The calm of the lake clashed with the turmoil vexing his mind. An hour earlier his life, a very ordinary life, made sense. Now, up was down and what he knew seemed truly little. The breeze picked up and with it came a physical uneasiness for him. What do I do now?
“Here you go.” He turned towards the female voice. It was his girlfriend of three years. But for how much longer? She handed him a beer. Alcohol was one thing he needed at that moment. That and clarity. “Isn’t it so beautiful up here?” She leaned against the railing of the dock and tipped back her own bottle. It would probably be best if she didn’t have any alcohol.
He focused in on her perfectly painted lips. He once found them sexy and attractive. But after reading the text and seeing the image, her lips were ruined for him. Did that man enjoy her lips as much as he once did?
The sun descended in silence. He could feel her concern growing. Finally, she spoke.
“You’re quiet.” She slipped her arm around his waist. It took incredible strength for him not to recoil from her touch.
“Just lost in my thoughts, I guess.”
“You guess? You seem pretty sure to me.”
She was not wrong but was he ready to share his apprehension? No…
“Anyway, I was talking to the neighbors earlier and they said this cabin is coming up for sale. I was thinking we could buy it for a weekend getaway and even rent it out to help cover the mortgage.”
His eyebrows arched in response. Really? A mortgage with you?
“That’s a big step,” he noted and took a long swig of beer.
“Is it? You already have a mortgage on the house,” she countered. That’s right. The mortgage is just in my name… “If we rented this place out, the mortgage would pay for itself. It would save us money.” Us?
“I’m not ready to decide on a second mortgage at this moment.” She slid her arm back around his waist and leaned against him.
“And you could finally get a boat,” she added. “And the dogs could swim all they want and we could host a big 4th of July bash. The boat club puts on an amazing fireworks show.”
The image, texted to him by a colleague, flashed in his mind. Besides the kiss, there had been a body of water and a flash of light. You were on call last 4th of July, but she went out of town…
His stomach roiled and he took a deep, centering breath. Instead of the fresh, clean air, he smelled the sickening sent of her pungent perfume with a hint of dead fish. Laughter from the cabin next door peppered the air. Are they laughing at me? Do they know? Did they see?
“We can talk to the real estate agent, that won’t hurt, will it?” she suggested with a squeeze.
“Won’t it?” he countered and took a sidestep away from her.
“Of course it won’t, silly.” She pulled her cell phone out and sidled back up to him. “Let’s sake a selfie to commemorate this moment. Smile!”
He smiled but it lacked any veracity.