There’s no return address on this letter. I rip it open. A check! One thousand dollars written on a Virginia bank. From Whit! I look closely inside the envelope for an explanation, but there’s nothing. Not one single word.
A while later, Layton comes by and we sit at the table on the patio. I try to put my thoughts about the check aside for now.
I’m glad Layton is here. Does he know how happy I am to see him? I try not to show my feelings. We talk a few minutes about many things, but nothing in particular. Chit-chat.
“Calypso, tell me how you got your name.”
I laugh. “My dad once met Jacques-Yves Cousteau.”
“The ocean researcher?”
“Yes. Dad went aboard his famous ship.”
“I’ve heard of his ship. He called it Calypso, didn’t he?”
“That’s right. Dad was impressed with Cousteau and he really liked the name Calypso. When he suggested the name to Mother, surprisingly she agreed. I would have thought she would give me a dripping-sugar Southern name.”
“So you are named for a ship. Suppose that’s why you love the ocean?”
“Actually, I’m also named after Cousteau himself.”
“My middle name is Yvette, the feminine form of Yves.”
“Calypso Yvette. Pretty name.”
“Thanks. I’ve been told it fits an artist.”
“You are a very good artist.”
“So good that thieves steal instead of buy?” I try to make light of the horrible theft, but Layton is not smiling. “Whit liked to tease me about selling the seascape when our bank account got low but he knew I’d never part with it.”
“That was a beautiful painting. I’m sorry it was stolen.”
“If you’ve never had anything stolen, you can’t imagine how vulnerable it makes you feel.”
He nods. “Do you mind telling me how long you and Whit were married?”
“And you? How long were you married?”
“Thirteen years,” he says and looks away.
He shakes his head.
“Whit and I never had children, either. If we had, I wouldn’t be alone now.”
“Do you think you’ll ever see Whit again?”
“I don’t know.”
“A few days ago, you mentioned getting a divorce. Do you plan to go through with it?”
“Yes.” I can’t even imagine how devastating that will be.
Suddenly Angelique’s red Mustang whips into my drive and comes to a quick stop. She gets out and strides over to the table. Layton–gentleman that he is–stands until she is seated.
The sun’s rays slant through the leaves of the pepper tree and brighten the table top. Angelique pushes her sunglasses to the top of her head. Her thick blonde hair cushions them. Layton shoots her an admiring glance. She is attractive. I recall telling her she should spend some time looking for Mr. Right. She always came back with, “He doesn’t exist. You’ve already got him.”
I clear my throat and shut my eyes tight. I don’t have him anymore. When I open my eyes, Layton smiles at me. I force a smile and turn to Angelique. “So how are things at the sheriff’s office?”
“Usual stuff. At least, we’ve not heard any more out of you. So that means things are okay?”
I nod, not trusting my voice to sound reassuring. Things have quieted down though. Rex Gentry unnerved me but I haven’t heard any more from him since he bought the painting. And I’ll be getting a report from the detective soon.
Angelique looks at Layton. “I have a habit of dropping in to check on my best friend. I hope I’m not interrupting your visit.”
“Oh, no. It’s nice to see you again.”
Angelique turns to me. “When did you say your Aunt Helen will be here?”
“She’ll be good for you. Her sense of humor will definitely lift your spirits,” Angelique says.
I turn to Layton. “Helen is my favorite aunt. I want you to meet her.”
“I’d like to meet her.”
After a time, Angelique leaves. A short while later, Layton says, “Time for me to leave, too. Is our date at the beach still on tomorrow?”
“Yes. I’ll be there mid-morning with my canvas and paints.”
“I’ll bring our lunch and see you at noon.”
When I’m alone, I look at the check again. The familiar signature of Whit Langley brings to mind how much I loved him. Love him. Maybe he still loves me. He sent this check for some reason. Didn’t he?
Don’t count on it, Calypso.
But why did he send it? Why? After all this time. I’m getting by, selling a painting now and then. My savings account though is dwindling. I need to look for a job. Or maybe I should sell this house and move back to Texas. Back to the cabin.
The cabin and acreage would bring a good price. Maybe I should sell the cabin. I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back there to live.
I wouldn’t be happy far away from the ocean.
I wouldn’t be happy.
© Copyright, 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols
(This is a middle portion of my short story-in-progress)