October 13, 2021
A recently widowed woman becomes suspicious when she sees a beautiful young woman crying desperately at her husband's funeral.
Carla Hartley noticed the girl for the first time when the pallbearers placed her husband's coffin by the side of the gaping grave. Even as Carla clung to her son's arm she heard the young woman's heartwrenching sobs.
The priest started his graveside homily, and Carla looked at the girl under the cover of her dark glasses. She was standing on the other side of the grave, at the back of the crowd of mourning relatives and friends, her face awash with tears. Who was she?
And then Carla's heart stopped with a fresh stab of pain, a darker pain. This young woman must be Mark's mistress! Mark, so handsome, dashing and wealthy, even at 48 would have had no trouble captivating a beautiful younger woman.
Carla felt anger and grief clash. Mark's sudden death had been the hardest blow she had ever suffered in her life, but to discover that he had a mistress would make their twenty-five years of happiness a sham, it would make her life a lie.
Heartsick, Carla lowered her head as the first clods of earth hammered onto Mark's coffin with a dread finality, It was over. "Mom," her son Daniel's voice said gently, "Come, it's time to go home."
A flurry of faces passed in front of Carla, friends, family, strangers, all mouthing platitudes. "So sorry for your loss..." She wanted to scream at them to shut up, to leave her alone with her anger and her pain.
Then it was over and she was being steered towards the funeral home's limousine. Ahead of her, she saw the slim figure of the girl who had wept so piteously for Mark step into a taxi.
Carla noticed the number, 259, Yellow Cab Company. Yes, she'd get to the truth, or lose all hope of tranquility for the rest of her life. She could learn to live with betrayal, but doubt would corrode her soul.
The truth may sometimes be hard to bear, but it is better than a heart poisoned by doubt.
Three days later, Carla was at the Yellow Cab Company headquarters. She told them she needed to speak to the driver who had picked the girl up at the cemetery on the day of Mark's funeral.
They gave her the driver's name and phone number, and Carla quickly arranged a meeting. She said: "You see, cousin Cecily left so quickly I didn't have the chance to tell her my husband left her a small legacy, and I don't have her contact or her address!"
The cab driver shook his head. "Well, that will surely be welcome news for that girl, Ma'am, seeing as where she lives!" The man offered to take Carla to the girl's home and she accepted.
The driver stopped in front of a tiny dilapidated house on a narrow street in a dangerous neighborhood. "That's it, Ma'am," said the driver. "Maybe it would be best if I wait for you."
Carla accepted the driver's offer and got out of the car. She opened the creaky gate and walked up to the door. The doorbell didn't work, so Carla knocked loudly until she heard the sounds of someone moving inside the house.
The door opened and the young woman from the funeral was standing there. She stared at Carla in astonishment. "Mrs. Hartley! What are you doing here?"
Carla pushed past the woman and walked into the dark house. "So you know who I am! You knew he was married!"
The woman nodded, blushing. "Yes, I knew," she admitted. "I used to watch him with you and your children..."
"You watched us?" cried Carla angrily. "You're despicable! Wasn't it enough that you were having an affair with my husband, you had to stalk us too?"
"An affair?" gasped the woman, "No..."
"Liar," screamed Carla. "I saw you at the funeral! You were his little tramp, and my entire life with that man was a lie!"
"No!" the woman was shaking her head, "You have it all wrong! He wasn't my lover, he was my father and he didn't even know I existed!"
"Your father!" Carla felt her knees fold, and the woman stepped forward and quickly helped her sit down on the worn-out couch.
"Please," the woman said softly. "Let me explain. My mother and your husband met in college, they were dating. Then my mother met someone else, an older man with money.
"She didn't know that she was already pregnant. She became that man's lover, but when she told him she was pregnant he kicked her out. You see, he'd had a vasectomy, so he knew it couldn't be his..."
Carla whispered: "It was Mark's..."
The girl nodded. "Yes. But that didn't suit my mom. She wanted a man with money, influence. So she moved on to the next man dragging me along with her like a bag of dirty laundry." There was bitterness in the girl's voice.
"Finally she dumped me on my grandmother. I grew up here in this house. My mother died, and I found my birth certificate, found out who my father was. My gran wanted me to go to him, but I never worked up the courage..."
"But you watched us!" Carla exclaimed,
"Yes...I did. I daydreamed that you were my mother, he was my father and I had a real family. I envied your children, my brothers." There were tears running down the girl's face. "Now I'll never know my father."
Carla asked gently: "What's your name?"
"I'm Deidre," the girl said.
"Deidre," said Carla, "This is not a suitable place for you to be living in. You are coming home with me. You didn't know your father, but you will know your brothers."
Deidre was staring at Carla in astonishment. "Home? With you?
"Yes," said Carla. "I know what my husband would have done. He would have loved you, and so you're coming home. You will be part of us, part of the family."
Deidre went home with Carla, and the widow talked to her lawyers and settled an equal share of her husband's inheritance on the daughter he never even knew he had. The orphan found a home, and Carla's heart was grieving but whole.
What can we learn from this story?
Don't leave for later what you should do right now. Deidre hesitated, and she missed the opportunity to know her father.
The truth may sometimes be hard to bear, but it is better than a heart poisoned by doubt. Carla faced the possibility her husband was unfaithful but discovered a stepdaughter instead.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a rich man who pretends to be poor to teach his future in-laws a lesson.
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