The steaming black tea tasted bitter on Monica’s tongue. She had allowed it to steep in the heated kettle a full ten minutes longer than usual, and it was strong. She felt a slight shudder at the back of her neck as she forced herself to palette the bitter liquid. She needed this.
Her heart was so dark with bitterness, that even a small outward display like the tea helped her to process it. She had allowed her heart to fully transition from resenting Oliver to despising him. She hated that man for all he had caused and allowed to happen to her.
Her emotions were soaring up and crashing down these days, so much that she felt completely out of control most of the time. She needed something to ground her, and hate had quickly become that anchor. The guilt of her own mistakes was much less severe when she focused on hating him, and that was all she cared about right now. She was tired of being guilt’s victim.
She knew she was unstable, but right now she simply needed to be that way. Her friend, Mrs. Townsend, understood that and let Monica hurt openly without reprimanding or lecturing her. Even though Mrs. Townsend didn’t know about what Monica had done in the harbor district, it felt good to know that someone accepted her without question. Mrs. Townsend was the only person Monica knew who allowed her to grieve over her pain. She was a true friend.
Conversely, Olly was the personification of everything Monica hated about her life—about herself. She couldn’t keep him in her life if she was ever going to move beyond her mistakes and regrets. She also knew she could never bring herself to forgive him for how he’d hurt her, much like she could never ask him to forgive her. That was simply how life would proceed to be.
No one Monica knew had ever divorced their spouse before, and she knew she would be severely judged—even ostracized—for her choice to permanently leave Olly, but she truly felt she had no other choice. None of them had gone through all she had experienced either. Let them judge! They could never understand.
After willfully sipping the tea for several minutes, Monica grew intolerant of the overwhelming acidity and finally disposed of it. The taste had been awful, but it had, nonetheless, strengthened her resolve to return one last time to the place she had called home for over half of her life. She would retrieve her personal belongings, leave a letter of explanation for Nina, and then return indefinitely to live with Mrs. Townsend.
With a sigh, she raised her chin and stood from where she’d been sitting.
It was time. She could do this.