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“No, I’m going to burst. It was a fantastic meal.”
“Go walk it off,” Garret said. He turned to his sister.
“Show our guest around, Trudy. It’ll be dark soon, show him the view from the picnic table by the boathouse. And put on bug spray. The mosquitoes are out.”
“Good idea,” Trudy said.
My head was heavy. Work plus the long drive had tired me out. It didn’t help that my stomach was weighed down with food and beer. But Trudy was beautiful and I was a guest so I forced myself to get up from the table. I followed her out the door.
Perhaps it was exhaustion or perhaps it was the beer but looking at the blue-eyed brunette with her fine features and alluring walk I began to fantasize a future with this woman I had just met. I envisioned the two of us: a wedding in Willowdale, a honeymoon on a Greek island and a home in Markham. In our backyard on a sturdy swing two children would be squealing with delight as I pushed them higher and higher. I kept this daydream to myself.
“So, Garret says he works with you.”
“We’ve been on several engineering projects together. So I thought I knew something about him but I was wrong.” I forced a smile. “I understood he had a wife and two sons. That he always rooted for the White Sox. Why he supports a Chicago baseball team I’m not sure, but it makes him a little different in the office.”
I stopped and gave her a long look. My heart beat like crazy. She was lovely. “That’s about all I know.”
She smiled and gave my hand a glancing touch. We stopped talking, sat down at the picnic table. I was content watching the sun, blazing pink on the waves as it descended into Snow Lake.
Trudy spoke about her studies at Queen’s University, the summer she spent in Mexico, she talked about Garret, Stewart, Mable, how cold Ottawa was in winter...Her soft voice sounded like a lullaby but I found the tales hard to follow. Feeling sleepy I folded my arms on the table and lay my head down. The last rays disappeared without me seeing them.
“Let’s go back to the cottage. I’ll show you your room,” Trudy said. “It’s upstairs near the front.”
Twenty minutes later I was fast asleep in an ancient room with a new mattress and heavy curtains. Faded black and white photos of Rome and London decorated the walls. A small dresser with a chipped mirror stood in one corner. The dusty light fixture hanging from the ceiling suggested the room was rarely used. The window was open. The curtains moved gently in the intoxicating breeze wafting from the lake.
My dreams were a confused mixture of work catastrophes, giant radishes in my parent’s garden and erotic fantasies of Trudy.
The following morning, which was Saturday, I woke up after ten. The house was quiet. On the nightstand by an old alarm clock I found my cell phone. I reached for it but there was no signal, no Wi-Fi. For some reason I found this comforting.
I dressed and went downstairs. No one was around. I walked outside. I spotted Trudy by the lake sitting on a lawn chair reading a book.
“Hi there,” I said.
“So you’re up. Everyone had breakfast hours ago. My parents drove to town for groceries. The rest are out on the lake somewhere.”
“I was supposed to go fishing with Garret.”
“Don’t worry. He’s got plenty of company. Garret’s just as likely to catch a hangover as a fish.” She motioned to an empty lawn chair. “Relax. I’ll bring you some juice and pancakes.”
Trudy stood up gracefully. She went up to the rambling cottage behind us. She had on shorts, a low cut sleeveless top and flip flops. I turned my head to look away.
Twenty minutes later she returned holding a tray laden with food. Together we sat at the picnic table.