Author’s note: This is a possible first chapter of a longer piece.
I knew right away I’d said the wrong thing. It seems I do that every time I open my mouth in public nowadays. The dead giveaway? Melanie’s smile froze for just the briefest moment and her eyebrows went up a little. She shot me a look that said, “We’ll talk about this later.”
Dread gripped my insides hard, kneading, working the anxiety in like yeast. Would this never stop happening? Would I never learn? I could hear her “correcting” me already. My guess was that she would wait to say anything until we were on the way home. In the car. Unless my mistake was too grievous for her to address it alone. Then it would be a couples thing. She and Tom would counsel me and Brian together. Only that usually turned out to be the three of them looking at me somberly, the disobedient child. Not willfully rebellious. Just not conforming. They would patiently explain what I had done wrong. And what I should have done instead. Firm but kind. And then we would all join hands and they would pray for me.
The trouble is that these prayers are going unanswered. Either I can’t learn or there isn’t anyone out there listening who cares about the minutiae of my insignificant life. I sensed that I was using up my allotment of grace at a rate that would cause me to run out too soon. And then what? What would the counseling sessions be like then? Would they end in prayer?
My secret fear is that at some point I will be judged irredeemable and they’ll just replace me. Proverbs 12:4 has been drilled into my head, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.”
I would have to sit in the back of the church then, like Lauren Davis. Only I don’t think I can do that. I wouldn’t be able to watch my husband with a new excellent wife, sitting up front with my children like I don’t exist. I don’t know how she endures it.
Is that my future?