The Point of No Return

He sat staring at the computer screen, mesmerized by the images. The folder of pictures contained hundreds, maybe thousands, of images of beautiful women — all sent to him, no one else, just him. He can’t help but feel a rush of power and excitement that comes from knowing these images are his alone, taken for him or by him.
His wife wouldn’t have dreamt of sending him pictures like this, even before her accident. She was too straight-laced and uptight to think about sending a provocative, sex-filled image of herself. Sometimes, though, he liked to lean back and pretend it was his wife on the computer screen in front of him. How different life would be, he thought, if his wife could send these types of images. Sometimes, he almost mourned the life he had lost, but then his mind replayed the phone calls, the Skype chats, the pictures and the excitement he felt at the thought of heading out of town for his business meetings. Any sadness he felt quickly faded into the background with the knowledge that his wife would never be the women in these pictures.
He has a new one now — a new addition to his collection. He calls them his collectibles. They are his beautiful, collectible dolls who become his playthings. He can justify them that way. There is no talk of love or a future — just play. Sometimes the playfulness can lead to physical pleasure but never love. He has some training to do with the new girl. In theory, she gets the concept of playing with him, but reality is a different matter. The email he got from her proved this point. She seems a little too naive, in a way, to adhere to his rules. She’s trying to set her own rules. Just for a laugh, he re-reads her email…
“You set down your ground rules. I gave you a sketchy outline of what I expected, but you overwhelmed me a little with your rules. Sooooo, here are my ground rules. I’m (usually) a very honest person. This is all new to me. But I’ll be up front with you when things get overwhelming for me, which I’m sure they will.
Yes, flirt. Be fun with me. Have fun with me. I’ll do the same with you.
Being physical with you is something I can’t consider. Kisses lead to intimacy with me. Intimacy leads to feelings. Feelings lead to problems. I’m not interested in giving, or receiving, sloppy seconds.
So text away but they’re my rules now, Skippy. If you want to come along for a flirty, fun little time, jump on board. If my rules are too much, then you are free to go back to the way things were before. Friends always.”
Oh, she so doesn’t understand this is my game, and these are my rules, he thinks She will need to learn, and it will be so much fun teaching her. First things first, time to make the deal even more attractive. Time to get her number and make her part of his collection. He needs to add her pictures to his gallery.
He logs into Facebook and brings up the messages from the previous night. Hers are at the top of the list. Seeing she is online, he takes the opportunity to pounce on his latest prey.
Hey there, I need you to call me. I have something I really need to talk to
you about. My number is 523-732-7462.
He waits for the immediate response she usually gives him. It seems like it is taking her an eternity to respond when he notices she is gone.
Oh, you’re gone…
With that, he switches gears. He is no longer a man on the prowl. He now switches to work mode. It’s time to make the money flow for himself and others. It’s time to work.

