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Christian Contemporary Fiction

-The Kathleen Crisis -

Amanda shut her bedroom door quietly and leaned on it heavily. Had this evening really ended in this horrific way? It was inconceivable! She was Amanda Quinn; she had been a famous soap opera star for years! She was the beautiful Amanda Quinn! Yet, she had been totally embarrassed, left wordless and shocked. The nerve of that peon woman in the restaurant! The nerve of her to say she had forgiven her. Forgiven her?

Lying on her silk, pink comforter, Amanda closed her eyes and relived the whole dreadful scenario. She would call her lawyer; she would sue the woman for slander with this humiliating public display! Why, she would do something horrible to that little, pint size woman. The woman was tiny. She was probably not five feet tall - yet, when Amanda thought of her, she had seemed a giant! Her words had loomed huge and had hit a place in her that she didn’t know she had left vulnerable. A soft, tender spot – a spot that enabled a tingling guilt, like a bad bout of indigestion, which she did not know what to do with.

Reliving the horror behind closed eyes, her brain could not turn off the memory of this evening’s events. The scenario came back to her in full technicolor. She had been seated in the lush restaurant with Tony Chandler, her latest young beau. Her poised, beautiful hand, so well-manicured and painted a lush pink polish just that afternoon, was wrapped around her second glass of Champaign. The black sheath she wore accentuated her every curve and she knew by Tony’s stare she looked gorgeous. She remembered sighing, thinking she was a bit bored with this new man. He was, after all, too attentive, too engrossed and stared at her much too long for comfort. There seemed to be no challenge with him anymore and she felt a bit bored with it all. It might be time to look again for someone new.

As they began the first course of their meal, Amanda remembered looking up to see a short, dark-haired woman standing at their table. Amanda thought she must be an employee of the restaurant and she felt irritated. Why, they had just begun their meal, so why was she standing there looking at her like she expected a review of the salad Amanda had yet to take a bite of?

“You are Amanda Quinn, correct?”

Amanda looked up at the plain face before her. “Why yes, I am. Certainly, if you are stopping by to say hello, or want an autograph, I appreciate it, but please, we are trying to begin our meal.” Gritting her teeth, Amanda inwardly seethed. Why couldn’t she go somewhere just once and not be bothered with that question or those looks of wonder when someone saw her. It had become somewhat annoying lately.

“Ms. Quinn, I have to tell you something. I’ll just be a minute.”

Looking into the face before her which held no beauty, Amanda rolled her eyes and thought, oh - not again. . .

“Ms. Quinn. You are the former wife of Terry Shubert, is that correct?”

Amanda’s dark, gray eyes grew in size. Terry Shubert! Why she hadn’t thought of him in years. That young upstart with whom she had an affair with and then a short, regretful marriage. At least five years ago now – wasn’t it?  He was such ancient history; she could barely remember his face. 

“Miss, I am not sure why you ask me this,” Amanda said quickly, agitation looming in her eyes. “Please, we are trying to have a meal here. Tony, please get the waiter and have this woman removed!”

Tony looked stunned, his handsome, chiseled face a blank.  He now played his part as directed and glared at the woman. “Please leave or I’ll call to have you removed.”

Amanda looked down at her salad and held her fork in the air daintily. “Now, Tony, isn’t this a bit much for a starter salad! Why the bowl is ten times what I could eat!”

The woman standing before their table spoke again, although she was clearly being ignored. “Ms. Quinn, I was Terry’s first wife; my name is Kathleen Shubert. Terry and I have two children together and he has never been a good father to them since he left us. I thought you should know that. I also wanted to make you aware that you broke up my marriage. You broke up a family with no thought of the consequences. Now you have thrown Terry away and he is a lost soul with no future and his children are hurting.”

Amanda began to choke on the piece of lettuce in her throat. Tony rushed over to her side and began to pat her on the back quickly.

“Tony! Please!” Amanda drew back from Tony and stood quickly. “I shall be in the restroom. When I return, I know this woman will have left our table!” Amanda put down her napkin with as much poise as her shocked psyche could muster and turned to take her small, beaded handbag, heading towards the ladies’ room. Tony was quiet, stunned into inaction like a deer mesmerized in a car’s headlights. Restaurant patrons watched as Kathleen followed Amanda to the restroom.

Leaving the restroom stall, Amanda headed for the sink and could not believe her eyes. This Kathleen woman was also in the bathroom but standing quietly with her head down and eyes closed. Why, she looked to be praying or perhaps meditating.  Really? Amanda geared herself up for a verbal confrontation as she washed her hands and then looked again at Kathleen who had finally opened her eyes.

