Tara is trying to unwind in a lounge chair on her stone patio. She can feel the warm Kissimmee sun gently caressing her skin. The summer breeze sweeps in and wraps itself around her body. Tara glares out at the palm-fringed trees that fill her backyard. Warm tears begin to trickle down her cheeks. She wipes the tears with the back of her hand. Tara reaches over for the champagne bottle that sits on the table next to her. She pours some of the champagne into her glass. As she pours, the exotic smell of the champagne fills the Florida air. When she takes a sip, Tara can feel the lively bubbles begin to dance around in her mouth. The bubbles tickle her palette. The champagne goes down smoothly and cools her off. Tara glances down to see her cell phone. She realizes its five o’clock. Landon normally arrives home from work around five thirty.
~ ~ ~
Landon is a hard-working lawyer. He spends many hours in the Osceola County courthouse. Tara already knew that Landon’s career would require many hours. Landon and Tara were both students at Florida State University. They met during their junior year. Landon swaggered his way into the classroom and took the seat next to her. She can still remember the way in which his cologne caught her attention. It smelt rustic and manly. She can also remember their first “real” conversation. She remembers how silly but cute it was.
“Excuse me,” Landon said to Tara.
Tara looks over at him in surprise. She can’t believe this cute guy is acknowledging her.
“Do you have a pencil I can borrow?”
“Oh yeah,” Tara said as her cheeks begin to blush.
Tara begins to fumble around in her book bag to find a pencil. She nervously hands one to him.
“Thanks! By the way, my name is Landon.”
He smiles at her.
“Hi, I’m Tara,” Tara said shyly.
Landon and Tara continued sitting next to each other in class. They instantly became friends. They spent most of their time studying together, getting coffee together, and eating dinner together. As they began spending more time together, their relationship became more intimate. They started dating and remained in a relationship throughout college.
~ ~ ~
Tara feels like she hasn’t seen Landon as much lately. It seems like he has been working later on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Tara is looking forward to a romantic evening alone with him. Tara hopes that a romantic night is exactly what they both need. She feels their marriage has been suffering, especially in the past couple of months. She believes that they aren’t on the same wavelength anymore. Tara wants to bridge the gap between Landon and herself. In doing so, Tara hopes to surprise Landon with his favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs. This was the meal that Landon cooked the night he proposed to Tara. She still can remember how special that night was to her.
~ ~ ~
It is a calm, sultry night in June. It’s only been a couple of weeks since their graduation. Landon called and invited Tara over for dinner. When Tara arrives, Landon is cooking spaghetti and meatballs. Landon has never been one of those sweep-you-off-your feet types of guys. You know, those who prepare a candlelight dinner. A guy who makes a rose-petal path that leads to the bedroom. A guy who sends your favorite bouquet of flowers to you unexpectedly. As they eat, music plays softly in the background. After dinner, they talk and laugh while sipping wine on his couch. They sit hand in hand. Tara loves how their hands perfectly fit into each others. While sitting on the couch, Landon reaches into his pocket with trembling hands. He pulls out a tiny red velvet box. He stands up from the couch and walks nervously over to Tara. Landon bends down on one knee and looks up into Tara’s eyes.
“Tara, you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. You bring so much happiness and joy into my life. You make me smile everyday. You’re the reason I get up in the morning. You’re the last thing I think about at night. I would be the luckiest man if you would marry me. Tara Lee King, will you marry me?”
Tara begins to cry tears of joy. A huge smile forms across her face. She shakes her head with excitement.
“Of course I’ll marry you, Landon Thomas Rawlings! I love you!”
~ ~ ~
Tara grabs her glass of champagne and walks into the house. As she walks upstairs, Tara hears how her footsteps echo throughout the house. She stops and listens to the silence. Tara begins to cry again. She takes a deep breath and walks into the bathroom. Tara begins to draw a hot bath in the tub.
~ ~ ~
As she undresses, Tara notices her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Her dark green eyes are glassy and red from crying. Tara is only thirty-two years old. She barely has any wrinkles on her sun-kissed skin. Her cheeks are rosy from the combination of crying and champagne. As she unloosens her ponytail, Tara watches as her golden curls fall down her back.
~ ~ ~
Tara turns off the bath water and steps into the tub. She can feel the warm sensation of the water rush up and down her body. As Tara begins to relax, her tense muscles slowly loosen up. Her head begins to tingle from the champagne. Tara hopes that a bubble bath will relax her. She closes her eyes and lays her head against the base of the tub. As she soaks, the past couple of weeks begin to flood her mind.
~ ~ ~
Last Wednesday morning, Tara is awakened by the warmth of the sun creeping in through the bedroom window. She quietly slivers out of the bed as not to wake Landon. Tara makes her way to the kitchen. Within minutes, the house is filled with the aroma of bacon, eggs, and coffee. Landon walks swiftly into the kitchen.
“Good morning, honey! I hope you’re hungry,” Tara said with a grin.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t stay for breakfast. I’m running late for work,”
Like the wind he was gone.
As Tara is getting ready for work, her cell phone rings.
“Hello,” Tara said.
“Hey, it’s Dawson from the firm. Is Landon there?”
“He’s already left. Wait, he’s not there?”
Tara said with suspicion.
“No, not yet. Thanks anyways.”
Tara hangs up and decides to call Landon herself. His phone went directly to voice mail.
~ ~ ~
After her bath, Tara brushes her hair and applies the right amount of make up. She searches through her closet for the “perfect” little outfit. She slips on his favorite little black dress with the strappy heels. Tara hopes this will bring back memories.
~ ~ ~
As Tara leaves their bedroom, she notices their wedding portrait from the corner of her eye. The portrait hangs on the wall behind their bed. Tara hung it there after they moved in. Tara walks over to the portrait to get a better look at it, even though she has seen it hundreds of times over the years. However, today the portrait seems to grab her attention.
~ ~ ~
The photo is protected by a black metal frame. The photo is a full length picture. Tara gazes at Landon. She is reminded of how handsome Landon was and still is after five years. He has such a handsome smile and charming blue eyes. In the photo, Landon towers over Tara. She has always felt safe with him. Landon’s arm is around Tara’s shoulder in the portrait. Tara remembers how protected she felt that day. She also felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Landon’s face glows in the picture. He appears to be so happy. Tara wonders if he still feels the same. At the bottom of the frame, “Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings” is engraved. She believes these words are engraved for a reason. A marriage is permanent. It should last forever. No one should be able to come in and scratch those words out.