1. It burned all the way down
2. Don’t make me come down there
3. You can’t just eat your food; you’ve gotta talk about it too.
I don’t know when it was that Garry and I grew apart. If someone had ever asked me to define the perfect husband, I could have whipped out his picture and said, “Here he is.” But somehow, somewhere along the way we came to like different things.
It’s not all bad, of course. We still spend time doing all the same old things together: the movies, the flea markets, the occasional bar romp. But in each of them we look for ever-divergent pleasures. I don’t see what he finds to admire in raunchy adventure tales on the super large, super loud screens at the local cinemaplex. He takes off in the opposite direction if my feet head for the antique section of the every-other-Saturday swap meet at the fairground.
To be fair, it took me a while to warm up to antiques myself, and it probably wouldn’t have happened at all were it not for my Grandma Abbie and the fact that she hated her son so much that she couldn’t bear for him to have her possessions even after she died. Her will left me, among other things, a two hundred year old farmhouse filled with treasures I couldn’t even identify.
Garry wanted to sell everything right away.
“A condo in the Adirondacks,” he said. “If we dump this crap we can have a brand new place, with a pool and a media center. Our dream place, you know?”
It might have been his dream place, but it wasn’t mine, and thanks to Grandma’s forethought in bequeathing everything to me as my own personal property, nothing was sold. We actually moved into the old farmhouse, with Garry grumbling and me finding that I truly loved the details and the intricate history of the house and its appurtenances. Particularly delightful was the upstairs bathroom, a huge open space with, of course, a clawfoot tub and,to make things warm and cheery, a wood-burning cast iron stove.
My new found interest took me the first time to Samantha Cleary’s booth at the flea market. I came to know her as a real expert on all things old and potentially valuable.
“It’s all a matter of getting familiar with what’s available,” she told me after we’d been acquainted a while. “Sometimes a rare find looks like dross unless you understand the history behind it.”
Her table always held a variety of beautiful jewelry and soft linen handkerchiefs next to bulky brown irons and photos of people long dead. She would laugh when I picked up what I thought was the gold among the pyrite and tell me, “You have to look beyond the obvious.”
As time went on, I grew more intrigued with old things, and fit them in to make my home always more my own. Once in a while, I found that Samantha had some little item that called to me, and I’d find myself back in my dark living room placing an ornate wooden candlestick and wondering where in the world one could find beeswax candles these days.
One Saturday, I stood at Samantha’s booth admiring a truly beautiful piece of jewelry, a glittering necklace of stones that caught the sun and danced in reflected light as I held it.
“Oh, it’s marvelous!” I said to her as Garry came up behind me. He touched my arm and the necklace dropped back on the table.
“I want to get a drink,” he growled. “Come on, you can’t afford that stuff anyway.”
Sam watched, her eyes glowing with distaste, and all at once she grabbed the necklace and tossed it into an old cigar box.
“My gift,” she said. She shoved the box with its shining treasure into my hands. As Garry grabbed my elbow and led me away, she called, “Look beyond the obvious!”
I knew she wasn’t talking about the gift.
I didn’t get to the prompts, but I knew where I was going with this one. Writing as fast as I could, I still ran out of time. In the end, the cigar box was to be the real treasure, the necklace just a pretty bauble. And, looking beyond the obvious, “I” would decide that Garry was not the soulmate I’d thought him.