The line outside the luxurious country club is long, but thankfully I am only a few people away from the intimidating bouncers. They hold foreboding clipboards with lists of appropriate names. I have waited ten minutes to get to this point. The trio of older women in front of me are complaining of wasting time, but I use the time to prepare myself mentally. I rehearse my story. I am running through my lines as if the card is in my hands.
My name is Lilly Summers.
I know he is in there. In my deepest heart of hearts, with every inch of my soul and all the fibers of my being, I know that he is here. Although he said, he wasn’t going to be, that he would be out of town.
I know that he is not out of town. I know that he is with you when I should be his plus one.
But he lies through his full lips and fake teeth. He fibs with his ice-blue eyes, attempting to hide his secrets, even though I know everything and have for several weeks.
I wonder what Brandon thinks of the two of you. Suppose the acerbic taste in his mouth lingers, a constant stagnant reminder of betrayal and humility. He might not know what you are doing. But I might bring that sweet man to the light because he, like me, is a victim. And it’s time for the perpetrators to feel our wrath.
You did this to us. She did this to us.
How could you?
She is no angel, not the type of angel that deserves the pedestal you hold her to. I took care of you for twenty-five years, and this is how you repay me? This is how you thank not only the mother of your children but the woman that supported your ass the entire time you went to medical school. Just to tell me you wanted to be a lawyer instead.
For Christ’s sake, I have seen the pictures. The vivid proof of your deceit, the awful stab of the knife you jab into my back. She poses on moving boxes…please. At least pick someone with class.
But no, you want our children to have a loose woman, a cheap woman to be their stepmother. It’s out of my hands; you have done this. This breakdown is on you.
And her. For sleeping with someone’s husband, angels don’t commit adultery. So what would her parents say if they knew their little girl was a homewrecker?
I feel proud, grateful, and accomplished. You have no idea that I have spied on you. That the plant on your desk is a camera, and so is the book on your shelf. A tracker on the bottom of your car that tells me that you are here, somewhere. Inside with someone else.
For a moment, I wonder why I am torturing myself, making myself watch this terrible betrayal happen to me. But I have to see you with your tramp, to believe that you could hurt me like this.
Because the guy I married would never have done such a sleazy thing like falling for the waitress at Hooters.
What the hell were you doing in a place as outdated as Hooters?
When did you start going there anyway? You were never one of those guys.
“Name please,” The bouncer wearing a red tuxedo asks; his eyes do not jump from the clipboard to my face. I answer out of habit.
“Lily Marshall,” I reply, but I know that he did not list me as his plus one; the bouncer reaffirms my suspicions.
“That name is not on the list,” He gazes at me with apprehensive gray eyes; his eyebrows are pensively furrowed.
“Oh my, I am a newlywed; it should be Lily Summers,” I laugh with a fake smile and a faux chuckle. But, unfortunately, my intuition has confirmed that every ounce of worry, every moment of doubt, every lonely tear was not in vain but out of extreme pain.
Your betrayal has me questioning if I ever did know you.
My hand clutches my small wallet; my fingers tightly grip the bag as if it is the only thing attaching me to the ground. The only thing able to keep me here. I breathe deeply; then, I step through the threshold. The ballroom is lively, full of Doctors, Chief Executives, and other Corporate Big Wigs. The crowd on the dance floor cluster together at tables and line up at the sidebars. The music thunders through the speakers, but it is not loud enough to sequester the sea of voices.
The fundraiser is in full swing; lovely women dance on stage, putting on a scene of beautiful art and self-expression. Their leotards are all red, the theme of the event is a brilliant red, so I suppose I must match all the staff. But, because I, too, wore red, a magnificent piece that your exquisite mother bought me, I wonder if you will recognize the fabric or if you are too wrapped inside your false sense of reality to notice.
Marriages are supposed to be sacred, a special and unique union between two souls that wish to never part. However, you have turned our wedding into a joke, turned me into a laughing stock.
I have altered my appearance so that you will not easily recognize me. When you left the house yesterday night, my hair was a sandy blonde. After Carla doused my head in dark brown hair dye, she then chopped it off into a bob, a hairstyle you have never encouraged, but one I have always desired. The damage to my virgin strands is worth the element of surprise. My eyebrows are dark too, and the fake blue contacts cling to my eyeballs. I bought the best fake tan on the market to cover up the paste of my natural skin. I don’t even recognize my face under the mountain of makeup and bronzer.
I do feel pretty, though.
Our friends are here too, so I avoid them like the plague. Whenever a familiar face comes into view, I take a sharp left or hang a fast right; I quickly pivot towards whatever direction they are not going.
The sea of bodies only manages to thicken, and the crowd is hard to navigate through. I search for an empty table in the back, where no one with the type of status you have would be. The centerpieces on top of the table are gorgeous full roses that look like someone just picked them off their vines this evening. Any party dwellers congregate at the tables in the east corner of the room; they animatedly chat among themselves. I still have not seen a glimpse of your face in this crowd of sheep.
I recognize Suzy Brown, and I immediately duck my chin down. Then, turning to sit promptly at the empty table next to me, she passes me by, readjusting her enormous black plaid scarf.
My shoulders sag in relief, and I face the room. There are many people I know here; the people you know are here. I find solace in the way people are not coming up to me, and I see more of our friends. None of them noticed me, consumed with their own lives.
I am an outsider in a room where I know everyone. The eerie notion raises the hair on my arms, and I shiver. I turn to glance back at the center of the room, and my heart stops.
