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Lisa J Alderson

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By Lisa J Alderson
Wednesday, January 01, 2003

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Recent stories by Lisa J Alderson
· The First day of School
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I sat cross-legged on the floor in a pool of

pictures. Lost in my world of memories, reached

up to wipe away a strand of hair from my face and

realized I was crying. Another night alone.

Another tomorrow to live through. When did

it get so bad? I don’t remember the exact day.

Something so devastating ought to have a

designated date on the calendar,

The Day He Left Us.

I laughed as Megan skipped down the hall

toward me. Her wet hair tumbled in messy waves to

her waist, and she clung to the towel wrapped

around her, giggling and wrestling to keep it

from the cat. She landed in my lap, a happy little


“Mom, can we just do homework in the morning?

Please? I love you.”

I fought a smile and replied in my most

serious mother’s voice, “I love you, too, Meg.

But nope! Lets go, kiddo.”

I struggled with my painful reflections as I

helped Megan with her homework.

Would it ever get easier? Bedtimes, stories,

kisses, and quiet, the end of another day.

Filled with nervous anticipation I logged on

to the computer. His message popped up

immediately. I tried not to hurry my answer. My

heart hurried for


“Marie? You there?”

“Yes, I’m here,” I typed in reply. I couldn’t contain my

smile. “How are you?”

“I’m fine, honey. How are you?”

“I’m good. Now,” I responded.

“How was your day?”

And on it went. We typed about our day: the

good, the bad--everything. It’s hard to imagine

deriving comfort from text on a screen, but for

months his words had been my only solace.

I met Hunter in a chat room. He lived in

Scottsdale a couple of hours away. At first,

we talked about general things, routine chitchat.

I was cautious about giving him

personal details. As time passed, I shared more

and more. My husband, Bryan, was gone. He’d left

us. The loneliness was terrible, and Hunter was my

support through those first difficult

months. I’m not sure when the balance shifted,

when I realized I Ioved him. Perhaps it was the

night he called for the first time. Hearing his

deep, sexy voice cemented feelings I was trying so

hard to deny. I knew then we had to meet.

I was jarred from my mental meandering by

Megan’s distraught voice.

“Mommy, I’m scared. Come here!”

“I’m here sweetheart. It’s ok now.” I stroked

her sweaty hair back off her forehead

and curled up beside her. “Another bad dream huh?”

“Yes it was icky,” she mumbled. Her crying

settled down to the occasional

hiccup. “Can I sleep with you mommy, please?”

“Of course you can Meg. Come on sweetie. I’ll

tuck you in.”

The nightmares had slowed down. She had them

rarely now, thank goodness. I sat with her until

she went back to sleep, then checked on Jordan. He

was sprawled across the bed, one leg dangling over

the edge. Almost 6 ft tall, he was rapidly out

growing his twin bed. Fifteen was a hard age,

especially without a father. I kissed his cheek

and covered him with the blanket

Hunter and I met at a quaint little café on

the outskirts of Sedona. I had been there

many times and knew the owners well. The

spectacular red rock the region was famous

for dominated the view. It never failed to move me.

I was so nervous. As I sat waiting for him

I took deep breaths. “Get a grip, Maria for

heavens sake.” I whispered it over and over to

myself, a litany of sorts.

When Hunter walked in my heart squeezed. He

was even more in person, his pictures

didn’t do him justice. Mahogany hair curled down

the nape of his neck. His sherry colored eyes were

framed by a strong chiseled face. It was his

smile that almost undid me. I stood up and he

pulled me to him, wrapping his arms around me. We

didn’t speak, just held each other. Those first

moments were indescribable. Feelings of intense

longing surged through me as I breathed in the

smell of him.

We sat in the café until it closed, talking

and laughing. It was as if we had known each

other forever. Neither of us had any clue how

close we were to having the rug pulled out

from under us. Life sometimes has a wretched sense

of humor.

Dodging the big, gray tomcat lying on the

steps at the entrance of our apartment building, I

rummaged through my purse for the keys. The cat

had it out for me of that I was sure. I’d already

tripped over him twice.

“Meg? Jordan? Hi guys, I’m home. Did you do

your chores and homework?”

“Hi mom. We sure did,” they replied, in


“There’s a message on the machine, we didn’t

check it yet.” Meg skidded down the hall toward

me. “Oh mom, you look so gorgeous. I love that

dress. Is it new?”

This was offered somewhat breathlessly. She’d

been roughhousing with her brother

again I guessed.

