Coming Storm
by Constance Kostelc

The pharmacy was especially crowded the last few days. The weather had fluctuated greatly even going from 70° down to 22° in one day. So, we had our regular winter illnesses like flu and cold but added onto that we had the springtime allergies.

“Lucy, can I talk to you when you have a moment?” Our head pharmacist, John, signaled me to come to his office in the back.

Jenna had just signed in to begin her shift. “I can take over at the counter.” I quickly signed out and went back to see what John wanted.

He got right to the point. “We have a little problem. Our delivery van broke down and can't be fixed today so I was wondering if you could deliver a few things to the Northwest store.”

I had to smile. I appreciated his terminology because everyone else here referred to it as “your husband's store.” Which reminded me of the incident that made me have an hour commute across the bridge.

“If you could make the delivery, you could just have the rest of the day off, with pay of course, since it wouldn't make sense for you to have to drive back here. By the time you got here it would be just about time to turn around and go home. And then there's the coming storm, which I'm sure you would appreciate not having to drive through.”

“I just have to pack up my station and tell the others that I'm leaving so I should be ready in just a few minutes.”

“I'll call Anna at the store and tell her that you're coming in about an hour and a half?”

“Yes. That should be right,” I answered. Anna is the head pharmacist and one of the few people that was there when I was.

It was bright and sunny out and rush-hour hadn't started, so I expected the drive wouldn't be too unpleasant. Although I did miss my previous short commute.

When I started at the Northwest store, I quickly became enamored with Peter, the handsome, charming manager. I started seeing him after work initially just as friends but that quickly escalated and by the time I found out that he was married, I frankly did not care. Of course, I was upset that he hadn't told me. But he had all sorts of excuses which in my romantic mind made sense at the time and I never thought to ask. Does anyone really ask someone if they are married? I looked for signs I might have missed but I found out he never had a wedding ring, and I wasn't sure what else would have informed me. We, of course, kept things from our fellow workers. Although I'm sure they sensed something.

I was working there at the pharmacy desk one day when a beautiful lady, dressed impeccably, walked up to my counter.

“I'm Susan. You're Lucy. I believe they call me the wife and you the other woman,” she said in a loud voice.

I was stunned. “Today you're going to think that this is the best day in your life, but I'm going to bet that in the future you will think it isn't.” She handed me some papers. “You can give these to Peter. They are divorce papers. And just in case you thought that Peter asked for the divorce … he did not. I just found out about you and decided I have had enough of him. Good luck. You will need it.”

“She turned and walked away, and everyone was staring at me.” “I … I …”

Anna hollered from behind me, “Just go. I'll take care of things here.”

I ran to Peter's office and placed the papers on the desk. I began shaking and crying and then I thought he is mine and only mine and I tried to calm down.

Of course, when corporate heard about this, they reminded us that personal relationships among coworkers at the same store was frowned upon. I was exiled to the other side of the river. Peter and I were married six months after his divorce was final.

But things were just never quite the same. Living with Peter wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be. Then came the news that I was so happy to hear. I was having a surprise baby. I made Peter's favorite dinner, spaghetti carbonara. After dinner I sat down next to him, took his hand and said, “Well now were going to be a real family.”

He looked at me strangely.

“I'm pregnant. We're going to have a baby,” I said enthusiastically, wrapping my arms around him.

He unpeeled my arms and stared at me. “What did you do?”

“It's a surprise to me too. These things sometimes just happen.”

“Not to me they don't. Get rid of it.”

I couldn't believe he said that. “What you mean?”

“You know what I mean. I don't like children. I don't want children.”

“This is not just any child; this is our child. I want this baby. I always wanted children. You never said you didn't. It's just a pleasant surprise. Maybe I would have waited but …”

“Not waited. NEVER.”

Peter stormed out of the room then out of the house. I didn't see him until the next morning. “I guess we'll just have to figure it out,” he said to me and went in to take a shower.

He was especially cold and distant for the next couple weeks. But he didn't have to worry about us figuring it out because I miscarried. He came to the hospital and held my hand and whispered into my ear, “It's all for the best.” And I knew for whom it was all for the best.

                                                              ***

Anna met me at the door. We took care of the paperwork and chatted a bit.

“I think I'll pop in to say Hi to Peter while I'm here.”

“He has the day off,” she said rather puzzled.

“Oh, yes … I forgot,” I said, trying to cover up the fact that I had no idea. “I'll just catch him at home.”

I chose to take the high road home along the bluff since I could avoid the construction on the low road along the river. I still had to cut back eventually but I could cut through one of the subdivisions a couple miles down.

As I was driving through the subdivision something caught my eye. I turned into a driveway to back up and turn around, then parked on the corner. Just what I thought, it looked like my husband's flashy sports car. I couldn't mistake his cute two-seater in bright red. My car, on the other hand, looked like an unmarked police car, it was so neutral.

I got out of my car and walked around the corner. Sure enough that was his license plate. Of course, he was parked on the wrong side of the street but then Peter was never one to follow the rules. I figured I would just wait for him a few minutes. I pulled out my set of his keys. Although I didn't drive his car, I did use them when we needed to move it around in the driveway. Just as I was getting ready to unlock the car, I saw a flash of light. It looked like a gold ring around the turn signal column.

I opened the door, sat in the driver’s seat and slid the ring into my hand. “Love always, Lucy.” The inscription I had engraved.

I tried to think of reasons he would have put it there. So many stupid thoughts. But it came down to one reason that made sense. I put the ring on my thumb and got out of the car. I relocked it and went back to my car not sure what to do. I rolled down my windows to get some air. I wasn't sure how long I sat there.

Then I saw him. He walked out of the house across the street from his car holding the hand of a woman. They stopped on the front porch, and he kissed her like he hadn't kissed me in a long time.

The door burst open and two children about five years old ran over to him wrapping their arms around his legs. They were holding balloons from the zoo and some kind of toy in their hands. I realized those were the toys that you watch being molded at the zoo. I'd never been to the zoo with Peter, he said he hated the smell of animals.

Then Peter did something that took my breath away; he patted the children on the head. The little girl reached up and Peter lifted her into his arms and kissed her on the forehead.

Was I still breathing?

Peter gave the mom one last kiss and ran across the street to his car hopping in quickly. All three of them waved at him vigorously and Peter was off down the road.

I watched the little family of three as they went over to the SUV in the driveway and took out a picnic basket and blanket. The children skipped their way to the front step.

A light came on in the living room and the little girl came to the front window carrying what looked like a little puppy. No, it wasn't a little puppy, it was one of the flower arrangements that looks like a puppy. We were selling them at our store for Mother's Day next week.

Did this woman know that he's married? Or was she like me, by the time she found out, she didn't care?

I just sat there wondering what I should do. The mother came back out and picked up a couple other things from the SUV. Should I go over and talk to her? But no, my problem wasn't really with her. My problem was on his way home, figuring it would be a while before I would be there. He would get out of his car and wonder what happened to his ring. He would be searching the car for it thinking he dropped it somewhere. I took the ring and slipped it on my own turn signal column.

Next week would be Mother's Day, and oddly, enough a year since my miscarriage. His betrayal today was more than just another woman. Like Susan, I’d had enough.

Large raindrops started pelting my car. The storm had come. I rolled up my windows and decided it was time to go home.


 


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