“I really do love you, Janie.”
Heath looked so sad.
Janie managed to lift her yes; the migraine having magically disappeared. The light from the floor lamp beside her normally would have reignited the pain. But, she thought, the wine must have already started working its own magic – along with whatever Heath had put into it.
He stood a few feet in front of her; bare-chested and holding…something in his left hand. She couldn’t make out exactly what it was. And she didn’t care. She couldn’t help but salivate over his rocky torso and recall how much she cared about him. How things had seemed so perfect all this time. If college was supposed to be a coming-of-age/adventure/find-your-true-identity, Janie had achieved a perfect score.
And now, it had come to this. These things weren’t supposed to happen. In a perfect universe. If such a place existed. In this universe.
His lips trembled – the way they did when he first asked her out. The way they did when he asked her to marry him. So…what was he going to ask her now? “I’m sorry,” he muttered.
She saw his eyes glance to the wine glass she held in her left hand. And unexpectedly let go.
It tumbled to the floor.
“Sorry,” she said. “Sorry about…what?”
“I love you. But…”
She tried to lean forward, yet her body seemed paralyzed. The lines in Heath’s torso began to crisscross. “What?” she spit out.
“I can’t go on like this.”
“I’m sorry it came to…this.”
The last thing she heard. Her head knocked to the right, and her body slumped.
A few spots of wine dotted the chair where she sat.
Heath took a deep breath. “Oh, God. Forgive me.”
She was heavier than he thought. He pulled her limp body off the chair and into the kitchen.
Getting her into the boat along the pier was even more difficult. He moved only by feel and by moonlight. The blue-black darkness hid enough, he felt. Lewisville Lake was a long 20-something miles away from the condo. A trash dumpster would have been closer…but too obvious.
So he chose the lake.
The flavor of the alga-laden water swaddled his throat. Heavy, heavy.
He grinned. They both liked the lake. They and all of their friends. How many good times did they have out here? Memorial Days, Fourth of July, Labor Days…many summer days. Just about any weekend they felt like coming out here. Just about any time they felt good about…something. Or didn’t feel good. The lake was always a refuge; always a place to escape from whatever.
That odor of the water…heavy, heavy…like Janie’s body.
Even getting the inflatable boat out of the garage had been a chore. Everything had become so difficult.
He had shrouded her in an old burlap bag and hoisted her into the boat. Actually a giant…raft? Seemed like it. An oversized pool toy colored blue and green. Thick material. It wobbled…but made little noise as he slipped it into the water.
No moon. Clouds covered it.
The water undulated quietly. The mossy scent had become strong, almost too strong.
What great times they had out here.
How had it come to this?
Despite the coolness of the night air, sweat coated his bare torso. His cargo shorts were also damp with moisture. He paddled out as far from shore as he could, using the little rubber oar that came with this glorified pool accoutrement.
He finally stopped.
Strong water smell.
Without looking he grabbed the end of the thick rope laying beside him. The rest was already wrapped around…the bag. “I’m sorry,” he muttered.
Rolling her over the rounded edge of the boat almost tipped the entire thing over. The sound of her form hitting the water made the loudest noise in that serene night.
The rest of that rope quickly uncoiled itself from its spot beside Heath’s foot…before the last few inches wrapped around his ankle…and knocked him off balance.
He fell into the water with an even louder splash.
The boat tipped upwards onto its side before smacking back down into place.
A whirlpool sprung up where Heath entered the water.
And, as Janie’s burlap-clad body sank into the lake, Heath didn’t see – he couldn’t see – her hand poking through the bag…grasping the rope.