TITLE: Treacherous Waters and Hidden Perils 3-20-2016
By Catherine Craig
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In the privacy of his office with the door closed, when Stewart walked around his desk and laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder, Sugar’s heart raced at his touch and his words. “You’re good.”
Sugar stared at the crumpled up wad of paper in her hands. Abruptly she hurled it and then smiled at the satisfying thump of its hitting the window. How she wished it could be her fist against Brad’s wooden head!
“Brad calls me a sleuth.”
“It’s true. You are.”
Standing up, she slid out from under Stewart’s hand to walk to the window and stare down at the employee parking lot packed with cars. “I’m tired,” she said.
Stewart walked over and draped an arm over her shoulders but this time, she didn’t shrug it off. Sugar felt dead inside. Her husband was a Cyber-womanizer, and she had run out of ideas to save her marriage. “Think it’s time for another man?” he asked.
Startled by his unprecedented blunt proposal, Sugar stared up into the handsome, tanned face at his perfect white teeth as he grinned down at her. The word “no” stuck in her throat.
She feigned a teasing attitude, saying, “Now, you know better than that, don’t you, Mr. Big Boss Man. The Big Cheese upstairs wouldn’t like in-his-face office fraternizing, would he?” She batted her eyelashes, enjoying her victory in their ongoing cat-and-mouse game of office flirting.
Since taking the position of Prince Charming middle management Stewart’s Assistant, Sugar had distracted herself from the throes of a dying marriage by fantasizing about him. As a Christian, their titillating day-to-day interactions that never quite crossed the line of propriety excited, but also frightened her. Sugar believed in the sanctity of marriage but was living between two worlds.
“Gotta go, Stew.” Sugar said, leaving him to resume her duties. About an hour later she took a potty break.
Voices of two Christian co-workers – Sue and Annie – with whom she used to pray, filtered into the stall Sugar occupied. They spoke in hushed tones, unaware of her presence.
“Did you see the way he closed the door to his office?”
“Think she knows the truth?”
“We’ll have to keep praying God’s protection over her, won’t we?”
Certain she was the topic under discussion, from behind the door Sugar interjected, “What truth?” Then she yanked open the stall door to see both women gawping at her.
Annie, the more transparent of the two, had turned beet red. She blurted, “He’s married!”
“No, he isn’t,” denied Sugar, feeling busted. A simple office flirtation to get back at Brad was one thing, but jeopardizing another marriage besides hers was a different matter.
“Yes, he is,” Sue said matter-of-factly, turning to examine her face in the mirror. “I get the mail. Trust me. He’s married.”
“Why didn’t you both tell me before?”
Sue shrugged, saying, “Would you have listened?”
“Maybe,” responded Sugar with a sniff.
“You’ve been all caught up in playing with “Mr. Right”, Annie chimed in, “while your “Mr. Wrong” as you refer to Brad languished on the computer at home entertaining himself.”
“Why don’t you think we pray together with you?” asked Sue. “You were playing with Mr. Prince Charming while Mr. Toad was languishing at home. She held up a hand when Sugar opened her mouth to respond.“ Neither Annie nor I felt he would condone the path you had chosen. We felt that our prayers would be hindered by your praying with us while indulging in this flirtation with sin, no matter how innocent it seemed.”
“We understood,” Annie said gently. “Don’t forget. I’ve been there too…”
“…Look at Annie and Rod today,” finished Sue. “They made it.”
“God is our Banner,” agreed Annie. “He leads us from victory to victory, doesn’t He?”
“I don’t know,” answered Sugar, her eyes filling with tears.
“There are no easy answers, girl,” murmured Sue, gathering Sugar into her arms as Sugar’s dam of too-long-buried emotions broke.
Some time later, as the other two waited, Sugar looked into the mirror, dabbing at her eyes and wiping streaks of mascara from her cheeks. “What now?” Sugar asked, sniffling and feeling foolish, but relieved and not so alone.
Silence reigned while Sugar finished. Afterward, Annie took Sugar’s left, while Sue took her right hand.
“We ask God,” Sue answered.
“Full circle. Where I should have been all along,” murmured Sugar as she bowed her head and the tears began afresh.
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