Romance Contemporary Drama

The Unveiling

George and Alice had a short courtship. That tends to happen when a baby is on the way. They were married in a simple ceremony in the park. Nothing could have been more romantic.

They were together for ten years, some blissful, some less than excellent. Alice used to watch George as he slept, marveling at her good luck.  She kept looking past the flaws, not knowing how deep the cracks in his personality were.

Then, after a decade of living and loving and hoping, the blow fell like a palm tree in a hurricane.  The time passed slowly as Alice watched the clock, wondering when George was coming home. Eventually she fell asleep, but when she woke up, he still wasn’t there. Days and week went by, and she knew in her heart that he wasn’t coming home.

Alice said to herself, “This is all my fault.” She believed it was true at the time, that she had driven a good man away. She could see no other reasons then, but time can have a way of pulling the wool off our eyes.

Alice used to believe in fairy tales, in happy ever after. She once felt she had found true love at long last, after a trail of broken hearts. Now she was alone, with no one to care enough to listen to her sad tale. She was young and naive when they first met, and George was a man of the world. He was expert in seduction, after years of practice.

Alice screamed and swore and threw dishes…at least in her mind. Outwardly she seemed calm, far too calm, in fact. It came to her in a flash of enlightenment that it takes two to make a breakup. Maybe he bore some blame too? She was in shock! He had taken all her trust and love, stomped on her heart with his boot heels and rolled out of her life. He was in a wheelchair, but George’s real handicap was the inability to trust a woman with all his soul. Gradually she learned it wasn’t always her weakness and mistakes that caused all the drama.

She knew it was all due to the one who broke his heart years ago, but it felt unfair anyway. Alice’s grandparents were happily married for over 50 years. She wanted a piece of that dream for her own. But George and Alice weren’t meant to be. There had to be a man out there who wanted her. Or was there? She began to doubt her own values and beliefs. Alice felt her heart begin to wither. Perhaps soon it would stop believing in love, and then it wouldn’t hurt.

                                                                                                                       She would forget her broken heart in time, but right now it hurt so bad she wanted to sleep her days and nights away. How could he leave so easily, break her heart and all the trust and love she thought they had shared? She started to doubt herself, thinking that she must have done something to make him stop loving her.

Alice learned as time went by that her heart would still beat, and the sun would still come up every day. Life would go on, even on the bad days, when she rolled over in bed, not wanting to even get up and face another day alone.

Then she woke up one fine morning and decided to stop feeling sorry for herself. Her life wasn’t over just because he didn’t love her anymore. She would find a reason to be happy again, someday, just not now. The pain would go away…someday.

She got up and got dressed and forced herself to smile, hoping that one day she wouldn’t have to pretend. She got over him a little at a time, but she never forgot that once upon a time they were in love.

Alice  knew George was never coming back, and someday she would hear that he had died. Her only regret on that day was that she never got to tell him how much he had meant to her. He was no knight in shining armor, but his love had gotten her through some of the hardest times in her life. She owed his memory at least a thank you for that.

In the last place you would expect to meet a good man, Alice met her future second husband, Marcel. She knew she found the one her heart had always needed. Alice smiled at the memory of Marcel staring at her, as he walked straight into a closed sliding glass door. His friends teased him mercilessly, but he didn’t care. Alice was the most beautiful and kindhearted lady he had ever met.

Alice knew George was only a memory now. Marcel was her true forever love. She only needed to convince him. Marcel was a rolling stone that had gathered no permanent attachments. His heart had been broken by a cheating spouse over 30 years ago. He didn’t even believe in love anymore. The thing he never thought would happen finally did.  Marcel was in love.

He lost his heart and never missed the cynic he had been. He helped her forget her broken heart and her lost love. His was the face she would wake up to for the rest of her life and beyond. Love like theirs goes beyond into the afterlife. Marcel joked that he would be her companion and watch over her even after he died.

George became the  man who helped her put her broken heart back together again and make it beat to the rhythm of his love. She dreamt of the past occasionally, but this new happiness made her forget the tears she had cried for what had been. If you asked him, he would have said it was all her idea. He had never been pursued, caught, and hogtied before. Wasn’t it the man job to do the asking.

However it happened, He made her believe in love and happy endings again, the not so perfect prince, who still showed his toady background now and then, quarrelling over silly things just to see if her love was true.  For her there would never be another.

Slowly the two of them made each other forget their pasts, and when he asked for her hand, she gave it to him with no reservations or regret, or so she thought then. They married a few years later, and this time she knew she had found a man who would never break her heart in two.

George had what she had always and would always need…unconditional love. He was the one!

Then one happy summer day she got the news she had been dreading for years, and yet she was conflicted about how her husband would react. Would he understand that she was grieving for a man who had once been everything she had ever wanted, or would his jealousy object that she still thought of George enough to grieve?

How could she know what he would say? She thought she knew him well, but his streak of insecurity had put barriers between them in the past. This was the moment of truth. Would this just be another time to agree to disagree? A huge fight that could tear them apart?  

She doubted, that he would he be emotionally supportive. It just seemed out of character to her.

It took all her courage to tell him what she had learned. She sat there, tears rolling down her face, trying in vain to hold the pain so deep inside that he would never have to know.  Deep in her heart she knew that kind of deception would never last. Beside that, it felt wrong, a lie by omission.

