When she saw him again after all those years, she couldn’t believe her eyes. There he was. The man that had caused her so much suffering. The one who had turned her life into hell. Her worst nightmare.
He silently stared back at her. And she knew that he recognized her. But she was in public, and her kids were with her; so there was nothing she could do. Or maybe yes?
Sometimes life works in mysterious ways. What you take for granted one day can be taken from you tomorrow, and you may never hear back from it again. And what you assume is lost forever can come back when you least expect it.
And there is another mystery: when one of these unexpected encounters or losses happen, how should you react? And most importantly: does your actual reaction match what it should be?
Well, when one gets to know Sandie Gillette’s Story, one understands why she reacted the way she did when she saw that man again. She just did what anyone in her place would have done.
Because that man was not a stranger to her: his name was Bertrand Putnam, and he had impacted her life in a way that no one else had ever even come close to.
It took place when Sandie less expected it. It seemed like just another Saturday. Sandie, a single mother of two, had woken up, made breakfast for her and her children, and gotten ready for a morning at the mall.
She had to buy some things for the house. She didn’t intend to spend much time wandering around. But she didn’t expect that this would be the day when she would see Russel Jenkins again.
It all happened really quickly. Sandie and her kids were getting out of one of the stores in the mall. They had bought everything they needed, and they were about to go back home.
And while they were strolling across one of the galleries, Sandie suddenly saw it and her stomach dropped. Could that be him?
That sudden vision felt almost unreal to Sandie. It sort of felt like a dream, or maybe a nightmare. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
But it had to be him. That gray hair, that mouth that always looked like it was curved in a grin… and those clear, but emotionless, callous eyes. She would have recognized that face anywhere.
He stared back at her with those lifeless eyes. They passed each other without saying a word. Sandie stopped by for a minute, trying to recover herself from what had just happened.
Her sons, worried, also stopped by and asked their mom what was the problem and whether she was feeling alright. But Sandie was having a hard time processing what she had seen. She had to sit down, with her heart racing. Her mind almost went blank.
After a while, she recovered and managed to catch her breath. She also felt her heartbeat slowly coming back to normal. She had been close to having a panic attack. It wouldn’t have been the first time.
And then, suddenly, all the memories came back to her at once. She remembered her story with that man, and how he had changed her life forever.
That man, Bertrand Putnam, used to be her husband at one time. Not only that: he was also the father of her children. But they were too young to remember. But Sandie did remember.
She remembered how difficult life was with that man. He was an alcoholic, a gambler, and a cheater. He never put his hands on her, but she left her psychologically scarred for life.
They used to fight all the time. And sometimes their fights would get particularly nasty. Sandie was tempted to just leave that man more than once, but she couldn’t. It was like he put a spell on her.
Until one day, after another one of their fights, it all came to an end. Putnam just took his suitcase, walked towards the door, and left.
At first, it was hard for Sandie to come to terms with it. She couldn’t accept that she would be a single mother from then on, without anyone to help her raise her kids.
But soon, she saw that this change was for the better. She was better off without him. What kind of father would have he been? Fortunately, the kids were too young to remember. Had they grown up to deal with him, they would have probably been psychologically and emotionally scarred.
So Sandie had managed to give her children proper raising. And she was proud of having overcome the abuse from that man, of being a great mother on her own, and of having left all that pain and suffering behind.
One could have thought that it was all over, that the past is the past, and that there’s where it should stay. But it didn’t.
Sandie couldn’t resist. Maybe after all those years, she was still a victim of that man’s spell. Maybe she wanted to ask him for an explanation of all he did. Maybe it was just curiosity.
But she felt the urge to follow that man. He was going towards the parking lot. With her children following her and wondering what their mom was up to, she started following Bertrand at a discrete distance.
When they arrived at the parking lot, Sandie and her kids got in her car in order to avoid getting caught by Putnam. Sandie peeked through the window and saw her ex-husband getting into a car as well.
There was a woman with him. A new victim, Sandie thought. Because in her gut, he couldn’t believe that this man was able to change his ways. She felt sorry for his new prey.
Sandie and her kids went home. And the first thing that Sandie did was open an old photo album to compare the man that he had just seen with some pictures of Bertrand. And indeed, that was him at the mall.
But did it really make any sense to dwell on the past? That was 11 years ago. Today, in 2022, she was a strong woman, she had two healthy and happy sons that she loved, and everything that she went through in the past was over. She closed the photo album and went to see what her sons were up to.