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Chapter One: Charlotte

As Charlotte stirred her non-fat, skim latte and stared off into the horizon from the water’s edge, she knew she had to come clean. She couldn’t keep her secret any longer, and people were starting to whisper all over town. Summer was here, the season she waited for all year, and she certainly didn’t want it spoiled by a nasty rumor. Well, or so she had said it was…until now.

“It’s true,” Charlotte said, picking at the fringe on the side of her Espadrille wedge. She and Sadie sat on Adirondack chairs at the back of Landfall, a favorite spot for Woods Hole locals to congregate on a sunny day with fresh-squeezed grapefruit cocktails and views clear to Martha’s Vineyard.

images  “I knew it!” Sadie exclaimed. “You are such a good liar! But I totally knew. I could see it all over your face.” Charlotte actually wasn’t a good liar at all. In fact, she was the worst liar in the book. She was like “The Anti-Pinocchio,” or so Sadie labeled her. Sadie and Charlotte had been friends since childhood in Woods Hole. They met at summer camp at The Children’s School of Science in Seashore Life at the age of seven, collecting snails and painting their shells with pink nail polish as part of a study on snail congregation patterns. But instead of painting the snails, Charlotte and Sadie chose to sneak off behind the jetty on Stoney Beach, onto the private side, and paint their toenails pink instead. They’d been best friends ever since.
  “I hate myself,” Charlotte said. “John will never forgive me.”
“You’re right about that,” Sadie replied. She didn’t mince words, something Charlotte, at other times, appreciated. She was a straight-shooter, no BS, unlike some others in their friend group.
“Just say it. I need to hear you say it out loud,” Sadie cajoled, swilling the fruit juice around her mouth.
“I did it. I slept with Ben. The night of the art center gala.”
The words sliding out of her mouth, like a pent-up dam bursting, landed right in the pit of Charlotte’s stomach. It may not be a good summer after all, she thought.
But maybe she was wrong.

 

 

Thoughts

Free Association Post-Holiday

I can’t believe tomorrow is Wednesday. It better not be sunny today when I’m back at work. I wonder why I didn’t like not working. I need to sort that laundry decorating my chairs. Seriously, where do all those socks go? Today is a new day, and that’s just water weight on the scale, or too much coffee this morning. Should I have gotten the two lane Slip and Slide, instead of the one lane? It seems sort of narrow. I need to mow the lawn again. Should I look into hiring a landscaper again? I wonder if seltzer water is having deleterious effects on my esophagus, which feels sore, even though I’m not sick. Am I getting sick? Maybe I will google “permanent sore throat” and see what comes up. I didn’t need another glass of pinot grigio. Can I stop beating myself up? No, I can’t. The babysitter should be reminded to come today, since the days are all mixed up after a long weekend. There are only a few weeks left of school. Did I pick the right camps for them? I so am not wearing a swimsuit and wonder if I can get away with that all summer. I hate the beach, except for cocktails. Why didn’t I get central air? I know, it’s gross and not sustainable. I have too much recycling. Why can’t I remember to bring my bags into the grocery store when I go in? Is an above ground pool super trashy? The kids could drown and I’d never forgive myself. Or an animal. I still want a dog. I have no time for a pet. I need to wash my hair before work. Will the hair dye fall out with too much conditioner? Maybe I should go lighter for the summer–like beachy. I could make an appointment for Wednesday. Wait, tomorrow is Wednesday. I can’t believe tomorrow is Wednesday.

Parenting

This Week’s Top Five!

