Shoes on the Stairs
Back in the kitchen, Brad stood at the counter, amused by something on his phone while he sipped his coffee.
“Did you see this on Facebook?” He turned his phone screen in my direction.
“I haven’t been on Facebook in ages. Too busy for that time-suck.”
But truthfully, it wasn’t the time that kept me away as much as it was the lives of my “friends”, which always sounded monumentally better than my own, that stopped me from scrolling through the pages. The job promotions; the endless pictures of exotic vacations; the perfect children doing perfect things; the perfect, perfect lives everyone seemed to live. Everything and everyone were perfect on Facebook, and although deep down I knew no one lived the utopian life they portrayed on social media, the braggery still ate at me and left holes of inadequacy and unhappiness.
“Bridget Radcliff just published a novel. Isn’t she a friend of yours?”
“What?” I glanced at Brad’s phone. Bridget’s post made its way to his page from a friend of a friend of a friend in the small, claustrophobic world of fake-believe.
“Looks like it made it onto Amazon’s bestseller list.”
“Wow, fantabulous,” I said without an ounce of energy in my voice. “Another smut novel makes it onto the bestseller list. And if you must know, she’s an acquaintance, not a friend.”
I didn’t know if it was really a smut novel, but I assumed it was only because I couldn’t imagine Bridget writing anything else. But this, I admit, was one of my flaws. I assumed a lot about everything. I assumed I’d marry a prince and become a princess. I assumed I knew everything there was to know at fifteen. I assumed I’d want sex every day for the rest of my life and my marriage to Brad would be like living inside a rainbow every day. I assumed I wouldn’t miss my career when I stayed home to raise the kids. I assumed my children would be the best at everything because I assumed I would be the best mother there ever was. But now, even with all I knew about assumptions, about how they are idealistic dreams I refused to prove wrong, I still gave them weight in my life. Why would assuming Bridget wrote something scandalous be any different?
A little jealousy bounced within me. Even with Bridget being a divorced mother of two, she somehow found the time to write a best-selling novel. And that picture of her on Brad’s phone, all trim and sunshiny-beautiful holding her book, lit a fuse in me, or maybe it was already lit but had met the nitroglycerine.
In any case, I was ready to explode. I moved to the sink and gazed out the window, counting slowly to ten, fully aware of the emptiness growing within me. Each person’s success reminded me of my own career as a teacher I’d willingly given up for this.