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This is a work of fiction based on a true story....
Shortly after the interlude on the tramp, I sent out a mass message—again—to everyone I knew:
You know how I said I wouldn't get in a serious relationship for a year?
Well, I always meet my goals, stick to my word, and try my hardest.
When I said I'd work every day for a year straight, I did. When I said I'd lose 60 pounds after having my first daughter, I lost the weight in a few short months. I pushed and got my college degree in record time.... I pride myself on making goals and meeting deadlines.
But suddenly I don't think I can meet my new goal—to stay out of a serious relationship for a year—'cause I met someone so wonderful that I'm actually willing to bend the rules for him...
And that alone tells me more than anything.
Dating is like going skydiving; it's so hard jumping out of that plane, but if you have the guts, it can be AMAZING.
I was completely ecstatic—over-the-moon in love. Mark and I went everywhere and seemed to do everything together on his days off. And I thought my children might love him even more than I did—which was nearly impossible! It wasn't until one of his days working, that I wondered if I'd made the right choice by dating him.
My mom and I sat at a quaint Mexican restaurant. I ate a smothered burrito oozing with cheese. I was just about to take another bite when my phone dinged, notifying me of a new text message. "It's from my friend, Tony, who knows The Schmuck," I told my mom. "I wonder what he's up to." I opened the text and read the words aloud to my mom. "Some men don't like it when a girl who was theirs starts dating someone else."
"What is that supposed to mean?" My mom looked irate.
"He's referring to me and The Schmuck, but what I don't understand is that he never sends messages like this. If he ever texts me he sends silly quotes and jokes. Plus, he knows about Mark and he sounded happy for me the last time I talked with him."
"Maybe it isn't him! Wait, I have an idea…."
"Gina, don't text him back! I really don't think you should respond—he's just as bad as The Schmuck, they're friends for a reason."
I ignored my mom and texted back:
Where are you?
My phone dinged with a response. It was a picture of a horse in the mountains.
"Oh my gosh," I gasped, "I think The Schmuck is texting me from his friend's phone! Look—remember the text I told you about back in February?"
"How The Schmuck sent you a picture of a horse in the mountains?" she asked.
I showed her the picture on my phone.
"He is so weird! Gina, don't reply."
"But what if it is his friend?"
"You know it's not!" She looked ready to strangle me from the other side of the table. "You're encouraging him if you text back!"
But I typed regardless….
I don't belong to ANYONE.
Why won't your friend leave me alone?
A response came rather quickly again.
He said your cut from the same clothe, you and him.
You know his divorce will be final in two weeks?
"It is The Schmuck—he doesn't know the difference between your and you are, but our mutual friend does. Look at how he spelled cloth!" I said. My mom gasped—because grammar is a big deal.
After reading the message aloud, I turned wide-eyed to my mother. "You don't think it's true about his divorce? I hope I'm not the cause of it. Once, his wife called me…a home wrecker."
"Don't think that for a second! If they're getting divorced it's because he's a cheater. He lied to you, honey. You didn't know." My mom paused as if not wanting to say something. "I hate what a small world it is sometimes."
"Why would you say that?"
"You know the lady who dyes my hair?"
"Yeah." I nodded.
"Well, I've been telling her about The Schmuck for months. I was telling her something last week and, come to find out, she knows him—she's a good family friend."
"Mom, you're kidding me?"
She shook her head.
"Why does everyone know each other in this stupid town?!" I slid my plate away and stared at the ice in my drink. "You've got me curious now; what did she tell you?" I asked, nearly breathless.
"She didn't say much, just that The Schmuck and his wife have both gone crazy. And that he really was living with her the whole time."
"Mom, is there something wrong with me? Why would someone do this to me? Or maybe it's just men? Maybe they're all cheaters." I thought about Mark and could've cried wondering if he'd ever cheat on me too.
"Not all men are like that, sweetheart. You can't judge everyone just because you've had a few bad experiences. Your new guy seems like a keeper."
"But what if he hurts me? Mom, I'm starting to care about him more than any guy I've ever been with. The way he looks at me. How he plays with the kids and spends so much time with me—we like all the same things. I can't go through all that pain again."
"Maybe it's time for you to have some faith."
I hadn't responded to the texts for a while, but still my phone dinged after a time.
My friend is a good man. And he knows your better
with him there to protect you.
Why would you settle for someone else?
My mom watched me fume from across the table.
Tell "your friend" that I would never settle.
The guy I'm dating is AMAZING, a genuinely good man.
He would never cheat on anyone—unlike some people I've known.
Plus, my boyfriend seems to love me and my kids too.
I continued typing, growing more furious by the minute….
I don't need "your friend." If he has something to talk about,
he needs to talk to HIS WIFE!!!
The reply was unnerving.
He wants to keep you safe.
He won't leave you alone unless you promise
to see him one last time to say goodby.
And if I do this?
If you can look him in the face and tell him your really done,
if you don't have feelings for him anymore,
you'll never hear from him again.
I'm telling you now that I don't have feelings for him.
I don't believe you.
He'll never leave you alone,
Unless you tell him in person.
And one last thing, Sunshine,
every man cheats.
You might think you've found yourself
a nice guy,
but this "good" man your dating,
he's just putting on a "good" show.
I read the entire thing to my mom, slammed my cell on the table, and cupped my face in my hands. "Why won't he leave me alone?"
"I don't know, Gina. But maybe you should take a screenshot of that and send it to his wife? From everything I've heard, they're still married with no plans of getting divorced. You still have her Facebook info or email address?"
I nodded. "I just need to unblock her. I think you're onto something." I sipped some of my diet coke. "Remember how you train dogs; keep spraying vinegar in their face and soon enough, they'll stop doing bad things? This'll be like spraying The Schmuck with vinegar."
So I quickly took screenshots and emailed them to his wife. "I can't deal with this stress! What if she responds blaming me for everything—what if she shows up at my house again?"
Another thought must have hit my mom. "Gina, you would never meet with The Schmuck again? You don't even know if that was him for sure. For all we know, it was his wife."
"I know—they're like freaky characters in Grimm's Fairytales! I don't wanna see him for as long as I live."
"I'm glad," she said. "I think you have a good thing going with Mark. I'd hate to see The Schmuck ruin it."
"I think that's what he's hoping for. I better tell Mark on his next day off and see what he thinks about all of this."
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