“Ma’am, I am so sorry to have caused you any inconvenience this evening, but I have come to say something that is very important to me.”

Amanda braced herself on the sink as she finished washing her hands. Trying to apply her lipstick she realized her hands were shaking. This woman was a psycho or something and she was here cornered with her in this bathroom. Staring into the mirror as she applied bright pink lipstick to her full lips, Amanda looked at the woman in the mirror standing behind her.

“I forgive you Ms. Quinn. I forgive you for taking my husband away and creating such pain in our lives.”

Amanda turned slowly to face Kathleen speechless. Forgive me! What?

Kathleen turned from Amanda quickly and left the bathroom.  Amanda tried her best to compose herself and left to rejoin Tony, but her head was spinning and her hands shaky. Forgive me? Really? All this drama to say that? What in the name of God was this all about?” Amanda sat across from Tony and saw red blush creep up his neck. Why was he embarrassed with all this attention? Was he now embarrassed to be seen with her? Thankfully, Kathleen was now nowhere in sight.

Wishing the memory to be vanish, Amanda opened her eyes trying to forget again this awful night and remember she was now in her apartment. Rising up from her bed she headed to the bathroom - for certainly, a quick shower would allow her to sleep and she would forget this evening - wash away the remembrance. Yet, an irritating memory would not stop the haunting pain inside her head. Very clearly, she felt her conscious speaking, “She forgave you. You didn’t deserve to be forgiven. For hadn’t what happened to Kathleen also happened to your own mother years ago?”  Hadn’t Amanda been thrown along the wayside of her parent’s divorce, like a discarded doll? Had her mother forgiven the other woman who took her own father away? No, her mother retained her bitterness to this very day, living as an unhappy resident of a local nursing facility. She, Amanda Quinn, was “the other woman” she realized with horror. She had caused the kind of pain to Kathleen’s children that she had endured as a child. She had caused the kind of pain to Kathleen that the other woman in her father’s life had caused to her own mother.

Driving the next day to her beach home, needing a place to think clearly away from all the glitter of her city life, Amanda clung to the wheel. She would relax, sun herself, forget this nagging thought that she needed forgiveness. She, Amanda Quinn, the well-known soap star with all the money anyone could want and all the glamour any woman could desire – needed forgiveness? The drive gave her no peace and the settling into her luxurious beach home was tedious and irritating today. Finally, Amanda plunked herself near the ocean in a lawn chair with her head covered in a floppy hat and eyes hidden under gigantic sun glasses and felt miserable. What could she do to relieve this horrible, horrible guilt she now felt? She should have a drink, yes, or maybe two to rid herself of this pain. Yet, one small, bland woman’s words continued to plague her and ate up her peace of mind the entire time she gazed upon the ocean and its beauty.

Returning to her apartment late the next evening, Amanda called her agent and requested he arrange a meeting with Kathleen Schubert. Avoiding his questions about the reason, Amanda just dictated her request again in a forceful way. She wasn’t sure if this was the right course of action, but she had to have some resolve to this guilt. She didn’t want to be that “other woman” who had given Kathleen’s children the kind of pain she had once endured.  Maybe she could offer Kathleen some money for herself and her children. What had happened to Terry really? She must know now. She must know how to get rid of this ache and resolve her Kathleen Crisis, which she had begun to call the whole affair.

Keeping to herself that entire week, pretending illness whenever anyone called or came by, Amanda prepared herself for Kathleen’s visit. She had written a huge check made out to her and planned to give it to her when she came to her apartment on Sunday. She would right the wrong now in whatever way she could. Her head would finally quiet, critical voices might now cease and the peace she desired would arrive.

The day of Kathleen’s visit had now arrived and she would be mentally ready. The doorman rang and informed Amanda of Kathleen’s arrival. Unlocking her door, she let the woman in, noticing Kathleen looked more put together today. Still small, dark and somewhat plain, Amanda noticed her wearing makeup and a crisp pantsuit. Kathleen looked different, less distressed. Amanda had dressed casually, donning sweat pants and a tee shirt, for her home attire was always simple. Motioning to Kathleen to take a seat in the plush wingback near her fireplace, Amanda offered Kathleen a drink of which she politely refused.

“I didn’t wish to come today, Ms. Quinn,” Kathleen said in a small voice. “I only have because I felt the Lord led me to accept your invitation.”

“The Lord?” Amanda repeated, her eyes wide.

