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A Letter From Home
By Robin Bayne
Monday, July 14, 2003
A woman contemplating divorce spends a pivotal weekend with her husband at a historical Bed and Breakfast. There, she discovers century old letters written by a woman who was also experiencing problems in her marriage.
She was sweating already. Sara fanned her face with one hand and lifted the hair from her neck with the other. The smell of auto exhaust drifted in from the front of the house, where a narrow road funneled traffic through the small town. She pulled her knit top away from her skin, willing a breeze to rip through her small room at the inn. Why had the air conditioning decided to break this weekend, of all times? Just your luck, Sara, she told herself.
And how was she ever going to leave Matt? But how could she stay?
With a sigh she closed the upper drawer of her night stand, having found the pen and paper she needed. Her announcement hadn’t gone well. Of course, she couldn’t simply write her husband a letter to better explain why she was leaving. That would be cowardly. Anyway, if she couldn’t put the words together verbally, face-to-face, there was no way she could actually get them down on paper. Besides, they’d been married too many years for that.
Sara walked to the window, pushed aside the fluttering lace crutains, thinking they looked old enough to have been hanging here during the Civil War. Their pure white color defied that idea, though the inn’s owner, Lauren Abbott, said the two-story brick house had been built around 1850, and had seen a mass of soldiers pass through its arched doorway. Luckily, it still stood.
As she watched the parking lot, Sara saw her husband of nine years remove bags from their SUV. He was such a large man, but not clumsy, and still as handsome as when they’d met, she realized, observing him from her vantage point. His body hadn’t softened over the years, probably due to the long hours he put in to his construction company which his father had left him. It had been a struggle to keep the business afloat over the past few years, and Sara appreciated how hard Matt had worked. At least, at first. Then it got worse.
Almost obsessed with it, he was.
And Sara had had enough. Her husband couldn’t even take the time to spend a romantic evening with her, let alone the sort of quality time required to make a baby.
A knock sounded on the partially open door, and Sara turned to find her hostess there. Slim and attractive, Lauren carried herself well, and seemed sort of old-fashioned. Even the fragrance the woman wore seemed quaint-- a citrusy lemon scent. Sara could almost believe Lauren had run the place since it was built.
Now she smiled at Sara. “Everything okay in here?” Lauren moved to the opposite window and opened it wider. A tiny stream of air snaked into the room.
“It’s great, thank you.”
“If you need anything at all, any last minute item, anything for your brother-in-law’s wedding, just yell.”
“Thank you,” Matt said, entering the room with two suitcases and Sara’s bookbag. He sat them in one corner and looked at Lauren.
Sara’s heart sank at the way he looked the woman over. Or was she feeling guilty at her own thoughts and imagining it?
“Well, I’ll leave you two to settle in. By the way, this is the room my great, great, great grandmother Sarah first occupied. We have a few of her things around the inn.” She grinned larger. “Continental breakfast at eight a.m.” The inn-keeper disappeared, and for a moment Sara wished she could go with her. Again, she felt like a coward.
Matt locked the door, sealing them in. Or Lauren out, Sara didn’t know which. “Okay, Sara,” he bgan, taking a deep breath and running a hand through his dark hair. “Let’s do out best for Tom and Patti this weekend. We promised to stand up for them long before you dropped your little bomb.” He flopped on the bed, laid back on the king sized pillows and kicked of his shoes. The springs groaned under his weight.
“Of course we will. I love your brother and fiancé, I’d never let them down.”
The look Matt threw her clearly showed that Sara was letting him down.
“Matt.” She wanted to say he’d been doing it to her, letting her down, for years. Since his father died.
“Yeah?” He’d closed his eyes and folded his hands over his chest, almost like a corpse.
Sara smelled his cologne wafting up in the humid air. “We could try counseling. It might help you--”
“Help me what?”
“I was going to say, help you understand why I’m unhappy.”
He opened his eyes, and they glittered with shards of pain. “No way. I love you, Sara. I don’t need some quack’s advice on that. But if you want to go see why you’re so unhappy, by all means, go.”
She shook her head, turning back to the window, running one hand up and down the smooth wood framing. Clouds were gathering in the sky, as though a summer storm was on its way. Great. She had thunderclouds both in and out of her room now.
“Why don’t you just say you’ll stay with me, even after this weekend?” He sighed. “Where you belong?”
Sara felt the tears welling in her eyes. That was just the problem. She didn’t know where she belonged anymore.
Site: MountainView Short Stories
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