hour passed. Where was Steve? It was getting late. She hoped she hadn’t presumed too much. Diane slid off her silk bedroom slippers and donned her heels. She did not know where he was, but she was determined to go out and find him.

Diane combed the streets with her eyes. She drove slowly past the houses of friends. She did not see Steve’s car. But wait! There was Steve’s sedan parked outside Phil’s Bar and Grill. She wondered what possessed him to go there. Ordinarily a herd of wild buffalo couldn’t steer him there. It was so out of character. He didn’t really drink, maybe a sip on special occasions only, and he did not frequent bars.

Diane got out and stepped inside the smoky, dimly-lit shack. The loud music, raised voices, and the smell of alcohol assaulted her senses. She did not belong in a place like this and neither did Steve. She glimpsed him seated alone at a table, a drink in his hand.

“Oh, my,” Diane moaned. What was becoming of their lives?

Diane watched a tall blonde sway her hips provocatively and sashay over to where Steve sat. “Listen, baby,” she heard the blonde say, “Looks like you could use some company.”

“I’m afraid not,” Diane spoke up when she reached Steve’s table. “This is my husband,” she spat. Diane looked at Steve. “Let’s get out of here,” she begged. “I’m home to stay, baby. I love you.”

Steve stared up at her. “Diane? Is it really you? But I saw you walking up to that man’s place this morning. I was sure you’d chosen to be with him, that I had lost you.”

“Never, darling,” Diane said softly. She gazed into Steve’s moistened eyes. “I was simply telling him goodbye. Come on,” Diane urged. “Let’s get out of here, Steve, and go home. We can talk there.”

******

            Diane awakened the next morning, ready for another kiss and embrace from her husband. Only his side of the bed was empty. She reached for her robe, fastened it around herself, and got up.

“Steve!”

“Out here, hon!”

Diane joined Steve on the deck, inhaled the fresh morning air. She felt exhilarated. She was very certain of Steve’s love and devotion. She and Steve talked at great length last night. She went to bed with perfect, beautiful thoughts that became a brilliant reality. Yet, somehow this morning, there was a marked tension in the air. Maybe it was because some things were left unsaid.

She turned to Steve now. “I love you, Steve, with all my heart.” She paused, knew he was sure of her love. “The time we were apart, I thought it was over for us.” She looked down and reached for his hands and held them both in hers. “I did enjoy Ryan’s company, but except for a kiss or two, we were never intimate. I was still your wife.”

Steve reached for Diane and pulled her into his arms; his mouth devoured hers with a great passion. “I’m glad,” he said when the kiss ended. “I would have forgiven you, though, because I love you deeply. Everything that happened was entirely my fault. I take full responsibility for my actions.” He saw her shake her head. “Don’t deny it. I’ve faced that fact, and I have learned an invaluable lesson. Love is nothing to play with. It can be dangerous because you can lose the one you love.”

Diane smiled and peered up into his face. “There is one little tidbit of information that I neglected to give you.”

Steve stiffened. A tremor coursed through his body, and then he relaxed. He trusted his wife. “What is it?” he asked softly. He rubbed his thumb across her cheek.

“We’re pregnant.”

Steve closed his eyes tightly. Still tears of joy squeezed through. “That’s the best news I’ve heard since you said I love you.”

-0-

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