"Miss, would you like another drink," the pool waiter asked Shannon. "Yes, she said, trying to manage a smile behind her dark sunglasses. She had worn the glasses everyday hiding her swollen tear stained eyes while she sat poolside in St. Lucia. She was supposed to be on her honeymoon, she laughed, what an awful joke. No matter how much she tried she couldn't unsee it, twenty minutes before she was to become Mrs. Simon Anderson she walked in on her fiancé passionately kissing her mother. Of all people in the world, she had been betrayed by her own mother, the only person besides Simon that she ever trusted.
Cynthia, as she now referred to her mother had been blowing her phone up every since the day of her wedding. Shannon thought jumping on a plane and getting as far away from them would be the only solution to begin trying to bear the heartache of their deception. She was staying busy with a whole week of planned, carefully laid out itinerary which she hoped would be enough to keep her mind preoccupied. Shannon with Simon’s approval signed them up for deep sea sport fishing, riding horses on Cas En Bas beach and swimming under the Toraille waterfall among several other couples activities. She never imagined she would be doing all of them alone. How could they be so ruthless, she thought . Shannon could not help but wonder how long their little love affair had been going on and how much of a fool they had made of her.
Shannon had three more days in St Lucia and then she had to go back home and face the pathetic stares and all the questions of why she ran out on her own wedding. Would she tell people that she caught her mother in a romantic embrace with her fiancé . Whether she did or not, she still knew she would still feel the sting of humiliation. Shannon‘s mother, Cynthia was still an attractive woman. She had her at seventeen and wasn't that much older than Simon‘s twenty eight years. Shannon thought about her mother and Simon, she never suspected a thing. Until the day of her wedding, she wouldn’t have believed that her mother even like him. Now Shannon knew she just wanted him for herself.
Cynthia Walker sat in the lunchroom of her practice and just stared at the walls, what had she done. She knew Shannon would probably never forgive her and she had destroyed her trust. Her daughter had to be devastated and she wanted to hold her and tell her everything was going to be alright but this time, she was the problem. Cynthia had never been the cause of her daughters pain before and she didn't know what to do. She couldn't tell Shannon the truth, all she could do is hope and pray that she would forgive her. If Shannon would just take her calls, she thought, she may be able to persuade her.
After barely eating her lunch, Cynthia went back to her office and told her staff she was ready to see the next patient. Cynthia had only recently left the hospital to start private practice and it seemed to be going well. She was on the down side of her college loans and was able not to take so much call to meet the bills. Cynthia was a good doctor, but a good doctor didn't pay her loans off. When she was in college with a ten month old borrowing more than was needed for her tuition just to survive, she got into horrible debt. A seventeen year old having a baby without any help from relatives was quite a feat. She was so happy that Shannon understood how hard it was being a single mother and had taken the chastity pledge. That girl was amazing, even though it was so hard trying to study and get through medical school with tons of bills, Cynthia wouldn't change a thing. She loved that girl with all her heart and she hoped some day she would be able to explain what happened that horrible day at the church.
Three more hours to go, Cynthia wondered if she could even concentrate on her patients problems. Shannon would be home in three days and since she still lived in her house, she hoped that they could calmly talk it out. Every night when she went home since the incident, Cynthia sat drinking a bottle of wine, feeling sorry for herself. She had tried to phone, text, email, message her daughter and every attempt failed. Shannon was not talking to her.
The plane touched down in Atlanta about 6:15, Shannon was not looking forward to going back to her mother's house. She tried to get an earlier flight thinking she could miss her while she still was seeing patients at work. Shannon was glad she was still attending college and only had two semesters left and then she would be a Registered Nurse. She wouldn't have to depend on the living arrangements at her mothers house, although, Shannon knew that she could have moved out a long time ago. Her biological father had set up a trust fund account that would have supported her. She had never even considered leaving before except to get married until she caught her mother kissing her boyfriend.
She arrived at her mothers at 7:30 and walked in trying to avoid her. Shannon had talked to her friend Casey and had no intentions on continuing to live under her mother's roof. She walked by the living room because she had no choice and her mother tried to talk to her. Shannon told her she had nothing to say to her. Cynthia tried to explain that it was all a misunderstanding and Shannon told her she didn't want to hear anymore of her lies. As Shannon walked to her room to pack a bag, she heard someone knock on the door. Her mother went to answer and there stood Simon. The sting of betrayal hit Shannon again, didn't they know I would be home, she thought, while they are still fooling around. Shannon grabbed a bag and quickly took off toward the door as her mother chased after telling her it is not what you think. Shannon turned around with a steely eyed glazed and told her mother, "no wonder my father wouldn't marry you, he knew what a slut you were."
Cynthia turned pale and hung her head with grief and thought, how can everything that we have been through be forgotten by one indiscretion. Cynthia turned and looked at Simon with hate and asked, "what are you doing here". Simon sneered and told her that he would get even with her for ruining his life. Cynthia looked at Simon and told him there is nothing else he could do to her. The only person in the world that she cared about hated her and just walked out the door.
Day in and day out, Cynthia continues to go to work heartbroken as Shannon continues to ignore her phone calls. The slap in the face Shannon gave her as she left accusing her of being the reason that her father never married her left her feeling numb. Cynthia never discussed with Shannon the real reason that her and Jack never got married. It was a lot more complicated then she realized.
Jack came from money and his parents expected him to marry a debutante. Cynthia was not it, she was raised in a trailer park on the east side of town without coming from an affluent family. Her father had abandoned her and her mother when she was just five years old and they struggled to just put food on the table. With her mother heartbroken, she buried her problems in the bottom of a vodka bottle and Cynthia had to end up being the parent. When she started high school, she met Jack, he saw something special in her that not many people did. They started dating and she thought she was in love and that he was going to be her knight in shining armor. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Jack denied the baby and his family moved him to a private school three states away. Cynthia decided she would have to carry the burden of parenthood by herself.
