This is a response to a monthly invitation to write a story on a given theme. It is hosted by Jeff B from Word In Edgewise. Look him up and see the set of rules. This is the November entry. Why not have a go!
This is my first serious attempt at fiction story telling! Are you sitting comfortably! You will need to!
Sylvie glanced once again at the place by the rocks, where Greg's silver convertible usually stood. She had watched the sunset by herself that evening and now it was dark. She could hear the gentle lapping of the ripples in the lake nearby, as they pushed against the stones on the water's edge.
The lamp had been left in the tent on the hillside above and now she could see the faint light shining boldly into the darkness. It was an old glass jar with a thin wire handle, the type of jar used in kitchens for bottling fruit, with a thick candle inside, but it gave out enough light. She realized she must go to fetch it. Greg would be coming, she knew that. He had put the tent up earlier but where was he now? He had never done this before.
The thought of Greg sent ripples of pleasure tingling throughout her entire being. She was almost forty and had never really loved anyone like this before. There had been men in her life, of course, several in fact, but Sylvie was a career woman and the thought of sacrificing her life to marriage or a long term relationship with any man, had never been for her. This was really different though..... Greg was different. She found that she needed Greg more than anything else in the world.
She thought back to the time he had first asked her out. The guy from work with the silvery streaked hair, who was really rather ordinary and a good bit older than she was. Of course he had to be a married man. Well, that hadn't bothered Sylvie at the time.
"Take what you can in life and enjoy it," was her philosophy.
It had all started off innocently enough, with a meal out and the drive to this lake that Greg loved. They had talked for hours in the car and Greg had told her about his once beautiful wife with the long red hair and the fact that she had become so ill. Sylvie understood this and it didn't make any difference in the beginning. They watched their first beautiful sunset together. The striking colours in the sky seemed to explode into fiery reds and yellows and orange against the darkening clouds. It was not long before their talking stopped and they began a passionate explosion of their own, that equalled any fiery sunset.
They used the convertible at first, but then Greg came up with the idea of the tent. There were trees all around the lake, except for this clearing where there was a steep hill that levelled onto a small field and Greg pitched the tent up there.
Every Friday evening, Greg left work earlier than Sylvie and put up the tent in readiness for their rendezvous and she followed later, parking her mini in a lane nearby. They both felt they were being very discreet as this was a lonely place. They would spend a few hours together in the tent and although they wished it could be for longer, Greg's wife found things difficult. He had to get back to her.
They used the lamp to find their way down the rough track that led them back to the car parked by the rocks below. Greg walked Sylvie back to her mini and kissed her goodbye. A long lingering kiss that could have started a repeat of their lovemaking before. He would then get into his car and leave first. Sylvie always followed a few minutes later.
This arrangement seemed to work out very well for both of them and Fridays could not come soon enough. However, Sylvie often felt that they were not alone. She shuddered at the thought of this, but suspected that it was her guilt that caused this feeling, for just recently, she had started to feel guilty about Greg's sick wife. She was also aware, that in spite of everything, Greg still loved his wife. Sylvie was desperate to persuade him that he would be better off with her.
Greg was miles away from the lake. He had parked his car to sit and think out what to do next. He held his head in his hands and sobbed, great heaving sobs of desperation.
It was never meant to turn out like this. His wife had always been prettier than Sylvie could ever be. When they were married she had been petite and she still had that long, red hair that he'd so loved. He had always thought she looked so lovely in green. She used to dress up for him.What had happened to her over the years? She had become like a zombie, swallowing a concoction of pills and her once attractive green eyes, seemed constantly glazed these days. She also drank, but she was careful to hide the bottles away and she denied there was a problem. She had let herself go, sometimes not bothering about her appearance at all. Greg marvelled that he still found her attractive, even in this state. He needed her but she pushed him away.
Sylvie, on the other hand was vibrant and he could talk to her about anything and they could laugh together, something that his wife just couldn't do. So it was no wonder that Sylvie, being passionate by nature, provided everything that his wife could not give him. He had not meant for the affair to go on as long as this, but surely he was entitled to some happiness? Was that so very wrong? It wasn't as though his wife had suspected anything, when he met up with Sylvie by the lake. He had explained that he had to work late on a Friday night. So why did she have to get so het up about everything? Why choose tonight to rant and rave at him like a wild thing? She had accused him of infidelity and he had denied it. How had she found out about Sylvie? Greg thought it was just guess work as they had been so careful.
He had managed to sneak away and had gone to the lake earlier and had put up the tent as usual and even lit the lamp, but as he came back down to the rocks where he'd parked his car, he knew he couldn't go through with the evening after all. Everything was now too complicated. He had chickened out and left, not even bothering to pick up the tent.
Sylvie wanted more commitment than he could give her and why did he feel so guilty about cheating on his sick wife? He had done the same thing before Sylvie came onto the scene and he hadn't felt like this. The problem was, she was falling for him in a big way and that was not what he wanted. Non of the others had done that. They had been happy to just meet up for sex and he'd thought Sylvie felt the same.
He must give her up. He couldn't go back to her now. Tonight everything had been spoilt.
The more he thought about it, the more trapped and desperate he felt.
Sylvie walked back down the path that led to the lake. She held the lamp high and glanced over at the place where Greg's car should have been. She was sure something had happened to him by now. She took out her mobile but she already knew there was no signal in this place.
Why had he put the tent up and disappeared? Why had he left the lamp lit?
She was beginning to regret that she had told Greg how she felt about him the last time they had met secretly in their work break. How she had clung to him and told him that she wanted to be a permanent part of his life. Why had she messed up things by saying all that?
She held the lamp out towards the lake for one last look. She would go home, ring Greg and find out what had happened. She would tell him she didn't mind that he couldn't give her what she wanted. She would keep the relationship just as it was. Anything was better than losing him, anything. She was angry with herself for having spoken out like that and angry with Greg for loving his wife, even though she was an alcoholic. How could he love a woman like that more than her?
Her eye caught something floating on the lake. It was a fair sized thing, like a log.
Sylvie went nearer to the water's edge to look more closely. What she saw made her blood turn cold and she stood unable to move. Floating just below the surface was a woman's body. A woman in a green dress, her face white and her eyes half open and still staring vacantly ahead. Her hair was floating about her in all directions, dragged by the water, moving this way and that. Red hair........... long red hair.
Sylvie dropped the lamp and screamed. A long piercing scream that broke the stillness of the night and set off a dog barking in the distance. The lamp smashed into many pieces on the rocks and in the ensuing darkness, Sylvie knew that the dream that she'd had about a future with Greg, was now lost forever, shattered in a moment, like the lamp.