The View from Alameda Island - Robyn Carr


Today was Lauren Delaney’s twenty-fourth wedding anniversary and there wouldn’t be a twenty-fifth. To many it appeared Lauren had a perfect life but the truth was something she kept to herself. She had just been to see her lawyer and now she needed a little time to think. She headed for one of her favorite places. She needed the solace of a beautiful garden.

Divine Redeemer Catholic Church was an old church that had survived all of the earthquakes since the big one—the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Lauren had only been inside the building a couple of times, but never for mass. Her mother had been Catholic, but she hadn’t been active. The church had a beautiful garden where parishioners often walked and there were several benches where you could sit and pray or meditate. Lauren was on her way home to Mill Valley from her job at Merriweather Foods and she stopped there, something she did frequently. There were no brochures explaining the genesis of the garden or even the fact that the church sat on such a generous plot of land for Northern California, but she’d happened upon an old priest once and he’d told her one of the priests in the early 1900s was a fanatic about growing things. Even though he’d been dead for decades, the church kept the garden going. They even preserved a large garden behind the beautiful flowers for fruits and vegetables, which they donated to food banks or used to feed hungry people in poorer parishes.

Divine Redeemer’s parish just outside of Mill Valley, California, didn’t have many hungry people. It was an upper-class area. It was where she lived.

She was very well off. Richer than she’d ever imagined by her family’s standards, yet her husband ranted about his low pay. He was a prosperous surgeon raking in over a million a year but he didn’t have a yacht or a plane, which irked him. He spent a great deal of time managing and complaining about his finances.

She would be leaving him as soon as she could finalize the details. She had spent an hour with her attorney, Erica Slade, today. Erica had asked, “So, is this going to be it, Lauren?”

“The marriage was over many years ago,” Lauren said. “All that’s left is for me to tell him I’m leaving. I’m getting my ducks in a row.”

They would be spending the evening at a charity auction and dinner. For that she was so grateful. There would be no staring at each other over a starched white tablecloth searching for things to say, no watching Brad check his phone and text all through the meal. As he was fond of reminding her, he was an important man. He was in demand. She was nothing.

If she ever received a call or text, it was from one of her daughters or her sister. But if they knew she was out, they wouldn’t expect a response. Except maybe her eldest daughter, Lacey. She had inherited her father’s lack of boundaries and sense of entitlement—it was all about her. Her younger daughter, Cassie, had, perhaps unfortunately, inherited Lauren’s cautious and reticent nature. Lauren and Cassie didn’t like conflict, didn’t step on toes.

“When are you going to stand up for yourself, Lauren?” Brad had been known to say to her. “You’re so spineless.” Of course, he meant she should stand up to anyone but him.

Oh, wouldn’t Brad be surprised when she finally did. And he’d be angry. She knew people would inevitably ask, Why now? After twenty-four years? Because it had been twenty-four hard years. It had been hard since the beginning. Not every minute of it, of course. But overall, her marriage to Brad had never been a good situation. She spent the first several years thinking she could somehow make it better, the next several years thinking she probably didn’t have it so bad since he was only emotionally and verbally abusive, and the last ten years thinking she couldn’t wait to escape once her daughters were safely raised. Because, the truth was he was only going to get more cantankerous and abusive with age.

The first time she’d seriously considered leaving him, the girls were small. “I’ll get custody,” he said. “I’ll fight for it. I’ll prove you’re unfit. I have the money to do it, you don’t.” She’d almost done it when the girls were in junior high. He’d been unfaithful and she was sure it hadn’t been the first time he’d strayed, just the