Many years went by and even though Cynthia stayed in the area and would not have been hard to find, Jack never attempted to contact her or meet his daughter. She was happy that she had the ability to borrow the money and attend medical school without any source of child support. Until the terrible day of the wedding, her and Shannon had been just fine. Now the money that Jack left after he finally acknowledged that he did have a daughter would be the instrument that gave Shannon the ability to support herself. She may never speak to her again, Cynthia thought. She would put her father up on a pedestal even though he made her go through a rigorous DNA screening before he would even accept her. Shannon only got the benefit of his money, never him, he never even considered doing the right thing until he was about to take his final breath. She was going to throw away their entire relationship and hold her biological father up with high regard over one small incidence that Cynthia knew was in her daughters best interest.
Shannon and Casey had a couple beers and decided to go out, at twenty years old, they were able to get in the bars but sometimes were not served if they made it a point to card. Shannon was lucky tonight, well sorta, the bartenders were flirty and friendly and had no qualms about serving the minors alcohol. She decided she was close enough to twenty-one to get drunk off her butt, she deserved it. Her and Casey were smart enough to realize they had to call Uber to get home, and tonight Shannon was going to try to forget her problems.
The girls danced and drank and everything was going well for Shannon until the band played her and Simon's song. She started crying and then she got mad. She drank more that night than she ever had and had a few scores to settle. The first call she made was to Simon, she told him what a piece of crap he was. He started telling her how much he still loved her and wanted to marry her. Shannon told him he was a loser and she wouldn't marry him now if he was the last man on earth. As she hung up the phone, she then decided to call her mother. Cynthia was happy to see on the caller ID her daughters number to come up, but Shannon wasn't doing a friendly loving mother, daughter call. She called her mother everything, a slut, a whore and told her that the reason she had to steal the only man she ever loved was because she was jealous of her. She told her mother that she had spent her life working and didn't know what love was and she had to take it away from her. Cynthia asked her where she was and wanted to come get her to help her sleep it off, but Shannon refused to tell her. Cynthia called Casey as soon as Shannon hung up the phone and was assured that they were safe and were taking an Uber home.
The next morning, after a night of heavy booze, Shannon woke up with the worst headache of her life. She was sick until seven o'clock the next evening, but she felt she got everything off her chest even if she was slurring so bad that they might not have understood all she was saying. Shannon felt better making the calls and was also thankful that Nursing school was close to coming to an end. She wouldn't have to rely on Casey for much longer to give her a place to stay. She was also happy that her mother had taken on private practice and would no longer be working in the Emergency Room. Facing her mother everyday would have been challenging.
Two years went by and Shannon still had refused to talk to her mother. She graduated nursing school with honors and was now working full time at Atlanta Regional Medical Center as an Emergency Room Nurse. She had started dating one of the resident doctors and was finally getting her life back together. She was somewhat happy with her life even though she did miss her mother but she knew she could never trust her. As she waited in the lounge for shift change she picked up the newspaper that someone had left lying. She noticed that it was turned to the obituaries and she saw Simon Anderson's name. She went on to read and discovered when there was to be a memorial service. Shannon disregarded it at first and thought that was the last place that she would want to attend. She thought about it all the way home and decided that she would like to pay her final respects.
The funeral was two days after the obituary was in the paper and Shannon got dressed in a dark blue dress. She decided that she would prefer not to say anything to Michael her boyfriend, he was working a long shift anyway and wouldn't even realize she was gone. She got in her car and preceded to the funeral home. All the time Shannon was driving, she couldn't help but think of the day she caught her mother passionately kissing him. She hoped that their affair was long over and she would not run into her at the service.
The funeral home was packed so Shannon had to stand in line when she entered and was waiting to make her way through the crowds. She knew that he still had a mother and she wanted to give her condolences to her. After waiting at least an hour she finally made her way up to the front. Instead of his grieving mother, there was a man standing at the casket. He looked very pale and sickly and Shannon could tell that he had taken Simon's death very hard. When he greeted her, Shannon ask if he and Simon were close and he told her that he was his partner.
Shannon's eyes opened wide and with all of her nurse training she could spot the symptoms that Derrick, Simon's partner was suffering from. She talked to Derrick a little longer and found out that Simon had succumbed to an AIDS-defining cancer Kaposi sarcoma and it had spread to his liver, spleen and lungs which caused his respiratory failure. Shannon gave her condolences and left the funeral home. She knew what she needed to do now.
Cynthia was sitting in her study when Shannon walked in. Shannon walked over toward her mother and told her you knew, didn't you. Cynthia had heard of Simon's passing and told her daughter she did. Shannon said why would you not tell me he was gay and was suffering from AIDS. Cynthia told her daughter that she knew about the Hippocratic oath that she had taken and was not at liberty to discuss his medical condition. Shannon asked her mother if that was why she kissed him that she wanted to break them up before they were married. Her mother told her yes that she had tried to get Simon to tell her the truth and he refused and feared he was only after her trust fund. Cynthia told her she wanted to tell her but Simon had threatened to sue her and have her imprisoned if she violated her oath. Shannon said all these years you let me believe you betrayed me when you were only trying to protect me. Cynthia looked at her daughter with tears in her eyes and said, "I'd rather you hate me and live than for me to hate myself because I wasn't able to save you. Shannon put her arms around her mother and they both cried and she realized right then that her mother would always love her more than she loved herself.