Sara's Promise(3)

By: Deanna Lynn Sletten

"When you make the time, you mean," William said softly, as if reading her thoughts. He kissed her again then headed into the bathroom to get ready for bed, as Sara pulled back the comforter and sheets. But again, she found her eyes, then herself, drifting back to the painting in the corner. Most days, she found it easy to ignore the fact that she wasn't painting, wasn't creating illusions of colors floating on canvas. She could busy herself with everything else that came with the job of wife and mother. But tonight, it seemed to haunt her, this need to create, to use her God-given talents, the ones that didn't include minivans, washing machines, or computers.

She sighed as she looked at the brochures piled on the paint table, brochures telling of upcoming painting workshops, contests, and fellowships. They were there to include in the monthly newsletter, but they were also there to remind her of what she was missing out on.

She had been good once, more than good, accomplished, and she could revive her talents as easily as she could whip up a batch of cookies. At the young age of eighteen, her first year of college, she'd already won several awards for her paintings and even had one circulated in a national art show, showing at art galleries across the country. Her teachers saw her talent and nurtured her in the two years she attended school. But by then, she'd met William, an architecture major, who was two years ahead of her in school. When he graduated, they married, and she left school behind but not her painting. As he began his career designing homes, she continued painting, winning more contests and awards. But then Sandra was born, and two years later, Samuel, and Sara found her time filled with diapers, feedings, playgroups, and all else motherhood entailed. Then William and his partner started their own firm and his hours became long, so Sara threw herself completely into the kids. They built their dream house, which Sara helped design and completely decorated from top to bottom. And the years went on, with each passing year Sara telling herself she would find more time for painting as the children grew older. But each year she found her time became more precious as she ran the kids around and attended their various activities. The only painting she'd completed in all those years was the one of their house, the one that hung proudly over the mantel in the living room. Others were started but usually sat, like the one in the corner now, until they were put away in a closet when she could no longer bear to look at the unfinished canvases. Maybe this one would join them, she thought sadly, as she continued to study it. Maybe that was where they all belonged.

William came back into the room, wearing flannel pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, catching Sara's eye as she turned from the painting once more. Both smiled, and she padded across the soft carpet to crawl into bed beside him. Taking a tube of cucumber-melon hand lotion out of the nightstand drawer, she squeezed a bead of lotion into her palm before dropping it back into the drawer. Slowly, she started rubbing the lotion into her hands and arms.

William smiled at her as he watched her nightly routine of rubbing into her hands and arms. "You really should make time for yourself to paint again. The kids don't need you half as much as you think."

Sara looked up at him, the man she'd spent almost half her life with, the man she knew she'd spend forever with. His wavy black hair was damp from the shower, curling gently at his temples and neck. He wore it longer than fashion dictated these days, and she liked it on him that way. She always had. She placed her hand on his chest and snuggled up next to him. He felt warm and smelled of soap and shampoo. He felt good.

"They still need me more than they think, even at their ages," she said into his chest.

William wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "From what I heard today, they don't appreciate you as much as they should," he said gently, adding softly, "None of us do."

Sara smiled appreciatively. It was rare for William to acknowledge all that she did. She knew he appreciated it all and depended upon her completely. He worked long hours at his business, as well as putting in several more hours each night at home, and her being available to the kids twenty-four hours a day made it easier for him. He never had to worry about being home at a certain time, who'd feed the kids, who'd pick up the dry cleaning or who'd fill the refrigerator with groceries. It was all done, magically, quietly, completely, by Sara. Holidays, birthdays, vacations, everything was planned by her and her alone. And she loved doing it. But it did make it feel all the more worthwhile when he acknowledged the work she put into family and home.

"You know, you've spoiled us all," William continued, pulling her even closer. "We would be completely lost without you."

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