Someday Is Here

I'll Tell You a Story

Every so often, you'll find a new story here just to read for pleasure or to give you a glimpse of my writing style to see if it's what you'd enjoy in a longer book. Feel free to give me your feed back! All stories will be archived here. 


Bess Brotherton never blamed anyone for her situation. Not her husband. Certainly not the state which had elected him governor just a year after their marriage and to which he’d given the devotion she expected for herself. Andrew’s election had put the small eastern state on the map and raised it in the esteem of its neighbors and even much of the entire country.

She’d been at his side through four terms and liked to think the governor’s mansion had regained most of its historical elegance at her hands. While her husband remained busy with affairs of state, she remained in the background but busy nonetheless.

They’d been married almost fourteen years when he confided to her he was tired of politics and wanted nothing more than to retire to a small town and hang out his shingle. “I’ll work pro-bono,” he said. “I’ll take a chicken for our pot, a pail of potatoes, a sack of flour. I’m not even interested in running for mayor.” She could still remember how he put his hands around her waist and drew her in for a long kiss.

“Have you relayed that information to your campaign manager?” she asked when he finally let her go.

“Not yet.”

“When do you intend to do it?”

“Soon. Very soon.”

She didn’t want to appear skeptical, so she let the conversation end. But she was tired, too. A small town and a life where her husband came home for lunch appealed to her. So when Frank Apple caught her getting into her car two days later, she knew why he looked like someone had thrown a pail of ice water on him.

“You can’t let him do it, Bess.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s the best governor this state has ever had. With elections coming up, there isn’t time for the party to find a new candidate. We couldn’t find one anyway.”

She shrugged. “It’s up to him, not me.”

“You could talk to him.”

“No.” She pulled the door closed and rolled down the window. “I’m due at the library to read to the Head Start group. Have a nice day, Frank.”

As she drove, she reflected on how Frank was already lining up his next possible interventionist. She’d never liked him. He was a decent enough man--Andrew wouldn’t have been associated with him for so long if he was anything less. But something about him…something in the way he seemed to possess her husband even more than she did…had always bothered her.

She pushed the campaign manager turned chief advisor from her mind and focused on the children. She liked her weekly reading sessions with them. They were so very young and fresh and eager. They reminded her of herself as child when the written word had lifted her from the unpleasant reality of being a foster child.

When she and Andrew married, she envisioned a large family, at least four children on whom she could shower all the attention she never had after her mother took off, and her father went to jail. She’d lost their first two babies to early miscarriage early. The third pregnancy ended in premature stillbirth the first year of Andrew’s second term. Then nothing until two years ago when she gave birth to another boy and hemorrhaged, requiring surgery which left her hopes for a family dead--as dead as the second Andrew Brotherton, Jr.

So now she took care of her obligations as the governor’s lady but found her real satisfaction in working behind the scenes with children from less than optimal circumstances. She told herself it was enough--but sometimes it really wasn’t.

“Frank wants me to talk you into changing your mind,” she told Andrew as he slid into bed beside her that night.

“Are you going to?”

“No. Which is what I told him--no.”

He chuckled. “Poor Frank.”

“He’ll survive.”

“I expect he will.”

“Will you?”

“What kind of a question is that?” He rolled to his side and reached for her.

“Will you be happy out of politics? I mean, permanently out.”

“I won’t tell you I haven’t enjoyed the experience, Bess, but there’s nothing to gain by becoming an old war horse.”

“I’ve heard people say you’re a potential presidential candidate.”

“Me? No, thanks. I’m smarter than that.”

“Good.”

“We’re still relatively young, barely forty. There’s a whole new world out there for us.”

“Small town lawyer.”

“You could teach again if you wanted to.”

“I guess I could.”

He smoothed her hair away from her face. “I love you, you know.”

“I know.”

“It hasn’t been easy for you, but you’ve hung in there.” He let his lips drift down her face to her bare shoulder. “After the election, we’re going to take a long holiday without the usual entourage from the governor’s office. A cruise maybe. And then we’re going to find a place to settle down and spend the rest of our lives.”

