After returning from Las Vegas Mark finds himself back on a business trip to Chicago. He has been in Chicago for two weeks, then when he returned to New York, he visits his father because he was sick. He had the flu. While helping take care of his father the coronavirus hit and they been in quarantine for half a year. Him and Melissa have only been speaking to each other by phone and through Zoom on their computers. As his father recovers and his mother cooks for them and they enjoy being together. Melissa remains home in their upstate apartment, talking to her family members, cooking, writing in her journal, binging some TV shows and exercising. Ever since that weekend spent with Don at the cottage they hadn’t spoken. It’s now been little over a year and all three, Melissa, Mark and Don have decided to meet up at the cottage and spend the weekend together.
Mark pulls up to the secluded cottage in their car. He walks up to the forest green door. Before he could knock Melissa opens the door and they immediately wrap their arms around each other. Their thin bodies press against each other. For a while they kiss passionately.
“It’s-ah-it’s-been-so-long.” She says between kisses.
He lifts her up and carries her into the bedroom. He lays her down on the bed.
While making love Melissa looks up into his eyes, “When is Don going to show up?”
“You know, you said, oh, never mind. Keep going.”
“No. I…” He gets off of her.
He sits on the bed, covers his sweaty face with his hands.
“Mark, what is it?”
“Why would you ask me that?”
“I was…I don’t know…I was just asking.”
“But we’re…we’re in the middle of- “
“I know. It just came to mind. I don’t know why.”
“Does that happen often?”
“Do you think of others or just him while we’re in bed together?”
“No, I was just wondering. Sorry I brought it up.”
“But why now. Am I boring you?”
“You don’t sound so sure.”
He gets up and puts on his underwear.
“Come back Mark. You know I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“You clearly have your mind on someone else.”
“I said sorry. Now come back to bed. This is ridiculous.” She chuckles.
“Don’t do that. Don’t.”
“What? Don’t do what?”
“I hate when you laugh like that. It’s like you take this as a joke. I’m serious Melissa.”
“I know you are, that’s what make this so ridiculous. You’re making too much of a big deal out of it.”
“I am, really?! You mention another man’s name while looking into my eyes while making love, that means clearly your mind is elsewhere.”
“Nothing to say?”
“I don’t know what else to say.”
“Think of it this way, how would you like it if I asked how is your mother doing, while you’re on top of me?”
“Why would you be thinking of a dead woman at that moment? Or did you forget?
“It’s just an example.”
“You always did find my mother attractive. I get it.”
“That’s beside the point. So, how would that make you feel?”
Suddenly a person jumps in front of the bedroom window!
“Aaagh! Melissa shouts and covers herself with the sheet.
Mark turns quickly and sees Don standing outside their window. The curtains aren’t fully shut.
Don waves. “Did I come at a bad time!” He laughs.
“What are you doing?! Go to the front!” Mark shouts and points to the front.
Don walks away from the window.
Mark grabs his robe from the closet.
“Are we alright?” She asked.
“Not really. But let’s just try to have a good time.”
Mark leaves out the room. Melissa gets off the bed. As she gets dress Don peeks through the window again. Melissa sees him on the corner of her eye.
“Don!” She shuts the curtains.
Mark opens the front door. Don isn’t there.
Don comes from around the side of the cottage.
“Hey, there you are.”
“Hey Mark. I thought I stepped on something.”
“No poop around here. Melissa keeps it clean around here.”
“She sure does.”
“How would you know?”
“What? Being at your house upstate.”
“You like it around here?” Don asked.
“It’s only my second time. I was here after my Vegas trip and then I had to go to Chicago not too long after that. Come in.”
Don walks inside the cottage.
“Take it all in. We’ll have plenty to do this weekend.” Mark says and closes the door.
There is a generous amount of large green plants in the corners of the room. Dark color curtains, a large rug in the middle of the nicely furnished front room. The rooms are open, no dividers. The kitchen you see when you walk in, in the back of the cottage. In there is where Mark cooks a delicious meal for everyone. He first made sure he put on some clothes.
They sit at the table which is made of wood like most of the furniture. There’s a vase of flowers in the center of the table. Everyone is enjoying the food and drinks. Don sits across from Melissa. Mark sits at the head of the table.
“So how did the web cam wedding go?”
“It was…interesting.” Mark says.
“He wasn’t impressed. The pastor was nice. My father and Mark’s parents screened in to be witnesses. It was different.” Melissa says.
