New Beginnings

    Shari sat down on the box and looked around the empty room. Well, it wasn’t entirely empty. There were a few boxes scattered about. In fact, she counted eight. Her entire life summed up into eight four-by-two boxes. She never had imagined it would come to that.

    She sighed and slapped her hands on her jean-clad thighs before standing up. It didn’t do her any good to sit around and mope about. There were things to do. The furniture would be arriving within the next half hour.

    New furniture. It should have brought a smile to her face, but she didn’t want new furniture. She wanted her old life back. A frown creased her forehead and moved down her face. No, she didn’t want that back either. That had been a lie, where she was the only one in the dark. She wanted to be happy again.

    With a grunt, she reached for the first box closest to her and read the marker label – “Bedroom.” They would probably mostly belong in the bedroom. One box held her pictures and mementos. The rest were clothes. Her laptop and other clothes were in the only suitcase she had. Technically it was Isaac’s suitcase, but she took it anyway. He wouldn’t dare cause a scene and deny her that. As it was, she walked away from it all with a little in her pocket to pay her for the last three years.

    Three years of her life she had given to Isaac Hamilton. To most, that would sound like nothing, but to her twenty-five-year-old mind, it sounded like half her life. Three years was supposed to be over fifty, but she had ignored the signs from the beginning.

    “Stop it,” she whispered harshly to herself as she moved the boxes around. She had sworn not to dwell on it. Shari had to move on and leave the scum behind.

    She heard the squeak of brakes. Rushing to the living room window, she saw the delivery truck pull up next to the curb. Her new life was in that white metal box. All she had to do was open the door.

    It didn’t take her long to open it and feel the warm spring air rush toward her. Birds twittered as they flew from tree to tree. That was a bonus in the new place: lots of trees. She loved how the duplex was set deep on the lot with several trees filling the front yard; it created a cozy haven in the small back yard.

    “Are you Mrs. Harrington?” The man with the clipboard and worn overalls made his way toward up the sidewalk.

    “Miss Harrington,” she corrected him with a tight smile. Don’t be so sensitive, Shari. The man didn’t know. She found herself in self talks more than usual now that she had to watch her reactions to what others said.

    “Sorry. We have your furniture.”

    “Great. Should I just prop the door open?”

    “That will work. You can direct us where to put it when we get it in.”

    Shari watched as the man walked back to the truck and joined another one who shoved open the door to reveal her new furniture. Okay, Isaac did give her that. In the settlement, he had to give her half the furniture. The trollop that took her place wanted it all. So Isaac agreed to give her half the value of it. Thank goodness he had such expensive taste and encouraged her to be the same. The value was worth more than she needed for the new place, but she managed to find enough stuff to spend it all.

    The first piece was the leather couch that wrapped around the room. It was big enough for her but now she wouldn’t need any other chairs in the room. All the bells and whistles were on it which made it something fun she could use while watching TV.

    After the wraparound sofa, the men brought in the small hutch and the TV that would be set on it. The coffee table, two end tables, and lamps followed to fill her small living room. She smiled at how cozy it started to look.

    Within the next half hour, she had her bedroom set up along with the round table for the eat-in kitchen. All she needed then was all the other stuff to finish making the house into a home. That would be delivering within the next few hours. A quick look at her phone assured her she had enough time to run to the grocery store.

    She felt herself come alive once she entered the chilled store. It had been three years since she had entered one so freely. How was she to know that Isaac preferred takeout and would refuse to let her cook? He didn’t mind when they were dating, but then again he only had her cooking once. Since it wasn’t up to par to the five-star restaurants, they ate out more. She hadn’t noticed that she should have been insulted. It was fun to eat out, but three years of it?

    Another shake of her head and she grabbed the cart with a jerk. She had to stop living in the past. This was a new beginning.

    Shari spent longer than she meant to in the grocery store. It brought out a sense of joy and near giddiness to go up and down the aisles and imagine all the foods she could make. Several times she had to remind herself that she was cooking for one. That caused her to put several items back and readjust her plans. It had been too long since she planned meals.

    After settling on just enough to hold her until she could plan out her meals, she made her way to the checkout. It didn’t take too long before she was outside again and enjoying the warm sun on her skin. She enjoyed the rattling of the cart under her hands and the sun on her body. It made her feel alive again.

    Pulling up to the curb, she noticed a mound of boxes covering her small porch. Her other household items had already arrived. She elicited a short curse. She had wanted to be there when they arrived. Now if no one had stolen any, she’d have to haul them all in herself. She got out of the car and began hauling groceries up to the porch and sat them among the boxes.

    “Opening a store?”

