That Wasn't What She Had In Mind
An unhappy toddler seeks a solution.
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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: August 25, 2021      Views: 72
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I've had some interesting years on this big blue dot in the solar system. Syracuse area for the past twenty years. Twelve years in Texas. Married for twenty six years. Five children and two grandchildren.

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Chapter 7 of the book Leave of Absence
Cole's estranged wife makes a surprise visit.
"Letters and Lies" by forestport12

Luke Cole gets divorce papers and a leave of absence in one day. His life spirals out of control leaving him hiding as a recluse in a wooded cabin until his wife's unexpected visit gives a new start

Sharon was the last person he expected to hear and see coming up the logging road just as the sun was getting in his eyes from the loft. Her silver Subaru made noise with all the dips and dives until the car rested near his Wrangler. He dug the sleep from his eyes and saw Bugsy his bulldog in the passenger seat!

Luke sprang from bed and pulled his pants on. His shirt smelled, so he threw it across the floor. He found his under arm deodorant and a stick of spearmint chewing gum. He looked at the dresser mirror for the first time in a week. His hair was a nest, his beard a bush. His heart rapt like a speed bag in his chest. What could she want?

He grabbed his heart, as if it would beat out of his chest.

Luke stumbled down the loft. The sun penetrated near the door, like a dramatic spotlight. Stardust lit the scene between him and the door.

He pulled the door open, and Sharon almost fell into him. Bugsy raced underneath and found his master.

It's been so long since they'd said anything of substance, they both stumbled toward each other, and neither could find words to fill the void. Bugsy helped to ease the tension where Luke dropped to the floor and allowed his dog to lick the sweat from his face and tame his beard.

Sharon stood with a box in her hand. She found the table in the kitchen area, since there were no doors on the floor it was easy to find it and set it down. She stood in the shadows. The sunlight unable to reach her. As Luke played with Bugsy, she turned and watched as if what she had to say was so heavy, it would put a hole in the floor

Luke spoke from his crouch. "Thanks for bringing Bugsy. I miss you both."

Sharon looked away, as if afraid to make eye contact. Then she turned to look at the mess in the kitchen. She put an apron on and started cleaning some dishes. You could hear the water pump turn on, as she sprayed and washed. Luke stalked closer. He was curious about the box. But he assumed it was just some food. He walked over and looked into the box. There were a few basic items, bread, canned goods. But there was a stack of letters too. He pulled the stack out and placed it on the table. "What's with these."

Sharon didn't have to turn around. "Please don't open those until I leave. I didn't come to stay. But when I leave it's important for you to read through them, exactly as I arranged them so you will know the story.

Luke was dumbfounded. "Story? What story. I don't understand. Does this have anything to do with the divorce?"

"No," She said. She stopped and craned her neck to look at him. Since she was closer to the window by the sink, he could see she had bags under her eyes. Obviously she hadn't been sleeping. She had on white shorts and sandals. He looked her up and down. He couldn't hide his sex starved eyes, since it had been months since they'd made love. He wanted her, but only if she still wanted him. As he stepped closer, he could see she'd been crying. He thought to himself, maybe she has a soul after all, maybe the dam of her emotions finally broke. She turned and continued wiping down plates. "I can make breakfast before I go."

Luke had to ask. He had to get it out of the way. "Are the police looking for me? Did Hodges press charges?"

Luke knew her without seeing her face in that moment, he could feel her smile. It was that thin smile when they both knew they had one up on someone. Nothing like having Luke's neighbor help them have a moment together. It was her way of breaking the cold draft between them. He wanted draw closer, wrap his arms around her like he used to. But he thought better of it. He was just thankful they could talk for now.

She stopped and explained. "I begged Hodges not to press charges. I told him you were gone for good. I suspect he went down to the station. Then I got a visit. They did ask me if I knew where you were..."

Luke couldn't help himself, placing his hands on her shoulders. She turned and looked at him with wet eyes. "I told them I didn't know. I never told them about my father's camp. The investigator knew you, like most everyone. He didn't seem all that anxious to find you. But I imagine you're in the system, should you get pulled over."

