The water was beginning to boil and she noticed the condensation on the window.  It was brisk outside for this early September afternoon, as the steam in the kitchen made her wipe down the window several times so she could see out. 

Sharon felt the emptiness of being home alone.

Katie now off to college—she wasn’t prepared for the empty nest syndrome.  Sure she had heard of it—never really contemplated it—until it was suddenly her turn.  She thought perhaps she would have been prepared for this because Craig and Devon had left years earlier, making the house a little less full.  But nothing could prepare her for letting the youngest go.  Sure she was only 50 miles away, but the house was still empty, she was still alone.

Her broth was at a full boil—now what was she planning to make? Oh yes, Hodgepodge soup.  She had a separate smaller pot boiling water for the pasta.  Where was that box anyway?  There it was, on the top shelf.  Surely, she wasn’t losing her mind.  It was just the stress—of silence that surrounded her. It really wasn’t supposed to be like this—and she pushed the thought from her mind.

That was when Charley hobbled into the kitchen.  Charley was an adorable, overweight basset hound.  She and Charley had bonded when her husband  suddenly left in June.  They both had taken to eating through this emotionally turbulent time—way too much—and both were in a race for the finish line.  Which one could gain the most pounds by the next phone call from that no good two-timing, I’m off in the Bahama’s with my sexy 20-something of a girlfriend, male whore, would be the clear winner—or loser.  Perspective says a lot.  She was supposed to be on that trip.  That was her ticket he used to take that bimbo.  PUSH-PUSH-PUSH.  No she was not the only one that felt Bill’s loss—poor Charley did too.  You could tell just by looking at his bloodshot eyes.

She poured the noodles into the boiling water…gave it a quick stir and set her timer for 8 minutes.  She chopped up some chicken breast and took her frozen vegetables and added them in the larger pot of boiling broth.  Yes—hodgepodge soup was just what was called for on a day like today.  Something to warm the soul.  She turned the radio on, that hung under the cabinet next to the kitchen window and found a station.  Within moments, she had to shut it off.  It had to be a cruel joke that they would play Strawberry Fields Forever.  Yes a song that was memorable to her and that man-whore of a husband, way back when.

But really, what could she have done?  She kept the house neat and tidy for years.  She worked part-time, bringing in a nominal income. She played soccer mom and PTA president.  She attended social functions with her husband, worked out regularly, gave him the best of her.  It was maddening what he had done.  It hurt.  And yet—all she wanted was for Bill to come home and give her a second chance.

Stirring the pot again she had to chuckle.  But really, would she give him a second chance??  And that is where her heart was conflicted.  Part of her really wanted to…but part of her could never completely forgive him for what he’d done.  Part of her wanted to strangle him and castrate him and make him feel her pain.  Part of her just wanted to walk away.  Another part—just wanted to put things back together the way they were.  But then—how could he not have been happy with the way things were?  How long had this infidelity gone on?  STOP!! Push-Push-PUSH!

She had to push it from her mind and not deal with it. Not tonight.  The timer rang.  She took her ladle and tasted the soup.  Pepper! It needs pepper!! She declared silently.  And she reached to the spice rack to dash in some black pepper.  Stirring again, she tasted it.  Perfect.  Now she would let it simmer for an hour.  Charley gave her that look.  It was time.

She grabbed her jacket and took Charley for a nice walk.  Came back in from the outdoors and fed him a treat.  Something good had come from all of these changes.  She and Charley had made friends.  Both betrayed by Bill—they finally formed a friendship…whereas before…they were both vying for his attention. PUSH PUSH PUSH!  She walked over to check on her soup.  Almost done.

The phone rang and had nearly startled her into a heart attack.  Whose idea was it to turn the volume up that high?  She recognized the number and answered, “Hello…I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever hear from you again?”  His soft tenor voice sent chills up and down her spine. “No, not much, just making Hodgepodge soup.” 

The pushing got easier.

Maybe she wouldn’t be home alone tonight.

She could feel him even though he was on the other end of the line.

She hung up the phone with a slight grin on her face.

You’ll understand, won’t you Charley?”


**This post was written for both the BFF and the McBlogerry groups on Facebook under the themes: Positive out of Negative, Home Alone, Strawberry Fields for Ever and Second Chance.  Interested in blogging challenges—consider joining one of these groups!!