How It Could Be

“Do you ever wonder if you made the right choice?” Sarah asked.  Her grey eyes were downcast, intent on another scoop out of the ice cream carton.  Her dark curls fell in her face and tumbled down her back.  Her hand trembled slightly, though I couldn’t tell if it was from the question or the hard ice cream.

“What do you mean?” I asked, evading the question.  I looked passed her to the wedding photos on the wall.  She looked beautiful, as I always knew she would, dressed in her gown with her hair pinned up and veil failing to cover the bright smile she wore.  A smile that, once upon a time, was a shadow of the one she would give to me.

“Nothing.  Forget it.”  She gave a soft smirk and scooped another bite.

I shifted closer on the couch, close enough that my leg touched hers.  I hesitated, then reached my hand around her shoulders and pulled her in close to my side.  Her tiny frame started to shake and the ice cream container slipped from her fingers.  I caught it, moved it to the other side me, and wrapped my other arm around her.

“Hey.  Hey, sugar, it’s ok.  Let it out.  Cry if you need to.  I’m here.”  Even as I said them, I knew the words were inadequate.  I felt ashamed.  I had seen the signs, had voiced quiet concerns, yet never had I pressed the issue and now I was kicking myself for not.  “Is it…is it worse?”

Sarah sniffed again, hiding her face in my side, arms flung around my waist, grabbing at my shirt.  I felt her nod, the slight movement almost unrecognizable from her quiet shudders.  “I just…I’m not myself anymore.  I can’t be what he…I’m not…I just wonder…,” she took a deep breath, “I wonder if we would have been so bad.  What could have been.  Should it have been?”

I had no answer, so I pulled her close, my eyes falling upon my own wedding ring.

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