Late Summer/ Early Fall
As the clock went off at 6:45 a.m., Chelsea hit the snooze button for fifteen 15 more minutes of sleep before venturing out into the nippy September air of the cottage. She had been renting the cottage for the two months, since she arrived in Wellspring with only herself and a suitcase of clothes and particulars. She had returned to Connecticut only once since she moved, to pick up some furniture and hire a moving company to handle the rest of the house.
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy…blasted from the small black Sony alarm clock. 7 o’clock. Time to get out of bed and get ready. She turned off the song and headed for the kitchen. The cottage was filled with the aroma of the coffee that the coffee machine automatically brewed. “Thank God for automatic timers,” she said as she poured a cup.
Chelsea decided to check her email as she drank her coffee. She hadn’t signed into her email in about two weeks, and even though she didn’t want to see the barrage of emails from everyone in her life, she knew she had to check it. She knew the emails would be painful to look at, but she also knew that by not answering her phone those closest to her would have emailed her. What better day then than today to check them since she did have a few extra minutes and she was kind of curious about why her mother had called seven times in the last two days (a bit compulsive even for her). She had hoped for complete solitude and removal from her previous life, but; it was impossible. Her stomach hurt. Three hundred and ten new messages! Most of them were spam. She looked through them hoping not to see the one email address that she didn’t want to see. Her blood pressure rose and the pain in her stomach manifested into full on nausea. There they were. Five emails from Sean (all with the same subject line: Please read). Every time Chelsea saw his name pop up in her email it was a constant reminder of the pain that he caused. Didn’t he do enough already? Why must he continually bother me? Chelsea sat at the computer stunned like a victim of a preying mantis. She couldn’t quite figure out why he needed to talk to her so bad. He barely spoke a few words when she caught him. She had only read sporadic emails that he sent her throughout the last two months when she finally moved away from Connecticut. Should I open them? Maybe they won’t be like the others. No, I’m sure they are filled with the typical Sean apology and then the ultimate, “it was part your fault too” line. How is it my fault that he cheated? He blames me for being distant, but he was distant, too. He wouldn’t talk, he wouldn’t help, and it was like he blamed me for losing the baby… But there are five of them, maybe they are important. Before she realized it, her hand was clicking on the most recent of his emails.
Subject: Please Read
Date: Friday, August 22, 2008
Can you please return my emails? I can’t get a hold of you on the phone. I’ve been calling your mother since you changed your number. I think we really need to discuss what happened. I hope you know that I didn’t plan on it happening, it just did. You got so distant that I felt alone and I guess Laura happened to be there to help. I really want to talk to you about all of this. You never really gave me a chance. You left and put up a wall. I hope that you will be able to forgive me one day. I never meant to hurt you; you know I loved you very much. I wish we could have worked it out, I really do. Please just give me a chance to apologize. I’ve been permanently transferred to the Boston office, so I have left my new address with your lawyer.
Before Chelsea realized it, she was crying. The pain and heartbreak of finding out that the man you loved had cheated on you for three months flooded back. Sean was the only man Chelsea thought she wanted to be with. They had met just after Chelsea graduated from UCONN. He was there while she went through her Master’s program, her first job as a freelance journalist and eventually when she got her big break as a writer. Sean was her everything and it devastated her that he could cheat so easily. Even though she walked out, she still loved him. She wiped the tears from her checks, which were red with heat, and looked at the other emails. I don’t have time to deal with the emotional roller coaster Sean puts me through.
Looking at the emails, Chelsea deleted the spam. The remaining emails consisted of two from her lawyer, two from her publisher, one from her mother and one from her Realtor in Wellspring. She opened the one from her mother first, dated a week ago.
Date: August 31, 2008
WHY AREN’T YOU RETURNING MY EMAILS??? Are you okay? I am worried about you. You haven’t let me know how you settled in. Will you just respond or call my cell. ? Sean has been calling me non-stop for the last two weeks. Chelsea, maybe you need to talk to someone, it could help? Gotta go.
Jesus! Can’t she stop with her insistence on me talking to someone. I’ll be fine. Chelsea hit the reply button.
Date: September 5, 2009
I’m fine. I’ve settled in perfectly fine as can be expected. The cottage is small, but nice. Big enough for lonely ole me. I see that he’s been calling you, and please tell him to stop as if I wanted to talk to him, I would. He can talk to Jack. No time to chat, I’ve gotta go to work. I will call you and daddy Daddy later.
