|Early morning was the best time of day. For most of their 47 years together, Alden and Frances had arisen with pastel streaks painting the eastern sky in spring and summer, or in the chill darkness of autumn and winter. They would sit in quiet conversation as the warm aroma of fresh coffee slowly filled their kitchen.
Summer was the best season. Their vacation cottage nestled among silent redwoods reaching toward cotton clouds, with the silent lake, glass smooth, a short walk away. This particular morning, Alden said to Frances, seemed perfect for a swim. “I think I’ll just sit here on the deck,” said Frances, as they emerged from the sliding door into the crisp air.
“A perfect morning for it,” Alden answered. Then he turned back toward the door.
“Did you forget something?” Frances asked.
“I’ll just be a moment,” Alden answered. He walked through the kitchen to the small closet near the cabin’s front door, found his jacket, reached into a pocket, and extracted two envelopes, one stamped with the insignia of the Ridgewood Regional Cancer Center, the other inscribed “Frances” in his own wavering handwriting, encircled with a heart. He returned to the kitchen, placed both envelopes on the table next to the coffee pot, and walked back out through the sliding deck door. As he passed Frances, he gently passed his hand across her shoulder.
Frances looked up. “Have a peaceful swim,” she smiled.
“I will,” he answered.
As he reached the lake, a loon sent a familiar echoing cry across the quiet surface of the water. Alden smiled. “Hello, Georgie,” he called softly. “Nice to hear you again.”
Alden entered the water and stroked carefully to the middle of the lake. Bubbles broke the surface with soft plops as he went down.
(Word count: 298)