Although not officially engaged, Carol and Don were together so much people seldom said their two names separately. It was always, “Let’s invite Carol and Don.” or “Have you seen Carol and Don lately?” They sat together in church every Sunday.
Don was quiet, with a slow, engaging smile and a laid-back manner. He managed Finn’s Hardware Store, a position he had worked up to from stock boy. Carol was a researcher for Bates and Harvey Law firm. A bubbly, active person, she was content with her life and with Don.
Until she met Dave. He was everything Don was not. Exciting, funny, with an intriguing air of sophistication. He was full of plans, always looking for something new and interesting to do. Dave previously was a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily paper. He moved to Boston to accept the job with the Boston Globe because it required much involvement with Boston’s political movers and shakers. Dave thrived on the heady world of politics, money and power. He zeroed in on Carol the first time they met and plied her with flowers, funny cards and cozy lunches whenever he could persuade her to go out with him.
Don was hurt, but said nothing. For awhile it was o.k. He and Carol still went together, still sat together in church. But gradually it changed. Carol went with Dave more often and sometimes didn’t come to church. Don sat sadly alone in the pew. When he questioned her, she said, “Oh, Dave and I just went hiking and wanted to get an early start. I’m sorry I missed church, but, as Dave said, ‘You can worship outdoors just as well as inside, especially on such a beautiful day.’”
Finally, Don could stand it no longer. “Carol, you are usually such an astute judge of character. Can’t you see how shallow Dave is? That he’s pulling you away from church?” The words, “and from me” hung unspoken in the air between them.
Carol’s eyes flashed. “Really, Don! How unlike you to be jealous.”
“I just don’t want you to be hurt,” said Don quietly.
“You needn’t worry about that for one little minute.” said Carol. “I think I can decided for myself who to go out with.”
“Do you love him?” asked Don. “Yes,” said Carol
“Does he love you?”
“Of course he does,”
“Has he said so?”
“Not with those words,” said Carol, “But he shows me in everything he does. You just don’t like hiim, that’s all.”
The pastor of their church and some concerned members of the congregation tried to talk to Carol about Dave. But she simply got more defensive.
Finally, to the shock and dismay of his customers, Don gave notice that he was leaving the store. “I’m moving to Seattle,” he said, “I’ll be managing a hardware store there.”
He told Pastor Rob, “Being in the same town as Carol and Dave, seeing them together all the time, is just too much. I have to get away.” Everyone urged him not to be hasty, but three weeks later, he was gone.
Several months passed. Carol attended church sporadically. Dave rarely accompanied her.
One evening Dave took Carol to a romantic restaurant overlooking the Charles River. “Tonight we’re celebrating.” He said but wouldn’t tell her what the occasion was. “It can wait until dessert and coffee.” Carol smiled, maybe he has a ring for me. After the waitress brought their dessert and coffee, Dave said, “I have great news! I have been offered a job on the L. A. Times. It’s a wonderful opportunity. I’m leaving Thursday. I’ll miss you, Carol.”
Carol was stunned, ”But what about us?”
“Us?” said Dave. “Carol honey, there never was a permanent ‘us.’ It was lots of fun, you know you had fun, too, and you must have known I’m working my way up the ladder. Hey, you know you mean a lot to me. But, Honey, surely you see I can’t pass up this opportunity.”
As Carol sobbed alone that night in her apartment, Don’s calm, gentle face came into her mind. “Oh, Lord,” she cried. “forgive me. I’ve been such a fool, I wandered away from You and in the process also lost the person who really cared for me.”
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