Sun, Sand and Mirage ...Finale
the power to bring it back into motion again.
― Mary Balogh
It was weird—meeting Charlotte and becoming infatuated with her only to discover she was married. Well, I don’t know if I’d actually use that traditional term and class their relationship as a union. It was a so-called ‘open marriage’ which meant both of them gave each other permission to cheat.
Regardless, the two of them seemed blithely content with the arrangement and I suppose in the circles where they moved it was quite acceptable. But it was making me queasy.
I stayed a little longer, then made my excuses. Charlotte wanted to come home with me, but I thought the situation already strained—at least in my mind it was.
Over the next few days, I saw quite a bit of Tom—got to like him, actually.
We’d sit out on the terrace or go shelling with the motor launch. Occasionally, Charlotte would want to go into Sarasota and shop in St. Armand’s Circle.
Tom and I would drive her and then spend a few hours in the bar whiling away the time and playing shuffleboard.
He was the kind of man I’d befriend—under other circumstances.
It seemed we were in for one of those endless summers I mentioned before, but then, as unexpectedly as it began, it all came to a sudden end.
I was roused from sleep one morning. It was still gray—just past five a.m.
Charlotte was at my patio door.
“I wanted to see you before we left.”
I was still in my pyjamas, my eyes blurry from sleep.
“Where are you going?”
“Tom and I are going to Boston—he has business there and then we’re flying out to Paris.”
“When will you return?”
“In the fall,’ she whispered.
It was May—and I did a quick calculation and realized at the earliest her return would be four months away.
“Will you be here in October?” she asked.
I shook my head. I felt I had been kicked in the gut.
Her eyes went dark. A shadow of a frown crossed her face.
“It was for the time being, Si—nothing lasts forever.”
I knew it was true, but I had fallen in love with her—plainly the feelings were not returned.
“Does this happen all the time?”
I had to ask.
She shrugged. “You have to stop looking for explanations, Si—it is what it is.”
She was right. It was a beautiful game, playing with seashells and surf—picnicking in patches of white dandelion puffs—fields of fancy where we made a wish and watched life blow it away.
“We had no right to do this,” I told her.
She nodded, her eyes cast low.
“I love you—do you know that?”
She looked at me sadly.
“It’s not enough, Si.”
“Feelings Si—feelings aren’t enough.”
I felt resentment stir. “Mine were. My feelings were real.”
She cupped my face in her hand—stared at it—memorizing each feature.
She kissed me, softly.
I wanted to speak, but she placed her fingers on my lips.
“Your feelings were real, Si—but that’s all. Nothing else about this was real—nothing.”
I tried to protest, but she turned and left.
I watched her walk down the path to the ocean, turn and go past the trees.
I watched her walk out of my life
I don’t know if she got her yacht. I don’t know if she pushed back her boredom.
They’re strange people, Tom and Charlotte, living together and yet living apart.
I’d say I’m better off without her, but I’d be lying.
I still envision mysterious beaches, lazy afternoons and Charlotte.
But other than my feelings, the truth is, Charlotte was right. Nothing about this was real—nothing at all.