THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Bill is stunned into silence by what she has said. He feels his back becoming rigid against the stiff leather surface of his chair.
The counselor appears startled, too, and asks her to repeat herself.
“I’ve never loved him, that’s all,” she says. “I knew it was a mistake after the first year.”
After twenty-three years together and two children, Bill can’t believe what he’s hearing.
“But there were some good things…” he begins.
“Name one!” she almost shouts.
He thinks of their house near the golf course, the years of family vacations, the swimming pool he put in at the kids’ insistence.
“What about our trips to Europe? I thought we were happy there,” he says.
“Those were just your business trips,” she says, “I was only along for the ride.”
“Well there was the trip to San Francisco we took just a few months ago. We spent days at the flower shows because you wanted to. I know you loved that,” he says, bewildered.
“Yes, but that was just because the counselor said we should,” she returns. “You never did that before.”
His mind wanders to a conversation he had recently with a man friend and his wife, wherein it seemed the woman berated her husband for everything he did and didn’t do, or didn’t do enough of.
His future looms ahead of him.
He is surprised, after so many years, that it is simply easy to leave.
He isn’t as surprised when his wife immediately takes up a search for “the one that got away,” a man she was in love with when she met Bill, the one that she didn’t marry.
He tries not to be glad – actually is a little sad for her – when she is able to track down this lost love, learns that he was married three times after she turned him down, and now has died of a heart attack.