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Taking the Time

Always stop and help.

Jaylyn Andrews walked slowly along the sidewalk in the park with her head lowered. There was a cold breeze from the north and it only served to make her mood even worse. Today would be her last day on earth she decided, and tomorrow she would be free from all worries and expectations. Tomorrow maybe people would remember who she was and how they left her alone with her misery and never tried to help.

She had been a good wife, always making sure the house was clean, the laundry was done and dinner was between five and six each night. Barry had made it clear when they were first married that he liked order and schedules and didn't like surprises. The children were clean, polite, and did what their parents told them, and yet they were able to come and talk to her or Barry about anything. They made good grades, didn't do drugs or drink, and graduated from school with honors. She knew she was the one responsible for their manners and grades because she spent all her free time helping them with studies and teaching them how to behave. Barry would often be gone for a week at a time on business, so she was the main parent for the children.

In spite of all that, now that the children were gone things had changed drastically. Barry was working longer hours and when he was home he sat in front of the television all evening watching either sports or the animal channel. He had stopped sending her flowers a few months ago and barely spoke to her. One day at lunch she decided to make a bag lunch for them and surprise him at work, anything to try and put some feeling back into the relationship. His office was at the building across from the park, the same one she was walking through now, and as she started past the bushes to cross the street she saw him. He was standing on the sidewalk outside with his arms around a red-haired woman and was kissing her. She ducked behind the bushes and waited to see what happened next. The woman walked around the dark blue Corvette to the driver's side and got in, followed by Barry and they peeled away. That was three months ago.

Jaylyn sat down on the park bench and re-created the scene in her mind, and then she opened her purse and checked to make sure all the pills she had stuffed in there to take her own life were still there. She had confronted Barry, but all he did was laugh at her and tell her she was imagining things, and that maybe she should get a job now that the kids were gone so she would have something to do. She loved him so much she lied to herself and said maybe it was true and spent the next two months searching for work, but it's hard to find when all you ever did was raise children, clean and cook. When she tried to talk to Barry about it, he just snorted and brushed her off like it meant nothing to him, so she stopped looking and started planning the next phase of her life. It was impossible to imagine life without Barry. They had been together for over thirty-seven years and to be alone now, at this age was unacceptable, so she spent another month trying to re-establish friendships she had lost because she was so busy pleasing Barry, thinking that might make life more bearable while he went through his mid-life crisis.

It was almost four and she had to get home and make sure dinner was on the table as it always was by five. She had made his favorite tonight, homemade french fries and fried chicken. She decided his last dinner with her should be one he remembers.

Candles sat in the middle of the table and the best china was used. The clock struck six, and still no Barry, and by the time the clock struck nine, Jaylyn went ahead and fixed her fries and chicken and removed his plate from the table. She checked her phone several times to see if he texted her or she missed a call but nothing. As she ate, she had tears running down her face, and then she would alternate between crying and swearing with great anger. How could he do this to her? She hadn't changed, she had become what he wanted her to be for all those years and now he was throwing her away for someone younger and fun. She was too angry to think about taking her life right now because she wanted to scream at Barry and tell him how horrible he was to her and how unfair it all was. She shoved the dishes from the table to the floor in a rage, blew out the candles and went to the bedroom to dress for bed.

The next morning she woke to the sound of her phone messaging her. She was still half asleep and thought it was for Barry, but when she reached over to touch him he wasn't in bed. He had never come home. The text message on the phone was still beeping so she put her glasses on and took a look. It was a note from Barry telling her how sorry he was that he didn't come home, but he could no longer pretend to be in love with her when he was in love with someone else. He said she could have the house, and the car, that he was in a better position to start over, and that he would be by to pick up his things later in the week. She threw the phone across the room and it shattered against the wall in a hundred pieces.

He was with that red-headed woman, that she knew for sure. Well, he was certainly going to feel guilty when he gets there for his stuff and finds her body in the bed. Her body and a note, one outlining how unhappy she was and had been for a long time. She pulled some paper from the desk and began thinking about the note and what would make him feel the worst. She began with the words, "I've always loved you," and immediately tore it up. No, she was too angry to say that. "I hate you for who you have become" was the next sentence, and then she tore that up too and threw it away. As she was pondering the next note the doorbell rang. Disgusted, she threw the paper down, grabbed her robe and went to the door. It was the plumber she had scheduled a few days ago and had forgotten about. He said he was on a tight schedule and couldn't come back until next week, so she invited him in and went back to her desk to create her note. A few minutes later she was aware of the plumber standing behind her, and she turned quickly, wondering why he was standing there.

He smiled, and then apologized for bothering her, but said his wife threw him out last night and he slept in his truck, and, would it be okay if he had a cup of coffee. She stared at him for a few seconds, cleared her throat and then told him she would make a fresh pot. He thanked her and stepped over the shattered cell phone as he left the room. She had to wonder what he did to get thrown out, but he was so pleasant and so genuine, she wasn't convinced it was his fault. When the coffee was brewed she invited him to join her at the kitchen table, and he gladly accepted. They began talking about small things, the weather, sports, the upcoming time change, and then as the second and third pot of coffee brewed, they had gotten down to the real issues both of them were facing.

Jaylyn began to realize she wasn't the only one with a problem in the world or the only one to get dumped in a long-term marriage. The repairs never did get done that day, but a great friendship was found, and a life saved.

If you know anyone going through a rough time, take the time to talk to them or get them help.

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