Happily Ever After

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
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Submitted: November 18, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 18, 2016



This is how it always begins.

A dashing smile, a flip of the hair, an anxious request.

A stroke of the cheek, a kiss on the lips, a night between sheets.

A vow.

And before you know it, you’re living the life you’ve always wanted.

The two of you are happier than you’ve ever been. Every day is a new adventure as you divulge secrets you thought you’d take to the grave and discover quirks that make you love each other even more. Your life becomes governed by fate and you embark on quests designed for two. You cheer each other on in your careers, supporting one another in all endeavours; you buy the house that you never thought you could afford, you have two children—a boy and a girl, of course. And you raise them with all of the morals that the world has to offer.

You finish work and prepare a balanced meal each night. He comes home and does arts and crafts with the kids, showcasing the soft side that you love. Every Friday is games night and the four of you bond over Scrabble, making sure not to burn the cookies that will fill the house with a waft of chocolaty goodness. Sundays you go through the photo albums together, perhaps even start a few more, and talk about how much they’ve grown and how far they still have to go. And what seems like an eternity of blissful years flash by.

And then there’s the lull.

You get into a routine, the two of you, with the kids and the bills and the family get-togethers. You find out more than you wanted to about your partner and the age of discovery fades into monotony. You live with each other as do friends or roommates: passing in and out, speaking every now and then, meeting up in the kitchen over a bowl of cereal.

And maybe you get over it.

And maybe you don’t.

Maybe this lull becomes the standard, or worse, the highpoint. Maybe you drift emotionally, longing for more but too afraid to ask for it. Maybe you have a third child, because you were happier when the first two came along.

Maybe this doesn’t change anything.

Maybe your relationship is on a chart of constant decline and the only way to save the marriage is to remember how it began.

So you go over those moments, the good ones, when he smelled like cologne instead of beer, when he showed up at your door with roses instead of somebody else’s lipstick, when he told you how much he loved you and not what you could to do for him. And you look yourself in the mirror, refusing to cry, because to cry would admit defeat. You look at the reflection of who you used to be and manage to convince yourself that it’s not so bad, that giving up is for quitters, that maybe you’re just not trying hard enough.

Besides, you’re a family now. There are kids that you have to protect, that you have to raise into believing that the world is a good place. And it’s not like there are no more good days; there are plenty of good days.

Just not when you compare them to the bad ones.

Soon, it becomes easy to convince yourself that this can be fixed. You take more responsibility for the kids, try to take an interest in his hobbies (whatever few you can squeeze out of him), explain why he never makes school performances and make excuses for missed dinners; you take the blame hoping somewhere deep down that he’ll thank you. And in this blinding love it becomes even easier to ignore the signs of deceit. After all, forgiveness is the key to a good marriage.

Even if you’re the one who’s doing all the forgiving.

But someday, weeks, months, maybe years from now, you may realize your mistake. One morning, when you wake up to the smell of a perfume you’ve never owned, when the kids are old enough to understand, when the bulk of your life has withered in front of your very eyes, you remember how happy you were without all of this. Without the house, without the husband, without the neighbours who pretended to care and the family dinners that nobody wanted to host. You remember how much you cared about yourself, how healthily you ate, how often you worked out, how you respected the person who left the house each and every day.

And now you avoid the mirrors in your own house just so that you won’t have to face the person you’ve become.

This morning you realize that though giving up may be for quitters, letting go is only for the strong of heart. And if there’s anything that all of these years have taught you, it’s that you are definitely strong of heart. So you wait for him to roll over and kiss you on the cheek, to get up and shower, to change into his suit, to mumble a ‘love you’ and leave the room with a cheeky grin. You prepare yourself for the day ahead, get the kids ready for school, and drop them off right on time. You smile as they wave to you and remind yourself that this is better for them; that it has to be.

You go back home, eyeing the familiar territory. It’s finally time to cut free, to restart. Because it is not a mistake that determines one’s character but the way in which you choose to rectify it. You walk the entire house, all 3200 square feet of it: the grand entrance, the spiral staircase, the finished basement, the expensive finishes, and finally, the master bedroom. You fish through the closet to one bright pink suitcase—the one you bought before you knew him. And you pack.

You decide against the jewellery, the perfume, and all of the dresses he’d purchased. It makes your bag surprisingly light. You feel surprisingly light. You make sure to gather the kids’ things, trying not to think about what you’ll tell them when you pick them up from school, of how you’ll explain that they’ll be staying with grandma for a while. And then you sit down on the bed, nostalgic. You’ve always wanted to cry, but now, you can’t bring yourself to do so. You get up, suddenly disgusted with this place, and, wondering why you hadn’t been before, make your way to the bedside table. You open the top drawer and take out a folder that you hoped you’d never need.

You remember endless hours of debate, contemplating the papers as though they held the rights to your life; and today you realize that they did. You make the bed lovingly, and place the open folder dead in its center. You walk your suitcase and the kids’ things downstairs and place them on the porch just outside the door. And then, as if forgetting something of infinite importance, you rush back up the stairs and into what used to be your master suite.

A little out of breath, you close your eyes, remove the ring from your finger, and place it atop the papers, whispering a faint ‘goodbye’ that he will never hear.

And then you leave.

Or maybe you don’t.

Maybe you don’t even make it back outside. Maybe you unpack your suitcase and think yourself silly for wanting to leave. Maybe you pick up those papers with such haste that your ring tumbles to the floor and rolls into one of those vents at the side of the room…

Maybe you don’t sleep that night.

Because even though this is how it always begins, the unfortunate truth is that it doesn’t always end.

© Copyright 2018 AASmith. All rights reserved.

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