“ Yes it is sweetie. Thank- you.” I knew I was

grinning like a fool. I hadn’t felt this

sense of elation in a long time. Making a mental

note to trim Megan’s hair I reached over

and pressed the retrieve button.

It was someone from Phoenix Memorial

Hospital requesting I call them back as soon

as possible. Something in the professional,

conciliatory tone of the speaker bathed my

body in an instant, damp, sweat. With hands that

were not quite steady I dialed the

number she’d supplied.

“Ms Blaten, I am so sorry to have to tell you

this but your husband has been in an

accident. He is currently in surgery. I am not at

liberty to go into detail at this time.

That is the doctor’s position. I do however ask

that you or a close family member come

to the hospital right away.”

“He has no family. Just the children and me.”

I had whispered the comment and

hoped she’d heard. I was finding it hard to

speak. “I’m on my way.”

My heels clicked with resounding finality as

I walked along the corridor to the Intensive Care

Unit. The surgeon greeted me immediately.

“Ms Slaten, your husband was involved in a car

accident, a hit and run. He has suffered damage to

his spinal cord. It is not certain yet how much.

He also has minor lacerations across his face and

neck. He is out of surgery but still sedated. I’m

sure you are anxious to see him.”

I could only nod in reply. Was it shock that

prevented my voice from working? As I turned to go

he put his hand on my arm.

“Ms Slaten there will be some paralysis. How

much and for how long we cant say. I’m sorry I

can’t tell you more.” He smiled as if to take some

of the sting out of his words.

“Permanent?” It was all I could manage.

“Possibly, yes. It is still to soon to tell.

He paused, “I understand he wasn’t wearing his

seat belt.”

No of course he wasn’t. It had been an

ongoing bone of contention between us, the

necessity of wearing it that is. He would realize

that now. Too late.

Walking into his room I was shocked to see

him lying there so pale and lifeless.

Vulnerable. It was hard for me to see him that

way. It was never a word I would associate

with him. I reached for his hand. He didn’t stir.

Had he killed the love when he left me

for Melissa? Or was it still there buried under

the layers of pain, resentment and anger.

Would I ever know?

Snapped back abruptly from my careening

thoughts I looked up to see another

Doctor, this time a specialist walking toward me.

He was head of the team of surgeons who had

operated on Bryan. An imposing man, his face

reflected the hardness of his profession. His eyes

were kind though, and it was this I focused on as

I waited for him to continue.

“Marie. May I call you that?” He placed his

hand on my arm and the warmth that radiated from

his touch comforted me.

“Yes, of course.” I coughed, an attempt to clear

the lump in my throat. “How bad is it Doctor?”

“Basically, at this time, your husband is

paralyzed from the waist down. We still

aren’t sure how much this will improve, if even at

all. Spinal injuries are one of the

hardest to treat. It is also very difficult to

predict the outcome of surgery. I’m sorry to

be so blunt. But I feel its best to give you the

worst case scenario.” He paused and stepped

back. “I understand you are separated?”

“Yes, we have been for over a year now. Bryan

was supposed to have started filing

the papers.” I stopped, embarrassed to see I’d

been babbling.

“Your husband is going to need extensive care

once he leaves the hospital. Possibly

twenty-four hour care. Does he have family close


“No. No family other than us.” The enormity

of what he was saying slapped me, like an ice cold

splash in the face.

“I see, well I can give you the number of our

counseling service here at the hospital.

They can tell you how to progress from here.” His

tone was dismissive.

Clearly his job was done.

I thanked him, the words ‘in sickness and in

health until death do us part’ had suddenly become

my reality. They echoed in my head, mocking me.

The children took the news remarkably well.

Whether this was because of the resilience and

optimism that is so predominant in youth, or the

fact that they now had their father ‘back’ I

wasn’t sure, but I was relieved regardless.

Knowing I’d stalled long enough I reached

for the phone. Hunter picked up on the

first ring. I finally did what I had fought since

I heard the news. I broke down and sobbed.

Deep wrenching sobs that twisted painfully in my

gut. I cried until I couldn’t anymore. He

didn’t say anything just let me cry. I tried to

explain it to him.

“He is still my husband I have to do what’s

right.” I wasn’t sure who I was trying

harder to convince, him or me.

I heard the resignation in his voice, the

words he left unsaid, as he held back his own

tears. He told me no matter what he would always

be there for me. I couldn’t speak. It

hurt to much. I mumbled a goodbye and put the

phone down.

