It came as the sun set over the storefronts and music reverberated off the walls. She’d been played for a fool, as if the words were spray-painted on the brick wall across from her table.

She was sipping Amarone, her new favorite wine, and the full body of each sip held on her tongue like a promise spoken in the dark of night.

Cliches ricocheted off the inner recesses of her mind, her voice in her own ears, telling her she was not the first to be stupid in love nor would she be the last. But his voice had been so kind, so reassuring, so full of the things she wanted to hear.

And that’s when she realized it: all of her past relationships had been exercises in dream-keeping, conversations delivering what she wanted to hear. It was how she had married the wrong person in the first place.

The night was thick. It was August already and the grass in the front yard was hard and golden. The lack of rain happened every year and still it surprised her. She hated the look of brown grass, as if its presence cheapened her existence.

Every spring, with the promise of dew in the mornings and the green, green foliage all around, she anticipated what was to come. She was eager. She knew good things lay ahead, early days with bright full sunrises and streaks of pink sky and nights that took their time coming on.

But by August, the eagerness evolved into resignation. Soon, school would begin and she would have to responsibly set a bedtime for the children. No more popcorn in pajamas with a movie on the TV, even though sitting on the couch with her three children pressed in close was the best kind of an ending to a long day.

I’m glad you’ve had your transitional relationship, a friend emailed her on Facebook. A friend who had also divorced and was now remarried happily.

After the elation of taking the step to get out of a go-nowhere marriage, she had been played for a fool. She chose to see it as a wake-up call and nothing more, no far-reaching statement about her inherent naivete.

She was wide awake now. And the day was coming on fast.

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