A summer cottage hides betrayal and shame.
| Lori sat and stared at the lake. It was very early and the misty dew from the previous night stagnated over the grass. Sipping her coffee, she watched as the birds gathered breakfast for their young. The deck of the cottage needed work. Its wooden rail had not seen a dab of stain in thirty years.
While she was deep in her thoughts, Lori was oblivious to her husband, Ray, opening the sliding glass door to join her. Sensing his presence, she turned and met the gaze of his green, pleading eyes with anger and apathy. Ray seemed at a loss. He wanted to do anything possible to take back what had happened a few hours before.
"I thought I told you to leave last night. Why are you still here?" Lori seethed.
"It was very late. I didn't want to drive over four hundred miles in the middle of the night." Ray said softly.
"Well, it's daylight now. There's nothing stopping you from leaving. This cottage belongs to me. You are no longer welcome."
Lori rose from her chair, walked past Ray, and reentered the cottage's family room. Looking at all the pictures on the fireplace's mantle, her heart ached for the past. The cottage was left to her by her grandmother. It was a member of the family. Its original wooden floors still were cold in the winter and warm in the summer. The vast kitchen was to the right. The appliances were updated ten years ago from the originals that were installed when the cottage was built in 1952. Refillling her mug, Lori began to sob uncontrollably.
Ray walked back into the cottage and proceeded to go upstairs to pack. The master bedroom was big for its day. The sleigh queen sized bed was hand made by Lori's grandfather. The mattress and box spring were changed over the years, but everything else in the room was just as it was when her grandparents first built the getaway. Ray viewed its contents and felt shame and disgust at himself. There was a quilt, handmade by Lori's great aunt Louise. It was the Wedding Ring pattern in pink and white. It was this quilt that brought the secret to exposure. What he did and the way Lori found out about it was the climax he never wanted to occur.
Carrying his suitcase, Ray descended the staircase and opened the cottage's heavy oak front door. No goodbyes, no kisses, no farewells, just immense and heavy silence and sadness. Hearing the door close, Lori felt empty. She walked to the picture window and watched as her husband drove away. Turning away, Lori started to amble back onto the deck. As she returned to the kitchen, the phone rang. Wiping away the tears, she answered it.
"Is Ray there?"
"No he isn't. May I ask who's calling?"
An abrupt click pierced Lori's ear. She clenched her teeth and held the receiver so tight that she almost broke it. The phone didn't have caller ID. She slammed it down on the cradle and screamed. After calming down slightly, Lori realized that she had no way of finding out who this woman was. It's not like she would have identified herself, but it was quite obvious that she was Ray's extracurricular activity.
Stomping over to the kitchen, Lori opened the cabinet under the sink to retrieve an extra large black garbage bag. Slamming the cabinet door, she raced upstairs and entered her bedroom. Walking over to the bed, she gently lifted the quilt and sobbed. This was a prized possession and it was violated. Placing the quilt on the bench by the bed, Lori proceeded to tear at the sheets and pillows. Throwing the pillows against the mirrored closet doors, she didn't care if they broke. Feeding her rage were the sheets that seemed to mock and stare at her. With adrenalin pumping, her fingers grabbed at them to dispose of them. At first, their grip wouldn't succumb to her strength, but soon they relented. Violently shaking the garbage bag open, Lori shoved the sheets in it. Next on her list were the pillows. Taking each one, their case was stripped and thrown in the bag. The stench from Ray's companion's perfume was nauseating to Lori. She also debrided the pillows of their protectors and threw them in the bag. The pillows themselves were thrown back on the bed. The bag was twisted closed and tossed down the stairway.
Returning to the quilt, Lori cradled it and carried it to the basement. Putting it in the wash tub, she thoroughly inspected it to see if there were any other stains or deformities. Treating the stains that were visible made the quilt look like new again. To Lori, this quilt held precious memories. Since she had no children, it represented a child that had been raped. She needed to soothe and care for it. It took well over an hour to hand wash it. After the final rinse, it was hung on an outside clothes line. Lori wanted to smell the fresh air instead of cheap perfume.
While the quilt was drying, Lori returned to the kitchen. Opening her purse, she grabbed her keys and took them and the garbage bag to her car. Opening the trunk the bag was thrown in it and the lid was slammed shut. It would be Lori's intention to give Ray one last "gift".