Her Greatest Love

The marble sink felt cool and comforting beneath her clammy hands. She lowered her head, dropping her chin to her chest, and took three deep breaths. When her rapidly beating heart began to slow, she looked up into the bathroom mirror. Her brown hair, which she had gotten up so early to curl, was as limp as day-old noodles, she thought. Her blue eyes were heavily mascaraed, her lips bright pink, but the purple circles under her eyes couldn’t be completely concealed. In a word, she looked tired. It was absolutely not what she’d been going for that morning.

She’d woken up at 5 a.m., humming to herself as she rolled out of bed and slipped on her faded purple terry cloth bathrobe. She’d sung in the shower that morning. She’d even turned on the radio, tuning into the Top 40 – songs that were a welcome change from “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” – while she did her hair and makeup.

But again, putting all of her effort into something had turned out like crap.

“Come on, Betsy. What is your problem? You knew he was going to show up today.”

Disgusted with herself for dolling up like some kind of high schooler on a first date, Betsy turned on the tap with a vicious turn of the wrist. She cupped her hands under the ice-cold water, then slapped the water across her face. The mascara dribbled down her cheeks, leaving tracks of black, and her eyes were red from the assault.

Betsy sniffed once, then turned the water off. She dried her face on a handful of paper towels.

“Ok, Betsy, just make the best of the situation. So he showed up to his son’s first birthday party with a bimbo. You’ve been separated for months now. He’s filed for divorce. It. Is. Over. Don’t let him hurt your feelings any longer. You do not love him anymore, and you know it.”

Betsy knew it. It was just hard to believe that she could put so much love and work and consideration into something, and that something would run off and have an affair with his coworker. What a cliché. And Betsy had felt like such a fool.

She smoothed down her skirt, and rebuttoned the top of her new cardigan she’d bought on sale for $19.99. It had been a good find. She gave herself one last look in the mirror, disgusted with her own self-pity and lack of confidence. Reminding herself to be a fierce and independent woman – after all, weren’t those today’s divorcée buzzwords? – she wrenched open the door of the bathroom, her temporary sanctuary.

And when she walked out into the bright room, crammed with balloons and shiny gifts and flashing cameras, Betsy found she didn’t focus on her ex, or his girlfriend with the growing belly – yes, that kind of belly. No, Betsy only had eyes for one male in the room, and he was missing his left front tooth and had a cowlick that couldn’t be tamed.

“Mommy, I’ve been waiting for you. Grandma says you should help me blow out the candles.”

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