The Less Traveled Road

She stands in the bathroom applying mascara to the eyelashes of her blue eyes having just brushed her golden blond hair. Relishing her beauty as a woman in her mid forties, Blanca Gaslene takes one last peek in the mirror before exiting her hotel suite in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

Standing at the curb outside the hotel, Blanca hails a taxicab hurrying to catch her flight.

“Where to?” the taxi driver asks, pulling right in front of Blanca.

“The airport.”

“Need help with your luggage?”

“Yes. I’d appreciate that.”

“What brings you to Cleveland?” the taxi driver inquires as he resumes sitting in the driver’s seat, fastening his seatbelt.

“My best friend’s wedding.”

“How nice,” he smiles, slightly turning his head to look at Blanca. “I wish her many years of joy and bliss.”

“I’m sure he’d appreciate that, that is, if the bride hadn’t changed her mind at the last minute.”

The elderly taxi driver frowns as he looks at Blanca. “Oh, I didn’t know that your best friend was a man.”

“We’ve known each other since we were four. Lived right next door to each other, just outside of Cleveland, in Cleveland Heights.”

“And you said the bride stood him up? Why would she do a terrible thing like that?” he asks as he starts his cab.

Without waiting for Blanca to respond, the driver says, “I don’t know what to say about women nowadays. They seem to be too foot loose and fancy-free. But I certainly know what the solution is. Just teach the single women to be good wives and the married ones to submit to their husbands, and there won’t be all these problems. I’m sure your best friend would agree. I know he would.”

Hearing the admonishment of the driver causes Blanca to reflect upon her wedding day. For it was on that December afternoon, when she was only 22-years-old, that her father’s advice echoed those of the driver’s. Although feeling sorry for the pain of her best friend, Alexander Herbert, Blanca no doubt knew that his former fiancée, Victoria Elders, must have had good reasons to back out of the wedding . . . some twenty-four hours before saying I do.

Having married out of convenience, and not out of love, due to an unplanned pregnancy during her second year of college, Blanca felt lucky to have married the father of her child. But was luck enough? After four children, a huge house in the suburbs, one cat, two dogs, and a white picket fence to encircle her twenty-two year marriage, or “mirage”, as she sometimes called it, still she regrets. She regrets that she didn’t take a different road.

Sitting quietly in the backseat listening to the taxi driver emphasize the beauties
of wifely submission and marital faithfulness, Blanca wishes that she had done the same as Victoria. Blanca wishes that she, too, had made a telephone call twenty-four hours before her wedding.

Quickly dropping her wedding ring into her purse in order to scratch the annoying mosquito bite on her ring finger, Blanca rolls down the window hoping the breeze would drown out the parental words of the driver. Upon arriving at the airport, Blanca enters the terminal searching for her designated airline.

For as long as she could remember, Blanca has always had problems with her ears whenever she’d flown. She couldn’t stand to ride on a 3-hour flight feeling uncomfortable. Concerned that the airplane’s air pressure would suck the life out of her, Blanca finds a newsstand and purchases her favorite flavored gum.

“Cherry has always been my favorite flavor, too.” He exclaims, quietly walking behind Blanca as she’s waiting to pay the store clerk.

Blanca studies his face suddenly recognizing the mystery man. “Oh, my goodness. Donovan Delaney.”

Pausing for a moment, he declares, “Don’t tell me. Blanca Gaslene. I’d recognize that beautiful face anywhere.” he says as he hugs Blanca. “How many years since I last saw you?” asks Donovan, smiling from ear to ear.

“Not since our sophomore year in college. I thought your voice sounded a little familiar, but I wasn’t quite sure that was you.”

“What brings you to Cleveland?” Donovan asks.

“Wedding. And you?”

“Actually, I’m flying home to Los Angeles. I’ve been in town checking out a couple of real estate investments.

“You’ve always had a mind for business. That’s one thing I certainly remember about you.”

“And there are things that I remember about you, too,” says the tall, slender, and middle-aged entrepreneur.

“Like?”

“Like the way you turned down my marriage proposal. You went and married the Captain of the football team back in college. Tom Gaslene. I’d bet you two have been married for at least 50 years, give or take a few,” he jokingly grins, feeling slightly jealous.

“No. We divorced 7 years ago,” she lies.

“I’ve always felt that I was the better man for you. Tom must be kicking himself for letting you get away. So, that means you’re an available woman, huh?”

“You’ve always been a fast one. For heaven’s sake, could we slow down just a tiny bit, Mr. Delaney?” Blanca grins.