March 8, 2012
How did things get so bad? Ok, maybe bad is the wrong

word. Maybe it’s just not what I expected. I have a good life, from the outside anyway. Anyone looking in would think I have the picture perfect world. My life makes me think of the song “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” by Mary Chapin Carpenter. In the song Mary Chapin Carpenter talks about how the wife works to keep things looking picture perfect “spit and polish til it shines,” but she falls out of love maybe because of the monotony of her daily life. Or maybe it’s because she didn’t get much recognition for who she is as a woman and a lover, only as a mom and a wife. I think I’m becoming the girl in the song.
I know things aren’t really that bad. Garrett doesn’t abuse me or cheat on me (at least not that I know of). But we rarely talk anymore. The laughter is gone. It’s been replaced with apathy. Where there was once passion, laughter, and a shared ideal about building a life together, now there is only indifference. The TV is the moderator in our marriage. As long as the TV is on, there are no conflicts. I have to wonder how, with no work being put into our marriage, he thinks he’ll keep me.
I have to admit I’m partly to blame for all of this. I used to be the one to pick fights, to try and draw out what was wrong between us and fix the problems. But I got so tired of feeling like a nag and a shrew so I stopped. It was always up to me fix things between us. Garrett has always been happy to bury his head in the sand and let things go. In our early years, I brought up our problems to Garrett. He used to sit and talk with me. He wanted to look interested in fixing our issues, but, things always went back to the way Garrett wanted them. If he wanted to fix things, he would fix them, but if they were my issues things always went back to the way they were before. It was exhausting and unrewarding work, so I stopped. I always hoped, though, Garrett would see how our marriage is becoming empty, and he would want to help fix things before it was too late.
I know things could be so much worse, and I feel like a shrew as I sit here thinking “OH, woe is me!” So I’ll take a break from my pity party and try to focus on the positive. The kids are my positive and my world.
As long as I focus on them, life is more than bearable. The five of them take my breath away when I look at them. I am in awe of what a gorgeous young woman Christina is. At 16 she’s in charge of her world and not afraid to show it. It’s scary to think how confident she is. She’ll do big things in her life. Noelle, sweet little Noelle, with her halo of blond hair, she’s quiet and bookish unless she’s with Andrew. Andrew pulls her out of her shell. His boisterousness is combined with an unrivaled sensitivity. I love seeing them together. And the twins, Amanda and Chandler, crack me up with their bickering banter back and forth. Those two are like a little old couple. I am in heaven when all of them are around.
It’s really only Garrett. He’s the void. The empty space in my life.
If I let my mind wander back in time, my heart hurts. I see a man and a husband who used to think the world of me, but that feeling is disappearing day by day. The joy we shared together is gone. Life is flat. Our marriage is mediocre, at best, and teetering on divorce, at worst. Sometimes I wonder why, if it used to be so good, we let it get the point of being nearly irreparable. But then I remember the hurt, the pain
from so many years of unresolved conflicts. I see the lack of trying, on Garrett’s part, to make things better. I feel I always come last with him.
Charley closes her journal, logs into her computer, and tries to drift back in time to happy days gone by. There is not much there, inside Charley’s heart, when she looks at pictures of their early days. Their wedding pictures used to fill her with delight, but now looking at them only serves to remind her she will never be able to compete with her mother-in-law. Will he keep me? Charley wonders out loud. Or is it too late?
Charley’s mind starts to churn as words come spilling forth and
she picks up her journal again and begins to write…
The Questions
The questions I have, there are so many.
The answers ~ I’m afraid, right now, there aren’t any. They’ll come from within, only answered by me.
Right now there is nothing for me to give, you see.
My heart is so heavy, so hurt.
Not a thing can be done for the pain to avert.
Did I love you with all of my heart?
Or did I just love the love the thought of “us” from the start? We seemed so perfect, so right.
Everything was wonderful. You were my knight.
Did I do the right thing?
Did I just want a ring?
Did I rush you?
What did I do?
I didn’t want to be alone.
Oh, how I wish I had known.
Was this the path I was supposed to choose?
Or did I choose the path where we both lose?
I don’t know which end is up or down.
I feel I am ready to drown.
This is not the right life for you or for me.
This is not right, not for either to be.
We are full of despair and not at all right.
I want it back to when we filled each other with delight. We…

Charley puts down her pen. Will the “we” continue, she thinks. She puts away her journal, tucks the memories of the pictures into the back of her head and vows to shake off her mental whining.

