Being inspired, maybe – 46

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

"So you thought coming to an out of season resort was a good idea?"

"It fitted our budget.  You said you needed to get away, it was the best I could do under the circumstances."

I remembered that conversation, and the stark phrase that stood out, 'get me away from this place, now, before something bad happens'.

I hadn't understood what she had meant by that, not then, but the morning we left, a text message had arrived on her phone when she had gone to the bathroom, and not normally the sort of person who would snoop, for some reason that morning I did.

"You can't just leave.  It's not an option.  Call me or there will be consequences."

Gillian had been getting more and more irritated over the preceding two weeks, and I put it down to a looming deadline at her workplace for an advertising campaign that would, as she had described it, make or break her career.

As far as I was aware, it had been an enormous success.  Now, considering the message, I had begun to have doubts.

She stood on the front porch and stared at the frozen lake and the icy trees with disdain, rugged up to greet the cold.

And it was cold, very cold, sub-zero temperatures had been predicted, and it was about minus four now.

Time to metaphorically dive in.

"Want to tell me what's going on?"

I was leaning in the doorway, looking at the same scenery, but obviously seeing it differently.  To me, we were in the middle of a winter wonderland.  I had hoped the starkness of the p[lace would draw us back together.

Perhaps I was wrong.

"What do you mean?"

"How did the campaign go, really?"

"I told you."  The expression on her face told me that was where the discussion should end. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't taking hints today.

"A bare-faced lie, I expect.  You've been on the edge of something for the last few weeks, and I suspect it's got something to do with your job.  Instead of brooding, do you think it might have been a good idea to talk to me?"

"What would you know?"

That old argument was about to rear its ugly head, the 'four degree' genius versus the trade school dropout who was a janitor.  It had been a stumbling block for her family, but at the time, she didn't have a problem with my occupation of choice.

"Very little apparently, but I can read text messages.  That one yesterday morning before we left, leaving your job, or leaving your boss?"

Something else I had suspected, and for quite some time, preferring to believe that she would not, despite the apparent chemistry between them, and her flirty nature, that she was having an affair with her boss at the agency.

If it was true, I had hoped it might be just a passing phase, believing that she would never leave me for him, but, after the last few weeks, I wasn't so sure.

The look on her face drove a dagger deep into my heart.

"Both.  I made a mistake."

"Marrying me?  Coming here?"

I could feel the knife twisting.

"You would think, considering how smart I think I am, I wouldn't be a sucker.  He used me, knowing that we were never going to get the contract no matter how hard I tried, to pass the blame squarely on my shoulders.  I got fired, Jack, and he has the temerity to think I still care about him."

"Do you?"

"Would I be here, with you, in this appalling place if I did?  I don't think I ever cared that much, it was more the idea of soaring with eagles, a myth he sold me, and probably countless other starry-eyed advertising executives."  She shrugged in an offhand manner, what she used to do when faced with a difficult decision.  "So, with no pressing need to be anywhere else, and if you can get over the fact you have a lying, cheating wife who really doesn't deserve you, tell me what I have to do to fix the mess I've made of my life."

A frank and honest admission of her guilt was enough for me, but I wasn't going to let her off that easily.

"I hear you can go for a swim in the lake.  If you're up to it."

© Charles Heath 2019


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