“I’m just happy the pandemic is over.” Mark says.
“Me too.” Melissa drinks.
“You must have done a lot of writing during quarantine.” Mark says to Don.
“Not as much as I wanted. I always feel like I’m the laziest writer in the world. It takes me a while to gather my thoughts and then the writing process…it can be difficult sometimes.”
“When was your last book published?” Mark asked.
“Two years ago.”
“Pressure from your agent?” Melissa asked.
“Not really. She knows my process.”
“That’s good.” She says.
“I’m just curious, while writing, do you think of your audience?” Mark asked.
“The first audience is myself, so if I’m lost in what I’m writing then my audience should be too.”
“That’s good that you can be fully focus on what’s before you. That’s a rare talent.” Mark compliments while eyeing Melissa. “Don’t you think Melissa?” He drinks.
“Yes. Don knows how much I admire his writing.” She looks at Don and smiles.
“And it’s like Melissa, when she’s acting in a scene- “
“Are you back to filming again?” Don asked.
“Yes, they released a strict protocol for us to follow.”
“So, I was saying, your concentration reminds me how an actress, like Melissa, has to be in tune, lost, in the moment, is what they call it, right honey?”
“Right, so, it must be a thrill to be so engage with your fellow actors, it’s must be like the camera isn’t there. Wouldn’t you say? I think that’s how you described it to me before.”
“Yes, if you’re fortunate.” She kicks Mark’s leg underneath the table.
Mark grunts in agony.
“You okay?” Don asked.
“Yeah, just felt a tightness in my chest, I’m fine.”
“Don’t eat too fast. You cooked this pretty good by the way.” Don says.
Mark is in the bathroom. Melissa and Don are by the fireplace sharing a bowl of mixed nuts.
“Yes. You don’t like it.”
“You prefer the other way?”
“Doesn’t matter, I have all those pleasant memories of how it looked, how you looked under the moonlight, up here.” He taps his head.
He tries to feed her some nuts. She moves her head back.
“No. He’ll suspect something.”
“He’s in the bathroom, pooping.”
“How do you know he’s pooping?”
“I heard him make a grunting sound.”
“No, you didn’t.” She giggles.
“Yes, I did.” He smiles and tosses some nuts in his mouth.
“Silly.” She admires his dimples.
“I miss that laugh of yours.”
“Stop it.” She puts her head down.
“It’s true. I miss everything about you.”
“Well, that was then, Don. I’m trying to make this work now.”
“You mean you and him?”
“What? Something wrong?”
“Yeah, up until…right before you showed up?”
“Really? I mean it looked alright from my perspective from the window.”
She hits his arm, “Stop it. Seriously. There was…”
“Nothing…it’s really nothing.”
“It’s something, I can tell it’s bothering you. Tell me. Does it involve us?”
“Yeah, a little…not really.”
“Which is it?”
“He just made a big deal out of nothing. It’s ridiculous.”
She looks up at him. “Okay, but don’t say anything. I didn’t think it was anything. So, while we’re making love- ‘
“I figured that, when I looked through…’
“Yeah, exactly. So, he’s on top, and I ask him…all I ask was did he know what time you were arriving?”
Don stares at her for a moment and then burst out laughing.
“Funny right? It’s ridiculous, right? Tell the truth.” She says.
Don tries to speak but he’s hysterical.
“Wait, you actually asked him…’ He laughs some more.
“I wanted to laugh like this too, but he was so serious. He got mad at me Don.” She says softly.
Mark suddenly walks in the room.
“What’s so funny?”
Don controls himself.
“Oh, nothing, I was telling him a joke one of my cousins said to me.”
“Okay. You two ready to take a walk to the lake?”
They both say yes.
“Okay, cool. Just going to change. I’ll be back.” Mark goes into the bedroom. Don and Melissa grab what they need for the walk and wait for Mark outside.
Mark puts on his sneakers. He grabs his jacket from the closet. He sees he left his robe on the unmade bed. He picks it up and he hears something click on the floor. He looks around his feet and notices on the floor a ring. He picks it up and reads the inscription- ‘Class of 1999.’
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Thank you Sarah!
I really liked the dialogue in this story, I loved how it wasn't too description heavy and still able to capture the whole mood and voice of the characters. Amazing job!
Thank you Yolanda! Did you read part 1?
Looking forward to reading one of your stories. Have a good weekend.