I’m Not That Shallow

Shallow

Excerpt from A Blog Affair, coming Fall 2017

“I don’t know how you do it. All that heartache day in and day out, I’d be so discouraged with marriage.”

“Uh huh, well . . . Mom and dad already ruined it for me.”

“Is that why you chose to become a divorce attorney?” We both know the answer to that question, but I asked anyway.

“Well, yeah . . . Wasn’t it obvious,”  Nik said with a guffaw and raised brows. “After the nasty, drawn-out divorce they dragged us through, it would have affected anyone.”

I suspect the divorce had other ramifications, such as her inability to sustain a relationship. Maybe it did for both of us. But I try to forget that pain. It’s become a part of me. A part I visit rarely, a part steeped in my cells, invisible but still there.  “Nik,” I murmured, “Do you think mom and dad had true love? I don’t remember ever seeing signs of affection. Do you?”

“True love, like those romance novels you managed at McClelland?”

“Nik, you know that’s not what I meant; real love, not some fictitious brand.”

“I’m just messing with you Allie,” she said with an impish grin. “Well, whatever it was, true love, lust, it didn’t last. But, yeah, I do remember little flirtations before their relationship went stale like most marriages, although it was rare. Anyway, you wouldn’t remember. You were barely walking or talking,” she said throwing me a curious glare. “Allie, you gotta get your head out of those romance novels. Life’s seldom as romantic as those books. You ever read one where people are working, trying to feed their kids, or struggling to pay bills? I bet you haven’t. And there’s a reason for that. It’s called escapism. People use those books to fill their empty, boring lives with passion. Sis, in my world, people have to get on with living, not loving. With all the love addiction, I’m surprised the divorce rate isn’t higher than fifty percent.”

God, Nik! I thought with pity. I’m no psychologist, but it’s obvious she’s a casualty of divorce, the wounded cynic, marred for life. Issues unresolved, held in abeyance until someone or something triggers scary emotions. “Thanks for that long-winded clarification, but I’m no delusional romantic.”

“You’re not? Wow! Allie, that’s the biggest lie you’ve told yourself—”

“Nik, stop it. I’m not that shallow teenager anymore,” I said defensively knowing darn well Austen, Bronte, Wharton, and countless writers shaped my romantic ideals. But I swiftly learned real love is messier and seldom end happily ever after.

Nik’s eyes squint. “You’re talking to me, Sis. I know all your little secrets,” she said with emphasis and a clever arch of her thumb and index finger into a little slit. “Besides, I’ve seen the guys you date. They’re all attractive, intelligent professionals. The moment one burp, you lose interest. I know you, Allie. Probably better than you know yourself. Believe me, men with all your romantic requirements don’t exist.”

How annoying! She makes me so angry when she does that. She thinks she knows me, but she’s talking about a younger me. I’m no longer that girl, looking for the perfect man. I know better than that. I wish she could see the mature me. The one who’s been burned many times chasing perfect, only finding flawed men behind perfect facades. “Okay, Ms. Expert,” I said not wanting to travel this road. Especially with someone who can’t keep a relationship. I revert to the original topic. “Nik, I’m just curious about mom and dad. There’s so much I don’t remember before the divorce. For instance, I don’t remember ever hearing them say I love you to us or to each other.”

Nik peers with discerning eyes. “Allie, don’t take it personally. It was their upbringing. I don’t believe their parents ever show them affection. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. They didn’t know how to be doting parents. But they wouldn’t have fought so hard for custody if they didn’t love us.”

A Blog Affair - Cover Series 403 Little Mouth on Allie

Copyright 2017 by E. Denise Billups

Book Cover Design by E. Denise Billups

Photo of Heart: Courtesy of Pinterest

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