There that should keep her off my back for about oh… five minutes, Chelsea thought sarcastically as she continued to the next two emails from her publisher asking her when they were going to receive the preliminary outline for her new book. “How about in another year,” she said, yet acknowledging that she needed to finish it. Delete and delete. Ah, now to see the news from her lawyer, Jack.
Subject: You’ve gone missing!
Date: September 2, 2008
Why is it that I can’t get a hold of you? The house has a potential buyer and Sean and his lawyer are ready to discuss a settlement in regard to the divorce. You need to call me. They want to meet next week, so you will need to journey back to Connecticut.
Attorney at Law
Yeah. Wonderful. Another trip back to the wonderful state of Connecticut, the state of perpetual heartbreak. Just what I want to do! She hit the reply button.
Subject: RE: You’ve gone missing!
Date: September 5, 2008
Thank you for your invitation back to Connecticut. I am obliged to return so that we I can finally get the cheating bastard out of my life. Please let me know when they want to meet. I am unavailable next week. Can you tell him to stop harassing my inbox ? I can’t take anymore sporadic break downs? Tell Janet I said hello.
Jack was not only Chelsea’s lawyer, but also a long-time friend. It was only natural that he would understand her pain and sarcasm. Chelsea met Jack when they were in high school. They worked together on the school newspaper. The two of them remained good friends through college, keeping in touch sporadically as life always seemed to get in the way. Many friends and family thought that the two of them would have ended up married, but they always had more of a sibling relationship than anything else.
Chelsea looked at the clock. 8:15 a.m. “Shit! I better get myself going,” she mumbled as she finished her coffee and tossed her mug into the sink on her way to the shower.
Dressed in Capri pants, an oversized sweater and strappy sandals, Chelsea began her morning walk to work by the bay into town. It was a dreary September morning. The sky had a gray overcast, and the path was quiet. During the height of the summer, it was usually filled with bikers and families taking a walk into town. The bay was at low tide, and she could see the bottom of the marsh as she crossed over Uncle John’s Bridge. She looked at all the crabs scurrying along without any care in the world. They were so peaceful and content just hanging out until the high tide forced them back into their holes. Chelsea wanted to be as free as the crabs again; having gone through what she did in the last six months had left her a little cold to life, to men, and to any relationships in general. Deep down she knew the defensive front that she put on wouldn’t help her; it would only make her seem like a bitch.
A familiar song resonated from her cell as she began up the hill to the bookstore. “Good Morning, Marianne! I know, I know, I am right around the corner,” Chelsea answered without allowing her friend to say anything first.
“Chelsea, can you stop at Mama Jama and get me a kiwi and banana smoothie?”
“You want me to stop and get what? You never…”
Interrupting Chelsea, the voice on the other end continued, “Don’t fight with me, just please pick one up. It’s for a friend of mine. He’s supposed to meet me at the store, but I’m running late.”
“Ok, ok. I won’t fight with you; one kiwi and banana smoothie coming up. See you shortly.” she She clicked shut her cell phone and headed toward Mama Jama Smoothies, just south of where she was.
Mama Jama was the local juice shop. During tourist season it was always busy with bikers and health nuts requesting their buckwheat smoothies; you could hardly order a regular drink without getting a dirty look. Chelsea ordered Marianne’s drink and got a berry smoothie and crumb cake for herself…again dodging the “you’re getting what?” glances. Chelsea knew she should have grabbed a fruit cup or something healthier than the crumb cake, but who the hell was she trying to impress?
Chelsea arrived at the quaint bookstore about 8:45 and to her surprise Marianne was not there. She fumbled with her purse and the purchases from Mama Jama as she looked for her keys to open the store. “Jesus Christ! Where the hell are my keys…?”
“Do you need help?” a male voice asked coming from what seemed like nowhere. Chelsea turned around startled almost losing all the contents in her hands. Where the hell did he come from? I didn’t see anyone when I walked up. Maybe I just didn’t see him?
“Who are you and where did you come from?” She was attempting to balance the contents in her hands.
“Brian Mackenzie. I am supposed to meet Marianne here, but she called and said she was running late.”
“Well, I guess that explains her strange request. Here, apparently this is yours,” she responded with a slight annoyance in her voice as she handed him the drink. “Do you mind holding the rest of the stuff, so I can open the door?”
She handed her smoothie and breakfast to him without waiting for an answer and quickly unlocked the door and headed inside. Placing her purse behind the counter, Chelsea addressed the man without trying to make eye contact with him. “She should be here shortly. If you want you can have a seat on the sofa.”