Until now, she never thought of herself as pretty.
Each morning she would stare in the mirror and try to pick one good feature of herself, different from the day before. It was never difficult for her, she liked the color of her eyes and the thickness of her hair but until this moment, she had never felt put together.
But in this moment, with the boy of her dreams watching her descend down the staircase in a gorgeous white dress, she felt pretty.
She felt the tears welling up in her eyes as she passed her Grandmother and felt...

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She was a regular victim, the kind of person who flinched when she heard a loud noise, ducked when she passed beneath an airborne bird, stepped sideways in order to avoid each time she happened to pass by a pedestrian, puddle or crack. She looked for and expected (and here I'm talking about the worst) in everything. Forget good and better, forget fortuitous, forget fate being in your favour and good fortune... As far as she was concerned, it was always cloudy outside and it rained constantly. In her model of the world life was hard, living was tough, and...

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The results were in: she had earned "third runner up" honours.

"Top five ain't bad!" Jeff said encouragingly.

"It's four spots worse than good," Melanie grumbled. "I don't want to be 'not bad'; I want to win something! I want to be recognized!"

Jeff sighed. "I recognize you," he reassured her. "I recognize you more than anything else, or anyONE else, in the whole world. Why do you think I married you?"

"Chocolate trifle," she sniffed.

"Well..." he grinned. "Ok. You got me. I married you for your chocolate trifle. But AFTER the trifle, you're the most important thing in...

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His life was on the line.

Strung from tree to tree, across the back yard, his priorities blew in the wind. There were his coat and slacks, accompanied by an assortment of lively, but respectable, neckties. There was his underwear. There was his hockey jersey.

There were his one-year-old's Big Boy Diapers, and his wife's sweaters, and his dog's blanket.

And there was the note.

He slowly, thoughtfully pulled in the line, taking the items down, one by one. When he reached the paper, his heart caught in his throat.

"If you had another chance," it said to him, "would...

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Tears dripped down her cheeks. She was alone. Finally, sadly, happily alone.

Her husband was searching for her. She prayed that he would not find her. She had managed to escape her home while he searched for weapons to use against her. When he stomped towards the kitchen, dripping angry sweat and hurling abuse, she thought of the knives.

She didn't remember how she got between her home and the doorway. All she knew was that she was safe, for the time being.

Where next? She had no family. Her friends were his friends or the wives of his friends....

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