Image - Charles Rondeau / PD
Story by Judy Winters

Michelle had always considered herself a lucky woman. She was married into a wealthy and highly respected family. She had two wonderful kids and a husband who loved her dearly. Her favorite hobby was gardening. She actually owned a flower shop, located not too far away from her house.

Yet, there were significant cracks in Michelle’s perfect life. Her husband was a businessman who often left home for long business trips. Rumors had been circulating that he was having an affair with a flight attendant. Despite the rumors, Michelle had complete confidence in her husband’s faithfulness since they had gone through so much together.

On a trip to the mall, Michelle ran into Jennifer – an old friend from college who recently moved into town. Their friendship quickly rekindled and they became the best of friends. It was through Jennifer that Michelle had her first casino experience, though the event was pretty forgettable.

When Michelle’s mother-in-law celebrated her 60th birthday, she threw a birthday bash inviting relatives and friends to attend. Michelle was not invited to the party however. Michelle and her mother-in-law had always had a tumultuous relationship. As a matter of fact, the old lady had never publicly recognized Michelle as her daughter-in-law. But since her husband insisted she should attend the party, Michelle reluctantly agreed.

The decision turned out to be a grave mistake. Most people at the party showed an apparent aversion toward her. No one would talk to her or would even acknowledge her existence. She felt like an outsider. Meanwhile, her mother-in-law was busy introducing her son to some of her young female friends. Nothing could be more obvious.

After the birthday party, Michelle suffered an acute depression. Sadly, her husband had to leave home for another business trip and thus was unable to console her. Michelle was confined to her large but empty home – lonely and depressed. Fortunately, her good friend Jennifer was there for her. Michelle was able to confide to her friend her deepest feelings and frustrations. To help relieve Michelle from her problems, Jennifer would again take her to the casino. Unlike the first time, Michelle felt much more comfortable this time around. The casino would eventually become her second home.

At first, Michelle actually won quite a bit of money. It would go downhill from there, however. She soon exhausted all her funds and savings. To pay for her debts, Michelle was forced to mortgage both her car and the flower shop. Soon, she had to sell off her jewelries.

At first, her husband did not suspect her of having a serious gambling addiction. But it would become obvious over time. When Michelle’s husband confronted her with regards to her gambling, she pleaded him for forgiveness and promised to stop gambling. Her husband took her at her words; he even settled all her debts.

For a few months, it appeared as though Michelle had finally learned her lesson. She became a mother to her kids again and her flower shop thrived. But on one fateful afternoon, Michelle abruptly left home after receiving a phone call from Jennifer. After not hearing from her for several hours, Michelle’s husband and her two kids were getting really worried. They contacted the police and stayed up late to wait for any news of her.

At around 6 AM, there was a sound at the door. Entering was Michelle. Upon seeing her, her husband did not say a word. Her tired appearance had already betrayed her. The couple would divorce a month later. The husband sold the house and gave Michelle haft of the money.

Has she finally learned her lesson? Michelle was last seen in a hospital recuperating from fatigue, resulted from countless hours gambling in the casino. Apparently, she continued to gamble long after the divorce.


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