Optional answers flooded through the man's mind in rapid succession. Which was the right one?
I said I would commit and I meant it. It's called commitment.
Promises are so old fashion.
Only God can keep promises so don't get all judgmental on me.
I am committed as long as it benefits me.
I am committed except when I can stray unseen…that doesn't count against me.
I've decided to be a free spirit and no longer commit to anything.
Stan was floundering in the possible responses to Gert's question. He glanced at her again. Her hands were on her hips. Her mascara was streaking down her cheeks and she had that "I'm dead serious" look that he always tried to avoid. Even though she was angry she was still beautiful. The idea that he might be just one wrong response away from losing her was suffocating.
Without question, he loved his wife. They had met in grade school and been sweethearts ever since. He flashed back to the day in his backyard when they were both ten. The shy little blond girl that owned his heart showed him a special memento she had made for them to share. She had fashioned it with red clay, cut it in half and baked it in her mom's oven. On the back of the two part heart she had scratched their names. She asked him to keep the half with her name on it. She promised to keep his half.
Stan glanced again to see if Gert's expression had mellowed any. It hadn't. In fact he sensed increased impatience in the usually seductive face.
He put his hand in his left pocket, sorted through its contents and found what he was feeling for. He and his wife had it made to celebrate their engagement. It was half of a silver replica of the clay heart that she had made years earlier. Attached to his key chain it reminded him of his commitment that had survived high school, college, and thirteen years of marriage. Now that commitment would be renewed or destroyed by his choice. How had he gotten himself into this predicament? Well, whatever, it was time for his decision.
He removed the key chain from his pocket and deftly removed the emblem of his commitment. He held it in his open hand and showed it to Gert.
"What's this about?" she managed.
"It's about commitment, Gert. I'm sorry, but I can't do what we planned. Don't get me wrong. I wanted to, but I was wrong to think I could go through with it."
"Are you backing out?" Gert challenged.
"From the ill advised idea that I leave my wife, yes I am. But I'm not backing out from my commitment to her. It was wrong of me to ever give you the impression that I could."
Gert slapped Stan's face, than did it again. "You wimp!" she hissed. "You're done in the company, mister. I'll see to it you get fired. Count on it!" She stomped to her car, revved the engine and sped away from their covert meeting place.
Stan drove home slowly. He needed the time to sort things out. He knew he'd made the right decision, but he still felt helpless. How would he explain his sudden firing? What if Jen ever found out about the affair? What would he say when Jen asked about the missing charm? It had disappeared from his hand when Gert struck him and he hadn't been able to find it.
"What do I do now?" he lamented. He looked at a large truck approaching in the opposite lane and impulsively turned to meet it head on.
He heard Jen calling his name. When he opened his eyes he realized he was in the hospital. Jen was beside him holding his hand.
"Oh Stan, I'm here, honey, I'm here," Jen assured him.
"I'm not dead?" he marveled.
"No, honey. God did a miracle and spared your life. It will take a long time for your recovery, but don't worry. I'll be with you every day. I'll never forget our commitment."
At the mention of the last word memories came flooding back and Stan began crying.
Jen patted his hand. "Don't cry honey. It's ok. You'd do the same for me."
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