The Cottage

Dead leaves crunched underfoot. Along the empty streets, she was a ghost with lead boots. As the breeze bit against her cheeks, the sky hung low and lifeless. Flipped the collar of her pea coat, tightened the wool scarf until it threatened to choke away the guilt. Each step caused a flashing vision, a synapse, a memory of another life.

Spring mornings. Windows open, hints of fresh rain and honeysuckle filling his cottage. She would glide through the rooms, cotton panties wedged in the crack of her ass and a lazy smile sketched on her face. Without fail, he would look up from his vintage typewriter and remind her that coffee was on. No matter how many times she awoke in his cottage, no matter how many times she lied to her husband about sleeping over her sister’s apartment just to see him, tryst after countless tryst, he would always be there in the morning, this guy, this enigma, typing away, tapping a bare foot against the scarred wooden floor.

The scent of sulfur still crowded her nostrils. The sounds of crackling fire still tickled her ears. She had loved him until there was nothing left of him that she couldn’t sweep into a dustpan.

Her husband hadn’t left her when he learned of the affair. He split once her bandages were removed. Apparently, it’s easier to stomach a cheating wife than a disfigured one.

On that night, the night of the fire, they had been playing with hot wax. There was rope involved. Safe words and such. Later, candlelight had danced on the cottage walls as she fell asleep on his chest. Last thing she remembered from that night was him telling her about a story he’d just written about a young woman who was haunted by the lover she’d accidentally killed. There was irony in there somewhere, she thought, but she no longer cared enough to examine.