I sat in my living room for a long time

staring out the window. The trees swayed in the

wind, groggy sentinels silhouetted against the

inky blackness that was night. They

looked as desolate as I felt. He was finally

coming home. All those months I had prayed

he would. My prayers had been answered. The irony

of it was almost humorous.

The next day as I was walking to Bryan’s

room, the nurse motioned to me to come over to her

at the station. Bryan was conscious but groggy.

This news was met with mixed feelings. It would be

the first time I had seen him since he walked out

on us a year ago. Thanking the nurse I continued

on to the room. His eyes were closed. Careful not

to disturb him I sat down in the chair beside the

bed. He must have sensed my presence because he

opened his eyes. Their cobalt brilliance no longer

took my breath away.

“Maria, you’re here.” he whispered. “I didn’t

think you’d come.”

“I’m here Bryan.” It took so much willpower

not to break down and sob.

“Will you stay?”

“Yes I will, for as long as you need me.”

“ I was so wrong Ria. I can never take back

the hurt I caused you and the kids, I know

that. But if you could find it in your heart to

give me another chance, to forgive me, I will

make it all better.” He squeezed my hand tightly.

The beseeching look in his eyes gave me

pause. Where had the arrogant, charming

man I once knew disappeared to? The strange thing

was, I felt almost embarrassed

for him.

“Bryan, I’m not sure I can do that. For the

kids and myself I need to learn to forgive

you, but I cant give you another chance.You can

never make it all better. It’s too late for that

now. I could never trust or

respect you again.” I realized that I meant

every word, and with that realization came a sense

of liberation. I didn’t need him


Bryan has made a complete recovery. It’s

taken six months of intensive rehabilitation,

a tough journey for all of us. The kids have

embraced their father completely, welcoming

him back as if, his leaving never happened. Of

course they were never aware of the details, only

that their Dad had some things to work through. I

am glad they have adjusted so easily. It took

Bryan a long time to accept that our marriage

was over, but now that the divorce is final he has

comes to terms with it all.

My hands trembled as I dialed Hunter’s

number. I can’t remember how many times

I’d picked up the phone only to chicken out. We

hadn’t spoke in eight months. What if he

has met someone else? What if he doesn’t want me?

anymore? The questions tumbled haphazardly through

my mind as the phone rang. My heart sank as I

heard the message

click on.

“Hunter, its me. Maria. I wasn’t sure if I

should call. Perhaps I‘ll try you again another

time ...”

“Honey I’m here. Sorry, I was outside. I’m

glad you called. How are you doing?” he


“I’m fine. Great actually.” I replied. A

whisper of hope rippled

through me.

“Well that’s good.”

“ Bryan made a full recovery, which is

wonderful. The kids accepted him back

with open arms.” Sheer nervousness had me

stumbling over my words.

“ Oh Ria, I am happy for you all. I have

thought of you often.” he answered, his tone


Was it regret I heard now?

“Thank-you, umm Hunter, Bryan and I are


“Divorced? Oh I am so sorry. I thought,

presumed, he would stay with you, love.”

“No, its fine. I’m fine. I wanted the divorce

not Bryan. It was my decision.” I

reassured him. “I will explain it all to you when

I see you, if you want to see me that is.”

“Of course I want to see you. I have missed

you so much. I just thought that

you had made a choice to stay with Bryan,” he


“Well at first I thought that was the right

thing to do but then I realized that I couldn’t

ever trust or respect him again. And I am entitled

to have that. I am worth more than that.” I

sighed. “It’s hard to put into words what I mean I

don’t expect you to understand. I wasn’t sure if

you would see me. I thought there might

someone else. I mean I thought you could have met

someone else.” I was babbling


“No, there’s no-one else honey. I don’t want

anyone else. I thought of you everyday,

praying you’d change you mind, and I understand

exactly what you saying. I’m proud of

you. You did the right thing. I love you Ria”

His words swept over me, a warm wave of

happiness. “I love you too Hunter.”

It was going to be all right now, I knew that

deep inside. A chapter in my life may

have closed, but I was turning the page to start


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Reviewed by Basit Ghafoor 2/22/2003
Wow, I almost got teared up!Lisa was this a real life story????Anyways it was a great story. Thanx for sharing it with us.
Love and a kiss
Basit Ghafoor
Reviewed by harold 1/4/2003
When i read the story, all i can say is that it's a good read, great voice if you want my comment. The only problem that i saw is that "hunter" seems to be...well impossible. but of course some people think that the impossible man is the typical man to head off a romance novel.
just a thought...:)
Reviewed by Jack Roberts 1/2/2003
Great story Lisa! Very moving and a pleasure to read.

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