“Yes, Ma’am, the Lord,” Kathleen said determinedly, sitting up straight in the wing back. “I try and pray before any decision and I felt led to come.”

“Well, I am glad you did,” Amanda replied. Looking at the ceiling for a moment before getting to her reason for the invitation, Amanda began slowly and eventually with more confidence.

  “Kathleen, I wanted you to know your visit at the restaurant has haunted me and I seem to find no way of relieving my guilt except to tell you I am sorry I have acted with such disregard for you and your children. I knew Terry was married when we met and I proceeded to claim him anyway. I know I was wrong now and I am hoping you have truly forgiven me. You see, my own mother was once in your same situation, and my childhood was quite dim because of my father’s desertion. Thus, I hope to make it up to you and want to present you with this check to help you and your children, and perhaps Terry. I have had no contact with Terry since our divorce and never knew of his or your troubles.” Amanda sat back in the chair opposite Kathleen and took a deep breath. Whew. She had done it. She had apologized and it would all be over with soon.

Kathleen fingered the check she had been given and then sighed heavily, ripping it to shreds, letting the pieces fall onto the lush carpet beneath her feet like confetti.

Amanda gasped and as her gray eyes grew in size, she heard Kathleen say wearily. “Ms. Quinn, I am not looking for anything from you. I only knew I needed to verbally tell you I have forgiven you for my own peace of mind. I was led by my Lord Jesus to do so. I cannot be forgiven unless I forgive. I want nothing from you. Nothing but your ears to hear my words and offer you my forgiveness. You see, I was full of hatred and bitterness for a very long time. I have been made aware that if I truly forgive you, make the physical effort to do so, I can leave this all behind me. I have already found my peace in obeying.  I hold no more resentment towards you. Terry has become a stranger to me and the children unfortunately, and I don’t know his whereabouts. I couldn’t offer him this money if I tried.”

Amanda looked at the shredded check laying at Kathleen’s feet. Tears filled her eyes and she could not speak for a few moments, until finally the words escaped her mouth, “How can I make it up to you? How can I help you and your children and Terry have a better life? I need to find the answer to relieve my guilt as I am consumed with it day and night since the restaurant incident. For you see, I remember my own childhood without my father and it wasn’t pleasant. My own mother is still hurting from this same kind of betrayal.” Amanda hung her head and clenched her hands together. This was unbearable. She wanted the pain to all to go away and quickly. 

Kathleen moved to take Amanda’s trembling hand. “I forgave you, and it is over now. Please let it go and accept this. You also can find peace in forgiveness, you know. Just reach out to Jesus, ma’am. He is the only one who gives true peace and forgiveness. He can heal your bitterness towards your own father and towards the woman who took him from your mother. Just ask Him to direct you.” As Kathleen looked at the woman who had once hurt her, she felt extreme pity. Her beautiful face and hands were suddenly as ordinary as hers were. She saw true repentance in this lovely women’s eyes and truthfully, she was surprised. She hadn’t expected as much. Hopefully Amanda would take her advice and move her life forward to the healing she also needed.

Amanda closed the apartment door and watched Kathleen leave. Walking from the door to her cell phone she found the number of her mother’s nursing facility. For several years now, Amanda had paid for her mother to live comfortably in a facility within driving distance. She had seldom visited though. The bitterness her mother had carried with her through life had become almost too much for Amanda recently. Her mother was comfortable physically, but her inner spirit often was still angry. Kathleen had shown Amanda the way to deal with this bitterness. Amanda knew she must share it with her mother and that she herself would need to acquire a forgiving spirit towards her father and his new wife, even though they both had died several years ago.  And this Lord Jesus Kathleen spoke of who guided her way? Perhaps, she’d even give Him a chance in her future.

Amanda dialed her mother’s facility and was connected to her mother’s room. Hearing the weak voice which said hello, Amanda felt tears come to her eyes, “Hi Mom. I’d like to come visit you today. I have some good news to share. You up for a visit?”  Amanda barely heard the faint answer, “Of course, dear.” Hanging up the phone, Amanda prepared herself to visit her mother. After her mother’s visit, she would make sure her attorney set up a trust fund for Terry’s children somehow. This all had to be the right thing to do and she felt at ease more than she had since first encountering Kathleen. Her thoughts also pondered the peace Kathleen had demonstrated even in her distress at meeting and speaking to Amanda. Amanda wanted this peace too and her heart stirred as she thought of Kathleen’s mention of finding it with Jesus. She’d work on that too she thought and grabbed her purse, smiling as she left her apartment, heading for a visit with her mother.

August 12, 2022 22:03

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