Sherry stopped drinking when she was 24 years old. This self imposed abstainment was precipitated by her waking up in her own bed and needing to escape from an invited intruder.
She had woken up in her bed with her boss asleep by her side, again. He was married and had kids, was double her age and was an arrogant asshole. She was an emotional drinker who was kind of thirsting for something emotional. He knew how to fill her emotional voids with words and a soft touch.
But he was married and she was the “other girl,” just as the “girl” that was with her father when her mother walked in on them in their own bed. She remembers hearing her parents arguing that night.
“You are a fool Billy, you think you are just getting laid and having fun – but this fun has repercussions that you can never repair. When you cheat on me you are cheating on your children, your are cheating on everyone in our lives – you become a fraud. When you cheat on me you are negating any good you ever did for any of us – how can anyone ever trust you again?”
“It was a one time thing; she doesn’t mean anything to me.”
“That is the wrong answer, Bill. You just screwed up five lives and God knows how many more by screwing someone who meant nothing to you. What a price to pay to get laid. I want you out of here. I will not give my children the impression that cheating and lying is forgivable so easily.”
“I am not leaving.”
“Well if you don’t then I will take them all and leave – they all came into the house when I did and heard you and your-whatever. They all saw my face, heard me scream. In our bed you stupid ass. How can you bring her into our home and screw her in our bed?”
“I am sorry…I am sorry…”
Sherry didn’t see her father for a year after that night and even then it was from a distance. She didn’t want to see him – he had lied to them all and disrespected them by bringing “That girl” into their home. It wasn’t until several years later that they had a phone conversation.
“Hello Sherry its your father.”
“Hi, whats up?” Holding back instant tears.
“I am just calling to see how you are doing. I know I was stupid and I am sorry I hurt you.”
“Are you there?”
“I am – but I can’t speak now I am with some friends.” She pressed “End.”
Now, ten years later she is the lounge singer for the “Rat Pack” night club at the Marriott in Atlanta. She lives in the hotel as part of the job and is a main draw for the locals and the traveling salesmen.
Tonight she stands on the balcony of her suite, smoking a cigarette and thinking about where she is headed. She is 34 years old and has not been with a man in two years. She wants kids and time is kind of running out.
She looks out towards Olympic Park and remembers Tom and how he used to tease her. He loved her but she couldn’t love anyone completely and she didn’t feel it was fair to him to be incomplete.
She had sips of wine and shots of vodka here and there but never to the point of being drunk. She had avoided being in the company of married men alone and lost track of her boss since she quit the job.
She was always a singer and was still prom queen pretty – with her charisma and smarts she was an entertainer. The rent free suite helped her save most of her income for the past five years and she was ready to move on back to New York. She missed her sisters and their kids – she was the youngest of the family yet had ended up feeling older than them all.
She stood there on the balcony and wondered how it would feel to fly. To spread out your arms and just take off.
She closed her eyes and felt the soft breeze caressing her. She took a drag from her cigarette and threw the butt in the ash tray.
“I need to warm up my vocals.” She said to herself.
That night she was to sing Carly Simon songs – it was the theme of the week – women singers. She loved the way Carly could take a song and shed her tears with her voice. The next night would be Stevie Nicks and then her final night would be a mix of all her favorite songs.
After that she was done and was driving to New York to go apartment hunting with her best friend.
She didn’t know what was going to happen next – wasn’t sure how long she would stay in New York. But she knew that it was time to let go and fly.
To let go of the past and to finally accept that just because one man cheats and lies – it doesn’t mean all men do.
She closed her eyes and felt herself sailing towards the future and away from her past.