RUTH NINEKE

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To Embrace Her Envy

Brenda opened her eyes to observe the bathroom ceiling through a liquid screen of ripples.

Was it really still about Kevin?

Brenda lifted her face out of the water and set the back of her head against the tiles. Steam rose off the surface of the water. She inhaled deeply. Her muscles relaxed.

She couldn’t help but wonder where Kevin and Michelle lived now. And she wouldn’t bother denying as much to herself.

Brenda indulged her curiosity, allowing her mind to conclude that they had definitely gotten their own house once the baby was born. Kevin’s parents had always been generous and tolerant but Brenda couldn’t fathom David and Jaclyn keeping Kevin’s new family in their home for three years.

She recalled the Saturday morning, just before the middle of the first term in senior year, when Michelle had moved out of her mother’s house. Brenda stood in her living room, watching from the window as Kevin loaded the other girl’s belongings into his car. Neither of them had once looked toward her house.

How and why had she stood there that day and put herself through it?

The memory stung, as Brenda remembered how blind she’d been to Michelle’s betrayal, to Kevin’s unfaithfulness. She remembered how weak a girl she’d been raised to be, how naïve, and complicit. She remembered the embarrassment she’d faced at school, and Sandra’s declaration that she’d deserved it…

Brenda blinked hard and ran wet palms down her cheeks. She had already spent three years drowning the pain with liquor and weed.

She was here now to move on with her life. But she knew she couldn’t fully do that until she’d dealt with the past. Brenda had to let herself know those feelings of betrayal and loss; agony and rejection without letting them destroy her again. She would have to embrace her envy when it arose, and pardon herself the desire to know…

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