Sara's Promise(2)

By: Deanna Lynn Sletten

The rest of the evening went as it usually did with the family of four eating their evening meal, Sandy sulking in her seat and Sammy discussing his latest golf swing. Later, Sammy left with a friend to hit balls at the driving range before dark and William headed to his den to work on the house plans he'd been discussing earlier. Sandy flew off to her room again after another refusal from her mom to let her pierce her nose, playing her music at an ear-deafening volume and no doubt calling her best friend to rant about the unfairness of evil mothers.

Sara went through her usual routine of cleaning up the evening dishes and wiping down the kitchen to sparkling perfection. She wandered through the house, picking up stray items the kids had left out. She fluffed sofa pillows, folded towels in the laundry room and made sure all was tidy and in its place. Only after she felt everything was perfect did she let herself sit and relax on the deck outside the living room, a cup of herbal tea to keep her company and the view of the Pacific Ocean to calm her.

It had been a perfect March day on the Oregon coast, and even though the air was chilly, it felt good to Sara as she sipped her tea and reflected upon her day. Like all of her days, today had been a busy one, running the kids to and from school, running errands and doing housework. Her days were filled from early morning until late evening, yet sometimes she wondered what she'd accomplished after a long day. Once a week, she volunteered at the middle school library, helping sort and reshelve books. Then there was the local community art center, where she volunteered her time typing up their monthly newsletter, reporting the accomplishments of local artists and writers, and offering information on workshops and grant funds. She didn't attend the workshops. She didn't sell paintings or win contests. She only reported other artists' accomplishments. And sometimes, in a quiet moment like this, she wondered about her life and where she was headed, if anywhere. But then all she had to do was look around her beautiful home, see the smile on her son's flushed face as he recounted his latest golf achievement, or occasionally capture a giggle from her fast-maturing daughter to remember what her life was all about and to remind her it was all worth it.

Later that evening, when all was quiet and both children were tucked away for the night, in the safety of their rooms, Sara walked into her own bedroom and slowly began to undress for bed. The master bedroom suite was spacious with an expanse of windows facing the ocean and a fireplace on the opposite wall. They had the luxury of their own private bathroom and two walk-in closets. The room held a king-size bed covered with a blue striped, down quilt, a heavy, oak dresser and mirror, two fat, blue chairs and ottomans by the brick fireplace, and other miscellaneous pieces of furniture. But what the room boasted was the brilliant sunlight during the day that the wall of windows permitted.

In the far corner stood an easel, an unfinished painting upon it, and a table beside it, holding brushes and paints that hadn't been touched in months. Sara walked over to the painting and examined it, running her hand lightly over the watercolors, the soft blues and tans that were the beginnings of a beach and ocean scene. When had she started this painting? She couldn't remember. When would she finish it? She had no idea.

"Daydreaming?" William asked as he quietly entered the room. Sara turned, startled at first, then gave him one of those smiles, the kind that made her whole face light up and her blue-green eyes sparkle. In truth, William had been watching her from the doorway for a while, standing there only in her sweater. He admired how her long legs still curved in all the right places, and how her slender arms and hands still moved with the grace of a dancer. At thirty-six, her blonde hair still shined bright from the touch of the sun, and not a trace of age had etched itself upon her face. She was as beautiful as the day he'd met her in college, when she was only eighteen and full of joy, hope and promise. And although her classic features and tall, slender body had always made men take a second glance, it was her brilliant blue-green eyes that held William's attraction. They had attracted him to her all those years ago, and they still captivated him.

Sara continued to smile at him as she headed to her closet and stepped inside, slipping the heavy sweater off and replacing it with a satin nightgown. She walked again past the painting to the dresser mirror to brush her hair. This time she ignored the half-finished watercolor painting as if it were of no importance.

William came up behind her and placed a soft kiss on the nape of her neck. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, he asked gently, "When will you finish it?"

Sara shrugged. "When I have time," she said casually, although inside she felt a tug at her heart. She had no idea where that time would come from.

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