Luke felt the sting of tears in his eyes. "I've really screwed up your life. You don't want to move. Now I've made things harder for you. I meant that I wouldn't bother you after that other night."

Sharon fought her own tears. "I've done the worst thing to you. I'm the one who lives with the guilt of what I've done to you. It''s too late for us, but maybe not for you."

A cold chill ran through him. His heart fisted inside. "I don't get it. You're talking in riddles." He never once imagined she cheated on him, but he couldn't blame her if she did. He grabbed her arms and looked into the stormy sea of her eyes. "I deserve whatever you did."

"Not this," She said. It's not what you think. It''s not an affair.

Sharon placed her wet hands on his warm face. They locked into an embrace. Luke's body shivered inside to feel her warmth and the tears from her face. He kissed her deep, and she willingly accepted his advances as someone who could not hide the need for intimacy any longer. In that moment their differences dissolved, as their only daughter looked on from the mantel over the fireplace.

Luke took it to the next level. He swept Sharon off her feet where her sandals fell from her feet. He carried her up the stairs to the loft. Bugsy tried to insert himself in between until he gave up and looked on with curiosity in his mug face. Then he went to a respective corner.

They took turns ripping each other's cloths off, as if they noticed each other for the first time, as if it was their wedding night. They were like wounded animals, married, but trying to figure out how make love all over again, as the frozen ground of their relationship thawed where it risked a flood of emotions. Luke threw pillowcase over Bugsy who modestly retreated while his wife climbed on top of him where a ray of sun beamed over the two of them from the shade-less window.


After the lovemaking, Luke fell asleep. Then he awakened to the smell of bacon and eggs on a skillet. It drove him down the open stairs in the loft where he sat at the table in his shorts looking over the letters where he noticed the return address from someplace in Buffalo, NY... As he separated some of them like a deck of cards, he noticed they were all from the same address. The one difference was a handwritten note from his wife on top.

"Don't read them yet. I'm leaving soon." She'd gotten dressed, even had her sandals on. Sharon spun around with a plate.

Luke used his fingers for a comb and tried to untangle the knots of his hair. "You're not staying?"

"I can't...I can't be here when you read the letters." She almost tripped into the table but managed to give him his plate of food.

Luke reached out to her, but she backed away. "I've done something that I deserve to burn in hell for, something worse than cheating. I've cheated you out of a second chance for a family. I ruined what would have given you a fresh start."

Luke didn't know what to say. His mouth dropped. Eyes widened. He watched as she gathered her keys and purse, darting out the door. She left Bugsy behind. The family dog was eating leftovers from a cereal bowl.

Luke knew better. He didn't try to stop her. As he heard the wind up of the screen door and it slap back against the wood frame, it dawned on him that maybe their marriage really was over. But why all the mystery over a bunch of letters. He knew she'd suffered over the years, and they both had a hard time losing their only daughter. But nothing in the day made any sense, as he opened Sharon's envelop and read her letter first-like he promised he would do.

Dear Luke,

My grief over the loss of our daughter caused me to do something I should never have done. The letters are from high school sweetheart. She's been trying to contact with you over the last several months. She's even called the house a few times when you worked. After reading the letters you will know what needs to be done. I pray it's not too late. I don't expect to be forgiven.

Luke opened the first letter. A picture fell out on the table, a polaroid. It was a baby girl dressed in pink on her back in a crib, smiling at her big world. His heart was in his throat. Then he held his breath. The caption under the polaroid said, her name was Christine. But the last name in permanent ink said Cole.

Luke feared he was having a heart attack. He doubled over and fell to the floor. Bugsy, his dog came to the rescue and nestled his way underneath him. Luke looked up into the light streaming in. He finally remembered to breath.

Luke said the words out loud. "I have another daughter." He said it again. "I have another daughter."

The book continues with A Hidden Life. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.
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