The Willowbrooke Waltz

“Listen John” Cheryl shouted, “I will not stay married to you if we cannot even have a civil conversation.  Every time we talk about what we are going to do on the weekend, you tell me that you have to meet Shannon to discuss your writing.  She’s your editor, not your life partner.  Why does your writing have to come first?  And if it’s not your writing, you’re taking pills to get rid of your headaches.  What about me?  What about the kids?  You do have a family.”

Both John and Cheryl were in their late twenties.  They had married right out of high school, and had a few happy years in the beginning.  Recently, John’s writing career has become his primary focus much to Cheryl’s chagrin.  But she wasn’t that innocent either.  She had been busy, too, with her various charities and organizations.  She wanted to win “Woman of the Year” in one of her Society Clubs.  They were the perfect unmarried, married couple.

“Cheryl, I don’t know why you have such a problem with the way I do things.  We’ve been married for ten years.  You never said anything before we got married.  Besides, you are busy during the week yourself.  Why can’t you give up some of your free time?  I don’t do as much work during the week.  We could do something as a family, but no, you can’t give up your work with the Humane Society, and the Red Cross, and this and that…  Listen, I try at least.  You just tell me to go away and leave you alone,” John replied, trying not to start another fight.

But it was too late.  She was out the door before he could even get her attention to apologize.

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“Willowbrooke is rather quiet this morning,” John thought as he arose from his plush bedding.  Normally the children of the house would be up racing around the twenty-five-room mansion, and the babies would be raising holy terror looking to be changed and fed.  The nanny was no where to be found either.  Cheryl wasn’t in the exercise room, and the two Persian cats weren’t jumping all over the covers.  Something was amiss at Willowbrooke, besides an unhappy marriage.

John rose from the bed and wandered into the hallway.  He started down the path when suddenly someone called out to him.  He turned around only to see a young lady dressed in a maid’s outfit obviously talking to him.  He tried to understand her, but he couldn’t.  She was babbling about something and it was in English, but John couldn’t make out a single word.  He finally asked her what she said for the third time, and her response seemed a little too sharp.

“I said that Maria will have your breakfast in fifteen minutes out on the linai.  Is there anything I can do for you at the moment?”

John finally grasped what she saying, but he wasn’t sure why she was asking him that.  On Sunday mornings, he always skipped breakfast and had a big brunch after his morning stroll through the garden and romp with the cats and the children.

“Lisa, you know I always skip breakfast on Sunday mornings.  Why did Maria say that?”

“Mr. V, you told her last night that you would be having breakfast in bed since Mrs. V was away with the children.  Is everything okay?”

“Away?” John asked.  “Oh, yes, that’s right.  She took the children and Salt and Pepper to the cabin in Maine for the week while school was out.”

“You wanted to stay home and get some writing done in the sanctity of your study.  Shall I prepare the room for you so it is ready after breakfast?  Or are you going to take that stroll this morning anyway?”

John’s memory was coming around.

“Writing.  Oh, I forgot.  That’s right.  I was going to write that book about all my friends from high school.  It’s been ten years since our graduation.  Isn’t my reunion next weekend?  Yes, yes.  It is.  I remember now.  It must have been the medication I took to fall asleep last night.  I haven’t been able to sleep well lately, so I took some medic- well, you don’t really care.  Sorry.”

“No, that’s all right Mr. V.  I don’t mind at all.  Yes, you were writing about your friends.  By the way, you attorney called earlier this morning and said that the information you requested was ready to be picked up.  He said it was just as you expected.  Should I ask David to pick it up after he gets your dry cleaning?”

“Yes, that’s fine.  I think I will have breakfast in bed, and then take a stroll in my beautiful gardens.  Then I will begin my writing.  I don’t want to be disturbed until dinnertime.  I’ll see if Shannon wants to come over.  Ever since Milton passed away in that awful car accident on Briggs Road, she has been a wreck.  She might like to get out of that big old empty house of hers and have a little company,” John said.  “After all, she is my editor, not to mention a friend.”

