“Why is it always raining in this god-awful place,” Isla Grace barked at the heavy wooden table in the kitchen. It was true; it had rained for days, and the sky overhead was unrelenting. She rolled her eyes before looking to her empty cup.
“Darling, don’t be mad,” Oliver countered. “The rain is good for your garden.”
“What garden?” she shouted and stood. Her shoes clicked down the hall and up the stairs as her husband stood alone in the cold room.
The window to the east was thin and damaged, and the air was seeped in without break. And beyond the pane, sat the muddy and unattended garden. Isla Grace had nurtured it the previous year, growing beautiful flowers as tall as her waist. But this year, she gave up before anything had a chance to grow.
Oliver cleared the dishes and dumped the tea pot. He rinsed his hands and peered once more through the window. With his bag in hand, he headed to the front door and walked outside. He took a long deep breath and emptied his mind. It had only been two years since their wedding, but it felt like twenty. He loved Isla Grace, and at one time—he believed dearly—she had loved him back. He was nearly certain those days had passed.
The road to town was long, but Oliver enjoyed the silence. He could think clearly there in the open country, where the hills folded upon themselves and the rocks were as big as the cliffs nearby. There were often birds overhead, a calming wind that eased his mind, and the clouds the Isla Grace created were far behind. The drive may have been the one thing he longed for every day and every night.
“Why do you leave me here alone?” Isla questioned from the stairs. Her soft voice fell over Oliver as he closed the door and tried to find her in the darkness.
“You know I can’t take you into town,” he answered. “They can’t see you.”
“But you can,” she argued. Her gown—full to the floor and billowing as she walked—crept out from the shadows and illuminated her face. “You still love me, don’t you?”
“I always will,” he promised. “But I can’t be here all the time.”
“I bore you,” she assumed and started to walk away.
“Darling, you scare me,” he affirmed as he followed her up the stairs. “Don’t hide from me,” he begged as she continued on towards the top stair.
“You keep me hidden,” she snapped. “You force me to stay here. It isn’t my choice!”
Oliver skipped a couple steps and rushed to her quickly. Isla Grace, hearing him near, ran into her bedroom and closed the door on his face. “Open this door!” he commanded. “Open it now!”
“I don’t want you to see me like this,” she sobbed from inside.
Oliver—angry and exhausted—fought with the door until finally breaking it open. In the corner, in the shadow, Isla Grace sat with her knees in her arms. Her face was covered in tears; her eyes full like a glass of water.
“Please don’t look,” she wept.
Oliver took a breath, and then turned his gaze to the bed. Upon the linens that he and Isla Grace had shared lied a woman in a white gown. Her hair was tangled; her skin gray. And as Oliver choked back the smell of the air, tears fell from his eyes and the sky opened up.