“Sorry, being quick, smart, and a go-getter is the only way I know. That’s how I’ve become successful. I own lots of properties too in Los Angeles, Malibu, Beverly Hills, and Pasadena.”

“I’m sure your wife’s very proud of you.”

“I’m still looking for the first and only Mrs. Donovan Delaney. I thought I had found her, until you went and broke my heart. I didn’t even know that you had gotten married, until after the fact. Oh, well, it doesn’t matter. Look at you now. Single and gorgeous.” he laughs.

“So, what time’s your flight?”

“Four thirty.”

“Mine, too. And where are you heading?”

“Pennsylvania. That’s where I relocated after my divorce,” she says, tightly concealing her truth.

“So, what are you doing now? You were an education major. Are you teaching elementary school?”

“Yes, but I’m on sabbatical now. I spend my time traveling, enjoying my life as a single woman.” again she lies, not wanting him to know that she is a stay at home wife and mother, never having pursued her professional aspirations.

Glancing down at his watch, he notices the time, “Well, it was good seeing you. You take good care of yourself,” the slightly handsome man says as he waves good-bye.

As Blanca stands in line waiting to board the plane, she shows her ticket to the customer service agent. “Oh, you’re Miss Blanca Gaslene. Here’s an envelope for you, but don’t worry it’s already been scanned for safety. Seems you have an admirer, ma’am.”

Dear Blanca, I would like to continue our conversation. Please stay in Cleveland and join me at the Shoreham Presidential Suites at seven tonight for dinner. I’ve enclosed my telephone numbers in the letter. Parked outside the United Airlines Terminal is your personally chauffeured Rolls Royce. Inside the Rolls is an envelope containing the key to your hotel suite, along with a list of personal amenities for your enjoyment. Can’t wait to see you. Signed Donovan Delaney.

As she turns to go, the customer service agent calls out to her, puzzled as to Blanca’s sudden and abrupt departure, “Ma’am, oh, ma’am.”

“Yes,” Blanca says, as she turns and faces the customer service agent.

“Are you still boarding the plane?” she inquires.

“Um, no, no, I’m not, but thanks for asking.”

Blanca searches for the nearest exit sign, pondering if she’s doing the right thing. I just can’t believe it. And to think that he’s still in love with me. Maybe I should have paid more attention to him back in college. Although I did have somewhat of a crush on him, there weren’t any fireworks. Yet, in retrospect, perhaps I should have looked past the charismatic flair of Tom, and given Donovan a chance. Donovan may not have the dashing looks of Tom, but oh, how Donovan has always longed for me. Yes, I know that Tom loves me, but is his love enough?

Despite her ambivalence, Blanca exits the United Airlines terminal, finding Donovan standing outside a parked Rolls Royce. Have I made the right decision? she asks herself as she slowly walks over to Donovan. Yet, as she sits inside the Rolls Royce, she smiles and declares, I have indeed made the right decision.

“So, after all these years, you still have a crush on me?” Blanca inquires, as she takes a bite of her dinner at one of Cleveland’s five star restaurants.

“Why do you sound surprised? I pursued you, but to no avail. I know I was a geek back then,” he laughs, “but then, again, so was Bill Gates when he was in college. I suppose we wealthy men have more in common than most.”

“I’ve always thought you were a nice man, and handsome in your own way. I’m just surprised you haven’t gotten married,” says Blanca.

“I’m more surprised with you. You and Tom got a divorce? Seems unreal. You two were definitely the envy of many. So, what went wrong? Why did you divorce?”

“Well, um, um . . .”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. And besides, now that you’re back in my life, I don’t want to let you go.” Donovan smiles as he gently caresses her hand. “Listen, I have a great suggestion.”

“What is it?” she asks.

“I’d love for you to come to Los Angeles with me. I own lots of houses; You’re more than welcomed to stay in any one of them. I just don’t want to lose you again. Lightening doesn’t always strike twice in the same place, you know.”
“Donovan, I don’t know.”

“I think California would be good for you.”

“You or California?” she asks with a slight grin.

“Both.” he smiles.

Upon returning to her hotel suite, after enjoying dinner with Donovan, she slips on her nightgown. Blanca then walks over to her purse to retrieve a small mirror, stumbling upon her abandoned wedding ring. She stares at it, pondering her next move. Should I put it back on? Maybe I should. But then, I don’t know. My desires for Donovan are starting to grow. But what about my feelings for my husband? Blanca says to herself as she walks over to the mirror to brush her long flowing hair.

