Tough LoveMature

It wasn’t his. By all rights and purposes, he shouldn’t open it. The ice pink stationary, thick paper embossed with a swirling rose design along the edges, made it painfully obvious that the letter in hand did not belong to him. Of course, the flowery script on the edge of the folded paper that read ‘To Jen’ was a more glaringly obvious sign that it didn’t belong to him.
He had found it quite by accident. It was among Ella’s things, with her papers and notes, in a small safe beneath their bed. It was something he hadn’t known she had kept, but had become aware of during the months after the accident. He hadn’t wanted to open it at first, to afraid of what he’d find and too respectful of her privacy to do it. But as the days fell into weeks and weeks into months, curiosity had started to seep its way into his mind. She had kept some things from him, secret things. There was no reason he shouldn’t open it now, now that she was gone.
At first it seemed his fears had been completely unjustified. There were receipts for Christmas and birthday presents, an address book, credit card bills, insurance policies on all the jewellery he’d given her over their seven short years of marriage. Nothing to get too excited over. But then he’d found the letter, pretty and pink, folded up and tucked into the bottom corner of the small safe. A letter to Jen, on Ella’s personal stationary. It terrified him.
With trembling fingers, he unfolded the slip of paper, and began to read.

Dear Jen,
I can’t believe I’m really writing this. I don’t know that I’ll ever really send it, but I have to write it. I have to get the words out, write them down and really look at them. I feel like this secret has been eating away at my heart for so long, there will be nothing left if I don’t do something now.
You don’t really know me. We’ve never met formally, though I’ve seen you around and I know you’ve seen me. My name is Ella, and I’ve been married to Lee for a few months now. That should be all the formal introduction you’ll need. You’ve seen me. We’ve been at the same parties and same clubs many times. I’ve seen you watch him, and I’ve seen him watch you.
I’ve never been a foolish woman, I hope you understand that. I know my husband still loves you. I know he probably always will. And I know that if I hadn’t taken after him the minute you left, he’d have pined away for you for as long as it took you to realize that what he told you was for your own good. I know you’ve come to see that now, but I guess it’s too late.
You see, I’m pregnant. I haven’t told Lee yet because I’m afraid of how he’d react. Of course on the surface he’d be thrilled. He’s always wanted children, you know that. But inside... I think it may crush him. Because I know some part of him still believes that you two will end up together in the end. And you know as well as I do, Lee will never leave me, not with a baby on the way.
I suppose this seems strange, me writing to tell you all this, but I have to. Because there is one thing, Nicole, that I’ve never told anyone. I’ve barely admitted it to myself. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m not proud of, but this is the worst. I’ve never really thought myself a bad person, not until now. Because this thing that I’ve done, it’s horrible. I’ve ruined his life, you know. I’ve ruined it because I’ve taken away the happiness he deserves, a life with you.
I don’t love him. I never have. There is some affection there, don’t get me wrong. I suppose I’ve grown accustomed to him, in the way I had thought I’d grow to love him. I didn’t love him when we were dating and I was never in love. I didn’t want to be alone, and Lee was a nice lad. He was sweet and sincere and what I thought I needed at the time. When he asked me to marry him, I knew it was only out of fear. He was afraid one day I’d leave, like you did. And I accepted only because I thought that maybe, one day, I could grow to love him.
But I haven’t. I care for him but I don’t love him. I know now I never will, and he has no idea. And now there’s a baby coming and I don’t know what to do. I’m sick with the guilt of it. That’s why I decided to write, I suppose. Maybe I can get the courage to send this letter and you can come back, tell him that you still love him. I won’t tell him about the baby and he’ll leave with you and he’ll be happy. He deserves that. And I don’t deserve him.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I can really send it. I’m too much of a coward. But I’ll keep this letter, for a while. Try and get myself to post it. I can’t live like this. I don’t know how much longer I can pretend.

A few stray teardrops turned the ice pink page a deep, dark pink in a splotchy pattern. The fountain ink ran in long indigo streaks, but it didn’t matter. Lee had read the letter and he would never forget it. The date in the top corner, only six months prior the birth of his oldest daughter, glared up at him. How different could his life have been?

The End

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