1. Playing the game of “raccoons,” (Oh-you’ve never heard it??), the children tipped over the kitchen trash can, and all of the hamster shavings and turds went onto the floor. I almost called Critter Control to exterminate them–the children, not the hamster.
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2. My daughter’s bedroom carpet now has sort of a “polka-dotted pattern”– only in one corner– comprised of a varietal of paint stains from when she and her brother decided to make her room an “art studio.” As I lobbed the new Michael’s paints into the trash bag, huffing and puffing, and attempted to launder the carpet with Dial hand soap and toilet paper (that just deteriorated into little white tube worms over the stain), I doled out the consequence that we will no longer go to stores and/or buy toys until school is over. In retrospect, this seems like self-punishment. Goodbye, Target. I will miss you.
3. I used my son as a fashion consultant this weekend to help me decide which dress to wear to a fundraiser. In the end, he concluded that I should forgo wearing a dress at all and instead “buy new clothes that fit.” I am now drinking a Slim Fast shake for breakfast and lunch and very much questioning the idea of “4-hour Hunger Control.” I would say it’s more like fifteen minutes. I’m starving.
4. I got to work and was told my cardigan sweater was buttoned all wrong (as one side dangled longer than the other), and my tank top underneath it is inside out. I’m not surprised, as I got dressed in the dark in three minutes while yelling downstairs, “Get your shoes on! Get your socks on! We’re leaving!” This is not unusual… Most days, we sing “Don’t be Tardy for the Party” as we drive to school.
5. I mowed the lawn for the first time this weekend, but 1/4 has been designated a wildlife conservation area to preserve the white and yellow flowers (#weeds #dandelions) that have grown. This designation ceremony was held right in the middle of my mowing while the kids ran in circles around said area screaming, “NOOOOOO! Don’t kill the flowers! Keep out! Keep out!”
#diet #gardening #parenting #moms
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Honor Girl Sequel Cont’d: The Letters

long-love-letters-for-him

Jeff traced the back of my leg with the tips of his fingernails as I lay on the couch next to him. He was on his phone scrolling through Instagram, as I  watched out the High Street window at the snow falling.

“Should we go sledding on the golf course?” I asked. It was hard for me to sit still, especially on the weekends, when I had just two days of freedom before getting back on that hamster wheel of my working life.

“Why can’t we just relax here?” Jeff asked. “Do we always have to be doing something?” His thumb flexed back and forth, up and down, scrolling through Instagram. Sometimes it would pause to give something a favorable heart.

“You’re right. Instagram is so much better,” I said, kicking my leg up in the air and landing it on the cold wood floor. The floors had large cracks between the boards, and I could feel the cold air rising from the basement onto my feet. The heat bill this winter was going to be egregious, regardless of the fact that I kept the thermostat at 63 and wore my favorite purple knit cap all the time to stay warm. I could tell Jeff was annoyed with my restlessness. He just wanted to lounge around, drink coffee, read books, and look on his phone. I, on the other hand, felt the compulsive need to make the most of my life and headed to the shed in the backyard to look for the tube and sleds.

Dingo dashed out the door into the snow as soon as I opened it. He jumped up over the drifts, like a horse mounting the hurdles. I squinted as the bright sun reflected off the snow and thought about my friends skiing in the Berkshires or at Stowe. Somehow the idea of an inner tube on the golf course felt somewhat…deflated. And, in fact, the tube was deflated. I needed a bike pump. I looked around for a pump and instead found myself rearranging boxes, making room for the rusty 10-speed I found on Buzzards Bay Avenue with a “Free” sign on it last summer. It was tipped over on its side, sans kickstand. I then stopped to open an unfamiliar looking box. It had Jeff’s handwriting on it and said, “PERSONAL” in a black Sharpie. I looked behind me to see if Jeff was on his way out, but all I saw was Dingo eating a filthy paper towel he picked up from the neighbor’s recycling bin.

“Drop it!” I yelled, knowing full well Dingo wouldn’t listen. I watched him chomp the towel defiantly staring at me all the while. I didn’t even care, because I wanted to open the box. I turned back to look at it. “Personal,” I read again. Well, that looked like an invitation to me. I mean, I was his wife after all. Didn’t I have a right to see what was inside? Nothing is personal when you’re married! Right?

Well, maybe wrong.

