Misty walked among the shelves of books. She was overwhelmed. So many different books. The store was huge.
“Can I help you?” asked the cute, skinny girl behind the customer service counter. Her lips smiled, but not her eyes.
“Um. Yes. I’m looking for a book,” Misty said.
“Well, I guess I don’t know which one, exactly.”
“Okay. Are you looking for fiction or non-fiction?”
“I guess non-fiction. Something about…well…weight loss.”
“Sure.” The girl typed something into a computer. “This way.”
She led her through the rows, more quickly than Misty could move. She eventually caught up, trying to catch her breath without gasping.
“Here’s the weight management books,” the girl said. “Do you need anything else?”
“Yeah. A cookie.”
The girl laughed, put her hand gently on Misty’s shoulder. “You’re too funny. Have a nice day.”
Misty was alone, trying to figure out which celebrity had the best diet plan. No flour. No sugar. No carbs. No meat. No coffee.
Maybe I’ll just have to stop eating all together, she thought.
Her cell phone rang.
“Hey, Mom. What are you doing?”
“Oh, nothing.” She took a book off the shelf. On the cover were the bronzed abs of a young woman. “Hey, what do you think of joining a gym with me?”
“I don’t know. It’s kind of expensive.”
“So, did you and Dad get things figured out?”
“What do you mean?” The book was full of pictures. Women laying on their backs, elbows pointing at knees in a crunch, faces radiant with smiles.
“You guys were fighting all night.”
“Oh, honey, it was nothing. You know.”
Heather was so quiet on the phone that Misty thought it cut out. “Heather? You still there?”
“Yes.” She sniffled. “I’m here.”
“Are you crying?”
“Hon, we’ll get it all worked out. I promise.”
“I heard him talking about that woman.”
“Why would he do that?”
“I don’t know.”
The women in the book were perfect. Perfect legs, abs, boobs, smiles. Misty was not. Legs striped by purple veins. Stomach slack and full from three pregnancies and years of secret eating. Boobs…well…they needed a whole lot more support than they used to. Her smile. What smile?
“Is he going to lose his job?”
“Yes. I think so.”
“Good. I hope he does.”
“This is going to be harder on him than on me.”
“Listen, I have to go. I’ll bring home some burgers and we’ll talk some more.”
“I love you, Heather.”
Misty hung up the phone.
She realized that she’d lost her husband. To another woman. A woman who was 20 years younger. Who was thinner and prettier and sweeter. That woman dressed and put on make up and did her hair so much better than Misty.
“You’ve really let yourself go,” he’d said the night before. “I just can’t be attracted to you anymore. Lord knows I’ve tried, Misty.”
“Just tell me what I have to do,” she said to him. “I’ll do whatever you want.”
“Become just like her.”
The memory of his words stabbed her heart all over again.
“You know you can’t be a pastor anymore if you leave me.”
“Don’t threaten me. You’re always doing that.”
“No, I’m not.”
He raged at her. Screamed about her flaws, her mistakes in life, her occasional selfish moments. She hadn’t cried. She just sat there, in shock.
Then he left.
“Have you found what you needed?” the customer service girl asked. “I could recommend one if you’d like.”
“No. But thanks. I think I’m okay.”
“Okay.” The girl lingered. “Hey, I hope this isn’t weird or anything. But, you have the prettiest eyes.”
“Oh, thank you.” Misty lowered her glance.
“I’m serious. You really do. They’re kind eyes.”
Misty smiled. Her heart warmed a small bit.
“You have no idea how I needed to hear that.”
“Well, I hope you have a nice day.”
I won’t, Misty thought. But it’s not the end of the world.