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  • She picked up a book and started to read. “Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all.” She slammed the book shut after reading and started to cry. Tennyson had always been one of her favorites. “No!” she exclaimed. She carried the book under her arm as she walked to the kitchen to pour a glass of wine and knocked over some of the empty bottles that shattered on the floor. As she walked towards the kitchen, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her dark red hair was so messy it looked like dreadlocks had formed. Her skin was shiny with oil and she developed pimples due to her lack of hygiene. The mascara that she put on two days ago was still sticking to her cheeks and all around her eyes like a raccoon. She looked like a wild animal, but she did not care.

    She grabbed a box of chocolates and returned to her bedroom. Setting everything down, she wrapped herself in blankets and turned on the television. The sheets on the bed smelled fowl and there were dirty clothes all over the room. There were dirty dishes on the cedar armoire and the curtains had not opened in days. With a glass of wine in one hand and the chocolates on her lap, she turned the channel to The Notebook.

    She fell asleep and dreamt of strong, but gentle man who treated her well. He was there for her no matter what kind of mood she was in. Suddenly a white dress with vintage ivory lace appeared in her dream and she stood at the alter. For quite some time, she stood there only to find out that the man she had loved so dearly ran away. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed, she opened her swollen eyes and started to cry again.

    She was abandoned at the alter and he did not even have the courage to speak with her face to face. Why had he done this to her? Was she that miserable to be around or was it the way she looked? She was a beautiful woman standing tall at five foot six and weighed 135 pounds. She had worked hard to keep herself happy with the way she looked. She always worried that she never looked good enough for her fiancé, so she did her best to stay in shape. She was left to wonder if she had done something wrong. She thought it was because she did not make enough money. She worked as a nurse practitioner, but took vacation time so that she could attempt to get herself together. Constant thoughts that she always blamed herself for would always cross her mind and drag her into a deeper depression.

    Suddenly there was a knock on the door. “It’s just me,” said the voice. She recognized it as her older sister, Sarah. She let herself in and marched into the bedroom. “You have got to leave the house at some point,” she said. It had been about two weeks6 since the “great depression”. “Tanya, it smells like dying animals in here. I called mom, Josh, and Garrett to come over and clean this place up. You and I are going out.”

    The next morning Tanya awoke in an unfamiliar place. She was wearing nothing but a t-shirt and her underwear and managed to push all of the pillows and blankets off the couch. Oh no, she thought. She tried to stand up quickly and look for her clothes, but all she managed to do was roll off of the couch and collapse to the floor. Her sister shuffled into the room with a cup of tea. “Things got crazy last night,” she said as she took a sip of the drink in her hand, “but you had a lot of fun. I thought I would bring you some tea to help you recuperate.”

    “Thank you.” Tanya said. “Do you remember anything from last night? Where are we?”

    “We are at my friend Jim’s place. He was Henry’s best man. Remember? His house was the closest to the bar and you were refusing to go back to your house so I decided to bring you here.”

    “Oh… the Irish guy.”

    From the hallway, outstepped a man in a suit and tie. He was a younger gentleman, but Tanya could tell that he wasn’t just a boy. This was a real man.

    “Sarah,” he said in his Irish accent, “I’m headed to work, will you be here for dinner or are you and Henry planning something special for Valentine’s Day?”

    “Sorry Jim,” Sarah said, “After, six years of marriage and kids, Henry and I just appreciate being able to have the house to ourselves. The kids are at their grandparents for the weekend and Henry is actually cooking.” She paused, “But Tanya doesn’t have any dinner plans.”

    Tanya looked at herself and compared her appearance to the man’s. She had managed to wrap herself in a blanket and hide the fact that she was hardly wearing anything. “It’s ok,” she said, “I have to head home-“ Her sister cut her off and told her that she did not have a choice. Tanya knew she had to start getting out again, but she hated the fact that her older sister was so pushy. She was so embarrassed. How much did she drink the previous night and did she make a fool of herself?

    “Tanya, nice to see you again. We should get to know each other better over some dinner.”

    Tanya was speechless. All she did for a while was stare at him in what seemed like a state of shock. “Yeah,” she said, “I mean uhm I love to eat.” She had to take another moment to compose an appropriate sentence. “I am flattered that you asked and I would love to join you for dinner this evening.”

    That afternoon, Tanya and her sister went out to buy some nice clothes for the date. “So,” Sarah said, “Jim seems pretty interested in you.”

    “Yeah. He seems really nice. I remember him bringing me a drink at your wedding. It was my favorite drink too. It was like he knew me.”

    “Weird…” Sarah said sarcastically, “maybe a little bird told him.”

    “You did not! Ugh oh my gosh, I am so nervous.”

    “It’s good for you. You haven’t thought about him at all today.”

    Tanya found a little black dress that was modest, but extremely flattering. Sarah would not stop talking about Jim and how much fun Tanya was going to have.