Inside the box I found letters, lots of letters, tied together with an old string. They were letters from his ex, Jessica, the wretched, gold-digging Vegan, whom he was supposed to marry, and who now resided on Joy Street in Back Bay with some geriatric investment banker named Todd. Things between her and Jeff didn’t end well, since he came to rescue me from Stephen’s apartment in NYC. And I knew for a fact she hated me, because, well, she told me as much to my face. “I hate you,” she scowled, wiping the tears and gobs of foundation off of her porcelain face with her long, gel-dipped nails. I felt a pang of guilt. But who can take someone seriously when they have the word “PINK” stamped to the back their ass?

I couldn’t believe he kept her letters. Or, at the very least, why couldn’t he find somewhere else to keep them, like his mother’s attic, or… the dump. Did they really have to travel with him to our new marital home? Sure, they were outside in the shed, but why were they even there at all? Was he still harboring some feelings for her, and maybe like sat in the shed slugging  a beer, re-reading and pining away for days long gone? Maybe he wasn’t over her. Maybe he was impetuous breaking it off with her and wanted her back! My mind started spiraling. I frantically began reading. “Dear Shmoo,” she wrote in eighth grade bubble letters. I wanted to vomit.

“Did you find the sleds?” Jeff asked, quickly approaching the shed in his LL Bean duck boots and orange puffer jacket. I panicked and lobbed the letters back into the box, which then crashed to the floor. All of them spilled out. I was going to be busted. I was caught.

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#love #marriage #fiction #woodshole #falmouth #capecod

 

 

 

 

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Honor Girl Sequel Cont’d..,

monopoly board

“Do you think we should have a baby?” I asked Jeff. I was watching Teen Mom 2, one of my favorite reality shows on MTV, despite the fact that I was neither a teen nor a mom.

“You mean so you can hang out with Amber and Macy more?” Jeff replied. These were the names of my friends—oops, I mean, the teen moms on the show. I started to feel like they were my actual friends during the winter months in Woods Hole, because, truthfully there were not many women my age, or of my type I should say, around. I was in this vacuous zone of being in my early 30’s on the Cape, without kids, so that opportunity to make friends on the playground, or at sports games, and at PTO was not there. I wondered if maybe I ought to rent a kid as a prop, or offer to babysit, just to secure some winter besties. Shady? Perhaps. Most women who were in their 30’s near me already had kids. They didn’t spend their 20’s bar hopping, riding the subway, and reading “What Color is Your Parachute” trying desperately to find out who they were. But, since I had arrested development (read: made bad choices), I was still somewhere between Teen Mom and Soccer Mom and it was a nebulous place to fall socially.

Jeff picked up a hotel from our Monopoly Board that permanently rest on our kitchen table. We liked to drink wine and play each night, fighting over who would get the blue fancy properties like Park Place.

“Do you think we should open a bed and breakfast?” he asked, turning the red square hotel between his two fingers. “I could cook, since clearly that’s not your forte, and you can…Hm. What can you do?” he asked.

“I’ll do the bed part.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“You do the breakfast, and I’ll do the beds. I’ll, like, change them and stuff.”

“This sounds like an optimal business plan,” he said and tossed the hotel back in the box. I looked around the room. Jeff and I had moved in together on High Street, but there really wasn’t much evidence of that, or the fact  that anyone lived there. We didn’t have framed selfies of us on hikes, furry pillows, candle sticks, or anything from Home Goods. I’m like the anti-hoarder, tossing things annually, able to still move on the fly. I don’t buy anything, I don’t keep anything, and I don’t decorate anything. I sound really fun. Right? I have analyzed this concept and think it’s either, (A) because I moved seven times in six years; or, (B) I have antisocial personality disorder and no attachment to anything or anyone. I’m going to go with (A). Given what I learned in my research unit job at Cape Cod Hospital, that seems like the better choice.

 

#TeenMom2 #CapeCod #HomeGoods #Monopoly