To read Part 1 of Good Enough, click here.
For Part 2 of Good Enough, click here.
**Please note: This text is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
I pulled off an exit a short while later and turned into a gas station to fill up. We had been driving for over 10 hours, no wonder Nate was hungry. He had eaten all of his lunch which I had packed in his school bag, but we had definitely missed supper a few hours ago.
I asked the gas station attendant, an older man wearing overalls and a ball cap, where the closest restaurant and hotels would be. I had no idea where we were.
“You have just arrived in Perspect, the friendliest town you’ll come across taking an exit ramp off the highway.”
I had no idea where that was, but I nodded and smiled at his obvious town pride.
He continued, “There are some restaurants and hotels just up ahead a bit. It’s a smaller town but, like I said, you won’t find nicer people.”
I thanked him and paid for my gas.
We drove down the street a bit and the lights of a fast food restaurant illuminated the way. I pulled in to the drive thru and ordered a couple of burgers for Nate and myself. I wasn’t overly hungry but I knew that we both had to eat. The whispers nagged in my ear that fast food burgers would hardly win me any mother of the year awards, but I silenced them by offering Nate another one. At least he wouldn’t go to bed hungry.
The town was quite lit up for almost ten at night and I could see that there were several hotels just down the street. It wouldn’t be a bad place to get some sleep. While I wasn’t yet exhausted, I was starting to get tired of driving.
Finishing our food, I told Nate that we would be staying here for the night. For the first time Nate asked about his father.
“We are just having a little holiday, honey. Daddy has to work. We are taking a break and giving him some space.”
Nate nodded. I wasn’t sure if he understood really, but he hadn’t seen his father a whole lot lately anyway. I assumed that this time apart wouldn’t overly affect him as it wouldn’t be much different than what he was used to. He was used to a father who was seldom at home, and, when he was there, was too busy to play with him anyway. How many times over the last couple of years, since Nate had been old enough to understand, had his father told him to give him some space? There had been too many times to count.
We drove down the street a bit and I pulled into first hotel we came to. I knew that it wouldn’t be hard to find a room. Even though the town had several hotels, I could see that each one still had the vacancy sign lit. It was a wonder how some small businesses stayed afloat, I thought idly.
I unloaded Nate and our two bags and we walked into the hotel lobby. A young dark-haired woman smiled brightly at us. I was sure that our appearance as guests was the highlight of her night. I signed on the line and paid for one night. Handing us our hotel key and the instructions on how to get to the room, we left with her still waving at Nate. He was a charmer like his father; he definitely knew how to make the ladies smile.
Once we were in the room, Nate bathed and tucked into bed sleeping once more, the reality of what I had done hit me. Waves of regret and homesickness washed over me. How could I have the left the comfort of our beautiful home, of our bountiful lifestyle, even the well known comfort of my marriage, as much of a sham that it now was? Worse, how could I have dragged my son into this with me? I knew that I could never, ever have left without him, but maybe I should have never left in the first place either.
I sat on the edge of our queen size bed the tears rolling down my face. If and when I returned, Ben would never let me live this down. He would take me back, I knew, for appearance’s sake, but all the whispers would still be there, the murmurings would continue, and the stares and looks of pity would intensify. Crazy bitch couldn’t even leave and stay gone, they would say.
The facts were sad and true. I had no one but Nate. My own small family lived thousands of miles away, the few that I had left, and other than speaking to them on holidays and exchanging emails we didn’t have a lot of contact. I realized that Ben liked it that way as well. He and his family continued to be the primary focus in our lives.
Besides, my family truly believed that I had won the perfect life lottery and landed a perfect husband. They wouldn’t have wanted to believe anything less.
It wasn’t the first time that I wished that I had someone to confide in. A close friend who would tell me that what I did was the right thing, both for me and for Nate, but once again I had no one. The few friends that I had had in university had slipped through the cracks as I built my perfect life, or, at least, Ben’s perfect life. There was no one to listen to me cry, even over the phone. No one to text for their honest opinion on what I should do next. I was completely on my own and I was completely petrified.
For the last few years, I hadn’t even been left to make decisions about groceries or landscaping on my own, how in the hell had I found myself here now trying to decide what to do next? I was living right up to Ben’s accusations – of course I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing next. Since when was I ever capable of thinking things through like that?
Checking that Nate was still tucked in, I escaped to the bathroom where I ran a hot bubble bath. Stripping off the sweater and yoga pants that I still wore, I eased myself into the fragrant water. My muscles were tight from driving and my head had begun to ache from all the crying I had done.
I hated that I now regretted leaving. I should’ve been proud of myself for taking that first step – for walking out on a cheating husband and a loveless marriage, for proving to myself and to my son that we deserved better than that, for, in my own way, telling the murmuring voices to stick their opinions where the sun doesn’t shine.
Deep down I knew that each day the regret would lessen, each day I would get stronger, and that one day I would be grateful that I had taken this first step, but for tonight all I wanted to do was go home.
I crawled out of the tub and wrapped myself in a huge towel. I picked up my cell phone and held it in my hands. I could call and say I would be home in the morning. I could say I was wrong and that I am sorry. I could do all of those things, but I knew that I wouldn’t. Instead, I put my phone away and crawled into bed beside Nate and wrapped my arms around him, holding him close.
Right now, this was all I needed to do.