And another repeat guest today - author Tonya Cartmell!
by Tonya Cartmell
He watched her from outside the dining room window as she checked her watch again. His heart ached as he watched her drain the white wine from her glass in one long sip before wiping the tears away from her eyes. She checked her watch once more and he could almost hear the sigh laced with so much sorrow come through the glass on the night breeze. She slid her chair back and stood up from the table.
Big surprise. He broke his promise. I spent so much time making this dinner and of course, he didn’t come home on time. Why did I let myself believe him this morning? I am such a fool. Why should our 20th anniversary be different than any other night? Why would it be important? I am so tired of trying. I have nothing more to give if he can’t even meet me halfway. Not even halfway. I just wanted him home for one dinner. One night to make me feel like I mattered. Like I was important to him. After all these years. Just one night to remember, laugh and find our love again.
She started to gather up the dishes from the table. Looking at the china dishes her mind wondered back to planning their wedding. They were so young and madly in love. They registered for the dishes even though they never thought they would use them.
She remembered opening the gift boxes and seeing the dishes in them. They were so afraid to use them and now twenty years later, she felt like throwing them out with the food on them rather than packing all the food into the fridge and washing them.
Part of her wanted to throw the roast platter at him when he walked in. Of course, she would not do that though, but she didn’t think she could face having to hear about his day when he had hurt her this way.
Outside the window, he hung his head and whispered, “If I could only go in and comfort her. If I could just explain what kept me from being on time. I never wanted to hurt her this way. I love her and she means the world to me. Now there is nothing I can do. It is too late.”
His thoughts drifted back to a time where the days seemed endless as they hiked hand in hand; exploring the woods looking for hidden waterfalls. Things seemed easier then, before the mortgage, kids, car payments and high stress jobs. Back then they would sit and talk for hours over pizza. They would fantasize about the future and what it would look like. He never thought it would come to this. That it would end like this.
He heard a guttural scream followed by a loud crash and ran around to the side of the house to peer into the kitchen window.
The site inside startled him. Her mascara ran black down her cheeks, yet she stood with a surprisingly satisfied look on her face. The roast she had made was smeared on the wall above the open garbage can. Pieces of the platter lay broken around the floor. As he watched, she picked up the bowl of mashed potatoes and throw it at the wall. She whooped with delight as the bowl shattered and the potatoes slid in a mass down the grey wall.
“What are you doing?” he yelled and pounded his fist on the window. She froze and turned her head to look at the glass but only saw her reflection looking back. She started to laugh. Quietly at first but it grew as she realized she had scared herself and was possibly close to losing it. “Get a grip and calm down.” she said to herself, hugging her arms tightly across her chest.
She looked back at her brown and white masterpiece on the wall and started to cry again. She pulled her cellphone out of the pocket of her dress and dialed his number like she had 100 times already tonight. Again, it went straight to voicemail. She slid down the wall and slumped on the floor. Folding her arms around her legs and resting her head on knees, she prayed, “Please God, I know it has been a long time since I have come to you but please, I’m begging you, just let him come or even just call me. Anything to let me know he is still thinking about me. To let me know he still loves me. I promise, I will try to do better, to be better. I don’t know how we drifted so far apart or why we have let other things come between us but I know we can get back to what we had before. It is not too late. Please, just let us have one more chance. I just need to know he wants it too. That he loves me too. That he believes we can get over this hump. I just need some sign or indication from him. Please...” She wiped her eyes and got to her feet. Looking at the wall, she muttered “I better get this cleaned up before he comes home.”
Outside with tears streaming down his face he yelled “I do love you. From the moment I met you. I have never stopped. Please don’t every doubt that.” His breath fogged the window and in it he drew a heart before stepping away and disappearing into the night.
Hearing his voice coming from outside she turned to look at the window over the sink, and smiled when she saw the heart.
He must have seen the light on and come around to surprise me she thought, glowing in the warmth that he still loved her and things could be ok again.
She ran through the house to the front door and threw it open. The “Happy Anniversary” came out before she realized it was not him on the porch.
Standing on the porch was a police officer holding her husband’s wallet, cellphone, wedding ring and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Another stood on the path leading to the porch. She didn’t understand what was going on until he started to tell her about the accident on the highway.
The driver had been going too fast and rolled his vehicle as he swerved to miss something on the road. The officer was deeply sorry to have to tell her that her husband was pronounced deceased at the scene.
They brought a few of his items for her to identify. She would be able to see him in the morgue once he was transported there.
She thanked them and shut the door when they asked if there was anyone they could call for her to come sit with her.
She sat down at the dining room table again holding his wedding ring in her hand. Moving it between her fingers. The shock of the heart she had seen on the window as well as the news she just received drew ragged breaths from her lungs.
With trembling hands, she opened the envelope with the flowers. Never one to be overly emotional with what he said in cards, he had written “To my love. Then, now, forever. Let’s make this a new beginning not the end.” Her scream of tormented anguish ripped from her lips and pierced the night before she fainted.
For as long as she could remember, Tonya dreamed of being a published author. “Somewhere, in a box stuffed in the attic, is the first book I wrote when I was a child.” By day, Tonya Cartmell is a registered nurse currently working for a hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. “I’m many things to different people: a wife, stepmother, nana, daughter, sister, friend, nurse, etc. But, the one thing I have kept secret from most is that I’m also a dreamer.” Turning 50 was Tonya’s “aha’ moment. It was time to stop dreaming and start doing and get her stories published. As Tonya says, “I was the only obstacle to obtaining my dream.” When her first children’s book, Twelve Days of Rescue, was published in 2020, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author. Her second book, Pa’s Hockey Sweater, was published in 2021. Tonya’s first middle-grade novel Second Hand Witch came out in 2022. Watch for Tonya’s children’s books, Our Dream Adventures, and Dragonfly Magic coming in 2024.