Christmas lights glimmer, bathing the room in an ethereal golden haze. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d attend a high society holiday fundraiser, yet here I am arm in arm with the love of my life. All eyes turn as we walk into the room, and my heart sinks like a stone.What am I doing here? These are all his friends! They don’t know me; they probably won’t like me. He, of all people, should know how awkward I am!
My husband waves to someone on the other side of the room. For one wild moment, I half-expect him to abandon me for his friends , but he smiles and squeezes my hand. Oh no, someone’s coming over here! What do I do? Stand up straight, eyes forward, don’t speak unless you’re spoken to…
“He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice, Santa Claus is comin’ to town…” The song blares in the background. Its sound mingles with that of glasses clinking, idle chatter, and the pounding of my own heart into an indistinguishable cacophony. Still clinging to my husband’s arm, I search for a distraction from the noise.
In a room full of strangers, I recognize one figure. A shroud of dark hair tumbles over her shoulders, and dark soulless eyes stare out of a sharply pointed face. The ex wife.
Why is she here?!
Our eyes lock across the room. As a smug smile spreads like a virus across her face, my own smile plastered on since I got here dies. All at once, nervousness melts away, dripping off me like the red wax candles decorating the tables. Burning rage takes its place, and I fix her with an icy glare.
Does she think I don’t know what she did to him? How she prolonged their divorce as long as she could just to humiliate him, how she dragged his good name through the mud and took everything he had? Oh, I know all about that, honey. You may have everyone else fooled with that long-suffering wife act, but I see you for the lying gold-digger you really are.
Understanding dawns in the ex wife’s eyes. She tilts her dark head to one side, though her eyes stay on me as if sizing me up. What’s going through her mind? I’ll bet she thinks I’m no match for her. She’ll find out the hard way that she’s wrong! I hold her gaze defiantly, studying her. That insipid smile, those mean eyes, that wispy wilting frame that looks like it would snap in half with the slightest nudge. I’m sorely tempted to test that theory!
My hold on my husband’s arm tightens; it’s all I can do to keep myself from knocking all the teeth out of that self-satisfied little smirk of hers! Not that she wouldn’t deserve it. For what she put my husband through, she deserves every misfortune that comes her way, but I won’t be the one to give it to her. I will not make her the victim she paints herself!
My eyes dart from the ex wife to my husband. He’s still talking to his friends, blissfully unaware of her presence. I intend to keep it that way! He always knows when something’s wrong by just one look, so I avert my gaze before he can catch my eye, lest I give anything away.
Never letting go of his arm, I place myself between him and her to block her from his view. Out of sight, and hopefully out of mind!
When I look back at the ex wife, she’s surrounded by a narrow little entourage of narrow little women just like her. They giggle and whisper amongst themselves, but I can’t make out their words. Their stares, however, are unmistakable. Then the ex wife points toward me. Are they talking about me? Or him? I hope for their sake that it’s me!
Angry fire flashes in my eyes. Go on, I dare you! Keep disparaging my husband, laugh at him. If you’re feeling brave, try approaching him, See what happens!
The ex wife deflates, shrinking back under my gaze like the coward we both know she is. The smug grin fades, and her eyes soften into an odd expression. It takes me a minute to place it as condescending pity. Oh… Now I see what’s going on. She thinks I’m some poor naive fool who needs rescuing because only a fool would be misguided enough to not believe her lies! This arrogant witch thinks she’s actually protecting me?!
Oh, this is hilarious! The irony is too much to handle, and now it’s my turn to burst into laughter. Finally distracted from conversation, my husband turns to me. “What’s so funny, darling?”
“Oh, nothing. Just a joke.”