She told her Marcel what she had learned, then waited for his reaction, feeling like a Damocles sword was hanging by a thread over her head, the rope fraying rapidly. For several moments she wished desperately that she was better at hiding things from him.

His reaction was the opposite of what she had expected. He gathered her into his arms, reassuring her that he knew how she was feeling, and telling her that her grief would ease in time. 

Alice thought to herself, “Is this the same man who once chased a young man away angrily into the night, just for following me home from the bus stop?” To be sure, she was relieved, but at the same time confused. This was the same guy who burned love letters from an old boyfriend. Why the sudden change in behavior? Could it be that he was growing, evolving into an enlightened modern man? This was a different side of the caveman she had married.

She would never know if he had really changed inside, but the surprise of seeing a more tender and supportive side of him at an unusual time continued to make her wonder.  Would he show his true nature at a more convenient hour?

A few weeks later, Alice said to herself, “I think he has finally grown up. Good! I have been in mourning, and even though I no longer love George as I once had, he was the father of my girls. I would never truly forget what we had once meant to each other. Of course, I missed him, but I also missed the chance to apologize for all the years we had never spoken. I never got to say thank you,  goodbye, or attend his funeral. 

Those sort of second chances happen once in a lifetime, or never at all. She had missed the trolley, and all she could do was watch it gain momentum as it rushed down the hill. She felt lost, and even lonely, though she couldn’t admit to herself that she had been waiting, almost looking forward to a fight. It would have given her an outlet for the regret, pain, and anger she felt deep inside.

Just when she needed to have a battle, the war never came. It was washed away by a tidal wave of love. She felt an enormous sense of relief, when what she needed and expected was a chance to rant at the skies for the cruelty of fate. Someone to take out her fury on would have been welcome. Maturity came from the last man she ever expected to have that quality in his soul towards George, of all people in the world.

She loved Marcel with all she had, and this was the most disappointed she had ever felt in their 8 years together. Why couldn’t he give her a reason to scream out her grief in a thunderstorm of yelling, crying, and swearing? She once had faith that he would never let her down when it came to fighting over other men, especially her exes. She could envision the emotional release it could have provided.

Alice didn’t have the heart to start an argument herself. She had no reason that would make sense to anyone but her. How could she put the blame on Marcel, when he was only trying to be the husband he thought she needed. The man she had told him in the past that she wanted him to be.

How often the very thing we think we want proves to be what we need least. As time went on, she learned to forgive him, and most of all herself. If he only knew her inner thoughts…she was most glad of all that he didn’t. How could she explain her feelings when she didn’t even comprehend them herself?

She grieved on the inside, thinking of roads not taken, chances she never took. There are so many regrets in this life. A loving embrace from the sympathy in a husbands heart shouldn’t be so disappointing. The feelings faded slowly, and she realized that she was feeling guilty for still loving her ex-husband enough to miss him so much.

She wasn’t angry with Marcel as much as she was with her own traitorous heart. The heart that forgot all the bad times, the abandonment, and the cheating. When Alice saw the petty reaction for what it truly was, she tearfully told Marcel, “I’m sorry for the wall I began to build between us. I was going through a hard time, and I took my anger and out on you. You don’t deserve the way I’ve been treating you. If you could have read my mind, you’d have probably been long gone.”

His reply astonished and humbled her in every way. “You’re hurting right now. The last thing I would do is put more pain into those expressive green eyes. I see far too much crying in them right now”.

“ I love you, forever and even into the great beyond. I would feel worse than you do if you had been the one who died. If I put my own feelings ahead of yours, you would have a reason to hate me. Just grieve if you want. I’ll be right here when you need to talk. Its okay if you don’t, I get why you feel as you do.”

“You never told George how you felt. Its only human to want to lash out when we lose a loved one. I love you enough to wait for the smile to come back into those lovely eyes-and I’ll be right here to comfort you. Its what you need, no matter what else you think you want.”

Alice sobbed again, but this time the sadness was mixed with wonder, surprise, and a bit of joy. Marcel was the one she should have always been with, and now, she knew it more than ever. His heart was bigger than the jealousy. Marcel leaned toward Alice, pulled her into a passionate embrace, and kissed her pain way.

They might not live happily ever after, because fairy tales only happen in stories. They would fight and make up, they would live and love, and only time and God knew how long on earth each of them would last. One thing was certain and sure to them now. They could weather every storm life could bring. Together they could face anything. How much better can life get?

September 29, 2022 21:25

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


R.K. Scott
00:15 Oct 06, 2022

Very good story, I liked the hope and healing that Alice goes through. Your writing is very detailed and paints a nice picture. One thing I'll critique is that Alice mentions a baby on the way in the first paragraph, but then its never mentioned again, so I was constantly wondering what happened to the baby.


Dawn Kaltenbaugh
00:31 Oct 06, 2022

nice catch...I felt that the child's story would be distracting from the main theme, perhaps I should have realized readers would be curious. This story being taken from real life, I can tell you that the baby was eventually adopted by a nice couple and is living a happy life.


Dawn Kaltenbaugh
00:34 Oct 06, 2022

One thing I thought that readers would notice is a mistake I didn't see until after I had uploaded. I referred to Marcel twice as George, but I had already uploaded the story and could not make any edits. oops.


Show 0 replies
R.K. Scott
00:36 Oct 06, 2022

That's nice to know.


Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.