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The Hard Way
Some people learn to accept people as they are the hard way. Caring about the surface over the depths of a person is an understandable character flaw, but for a few people, like George McLennon, it can also be a life-shattering one.
Tonight is the night. Tonight is Sunset High School’s Class of 1998 ten year reunion. George, a young, handsome man, watches his equally young and handsome wife prepare herself for the occasion. Watching her, he is troubled. His eyebrows pucker as he notices her makeup bag has been left unopened.
“A little mascara wouldn’t kill you,” he mentions to her lightly as she makes one final adjustment to her hair.
She raises an eyebrow. “You’ll regret saying that one day,” she says, turning to face him, straightening her dress.
“It’s true though,” he counters a little less casually than before. “You look so pale without any makeup.”
She strolls toward him in a slow, seductive manner, before a stern look forms on her face. Poking him hard on the chest, “One day I won’t be here for you to make snide remarks, sweetie.”
He laughs, but not condescendingly. “Where ya goin’, honey?”
She rolls her eyes and the couple walks together out to the car. As they pull out of the driveway onto icy street, he lets the discussion float back up.
“What about eye liner? You know your eyes really pop with that stuff.”
“Why don’t you put on some eye liner? Go for a death metal look.” She usually doesn’t mind his teasing, but tonight his teasing tone is replaced with something else. “Why are you so concerned about how I look tonight? â€˜Cause you don’t want your old football buddies and ex-girlfriends to think you married a dog?” She is angry now.
His knuckles turn white as he tightens his grip on the steering wheel. “That’s not what I meant to imply at all, hon. It is kind of a formal event, though â€” all the women there will be dressed up.”
“Did you not notice the red cocktail dress you once admired so? Or did I leave the house in my underwear again by mistake?” She is not normally a sarcastic person, and George is not normally the type of person to bring out that less than charming side of her.
Searching his mind wildly for a legitimate reason for his concerns, he comes up short. All that’s left seems to be the God awful ashamed truth. “I can’t help it if I’m worried people will think all I could get to marry to me is some plain girl.”
She looks at him with a pained expression, shocked that he admitted what she already knew. She never thought he’d articulate his conceited internal struggle.
“I think I want Rover to sleep in our bed tonight. There’s room for you at Wilson’s house, or a Super Motel 8, whichever you prefer.” This is not a joke.
“Honey, please, you know I love you. All I mean to say is that it won’t kill you to put on some mascara for me.”
She looks at him with clear disdain, but removes a makeup bag from her purse. “I can’t believe I ever married you.” She takes out several makeup tools and a pocket-sized mirror from the bag. Setting them down on the middle to seat, she digs through the bag some more.
Her Lash Blast mascara rolls off of the car seat, landing near George’s feet.
He takes his eyes off of the road for a small moment or two to lean down and feel around for the CoverGirl tube.
George had no idea there was a large patch of ice just ahead.
Standing in front of his wife’s closed casket with a broken arm and stitches in his forehead, George can’t help but hate himself for what he said to her. He knows now the importance of accepting a person simply for who they are, like it or not, but this lesson has come one car ride too late.
“You’re beautiful,” he tells her, resting a hand on the coffin. “I should’ve known.”