“I’m catching a three o’clock flight to Los Angeles,” Donovan says as they finish their scrumptious brunch on the following day. “Please join me. All arrangements have been made, if you decide to come,” Donovan says.

“I’ve been thinking about it all night.”

“So, I take it your answer is . . .”

“Yes. Yes, I’ll come.” Blanca exclaims with excitement.

“I’d always hope that one day we’d be together. Now, look at us. Here we are. You’ve really made me a very happy man.” Donovan smiles.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome on board flight fifteen seventeen,” the flight attendant says just before announcing the safety instructions. As the attendant continues talking, Donovan turns to Blanca and says, “I want to treat you like the queen that you are. I want to take care of you.” Take care of me? Take care of me? Blanca says to herself as the plane soars the western skies. Is that what he wants . . . to take care of me? But I can take care of myself now. And besides, that is the same thing Tom promised me on our wedding day. But, somewhere between saying “I do” and now, I grew up. I’m not that woman anymore.

But does Tom know that? Did I help him realize that? Or was I satisfied playing it safe, being the wife of Dr. Tom Gaslene and the mother of four gifted children?

Maybe I’ve become a victim of my own doing, in my search for happiness. Sure, I can find fault with Tom for not growing with me or adequately meeting my needs. But have I honestly communicated my needs to him?

And have I also accepted certain realities . . . that no one can always fulfill my needs? Ultimately, am I not responsible for my own happiness? My, these are some tough questions. I hope I can answer them before the plane reaches Los Angeles.
If these questions are not answered, then I’m not sure I really should be leaving Tom.

I wonder if my budding relationship with Donovan will eventually become an extension of what I already have with my husband. If so, then why am I leaving Tom? For if I’m not happy with Tom, how can I be happy with Donovan? My, is my problem really with Tom or Donovan? Maybe the problem is with me.

Yet, even still, an opportunity like this doesn’t come very often. Why, even Donovan said lightening doesn’t always strike twice in the same place. So, what will I do? What will I tell Donovan?

The plane lands in Las Vegas for its one hour layover. As the two stroll through the airport, Donovan reaches for Blanca’s hand, caressing it gently. Glancing at his watch, he replies,” Wow, look at the time, Blanca. We have fifteen minutes before we have to re-board. I think we should head back.”

As they turn to go, Blanca abruptly replies, “Donovan, I’m so glad you’ve come into my life again. I’d never pass up this chance for all the diamonds in the world. You are the man for me. You and only you.”

Suddenly, Blanca awakens, realizing that it was all a dream. Glancing at the clock in her downtown Cleveland hotel suite, Blanca sees that it’s six o’clock in the morning. Gently caressing her husband’s back, she ponders the meaning of her dream.

Slowly and quietly getting out of bed, Blanca puts on her house shoes, and then her housecoat. Walking over to the window to reflect, Blanca catches a stunning glimpse of Lake Erie. The vastness of the water offers her some sense of peace.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have eaten that steak so late last night at my brother’s wedding reception . . . it caused me to have a nightmare. Just the thought of giving up Tom for another man makes me faint. For indeed I am blessed; I have 4 beautiful children, a huge house in the suburbs of Dallas, why, I even love my cat and my 2 dogs.

Unlike the woman in her dream, Blanca was happy with the outcome of her life. Unlike the woman in her dream, she had no regrets. The woman in her dream was the antithesis of all she ever was or ever hoped to be. Staring out the window, savoring her contentment, Blanca begins to ponder the words of her favorite Robert Frost poem, as she compares her life to that of the other woman:

Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day.
Yet, knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by-
And that has made all the difference.

The bright sunrays cause Tom to awaken. He yawns, noticing that Blanca isn’t sleeping beside him. Glancing over at the window, he finds her in deep thought.

“Honey, you okay?” he asks with a frown.

Smiling, she says, “I’m fine. Just thinking.”

He slowly walks over to her, putting his arms around her. “What are you reflecting upon?”

“You, me, the life we have, and how satisfied I am.”

“Satisfied, huh?” he replies, feeling proud, yet pleasantly surprised.

“Yes,” she pauses and smiles, “very, very satisfied.”

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I’ve found writing to be an oasis….a safe sanctuary to express my joys, fears, vulnerabilities, philosophies, and visions. It is with this awareness that I have chosen to pursue this craft. It is my passion . . . my calling.I've won a number of writing awards for my creative works. I look forward to publishing my first novel soon.