Maria walked out and into the kitchen.  Several hours later, after a sumptuous breakfast and countless scraps of less-than-average story, John picked up the phone to call his driver.  He needed to get away from the overcast that had been following him for the last few years.  He had to find a way out, but how?

John sneaked out so that no one would know where he was off to.  If they did, then how could he explain that he was having an affair on his wife of ten years?

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On the lakefront near the cabin, Cheryl was frolicking with two small children.  Dancing and playing and singing came naturally to the little group.  They could spend hours doing nothing, yet always have fun.  Even back at Willowbrooke, they would always find a new corner of the house to explore, and run rampant like their two Persian cats Salt and Pepper.  The woman, wrapped in a sheer fabric that clung to her shapely body, focused in on the setting sun.  If one didn’t know any better, they would think that she was longing for her husband to be there with his arms wrapped around her.

As the children hovered around their mother, she sank into the sand, and tickled them until they gave up running into the house after the cats.  Mrs. V, however, stood against the wind, fighting it with any resistance within her.  She thought about the tall, dark and handsome man that she had left behind.  So many afternoons they enveloped inside one another, kissing and touching, hugging and teasing.

Cheryl decided to go check on the children, but as she walked up the stepping stones, she recalled that she should call home and check up on things.  She ran into the cabin and dialed home.  Maria, her maid, said that things were quiet, and that John was in his study.  Cheryl hung the phone up and returned to her thoughts.  She needed to feel David’s arms around her.  Never had she fallen in love with a man like she had with David.  And she hoped that her husband had no clue that she was cheating on him with the family driver.

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John had David drop him off at the park so that his driver did not know whom he was going to meet.  After wandering around for a few minutes, his mistress strolled over to him.  She was a stunning woman.  She had ravishingly blonde hair with soft curls and warm highlights.  It fell on her delicate shoulders in such a way that John was helpless to her actions.

They embraced, and John stared into her baby blues for a few seconds.  She stood looking at the Cheshire-cat grin that had begun to form on his face.

“Oh Shannon, never before have I needed to see you.  I cannot stand to be married to that woman anymore.  She just called to check on things, and Maria told me that she didn’t even ask about me.  I think the staff is beginning to realize what’s going on.  How many drives to the park can I take before they get suspicious?  Shannon, they cannot know that you and I are having an affair.  And I don’t want Cheryl to know either.  She’s on my back these days about everything as it is.”

“John, my love.  Things will be okay.  Has the attorney called?”

“Yes, David is going to pick up the information from the attorney for me now.  I only have a few more minutes before he comes back to pick me up.  I think it is going to work out.  Apparently, it is just as I had expected.  I may be able to prove that she is cheating on me.  That’s why we have to stop meeting like this.  She doesn’t know about us yet.  Oh, there’s David.  I better go see if he has the information.  I’ll call you later.  I told Maria you were coming over for dinner.”

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After putting the children to sleep, and the letting the cats out for a short while, Cheryl relaxed on the sofa.  She picked up the phone, and dialed her lover.  She hadn’t spoken to him all day.  She wanted to know if he had learned anything yet.  The phone ran a few times, and then someone picked the extension up.

“David, is that you?” Cheryl whispered.

“Hello, love.  How are you?  I miss you so much.”

“Is John there?”

“He’s been sleeping for hours.  I dropped him off in the park this afternoon, and I went to pick something up for him from his attorney.  I tried to read it, but it was sealed too tightly.  I didn’t have time either.  He seemed quite happy with himself when he got back in the limousine.”

“Did he?  He probably published another story.  It’s getting boring with him lately.  He keeps writing, but I never see any of the money.”

“Cheryl, my love, do you think he knows?”

“There’s no way.  We’ve been so careful.  Did you see who he was meeting with in the park?”

“No, I didn’t.  I think it was her though.  I am almost sure that he is cheating on you.  I smelled her perfume when he got back in the limousine.”

“Well, if he wants to have an affair, I can have one too.  I’ll have to get my own lawyer and see what I should be doing about this.”

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