March 9
I thought today dawned a little brighter. At least it seemed that way at first. Garrett wasn’t so distant and reserved. He seemed more “in the moment,” as he walked into the kitchen with a cheery “Good morning” and a kiss on my lips. He snuck a quick hug and a little fondle into the routine of the morning, so I thought maybe I’m just imagining big problems where there really aren’t any.
But things went back to normal as Garrett got himself ready to leave for work. He sat at the kitchen table on his iPhone. He got lost in the texts and emails as they came in. As is the case every morning, I worked around Garrett, getting the kids fed, lunches made and everyone out the door. Garrett was the last to leave, and he placed a perfunctory kiss on my forehead. I was left standing in the door, a bit bewildered, wondering what happened to the sweetness from him that greeted me this morning. He, half-heartedly, waved goodbye and headed down the street , off to work. Maybe it’s just the pressures of the job. I hope, sometimes fervently, maybe it’s not us together. Maybe, hopefully, it’s just the job.
Charley closes her journal and wanders back into the silence of the kitchen to get to work on cleaning up and setting things back to normal.
Once the kitchen is restored and gleaming, Charley decides it’s time for her to catch up on the virtual world, and she logs into Facebook. She scrolls down the list of updates from her friends, commenting here and there on things that catch her attention. Charley is messaging back and forth with her best friend, Gayle Myers, when a friend request pops up on her screen. Charley clicks on it and is immediately transported back in time to high school. Peter Pampinelli. Hmmmm….she wonders, why is he “friending” her? She knows it’s not because they were best of friends in high school. Their paths rarely, if ever, crossed. Charley was among the bookish, quiet crowd, and Peter, Charley remembers him quite clearly, was a cool, aloof, artsy type. He reminded her so much of Johnny Depp from the movie Benny and Joon. He was a little different, but he didn’t care. He was self-assured in a way most high school boys weren’t. She remembers seeing him at two of their first high school reunions and thinking he had gotten even more beautiful. He had filled out through the shoulders and chest. His wavy hair dipped across his forehead and made his tawny eyes stand out even more. Charley remembers watching him at one of the reunions and being intrigued by the aloofness he emanated which only added to his mystique. She, excitedly, tells Gayle about the new friend request as she pulls out her old yearbooks.
She reminisces as she flips through the pages of her yearbook. She thinks back to when he moved into town. They were in sixth grade, and she remembers being in awe of his swarthy, dark, Italian beauty. She loved the way he spoke Italian in school to the girls who ran in his crowd. His dad was an Italian professor at the University of Michigan, so the Italian was true to who he was. But she is sure he used those sweet sounding words to his advantage. She flips to the index and finds him there, in the midst of her class. She is stunned by his senior class picture. He has braces, but other than that, he is nearly flawless. His hair is dark and wavy, curling back from his forehead. His tawny brown eyes seem to sparkle with a mischievous glint shining through the decades old paper. His high cheekbones and big broad smile are finished off with a strong jaw and cleft chin. She flips further and further into her old yearbook and sees him on the pages of all of the theatrical performances. She didn’t realize, though, that he was also on the golf and basketball teams. As Charley flips to old pictures of herself on the pages of clubs, not sports or theater, she has to wonder why he would friend her across the virtual world of Facebook.
Charley feels like she has been transported back to high school with her reaction to his friend request. Her heartbeat is a little more rapid than usual, and she can feel her cheeks flood with color. She is not used to being friended by hot high school classmates on Facebook, especially not ones she had a secret crush on. She abandons instant messaging and grabs the phone to pick Gayle’s brain.
“What should I do, Gayle? Should I play it cool and accept it, or should I play it cooler and ignore it for a while,” Charley asks.
Gayle burst out laughing, “You are acting just like you’re a high school girl with a crush! You’re 42 years old, and you’re acting like you have zero confidence in yourself to make a decision. It’s a friend request for heaven’s sake, not an invitation to go to Prom! Just friend him and be done with it, or ignore it and move on.”
“But Gayle, you haven’t seen him! He’s beautiful, and he’s asking to be my friend! God, I had such a crush on him in high school!,” Charley continues.
Gayle cuts her off before she can go any further, “You haven’t seen him either. You’re looking at a picture from 24 years ago. For all you know, he could have turned to mush and lost all of his hair. He could be a 1000 pound manatee with no friends.”
Charley knows Gayle is right, but she still can’t shake the image of Peter Pampinelli asking to be her friend. So she does what any self-respecting woman with a friend request from a hot, old classmate would do. She hangs up with Gayle, and she checks him out on Facebook. She goes on to his page and looks through his pictures.
Damn, he hasn’t changed much. Just a little gray around the temples, but the dark, wavy hair is still there. The sparkly brown eyes, with that same mischievous glint, are still there. The high cheekbones are still there, in a mostly unlined face, and are now made even more stunning without the braces. He hasn’t gained a pound. His shoulders are broad, and his waist is narrow. He is beautiful. Damn!
Feeling a little stalker-ish, Charley shuts down Facebook and turns her attention to work, vowing to wait a day on accepting Peter’s friend request.

Here is a bit of my book  The Point of No Return!  I hope you enjoy and Thanks for stopping by to read it!  I look forward to hearing what you think!!

I do what I do for the love of my children…

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