    Tanya returned to her house after they went shopping. As she opened the door, the smell of Pinesol hit her senses. She looked around her house and was completely shocked by the way her family was able to clean it up. “Surprise!” the family shouted. They all popped up from behind the couch.

    “Thank you so much! You did not have to do this.”

    “Yes we did,” blurted her brother Josh, “if it wasn’t us, who was actually going to turn this place into an environment suitable for a human being?”

    “I thought I would buy you some shoes to go with that dress.” said her other brother, Garrett. He pranced over to the kitchen table and pulled out a Louboutin box. “Sarah told me about the dress, so I wanted throw in some of my finesse to top it off.”

    “This is too much,” I said, “I can’t accept this Garrett. You have already done so much for me”

    “Just consider it an early or late Christmas, Birthday, Valentine’s Day gift.”

    “Thank you. I don’t think I can ever repay you. Any of you! You have all been so kind and supportive of me getting on with my life. I haven’t done anything.”

    “It’s ok dear. We just want to see you go back to being Tanya. Speaking of which, you should start getting ready.” Her mother said.

    Tanya was just adding the final touches to her makeup. “Everything is going to be fine.” Sarah said. “Just remember that it is ‘better to have loved and lost’ than it is ‘to have never loved at all.’”

    Soon after, Jim arrived at the house. Tanya was waiting in the kitchen. She curled her long maroon hair and pulled it out of her face. She was wearing her pearls and new black stilettos. She had put a modest amount of makeup on, but she was still worried about being overdressed. What if this man was going to take her to a steakhouse? She was drawn in by his accent, appearance, and confidence in bringing her to dinner. He was over six feet tall with a strong, masculine stature. Tanya could just tell by the way he presented himself. This is crazy, she thought. She had been on many spontaneous dates before she met her fiancé and all of them were usually attractive men who were jarheads that just wanted to get into her pants. Tanya thought back to the first date she had with her ex-fiancé. He brought her to a seafood restaurant and they both got food poisoning. She could not believe that a relationship started from that moment. No, this needs to stop, she thought. Whenever anything good was about to happen she would think about her ex and how she once felt.

    “Good evening,” he said, “you look beautiful.” Tanya melted. Her ex rarely complimented her.

    “Thank you. You look nice as well.”

    As they were about to walk out the door, Jim held his arm out so that Tanya could interlock hers with his. He escorted her out of her condo and to his car. She was stunned to see her dream car sitting on the side of the curb. A spotless 1958 Cadillac Coupe DeVille was glinting from the street lights. “That has always been my favorite car. My father had an old rusty one when I was growing up. We used to drive around in it just for the sake of driving. He always had plans to fix it up, but he passed away and it sat in my parents’ barn for years.”

    “That’s interesting,” he said, “my father bought this as an old rust bucket locally and he and I worked on it while I was in college. He bought it from a single mother on Wiswell Road.”

    “That was my house growing up!” Tanya wanted to run to the car, but she knew she would probably twist an ankle.

    Jim opened the door for Tanya. “Madam.” he said.

    They hit it off that evening. The dinner was at a fancy restaurant called Marea. Jim and Tanya never ran out of things to talk about. They laughed and learned a lot about eachother. Tanya told him about her ex-fiance and Jim told her about his ex-wife. He caught her cheating on him a year ago after only seven months of marriage.

    At Tanya’s house, Jim walked her to her door. “I had an amazing night,” said Tanya, “can we do this again sometime? It doesn’t have to be so fancy. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.”

    “I agree. I like spending time with you. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time.”

    Tanya stared into his dreamy eyes. She seriously thought about leaning in for a kiss, but she decided that she did not want to rush things. “Well have a good night,” she said.

    “Goodnight,” he said as he kissed her forehead.

    Tanya awoke the next morning to her phone vibrating like crazy. She rubbed her cloudy eyes and flipped her phone over. Her sister sent her seventeen messages and tried calling five times. Tanya glanced at the clock to see what time it was. It was only seven thirty. Sarah wanted to know how it went. She had so many questions and Tanya was not awake enough to respond to all of them. Then she heard the doorbell ring. She hopped out of bed, threw on a pair of jeans and went to answer the door. Nobody was there, but there was a rose in a vase with a note that said Thank you. How does dinner at 7 sound? Text me. She was so happy. This man appreciated her and her company.

    Tanya was beginning to realize that dating Jim seemed like it was always supposed to happen. Jim made her laugh and think of positive things in life. She stopped thinking about her ex completely. Confidence had come back into her life thanks to the support of her family and the fact that she had more positive things to think about. Tanya returned to work a few days after the date. Her coworkers told her that “he was a keeper” and that she was more pleasant to be around now that she was with Jim. Things are just better she thought. With that, Tanya’s attitude and growth in confidence changed her life.

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