Chartan, eyes closed with arms extended over his head, took a deep breath to fill his lungs with crisp, fall air. He was standing under a coastal oak by the edge of the river. He dropped his arms slowly as he exhaled. It was a glorious moment for him—for the first time in two days, he was alone. Gina was at work. Skyler and Julie were off on a road trip to the mountains. He was scheduled to drive Minerva to San Francisco tomorrow morning. For now, he was…free. No more weddings. No more…what is that I am free of? Gina? Isn’t it wrong to have even a fleeting thought about the…demands of a commitment to someone else? Skyler’s details have come to roost. How is marriage any different than taking responsibility to drive a person safely 200 miles for a fee needed to pay my, no, our bills? Is it that I don’t want to do any of this: to drive…to love?
He clenched his fists. His face contorted and turned red as he screamed silently in desperation to will away the thoughts that had invaded his moment of peace.
When Gina returned to the apartment, she stopped in the doorway, struck by the large vase of flowers that took up half of their kitchen table. She picked up the slip of paper at the table’s edge: Gina, I love you more than ever—CC. Tears came to her eyes. A few minutes ago with her hand on the outside door knob, she hoped Chartan wouldn’t be inside—she needed time to think.
“They’re beautiful,” she said to her husband of two months as he entered the room. They kissed for a time before going to the bedroom.
To be continued next Sunday…