Famous In A Small Town
It was a normal Monday morning at the bakery; busy and loud. Gretchen Hutton was running around trying to satisfy each and every customer to the fullest. Sammi and Scotty were helping bus tables. But Gary, her husband, was nowhere to be seen. This was not unusual for him to be missing on a Monday morning, as of recently. Gary seemed to be missing more often than not these days. Gretchen went over to their home next door to the bakery o see if he had come home late and passed out on the couch; he hadn’t. Gretchen couldn’t imagine where he had been all night where he hadn’t bothered to call. He was slowly pushing her away and she noticed. She felt alone as the days went on. But to fill the emptiness she began to feel she worked longer hours. She felt as though she was losing him. And it didn’t take Gretchen too long to find out that she indeed, was losing him.
Gary was having an affair. He was having an affair with a close friend of Gretchen’s; Helen Waters. Helen and Gretchen had been friends because of their children. Their children were close in age. Gretchen’s children, Sammi and Scotty, were 12 and 14 years old. Helen’s children, Cheyenne and Marc, were 13 and 11 years old. Sammi and Marc would play together while Scotty and Cheyenne would play together. This brought the families closer together and the mothers became friends as well. The day the affair started was a day Gary had off and the children had a play date at the Waters’ children’s’ house. He drove them there, in his less than average car because money was getting tight, and walked them up to the door. Cheyenne answered the door, Sammi and Scotty rushed inside, and Helen came to the door wearing a long, white cotton dress. Gary called to his children to have fun and be safe, but was cut off when he saw Helen walking towards the door.
“Hello, there. I’m Helen Waters, Cheyenne and Marc’s mother. I don’t think we’ve met, have we?” Helen began the dialogue with a flirty smile.
“N-no, I don’t think we have. I’m Gary, Gretchen’s husband. She usually drops the children off, I know, but she’s been really busy at the bakery lately and today is my day off,” Gary replied nervously, almost giving too much of an explanation why he was there.
“Well, it’s wonderful to meet you, Gary. Why don’t you come in a have a cup of coffee? Gretchen usually does,”
“Oh no, I should be going. I’ve got some stuff to do around the house. Gretchen gave me a list,”
“I insist, it won’t be long. Just relax. It is your day off. Enjoy it,” Helen pulled him inside by placing her hand behind his shoulder and ushering him in.
Gary appeared reluctant but inside he couldn’t have been more nervously excited. She was beautiful. She was younger than him, that was apparent. She was 38 and he was 46, a year younger than her husband. He noticed the wedding ring on her finger and asked where her husband was.
“Oh, Terry? He’s traveling, like always. He’s never around anymore, the children miss him immensely,”
“What about you…Don’t you miss him, too? Gary was surprised she hadn’t stated she did already.
“It’s something I’m used to now, so I don’t really notice as much. I keep myself busy, though. He’s got his work and I’ve got my hobbies. I do yoga, play with the kids, a lot of things. It does get old, though, and sad, hearing Chey and Marc ask where their daddy is. How do you tell your children their father’s work is more important to him than they are? I’ve already accepted that his work has come before his family, but I don’t have the heart to tell my babies,”
Gary wanted to be empathetic, so he did his very best to convey he understood, “I don’t blame you at all. That’s a difficult situation to be in. Gretchen has become a workaholic, too. Determined to have the best bakery this town has ever and will ever see. Our children work there a lot of the week, and they’re so young. I wish they had more time to be kids and spent less time worrying about “what mommy will think if I want to play with friends”. Work can really mess a person up,”
“I’ve noticed Gretchen and I drifting more and more, as she never comes over for a glass of wine after work anymore. She’s constantly working, you’re right. I’m so sorry, it’s hard, I know,” As she said this she rubbed her bare foot against Gary’s leg. Helen was good at validating people’s feelings, letting them open up to her. But she didn’t do this because she cared, she did this because once she learned someone’s weaknesses, thoughts, feelings – she could use them for her own personal gain. Helen saw how attracted Gary was to her, and she intended to use that to her advantage fully.
“I know, I’m so sorry about it, too. I wish I could do anything to help with your situation, though,” Gary was seeming eager now, and he realized that. But she had made physical contact first.
Helen knew exactly what she wanted from Gary at that moment. She wanted a lover, someone to validate her own feelings, someone who would love her no matter what. So she replied with, “It’s funny you say that, because you can…” And with that, she leaned in and kissed him.
He kissed her back. They moved to her bedroom upstairs, which was separate from the master bedroom where she slept with Terry when he was home. For the first time in a long time, they both felt the passion of love. They felt the burning desire for another human being that they had lost with their own significant others. They knew what they were doing was wrong but in the moment, in felt so right. They made love for an hour, but knowing their children might get suspicious they reluctantly returned to the kitchen where they continued to talk and share their likes and dislikes with each other, like any new couple does.
“I know that was juvenile and probably a poor decision, but I can’t help but want to do it again, very soon,” Helen said in her sexy, slow voice.
“I agree…I agree,” That was all Gary could manage to get out. And with that, he left. He told her Gretchen would probably want to pick the children up so he would see her the next time he had a day off and brought the children over for a play date. Helen stood at the door and watched him pull out of the driveway and drive away. As he did this she felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time; the feeling of new love.
Gretchen was home when he got there. It was about 6 o’clock and unusual for her to be home right around dinner time. They made small talk and Gretchen tried to act seductively, but Gary was not giving in. He had just made a connection with a new amazing woman. And he couldn’t believe it but he planned to continue that connection and make it happen. He was determined to make himself happy. But Gretchen knew the perfume on his shirt. She knew he had seen Helen that day when he dropped off Sammi and Scotty. Her heart broke…but she refused to let Gary or Helen know that, or that she knew at all.
