I had never been one to ask for help and I wasn’t about to start now. But my best friend, Jen, was trying everything in her power to change that.
“But Matt is such a great husband, a wonderful father. Don’t throw it all away because you’re too pig-headed to get help.”
“I told him I was sorry.”
Jen rolled her eyes. “You cheated on him, Girlfriend. You can’t just offer an apology and expect him to forgive you just like that.” She snapped her fingers in the air for added effect. “That’s like - I don’t know - trying to put out a raging fire with a glass of water. Impossible. And a fire you started, nonetheless.”
The back door slammed and I’ll admit I was grateful for the interruption, having no retort to Jen’s comment.
“Mom? Can I have some water?” My seven year old son, Billy, hollered.
I glanced at Jen and turned toward the sink, grabbed a plastic cup off the counter and filled it with tap water. I handed it to Billy and watched him bolt out the door.
Turning back to Jen, I said, “I don’t understand why we can’t just move on. The affair is over. Matt knows I love him.”
“But trust has been ---“
“Mom? Can I have another glass of water?” Billy shouted from the back door.
“Hold that thought,” I held up a finger at Jen and reached out for the glass Billy held out for me. I filled it again and handed it to my thirsty son. He ran back out the door.
“Matt needs help to rebuild the trust,” Jen continued. “And it wouldn’t hurt you to explore the reasons that made you cheat in the first place. A counselor is trained to recognize stuff like that.”
The door burst open again. “Mom? Can I have another glass?”
Frustration mounting, I turned toward Billy. “No, you may not - you’ve had two glasses already! What’s with all the water? Did you eat a shaker of salt or something?” Billy stared at me, his eyes filling with tears.
Then I heard the sirens.
In a blur, firemen ran past my door and into the backyard, toward the cluster of trees that separated our home from the neighbor’s. I gasped when I saw thick, dark smoke billowing up into the air.
“What did you do?” I yelled as I burst out the door, Jen and Billy on my heels.
The three of us watched in silence as the fire was extinguished. Fortunately, no damage was done except to the poor trees; it could have been worse. I hugged my son at the thought.
A firemen made his way over and asked what had happened. I looked at Billy, his face smudged with leftover tears.
“My friend, Tim, had some matches…we just wanted to start a leaf on fire and see what would happen. We tried to put it out…”
I gaped at Billy. “That’s why you wanted the water?” I looked at the fireman. “He kept running in for a glass of water. I thought he was drinking it.” I crouched down and looked into my son’s eyes. “Billy, playing with matches is dangerous.”
The fireman crouched down beside us. “Your mom’s right. But more than that, trying to put out the fire yourself is never a good idea. That’s what firefighters are for. We’re trained professionals and know how to handle something as dangerous as fire. Luckily, the neighbor saw the smoke and called us. Because she called right away, we were able to put out the fire before too much damage was done.”
“So you’re saying it’s impossible to put out a raging fire with a glass of water,” Jen interjected. Her comment was directed at the fireman but her eyebrows were raised in my direction.
“Pretty much. Yeah.” The fireman stood and ruffled Billy’s hair. “You learned your lesson, right?”
Billy nodded and so did I. In my case, the fire I started had already damaged my marriage. But now I realized there was something I could do to prevent it from completely destroying my family.
I thanked the fireman and turned to go back inside. I collided with Jen’s hand and the cell phone she held toward me.
“Just call me the observant neighbor,” she said.
Swallowing my glass of water-slash-pride, I took the phone from Jen.
Now that Billy’s fire had been put out, it was time to get help with my own.
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