When you’re in fear of being alone with your husband in a cottage in Maine, you’re in trouble. It was time for our winter venture to coastal Maine. We looked forward to it each year. But not this year.

I feared this cottage would bring on the end to our marriage. We had been to a marriage counselor who gave us “homework.” We were diligent about completing it, but there were still unresolved issues. Our counselor was overjoyed we were taking this vacation. “It will be good for you to be alone, with no distractions, just the two of you. Use this time to get re-acquainted.”

We knew our friend Tony’s cottage would be clean and the nearby town was relatively untouched by the virus. I didn’t fear the virus as much as I feared being in this small cottage without distractions. The place had internet and a television and as long as Mark had TV, he’d be fine. There was a large collection of puzzles and books, and numerous games. I’d be fine as well. Mark hated games, didn’t do puzzles. Walking was his soother. I hoped the weather would be good so he could take his solitary walks.

When we arrived, Henry, the caretaker was standing on the porch. “Everything’s here you’ll need. There’s talk of a storm but the generator will keep the heat, oven and fridge going. There’s plenty of lanterns and candles around, just in case. The fridge and freezer’s well stocked. Had a good lobster season so Tony threw a bunch of lobsters in the freezer. Just thaw them out and stick em’ in boiling water.”

As I walked into the spacious area that served as the living and dining room, I prayed a miracle might happen over the next seven days. I was banking on this cozy place helping us salvage everything I loved – my security, my house and above all – my best friend and lover. Somewhere along the way, we’d lost the magic. Could a week here help us find our way back?

As we unpacked the car, I heard Henry tell us not to use the front bedroom. Surprised, I asked him why not. “It’s where I always stay.”

“Well,” he said, dragging out the word slowly, “it’s kinda full.”

“Of what?”

“Furniture. Seems Tony took up refinishing furniture. He’s storing it there ‘til spring.”

Shit. “Okay. I guess we’ll have to share the back bedroom.” That bedroom had a double bed, not a queen like the repurposed “storage room.” It was going to be very cozy. Luckily there were two dressers and a decent closet. It was the double bed that worried me. I like to spread out. So does Mark. I could see we would be fighting for bed space. Another issue.

I fixed dinner and we watched TV. I noticed a weather alert banner crawl along the bottom of the screen warning residents of a nor’easter heading our way. It would hit tomorrow.

Fortunately, there was enough food to last us a month. We got out the candles, just “in case” we’d need them. We went to bed.

The storm hit the next morning. By evening the snow was up to the windows. Luckily, Mark had brought in several loads of firewood and we build a fire. After dinner, he went into the kitchen and came out with a bag of marshmallows, milk chocolate bars and a box of graham crackers.

“We’re making s’mores?”

“We have a roaring fire; we’re snowed in and we need to keep our energy up.”

This was a Mark I hadn’t seen in a while. It was nice.

During the night, the power went out. No lights but we had heat and the stove and fridge worked. After breakfast I challenged Mark to a Scrabble game. He won. Surprisingly, Mark seemed to relish this isolation. He helped me cook and played games with me. One day I watched him working on the jigsaw puzzle I set up on a table. And we made love in front of a blazing fire.

When our week was over, I realized we were slowly coming back. Back to where we used to be.

When Mark went to dig out the car, it was dead. Henry drove out in his ATV. The men talked, solemnly shaking their heads. Grinning, I gave Mark a hug and a big kiss when he came back in to tell me, “We don’t know when it will be fixed.”

One thought on “Fear of a Cottage by Linda Freedland

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