I see Bob first, and then there is you. You’re smiling with rosy cheeks and crinkled eyes. You’re so happy that the lines of age etched into your face show the many years you have spent on this swirling Earth. My breath hitches when my eyes fall on the way your arm is wrapped snug around another woman’s waist.
A woman that is not your wife.
My throat burns, my mouth is dry, my heart rips into pieces, not a repairable fracture.
All the words the two of you shared race through my mind as if they are competitively trying to cross the line first to determine which conversation is the most daunting.
The one where you confess your love for her, the younger another woman. Or maybe the first conversation the two of you ever had, or perhaps the one where you mention your wife but still spend the night with your mistress.
I watch in disbelief, in shock, a bewildered expression scribbled all over my features, but I can’t look away.
Because I know that is you living a life without me.
You’ve shut me out for someone half our age, someone with nothing to offer.
She was me twenty years ago, but with lighter eyes and shorter legs. Her green dress is beautiful, and she’s thin. But so am I; I can’t imagine that’s what has caught your eye.
I see so much of myself in her that I want to vomit. She could be my sister or even our daughter. Hell, she could be our daughter anyways.
How are you going to leave me for someone with a name as bland as Paige Hart?
You throw her head back with laughter, pulling her tightly against you as you move away from Bob. Away from Richard Evans and Frank Hughes.
You walk her to the dance floor with the same expression you have sent me so many times in our decades spent together. I feel the pain in my chest swell, pressing up against my ribs with an immense pressure that causes tight knots in my back.
My eyes are vulnerable, watery. I am locked into a trance. A hex that I cannot break myself away from even though I know that this very moment would be stuck with me forever like the birthmark on my skin that would never disappear even if I did fleetingly look away.
She’s laying her hand on your chest. The way I have done so many billion times. She is wearing my shoes, and you are wearing her on your arm like your most prized possession.
I watch you study her the way you used to look at me.
I tear through the dining room, barreling at the romantic couple like a bullet darting out of a shotgun. People get in my way, but I plow through them like a bull in a meat market. A woman pushes back against me, another scoffs, and a man makes a grab for me, but I am already in pursuit.
There’s no stopping a woman like me. A woman that stood by a man for ten thousand days, a woman that put her life on hold, watched every dream I’d ever imagined gradually drip down the drain.
You turn to look at the psychopath stalking you, the one that you created.
I never knew this version of me could exist until you pushed me to this extent. You don’t recognize me, not until I am right in front of you. My wedding ring sparkles across my chest.
You think you can turn me into an outsider, spurn me from the community, and turn all our friends against me. I don’t think so. You’re going right down with me, and so is your play toy.
So-called friends, they are when they have known all along about your double life. My stomach hurls like a cat choking on hair, but my mouth still can’t refrain from ripping him to pieces in front of everyone.
Screw every beating heart in this room, these soulless, cold-blooded people.
“You are a joke, a sad excuse of a partner.” Smoke is blowing out of my ears; my blood pressure is so high, I can feel my pulse jumping in my throat.
“And you, you filthy little homewrecker! If he did it to me, he’d do it to you too, cupcake!” I can’t stop myself from hauling the person’s drink at the table next to me—the glass clashes into his chest before clambering to the ground into tiny shards of blue glass.
“Lily, let’s talk about the-”
“Oh no, I think you two have said enough. It’s over, Justin. Over. For you. For me. For your stupid, vapid tramp. You don’t deserve the kids or me.”
I can’t believe that I am confronting him in a room full of people just as conceited as him, just as humiliated by my very public outburst at him. I don’t care. This is so much more worth it.
I can see the fear in his eyes, the way his jaw clenches together because he can’t gauge my reaction—the sweat beading just above his manicured eyebrows.
Does she do your eyebrows too? Are you trying to prove to me that she’s taken over the domestic role of my life too, and not just my place in the bedroom?
“Lily, please not here, not-”
“Not in front of your colleagues? Not in front of your mistress? I’m sorry, Justin. It does not work that way. Suppose you can parade your affair in front of everyone. Then I can confront you in front of everyone.”
“Lily-” No, he tries to stop me. Finally, letting go of the woman that has tarnished our future, just to grab my cheeks between his dirty, scummy, adulterous hands.
“No, you deserve this! You deserve to be humiliated. For all these months, you’ve lied and lied. Your friends deserve to know the truth about your heinous behavior.” I’m yanking my head back and forth; I am pushing him away with the palms of my hands.
Paige decides that she is going to jump in, and the anger in me flourishes. Finally, an evil smile slides onto my face, and I gain enough strength to push him off me. When I do, I crash my body into Paige’s, tackling us both down. The heel of my right shoe scrapes my leg; I bang my rib cage harshly into the ground.
I feel liberated as I viciously attack the woman who’s been sleeping with my husband—the woman who turned my world upside down with just a smile.
The woman that left me feeling incapable, lousy, unworthy.
She’s crying like she is the victim; her tears infuriate me. Why is she shedding tears of sorrow? Her future is just beginning, and mine is ending. My future is dead.
I will destroy his reputation. I will kill him. I will invalidate the decades of success he has worked so hard for; I will wipe it all away like a blank slate.
I climb off of the young blonde, and I grab my wallet.
My hands grip the revolver, and as you decide to grab my shoulders. I jerk my body away, and you step back with your hands parallel to your chest. Paige crawls to your feet, crouching on the ground like a toddler. Reminding me of the meddlesome child that she is, and I point the gun straight at her.
“Now everyone will remember you as the man who took two lives,” I smirk and laugh a cathartic giggle. Then I pull the trigger faster than I can blink, so fast that I barely have time to register the horrified screams. When he collapses to the ground, I aim the barrel at my temple.
And I pull again.