Sharon Messing was on top of the world. She was about to marry the man of her dreams, and achieve the kind of lifestyle she could only have dreamed of as a young girl growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a small town.
Her fiancée, Roland Haldon, was a civil rights lawyer. He was young, idealistic, and very handsome. He didn’t earn a lot of money defending mostly indigent people, but that was all right with Sharon.
Roland’s family was extremely wealthy, and he was the oldest son. Sharon was sure she could persuade Roland to dip into his trust fund once they were married and give up his silly idealism. It was all in the bag, and nothing could go wrong. Or could it?
Roland had invited her to come to his hometown in Virginia for Thanksgiving, to finally meet his parents, and to start planning the wedding. Roland wanted to have the wedding at his parents’ gorgeous country estate, and Sharon loved the idea.
Since Roland was currently handling a case in Texas, Sharon would drive down from Baltimore and they’d meet at his parent’s home in Richmond. It took Sharon three hours to get to Richmond, and by then she was hot and irritated.
She decided to stop in town and have something to eat, and freshen up before heading for the all-important meeting with Roland’s family. A pretty English-style tea house caught her attention, and she was lucky enough to grab a parking spot right in front of it.
Sharon took a lovely lacy dress out of her suitcase, folded it carefully into her bag, and walked into the tea house. She ordered herself some tea and scones and ducked into the restroom when she changed into her dress and freshened up her makeup.
She looked great! She was sure Roland’s parents would love her as much as he did. After all, Sharon had spent a lifetime perfecting a manner as charming as her looks…
Sharon walked back to her table and sat down. Before long, the waitress brought her a lovely porcelain pot of freshly brewed tea and a platter of hot scones with strawberry jam and cream. Perfect!
Sharon spread a thick layer of strawberry jam on her scone and was about to take a bite when someone bumped into her. The scone fell out of her hand and splattered strawberry jam onto her dress.
Sharon jumped up. The scone was sticking to her chest, and thick globs of jam were sliding down. She was a mess. Sharon turned around to confront the clumsy fool who’d spoiled her favorite dress on this most important of days.
There was a young woman standing there, her hands raised apologetically. “I’m s-s-so s-s-sorry!” she cried, clearly upset. “P-p-p-please…l-l-l-let m-m-m-me…”
Sharon wiped at the dress with a napkin, but the red stain spread even further, soaking into the creamy lace. “Let you what? Dump something else on me? Look what you’ve done!”
The young woman blushed scarlet and whispered: “Ahh-h-a n-n-no! W-w-w-w…”
Sharon exploded. “Are you retarded? Can’t you talk? Are you stupid as well as spastic? You should be in an institution or something!”
By then, the whole tea shop was dead silent as people watched the developing drama. The young woman became more and more upset, and somehow it seemed to fuel Sharon’s rage to new heights.
“You’ve spoiled my dress, you stupid moron, SPOILED IT! Who the hell would raise a dolt like you I can’t imagine! You must be your mother’s greatest regret!”
The young woman started crying and ran out. Sharon stared down at herself. It was hopeless! And she could feel that the jam had soaked through the dress and was drying on her skin to a sticky glaze.
Sharon had presented herself to roland as a sensitive kind person, but under pressure, her real personality revealed itself.
She paid for the tea and scones and walked out. She checked into a small hotel, just to have a shower and change clothes. She wanted to make a good impression and no stupid stuttering retard was going to spoil her plans!
Two hours later, Sharon drove up to a stunning Georgian mansion that looked a bit like Tara in “Gone With The Wind,” only ten times grander. “This is perfect!” Sharon thought, “PERFECT!”
She could just imagine herself walking out of those huge doors on Roland’s arm as the lady of the manor… Sharon checked her lipstick one last time in the rearview mirror and stepped out of her car.
She walked up to the magnificent front door and rang the bell. Minutes later, a lovely older woman answered. Sharon smiled. “Mrs. Haldon, I’m Sharon…”
The woman smiled, but she looked upset. “Sharon, how lovely to meet you at last…Come in…” She gently hugged Sharon and kissed her cheek. “Roland is already here, but I’m afraid we’re in the middle of a family crisis…”
“Oh, Mrs. Haldon, I don’t want to intrude! I can come back later…”
“Nonsense,” said Mrs. Haldon, “You’re part of the family, now.” Mrs. Haldon led Sharon into a lovely, elegant sitting room and invited her to make herself at home. Mrs. Haldon walked out and Sharon could hear the murmur of voices, and a woman crying.
Within minutes, Roland was there, smiling and holding out his arms to her. “Babe, I was worried about you…Your phone was off, and you were late…”
Sharon smiled up at him. “I’m alright! I just stopped on the way to rest… What’s wrong, babe?”
Roland’s face darkened. “My little sister, Jean, she was abused by some woman in town. She’s devastated.”
Sharon gasped. “Abused? But how?”.
Roland shook his head. “This woman apparently insulted my poor sister…It’s too ugly, Sharon, I can’t believe there are people like that in this world! You see, Jean stutters…”
It was then that Mrs. Haldon walked in, and beside her was the girl from the tea shop, her face swollen by tears. “Jean, come meet Sharon, your new sister!”
Jean stopped and stared, her mouth dropping open. “Mom! It’s her…the w-w-w-woman…W-w-w-why is s-s-s-she here?”
“What?” asked Roland, “What woman? What do you mean, Jean?”
“S-s-s-she c-c-c-called me a r-r-r-retard!”
Roland turned to Sharon, incredulous. “Babe? What is this? It was you? You said those things?
To her horror, Sharon found herself stuttering. “N-n-n-no…R-r-r-Roland…”
“Are you mocking my sister, even now?”
“N-n-no…I didn’t know…
Roland’s face was dead white. “Get out Sharon, we are finished, done. You’re not the person I thought you were. The engagement is off.”
Sharon ran out of that glorious mansion she had thought to make her own, her dreams and hopes for the future in tatters. She had lost it all by exhibiting her own bad character and lack of empathy.
What can we learn from this story?
1. You can’t pretend to be something you’re not. Sharon had presented herself to Roland as a sensitive kind person, but under pressure, her real personality revealed itself.
. The truth will always come out. Lies and deceptions are fragile, no matter how elaborate. The truth will always come out at the worse possible moment