    Shari turned to the voice. Standing in the yard of the other half of her duplex was a man in a pair of running shorts and a t-shirt. From the sweat soaking his shirt and dripping down his face, it was obvious he had just returned from a run.

    “Maybe.”

    “Need some help?”

    Shari started to decline his offer, but another look at the pile before her won out. She’d be foolish to turn him away. She nodded and flashed him a smile before pulling her keys out and opening the front door.

    “Where do you want them?”

    Shari turned from setting down groceries on her new kitchen table to see her neighbor’s arms piled high with boxes. She looked around and pointed at the couch. “Just wherever you can.”

    It only took another ten minutes for them both to get everything inside. Her living room furniture had disappeared into mounds of cardboard.

    “I can’t thank you enough,” Shari said as she straightened up from setting a box down next to the kitchen.

    “No problem.” The man reached out a hand. “By the way, I’m Wade Douglas. I live next door.”

    Shari took the strong grip. “I’m Shari Harrington. You know where I live.”

    “Just move to town?”

    She shook her head. “No, just divorced.”

    Wade grimaced. “Ouch. Hopefully not too bad.”

    Shari couldn’t help but chuckle. “Plenty bad, but it’s a new beginning.”

    “Great outlook.” Wade swatted his hands together. “Well, seems you have everything in. If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to yell.”

    She followed him to the door. “Thank you. I just might do that, but…” She looked down at her empty ring finger as her voice trailed off.

    “Don’t worry about it. Neighbors help each other. I’ve been through a similar situation myself.”

    Shari looked up quickly. “You have?”

    Wade nodded. “Five years ago. It’s not easy at first, but you find your groove and make a place for yourself. I know you’ve probably heard it before, but you’ll be stronger for it.”

    Yes, she had heard it before. The same statement had been made in all the self-help books and videos for newly divorced people. Maybe there was truth to it after all.

    “We’ll see.”

    She watched as Wade disappeared across the lawn and into his section of the building. The loneliness crept up on her again. She closed the door and turned around to look at the mountain of boxes. It was time to unpack her new life.

    It took her a couple of hours to get through the boxes and put everything in its place. Sheets went on the bed and in the linen closet. Towels were put up and dishware was placed neatly in cabinets. When she was done, she stood back and looked around. The walls had a few pieces of art on them. The tables had candles and coasters. Cabinets were full. The place was actually starting to look like a home.

    Tears pricked her eyes. Shari slid down until she sat on the floor. It was all hers, and hers alone. There was nobody else. Wade called it a new beginning. It was, but it was not the beginning she wanted. Then again, when did everyone get what they wanted? It had to be fought for. She had to fight. Her beginning had to be what she wanted. It might not be with Isaac, but it was going to be a beginning she could live with.

    Her phone rang with the sound of a haunting melody. She frowned. It was Isaac. Of all the rotten timing.

    She thought about ignoring his call, but curiosity got the better of her. “Hello?”

    “Shari, how are things going?”

    Her eyebrows rose up sharply at the caring tone. She knew better than to fall for that act. It had caused her a lot of pain in the past.

    “Getting settled in my new place.”

    “Nice?”

    Shari wasn’t about to partake in the game he was putting out there for her. “Cut the crap, Isaac. What do you want?”

    She heard him grunt a few times as he sought the right words. That told her it was going to be something to send her over the edge. He always hesitated right before the punch.

    “Shari, I screwed up. I shouldn’t have….”

    Her limit had been reached. “Stop right there! I don’t want to hear it, Isaac. You had your chance. In fact, you had multiple chances, but now the divorce is final and you made your choice.” Before he could respond, she pushed on. “I would have taken you back before you kicked me out of my house and refused to give me any of the things that were really mine. You chose to give me money instead to get me out of your life and just move the bimbo right in. What happened? She didn’t quite fit the bill? Tough, Isaac. I’m moving on.”

    “Shari…”

    She ended the call before he could continue. That was something she wouldn’t have done a few months earlier, but hearing his voice reminded her of the hateful words he said at the lawyer’s office as they finalized the divorce. No man who loved his wife would say such things–even a man who had just made a bad decision wouldn’t have spewed such hate.

    Shari sat down on the chair closest to her. It finally hit her. He didn’t love her. He had tossed her aside and replaced her. Everything had been a fantasy of hers. It hadn’t been real.

    She looked around her new home. This was all real. She had the power to make it whatever she wanted. A smile pulled at her lips. It was the first true smile she had allowed herself in many months. She had the chance for a new beginning, and she was not going to toss it aside.

    Shari picked up one of her new throw pillows. Yep, she was going to make it all hers. She laughed as she tossed the pillow in the air and watched it land on the couch. Like her, it was landing right side up.

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