I finish packing in less than half an hour and then I lie awake in bed for half the night thinking about everything. Why does so much of me feel like I’m going to hurt Chris if I do leave this marriage? And why does he make me care?
Eventually, I drift off to sleep, only to be rudely awakened by my alarm at seven in the morning. Who set that? Oh, right. I did.
I roll out of bed and leave the bird’s nest of my hair alone as I stumble downstairs for some coffee. Nothing about today is going to start until I find coffee.
“Sleep well?” Chris asks from the corner of the kitchen, causing my heart to jump into my throat.
I groan, “Yeah, just not enough.” When I get to the coffee maker, there is already a pot made. “Thanks for the awake juice,” I say as I pour myself a cup.
“I’ll make another pot to fill your travel mug when you’re done with this one.”
He knows me well. How does he know me so well? Am I that easy to read?
“Is your bag in the hall?” his voice breaks through my thoughts so I’m not sure if it’s real or imagined until he repeats himself. “Bag? Hallway?”
“No,” I answer him, “It’s in my room on the dresser. You can go in and grab it if you want.”
He nods and heads upstairs to collect everything we will need. Somehow, though he went to bed before me, he managed to pack sleeping bags and fire kits and a tent and something resembling a grill. I’m not sure what everything is for, but I’m sure I will be glad to have it when we’re in the middle of the wilderness.
You know, for someone who claims to love adventure, you’d think I’d have done this before.
He holds true to his word and comes back to the kitchen after the car is packed, “I’ll make you another pot of coffee and some breakfast for the road. You want to take a shower and get dressed while I do that?”
It is at that precise moment that I realize what I am wearing. My whole body turns beet red as I look down at my practically see through spaghetti strap camisole and very short very tight shorts.
He doesn’t seem to be bothered by my lack of attire, and he doesn’t stare, but I know he must have seen. I don’t say anything before running full speed up the stairs.
I am extra careful that he doesn’t see me during my trip from the bathroom to my bedroom. When my hair is secured in a french braid down my back, I pull on some jeans and a sweater before heading downstairs.
When I get to the front door, Chris is already waiting by the door with my breakfast, coffee, and coat. It’s barely 7:45 and we are already going to start our long drive to go hiking. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I did agree to it so here we go.
* * *
The hour of driving is filled with music, laughter, and stories about our childhoods. He tells me about his siblings and cooking with his mom and I tell him about my prep school and the time I was in a parade. We both allow ourselves to forget the situation and just enjoy the journey. It’s a nice change of pace, and I’m glad I said yes.
When we pull up in front of the cabin, I figure it must be a stop along the way. Because it is definitely not what I expect when I picture a cabin. It’s almost as big as our house and looks at least as sturdy. It isn’t until Chris starts unloading the car that I realize we have arrived.
“This is the cabin?” I ask, eyes wide, as I walk to the back of the car and reach for his hand.
“Yes,” he accepts my hand and walks with me towards the house. “Do you want to see it?”
“Uh, yes!” I cannot keep the excitement out of my voice as he unlocks the front door and leads me inside, his hand deftly turning on the light as he steps inside.
“This is not a cabin,” I state the facts. “This is a full-blown house.”
“Well, it’s made of wood, so I get to call it a cabin.”
“Well, it has marble, so I get to call it a house.”
He laughs and I let my eyes wander the cabin. The ceiling, which must be twice as tall as a normal house, is made of logs at least as large as I am. The fireplace is surrounded by stones that carry all the way up the wall until the chimney meets the roof. The kitchen has marble countertops and looks like a chef lives here, which I guess one sort of does.
But the thing that really catches my eye above anything else is the South wall. The wall itself can’t really be called a wall as it is made up entirely of floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall windows. I can see everything as clear as I could from outside the house.
“Wow,” I gasp as the light peaks up over the foothills and shines in through the window.
“Yeah, that’s something isn’t it?”
“Did you build this house, too?” I ask him.
“No,” he smiles as he looks out the window. “This one I bought already made from a nice old man. He used to paint and he said this is where he created his best work. When he wanted to sell it, I offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse.”
“You sound like the mob,” I laugh out loud. “Or maybe like you massively overpaid.”
He laughed with me, “Definitely the first one.”
“So,” I ask the question that burns inside me without stopping to think if I should, “Is this why you wanted to have the view from our house?”
He nods, “I didn’t mean to show you this, honestly. I meant to keep it just for me. But it seemed like an adventure worth having, you know. Before it’s all over.”
Silence falls over us like a heavy fog as we stare at our shoes. The weight of what is to come lays heavy on my heart. One task is all that stands between us and the end of our marriage.
“We could still adventure,” my voice barely a whisper. “After it’s all over.”
He doesn’t say anything, so I’m not sure he heard me. But I’m not brave enough to say it again.