Rita’s Last Sunset
Rita sat in her favorite chair outside in her backyard as she has done for the past 50 years waiting for the sun to go down. She loved the colorful sky at this time of evening. Tonight the sky was full of pinks, yellows and blues. This had to be the most incredible sunset that she had ever seen. And she had seen a lot of sunsets in her life. She had seen exactly 98 sunsets and as many sunrises. Everyone thought she was blessed. After all, her life hadn’t been bad at all.
She had gotten married to her high school sweetheart, Harry Dillon Boutte. Harry was what she liked to call a gentle giant. He was the tallest kid in the school and some people even mistaken him for teachers from time to time. Rita had the biggest crush on him in the 6th grade and she made up her mind that one day she would be married to him. They dated in high school and right after graduation, a week later, they were married at the local courthouse. Rita never wanted a big wedding. She only wanted to marry her love.
They spent over 50 years together. Rita knew that she would be seeing him soon. She believed in heaven and believed that when she left this earth that is where she would be going and she would see her beloved again.
But, there was something she had to do while she was still here. She knew it was time. It was beyond time to do this. She had kept this secret for 43 years and now it was time the secret was told. She also decided that today, her birthday would be the day.
Rita picked up her cell phone and dialed the number. She dialed this number a million times before today but today was special. Today was the day.
“Hey, Sis, I was just thinking about you. I was wrapping your gift for the party later.”
“Katie, can you come over about an hour or so before the party starts. I have something to tell you. I need to talk to you before the others come.”
“Sure. I can ask Annie to drop me off early. She can’t come though because she has to work. But, she got you a nice gift.”
Rita hung up the phone and continued to watch the sun go down and waited. The waiting is the hardest part. Although, the words won’t be easy either.
The doorbell rang and Rita slowly walked to the door. She walked slower than usual because she didn’t really want to open it but she had to. She unlocked the door and opened it up wide. Katie was standing a few inches from the open door. She hugged her and came inside.
“Hey, Rita. Today is the big day. Number 98. Getting closer to that 100 mark girl.”
“Yeah, I have lived a long life.”
“Me too. Guess we are the golden girls twice over. You know I am right behind you.”
“Katie, I have something to tell you.”
“What is it? Mind if I have some ice tea first?”
“Yeah, go ahead and bring me some too. Put a little brandy in mine.” Rita laughed as Katie got up to get the tea.
“ What do you need to tell me?”
“Ok, remember way back in highschool when we both had a crush on the same guy?”
“Yeah, your husband.” Katie laughed.
“Yes, he eventually became my husband. Did you ever wonder why we got married so soon after high school?”
“Not really. There were rumors that you were pregnant.”
“Those rumors were true.”
“But, Rita, you didn’t have a kid until 3 years after you got married. That’s why I thought the rumors weren’t true.”
“They were true but I don’t want to talk about that right now. What I want to tell you is this. My husband didn’t want to marry me.”
“What? You guys have been together since grade school. Stop lying, girl.”
“I’m not lying. It’s true just like it was true that he wanted to marry you. He always had a thing for you. I knew this and I had to make him mine. He told me that the day we graduated from high school that he was breaking up with me and he was going to ask you out. I couldn’t let that happen so I told him that I was pregnant.”
Katie was speechless. She didn’t know what to say.
“Well, were you pregnant?” Was all she could manage to say.
“Yes, I was pregnant. But, the baby wasn’t his. The baby belonged to Teddy Roberts. I knew that Harry was going to break up with me. I didn’t know when but I could feel it. Things weren’t going right with us and I knew that he wanted you. He admitted it a few times but I pretended that I didn’t hear him or pretended that I didn’t care. But, I did care. So, that’s why a month before we graduated from high school I went out with Teddy. We went to the drive-in movie in his dad’s old truck. We started kissing and one thing led to another and we went all the way.”
“So, you got pregnant and lied and said it was Harry’s baby so Harry wouldn’t go out with me?”
“Yes, I loved Harry and felt that I needed him. You were always the beautiful one and all the boys were attracted to you and none to me. So, when I saw Harry I made up my mind that he was one boy you weren’t getting. I was jealous. I was very jealous. I admit it. And I was selfish. When Harry found out that I was pregnant there was only one thing he could do back then and that was to get married to me.”
“But, what happened to the baby? You had Karen three years after you got married and if you were pregnant before her what happened to that baby, Teddy’s baby?”
“Well, the baby was born. That’s why I encouraged Harry to take a job out of state and remember we moved to Nevada for a while? That’s where I had my first baby. I didn’t tell anyone about him.”
“The baby was a boy?”
“Yes, he was a boy. He lived for 2 days after he was born. We named him Justin.”
“But, I don’t understand why you didn't tell the family that you were pregnant? After all, you were married even if the baby wasn’t Harry’s.”
“I guess I was ashamed. Not ashamed of the baby but ashamed of how I lied.”
“A few years later Karen was born and we came back to California and moved into Mama's old house.”
“I remember. By that time I had married Parker.”
“Yes, and so I figured that I would not tell anyone my secret and take it to the grave.”
“Why are you telling me all this now?”
“Because little sister I am one step closer to the grave. I won’t be here too much longer.”
“Stop that. You will live to be 106 outlive us all.”
“No, I will be gone soon. And I needed to ask you to forgive me before I went to heaven.”
“You are my sister and I love you. Of course I forgive you. But, tell me did Harry ever know or Teddy?”
“Yes, I told Harry when Karen moved out of the house and he eventually forgave me. I didn’t get a chance to tell Teddy. After the baby was born and passed away I tried to find him to tell him but he had moved out of town and his sister didn’t have his address. I contacted his brother about a year later and his brother told me he had passed away 5 months earlier. He had a heart attack at work.”
“Oh, Rita. I don’t know what to say.”
“I just need to know that you forgive me for doing what I did. I am so sorry. I was a fool, a jealous fool.”
“Can I ask you where is Justin buried?”
“His little body was cremated and I scattered his ashes in our favorite lake. I think he would have liked to have gone fishing on that lake just like we did with Daddy.”
Rita wiped the tears from her eyes and sipped some of her spiked ice tea.
“I am so sorry you felt like this. I never thought I was the beautiful one I always thought that you were. “ Katie said, hugging her sister.
“Rita, this birthday is going to go down in family history.”
“Yes, it will. I am considering it my last sunset.”