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Coming Together & Falling Apart

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It’s just a milkshake - Megan

She was just another secretary that he had fucked in his office. A good time, sure, but nothing to take notice of. And he was glad she wasn’t making a mess of things like Allison had. He was grateful to her for that and they worked well together because of it.

She had diligently tried to make arrangements for him to have help with his children during their upcoming trip to Disneyland . . . but it was obvious that no situation was ideal. He took another look at her. When his daughter Sally had gone sprawling in the office as she was trying to run away from him it was Megan who had picked her up off the floor and held her until she stopped crying. Perhaps she had a way with kids . . .

Don decided to invite her on his trip to Disneyland instead and offered to pay her double what she made as his secretary. In the back of his mind he was wondering if he could get more out of her on this trip as well – honestly he felt entitled to a little fun for himself. He gave her a dashing smile as he pitched the benefits to her. She smiled back and was easily won over.

“Please, stop the advertising,” she said and agreed to accompany him.

Xxxxxxxx

Don is propped up and reading on his hotel bed, his kids fast asleep in the other one. He puts down his beer and his book – he thought he had just heard Megan come back to her room. Maybe he could get some tonight - she had been more than willing before.

He quietly leaves his room and knocks on her door, giving her a lame pretense to gain entry.

She invites him out to her balcony and they make small talk but talk is not what he’s after tonight –he really only came here for one thing. It doesn’t take long before they are kissing. When she questions his better judgment he tells her, “I’ve been thinking about you so much,” and they continue. He knows exactly how to play this.

Xxxxxxxx

They stare at each other in bed the next morning, blinking in the bright light.

At one point she says to him, “I know that you have a good heart and I know that you’re always trying to be better.”

He wishes he was the man she is describing, but knows he is not.

“We all try. We don’t always make it,” he says. He feels the need to be honest with this naïve girl – to warn her. “I’ve done a lot of things.”

“I know who you are now.”

No, she really doesn’t. But he wishes someone did. He doesn’t know why it should matter so much, but he want this – whatever it is – to continue. He asks if he can visit her again like this the following night after the fireworks show at Disneyland. He is a bit unsure of his real motivations but comes clean and tells her, “I need to know. I don’t know why.”

Xxxxxxxx

Later that day they are all having lunch together in a diner near Disneyland. Megan is settled in comfortably with his kids. All seems to be going well until Sally and Bobby start to fight. She yells at him to shut up and lunges for him, knocking over her strawberry milkshake.

“Hey!” a startled Don exclaims loudly as he grabs for the glass.

The two kids look frightened – afraid that they will get in trouble with him - so conditioned they are to their mother’s anger. The looks on their faces make Don recall the time when he took his kids back to Ossining after a weekend spent at his apartment - a weekend where Sally had cut her own hair. When they arrived home, Betty had roughly pulled off the hat that Sally had been wearing and discovered her botched attempt at looking prettier. It had all happened so fast. Before Don could stop her, Betty’s hand raked across Sally’s gentle cheek, leaving a stinging burn in its wake. Don was livid. How could his ex-wife do this to his child? It was completely out of line and brought back painful memories from his own past. How had he not seen Betty’s capacity for cruelty before they married?

But now, as Don signals to the waiter for help he hears Megan say the most astonishing thing. She gently tells his kids, “Don’t be upset. It’s just a milkshake.”

And then she nonchalantly starts to clean up. He turns back to look at her and sees her in a whole new light. He feels the memory of his father’s blows – the whipping he would have received for such a transgression. And then Megan’s face swims into his vision – her presence rescuing him from his father’s imagined assault. The hurting child inside of him feels like he’s just gotten a reprieve from punishment – for the first time ever.

There is no anger, no fault - no one needs to be blamed or get upset. She is calm and kind.

That day changes his life forever.

Xxxxxxxx

They are back in New York. Megan is asleep in his bed. The kids are back at home with Betty.

Betty.

She had always wanted him to “step up” and punish their kids. She firmly believed in spare the rod and spoil the child. But after the abuse he had suffered growing up, he just could not bring himself to do this - and she never understood. So she would mete out the punishment herself in his place.

Megan is different. He sees in her a kindness that he didn’t think existed. A kindness that he wants in his life. And he is willing to sacrifice to get it. He doesn’t love her, he barely knows her – but he wants to hold on to her - the only way he knows how.

He sits on the side of the bed holding Anna’s ring, waiting for her to wake up.