So I’m setting out to update all my social feeds and thought I might want to share the latest draft of Chapter One with some of my favorite folks.
Chapter One-End of January
In the middle of the pop isle of the local Hugemart, Valerie Cooper receives a text from her husband, “I’m moving out.”
Valerie is certain that auto correct must be playing games with her and texts back, “What? I think auto correct got you.”
He replies back, “No it didn’t. I’m moving out and in with Wendy.”
Confused, Valerie asks, “What? Who’s Wendy? What are you talking about?”
Valerie stares at her phone as tiny messages full of dread pop up one after another, “I’m leaving you for Wendy my college girlfriend. I’m moving out today. I’ve been at the house since 8:20 getting my stuff. Don’t try to make it here before I leave because I’m already gone.
I don’t want any of that crap. It’s all yours. It’s not good enough for Wendy and her kids.
Wendy and I have decided that you can live in the house until the end of the school year. At that point, the house will go up for sell.
I’ll continue to support you until that time but I suggest you find a real job before May.”
Unbelieving what she is reading she keeps waiting for the punch line in this bizarre joke her husband is playing on her. She finally decides she has waited long enough and texts back, “Ha ha you got me! Very funny! Joe, if you have Curtis’s cell I’ll beat you next time I see you.”
“This is no joke. Just look in my drawers when you get home. Wendy and I also feel it better if you don’t tell anyone about me moving out. Since I’m being so generous and allowing you all to remain in the house for the next four months. Just tell people I’m working out of town.”
Valerie stares from her phone to her cart full of groceries her family would have needed to get through the week and realizes the awful truth that she is alone. She thought she was alone this morning when she dropped her daughters off at school. This is the first year her youngest is attending school all day every day, leaving her missing the distraction she provided throughout the day.
Her heart is breaking, she can’t believe it, it can’t be so. It has to be Joe playing an awful joke but what if it isn’t? What if it is true? Her hands tremble to the point she is barely able to keep from dropping her phone, a large swig of coffee helps settle them. She looks around the store to see if anyone is watching her as she quickly wipes a tear from her cheek. She has no desire to cry in the grocery store, she has to get out of here now before she loses her ability to remain composed. Her ruined life is no ones business but her own.
She pushes her cart to the front of the store to the service desk and explains that she left her wallet at home. She begs forgiveness and is met with only sympathy from the cashier who admits she has left her wallet a time or two rushing the kids out the door. Valerie would rather swallow her pride and fake forgetfulness then have to admit her current reality to strangers when she burst into tears in the dairy isle. Her pride seems to be all she has left.
She drives through the picturesque town of Briarton on her way to her country home fifteen minutes away. The town could be straight from the set of any made for TV Movie. It is on the outskirts of a larger city next to a small meandering river, it has an abundance of fresh air and all sorts of wildlife can be seen on the tree-lined banks. Small trendy shops line the streets and on any day of the week if the sun is sunning there are at least twenty people on bicycles.
Her country home is far enough away from town to see the stars at night but close enough to reap the benefits of city life. A large yard and swing set had been her only requirements for a family home; Curtis had to build one here and it was spectacular. A small creek runs by her home, a branch off the river that runs through town. Often they would wake to deer or squirrels in the backyard.
Parking in her driveway, Valerie, tentatively gets out of the car. Her mind still half expecting this all to be some sort of joke. Her husband is not one to usually play pranks but he has been acting strange recently. That thought causes her to freeze. He has been acting strange for a little while now.
People divorce and people separate all the time but not her and not her husband. Divorce is something that happens to other people. People that claim to fall out of love with each other, and spend more time at work then with their family, but not Curtis and her. Yes, she’s the proverbial soccer mom and he the fifty hour a week provider but they’ve family night where they eat dinner together and play board games.
Besides, Curtis always looked down on people who couldn’t stick it out for the kid’s sake. He claimed to not understand how they could be so full of themselves to ruin everyone’s lives around them with a simple whim. Trying to plan sleepovers for their daughters helped bring this point home, several of the little girls her daughters are friends with have divorced parents. They can never get all the girls together on the same night because Sally has to be at her Dad’s this weekend but Megan has to be at her Dad’s the next. Poor Tessie lives with her Dad every weekend and he is not willing to share her at all. Isabelle is the only one whose parents are married and is able to come almost any weekend. Now, her Amelia and Paige will fall into the divorced parents group.