The bakery was thriving because of Gretchen’s extra hours. Gary and Helen were in a relationship and the entire town knew about it, including both of their children. Sammi and Scotty no longer had play dates with Cheyenne and Marc. When Cheyenne and Marc came into the bakery Sammi and Scotty ignored them and didn’t bus their table. Sammi is the outspoken of the two Hutton children that vocalized what she thought no matter what. She wanted her parents to get a divorce so that her mom can move on and it’s not a behind closed doors relationship with Helen and her father. Scotty, being young and hopping for the absolute best, wants Helen to get out of the picture so that his parents can fix their relationship and they can all move on as a happy family.
The Waters children are the outcasts of the children of the town. Their parents are the wealthiest members of the town and that has negative effects on them, as they’re seen as spoiled and rude. Cheyenne is the one in charge, the one who calls the shots of the two. Marc follows her around and admires her. Neither of the children have very many friends; or very many true friends. Cheyenne will not let Marc see it but she cries herself to sleep at night, wishing that her mother had never cheated on her father and that they could be the happy family they used to be, before her father picked up more and more trips for his job and was home the majority of the month. She wished that she could tell him everything she knew, which wasn’t much, but just informing him would ease her soul. Marc doesn’t really remember their family before his father began traveling so much, as he’s two years younger than Cheyenne, so Marc follows Cheyenne and her thoughts and beliefs.
After about six months of the affair, Gary decided to have the conversation with Gretchen. He was scared out of his mind and did not want to have the conversation at home, where she could easily walk out or run away from him. So he took her to a dinner at Pete’s, the nicest restaurant in town. They met at the restaurant after Gretchen left the bakery. She had freshened up and changed, and of course, looked beautiful. Gary was waiting for her and was stunned when she walked up to the table. It felt like the first time he saw her all over again. But that moment ended quickly when she sat down immediately, not giving him a hug or a kiss hello, because he already had someone who did that and more for him. Gretchen knew what was coming and she wanted the conversation to be over already, and Gary did too. The two made small talk, asking about each other’s day, how they were, and when there was a lull in the conversation, Gary decided to speak about what went unspoken about for so long.
“Gretchen…I know you know. I’ve been hiding it for too long now and that’s not okay. I hid it because I’m ashamed and because I’ve hurt you. You’ve stayed faithful to me the entirety of our relationship. I’ve failed to stay faithful to you and for that, and so much more, I am so sorry,” Gary began. He had so much to say but he could not think of ways to say it all; not in ways that would sound sincere enough to be enough for him or for her.
“Gary, stop. Yes, I know you’re having an affair with Helen. The whole fucking town knows. If you were going to continue it , you could have done a better job with being discrete and hiding it. I walk up to tables at the bakery to take orders and the conversation stops. People stare at me, pity me, because they think I don’t know. People feel sorry for me, because they think you think I’m not good enough,” Gretchen wanted to get this over with as soon as possible.
That last sentence made Gary feel the need to jump in and apologize again, “Hone-” But Gretchen wasn’t done yet.
“No! I’m not finished. That’s why I’ve consumed myself with work even more so that I can distract myself and feel like I’m worth something. I’m not even mad that you cheated. You’re my best friend and always will be. I’m still in love with you even though I know you’re not in love with me anymore. I’m angry because of what this has done to me and what it’s made people think. And that’s not my fault,” Gretchen said everything she needed to say. She was satisfied with what she had said to him. But she was done with the conversation, the conversation that she didn’t want to have in the first place, so she got up and left.
Gary stayed at the restaurant and had a few drinks. He couldn’t believe what he had done but he couldn’t get over the fact in his mind that he was happy with Helen. He was the happiest he had ever been with anyone. And within himself, Gary could not bring himself to compromise his own happiness. He had been unhappy for longer than six months, otherwise the affair with Helen would not have begun, he wouldn’t have had a moment of weakness that afternoon. But even though Gary was happier with Helen, he didn’t want to lose the best friend relationship he had with Gretchen. And she didn’t either.
Gretchen went by the bakery to sit by herself. She had a cup of tea, as it was late and she didn’t need the overbearing caffeine of coffee. She sat in her favorite booth and reflected silently. Then she began to cry. Her tears were those of release, relief, and happiness. She had gotten closure without asking for it. This was something she was avoiding for so long and in the end, it was exactly what she needed. So Gretchen wrote Gary a letter. A letter she would leave on his pillow and he could read when he got home. A letter to explain her feelings more in-depth and also to explain what she wanted now that they had talked about the affair. In the letter, Gretchen explained that she wanted to keep in touch and be civil with each other. She explained that she wanted to raise their children and still wanted him in their lives. She told him that she still loved him and that because of that, she wanted him to go and pursue his own happiness, and if that meant being with Helen she wanted him to do it. But she only asked one thing of him in the entire multi-page letter; a divorce. Gretchen asked Gary for a divorce because she couldn’t live like they had been the last six months of their marriage any longer. She asked for a divorce for the children’s’ sake, for Helen’s children’s’ sake, and for Terry Waters’ sake. Gretchen wanted the wounds to be healed and she was taking the first steps she needed to take to get there.
Gretchen and Gary got divorced and Gretchen kept the house. They still ran the bakery together like the best friends they forgot they were. Gary moved in with Helen and Terry moved to a more convenient location for work. Terry was not surprised when Helen asked for a divorce, either. Their spark had faded and he had realized that long before she had. The children took a long time to adjust to the new living adjustments and the divorces. The Hutton children did not go over to the Waters children’s’ house for a long time. Both sets of children were resentful of their new parent and it took them a while to adjust to their new lifestyles. But what mattered the most was that Gretchen and Gary fought their problems and fought everything that was thrown at them after the divorce together.