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Rated: E · Other · Romance/Love · #1814302
Sharon Harrison saw her husband with her best friend, and assumed the worst.
Sharon Harrison had been married to her husband Thomas for thirteen years, and knew what it took to keep a relationship going; she'd watched the ebb and flow of enough marriages to realise what would work for her and Tom. It meant keeping the proper balance, reviewing her expectations, and most importantly, not expecting or hoping for things to change.

A nice, settled life; something she'd always hoped for. The only disappointment was that there were no children, and they were running out of time: Sharon was thirty nine years old, but whenever she quizzed Tom about it, he seemed to be quite happy: "Do we really want a bunch of screaming kids around here anyway?", was his standard response. How she loved him for giving that sort of answer.

That was why the events at Kirsty Graham's home on Saturday evening had come as such a shock to Sharon; it threatened what she had always thought of as a finely balanced relationship.

Kirsty was her oldest, and closest friend. They had met each other in senior high school, and had been inseparable ever since, their lives travelling happily along a paralell path: a college degree, marriage; they had even considered going on their honeymoons together but considered that was a step too far!

There was just one undercurrent of stress in their friendship. Kirsty, and her husband Barry, had four children between them, while Sharon and Tom remained childless. She tried to tell herself it didn't matter, and, although everyone was supportive of her, in quiet moments of reflection, it did upset her. Kirsty's house was always such a mess, teenagers and domestic bliss created such an environment; but, at times, Sharon envied her friend such a chaotic lifestyle!

On this occasion, it was Shannon's 14th birthday party, and the house was overflowing with kids, balloons and the smell of barbequed steaks. Shannon was Kirsty's eldest daughter, and just an all-round great kid: ballet, horse riding; such a great future ahead and she made her parents proud every day.

Sharon had been fixing a drink at the bar - non-alcoholic of course - when she had glanced over at the crowd, looking for Tom; she found him soon enough, she seemed to have a sixth sense for where he might be.

Tom and Kirsty. She had never seen them together; it seemed there had always been other people around, a crowd, never just the two of them. This time, however, it seemed like they were totally alone, wilfully disregarding everyone else, having eyes only for each other. They were in the hallway, talking in such a close and intimate way, exactly the way a husband should NOT be talking to his wife's best friend.

Was it possible, Sharon wondered. Was her husband having an affair with her closest friend? The way they were talking, almost like confidantes together, sharing secrets, left her little choice but to conclude they were.

She used all her inner strength to get through the evening. Even if there was something going on, there were other issues: Kirsty's husband Barry, and their four children to start with, and of course, their long friendship. She would need to be very careful how she handled this situation. What would happen if she confronted them, and was absolutely wrong?

Sharon recalled an old movie that Tom and she had loved: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. In the movie, the husband was planning a surprise birthday party for his wife. He had enlisted the help of his wife's closest friend, which involved lunches and phone calls, and, naturally the wife had put two and two together and came up with five, and guessed they were having an affair! She then confronted the husband just as the party was about to start, with all her family and friends looking on! It was a thriller, so of course the friend was killed in due course, but Sharon guessed the friendship would have been irrevocably damaged.

So, what to do?

The obvious plan was to look for evidence. Facts that would be undeniable, force them to admit their wrongdoing. Sharon even considered the possibility of hiring a private detective, but how could she justify the costs: joint bank accounts were something they agreed on early in their marriage.

No, if she wanted evidence, she would have to find it herself, all on her own. She would go online and search through their bank accounts, searching for patterns of spending, phone calls that would point to Tom's duplicity, and she could then confront him with the proof. She was almost becoming excited about her plan, before realising that it's success might change, and scar, her life for some time to come.

Had Tom been unfaithful to her, with her best friend? She could lose her husband; her best friend, and then be totally alone?

She had trouble sleeping that night, tossing and turning, struggling with her emotions. The way someone struggles against the pounding surf, knowing there is little or no chance of survival, unless you fight against it. Or, you could allow the power of the ocean to carry you into calmer waters. But you had to choose.

Perhaps she could follow Tom, and see how he occupied his day. She realised, with his business, he had a lot of free time on his hands, and if he had wanted to do something duplicitous, it would be incredibly easy; she could ask them innocent questions, hoping to catch them out in a lie. Staring at the ceiling, she concluded that the dead of night was an evil master, leaving you with nothing but your own thoughts and dark memories for company.

The sun came up, and in the morning, everything was a lot clearer, and she knew what she had to do. She was not alone; Thomas was her husband; she had loved him for nearly 15 years, and she had known Kirsty for longer. She owed them a lot more than allowing her own insecurities to ruin things for them all.

Yes, she would confront Tom; but out of love, and the faith she had in their relationship. Sharon would make the assumption that nothing was going on, and simply ask Tom to clear things up; because the memory she had of the two of them in the hallway together was not going away anytime soon.

"Tom", Sharon asked her husband, "there's something I need to ask you about, and I need an honest answer. I saw you and Kirsty chatting rather cosily at last nights party, and I need to know what's going on." An odd feeling of relief began sweeping over her, as she realised the questions she had would soon be answered.

Tom looked at Sharon, in surprise, with an open face, and she thought, an open heart. "Sharon, you're right. We were talking, but not cosily. As you know, I've known Kirsty's husband for over twenty years, and I'm afraid Barry was delivered some bad news from his doctor on Friday. He has lung cancer, and the prognosis is not great, I'm afraid."

A deluge of emotions overwhelmed Sharon. Relief at finding her worst fears were completely unfounded, yet in pain at the knowledge that her husband's friend had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Most of all, Sharon felt a terrible sense of guilt, and the feeling that it was she who had betrayed them both, by doubting them.

As if reading her mind, Tom suddenly realised what had been bothering Sharon. "Shar, you didn't for a moment think that Kirsty and I were....were....I'm sorry I can't, won't even say the words." Sharon flinched at the use of his pet name for her, a name he reserved for special times, when he felt unconditional love; of which, right now, she felt undeserving.

Realising that she was struggling to accept that she would not be a mother, Sharon had resented Kirsty for having the family life she secretly longed for, and she had allowed that jealousy and envy to change the way she looked at things; enabled her to imagine things that simply weren't there.

"Sharon," continued Tom, "Barry won't be around for much longer, I'm sorry to say, and they've asked if we would consider being the kids godparents, and, in fact, when the time comes, to help Kirsty in raising the kids. After all, she'll be all on her own."

Sharon learned an important lesson that day: Look for the best in whatever life throws at you, and realise that even if you get what you hoped for, it might not turn out the way you expect.
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