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The bite of Alan’s betrayal was lethal. The venom spread through Pam’s system as poisonous as a rattlesnake coiled in the Oklahoma dust.

She sat cross legged in the middle of her queen-sized bed, a bottle of prescription sleeping pills in her lap, memories in the form of photo albums and loose pictures scattered around her on the hunter green comforter. With shaking hands, she tucked her hair behind her ears and fanned a stack of photos out before her. One snapshot in particular caught her eye. Pam picked it up by a corner, not afraid of damaging the picture, but bracing herself for the damage the picture would do to her.

High school, sophomore year. Her long dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail, braces glinting in the light of the camera flash. Alan stood next to her, his arm tossed negligently across her shoulders, his muddy football uniform a sharp contrast to her white cheerleader sweater. Their first picture together, the beginning of their life with each other.

Pam stroked the picture, and the present melted into the past. Her gaze narrowed to Alan’s face, his high cheekbones, cleft chin, and the wild mop of his sandy hair. Even then she could see the future she wanted for herself in his brown eyes. Alan Archer, her first and only love.

She swallowed two of the pills and chased them with a gulp of bottled water.

Pam steeled herself against the ache in her heart and sorted through more pictures. Homecomings and proms. His and hers. Out-dated hairstyles, long satin gowns decorated with lace, sequins, and bows. Rented tuxedos, his shirts adorned with more ruffles than her dresses. High school graduations. His from college. Pam scrambled over to the window, open to catch the early summer breeze, and tilted the picture in the mid-day sunlight. If she squinted she could just make out the gold of her new engagement ring. She forced her eyes down to her left hand. No gold there anymore. Just the pathetic imprint of what used to be. That’s all her heart held this morning, a sad, hollow image of the past.

Two more pills joined the toxic mixture brewing in her stomach. She closed her eyes. Let it be quick. A prayer? She shrugged the thought away.

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