“I’m good with that.” She wiggled the rest of the way out of her gown. “I’m good with this, too.”

~~~~

He announced his decision to retire from politics with a dour Frank Apple in the background. She stood beside him smiling. “I’m grateful to the people of this state for a good long run in office, and I hope I’ve acted in everyone’s best interest--even those of you who didn’t vote for me. But it’s time to move on, and I’m looking forward to it. My wife…” He paused and held out his hand to her. “My wife has stood with me from the first term until now. I love this state and its people, but I love her more. As soon as we know what we’re going to do after November, I’ll let you know. Thank you. I can’t take questions today, because I have a plane to catch, but Frank Apple will do the best he can to fill in.”

As Frank replaced him at the podium, Andrew and Bess walked away still holding hands. “I guess it’s official,” she murmured as soon as they were out of the press room.

“You didn’t believe I’d do it, did you?”

“I hoped you would.”

“Well, I did. I did it for both of us.”

“Do you really have to make this trip?”

“Afraid so. I’ve had this speech on my calendar for a couple of months. But I’ll only be gone overnight.”

“I’ll pick up some brochures at Tinker’s Travel Agency while you’re gone. It’s not too early to start planning that cruise, is it?”

“Definitely not.” He kissed her. “Gotta run. Bill’s waiting to drive me to the airport. I’ll call you tonight after the speech.”

She watched him walk away from her. In demand as a speaker who told it like it was, he’d taken so many of these overnight trips while he’d been governor. She went with him once, but she didn’t enjoy the hectic pace, and after that, he told her to stay home. But for some reason she’d almost considered going with him this time.

As he’d promised, he called from his hotel about ten o’clock that night. “You’d think a five course dinner and a long-winded speaker would be enough,” he said, “but some of the big-wigs tried to rope me into going out on the town after that.”

“You are getting old.”

“I was born old. That sort of thing never appealed to me.”

“I know.”

“Besides, I know what some of them have in mind, and they’re all married just like I am.”

“Maybe they’re not as married as you are.”

“Maybe not. I can’t imagine running around on you, Bess.”

“I’ve never worried about it.”

“And you’ll never have to. Don’t forget the brochures. I’ve been thinking the Caribbean sounds nice.”

“Not Alaska?”

“Too cold. And I might have to buy you a fur coat.”

“I’ll let you buy me a new swim suit.”

“A bikini.”

“At my age?”

He laughed. “I love you, Bess.”

“I love you, too. Get some sleep, and I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

~~~~

She knew something was wrong when she came back to the governor’s mansion after visiting Tinker’s that morning and found Frank Apple waiting for her. When she glimpsed Alice, her personal assistant, trying to hide her swollen eyes, she knew what it was.

“We don’t know a whole lot yet,” Frank said, leading her to the love seat in her private sitting room. “The plane just went off the radar, and the tower heard the emergency transponder after that.”

She felt an odd sense of being out of her body looking at herself. “But they know there were no survivors.”

“They know that.”

She rose and set the packet of brochures on desk. “We’ll have to take care of a few things, Alice,” she heard herself say. “Will you take some notes?”

In later years, she couldn’t quite remember the details of Andrews burial with full honors in the state cemetery. As soon as she returned from the reception following the funeral, she asked Alice to order some packing boxes from a mover. The company delivered them within hours, and Bess, with Alice’s help and despite her protests, taped them together and began to remove hers and Andrew’s personal belongings from their private living quarters.

Within a week, the rooms were bare, and she suddenly realized she had no idea where she was going. Andrew’s attorney had told her she wouldn’t have any financial worries. “He invested well, and you’re not a spender. And you’ll also have his state pension.”

Money was the least of her worries. She could live wherever she wanted if she could just figure out where that was. She’d been taking Andrew’s robe to bed with her at night because it still smelled of his special soap. Now she shifted it to her other side and turned to look at his picture in the silver frame. “Now what?” she asked him.

She closed her eye against the silence and didn’t open them again until sun streamed through the blinds she’d forgotten to close the night before.

~~~

Arranging to put everything in storage, she booked the Caribbean cruise and sailed away to find herself. She found being surrounded by people both healing and irritating, but she didn’t give in to the impulse to fly home from the first port. She didn’t know where home was anyway.

After two weeks, when the cruise ship docked in home port, she wasn’t any closer to a decision than she’d been before she left. Of course, the governor’s mansion now housed the lieutenant governor and his wife. She’d urged them not to delay moving in. “There are eighteen months left in this term, and the state needs to feel like someone’s still in charge.” She’d given them a tour and introduced them to the staff before she left.

Now she sat in a small apartment with only a few of her boxes removed from storage and unpacked. “I don’t blame you,” she said to Andrew’s photograph on the table beside the sofa. “Not much anyway.” She wondered if, wherever he was, he was laughing. They rarely argued, and when they did, it was his infectious laughter which always ended it--usually on their way to the bedroom.

“I miss you. I really miss you.” She transferred a kiss from her fingertips to his smiling face and went into the kitchen to make supper.

~~~~

She wasn’t sure when the idea came to her or where it came from. She’d wakened in the night dreaming that she and Andrew were running along the same beach where they’d spent their honeymoon fifteen years ago. Suddenly they were in their quarters at the governor’s mansion talking about leaving politics forever. “You could teach again,” she heard him say.

The next morning she unearthed her certificate, still in her maiden name Hartmann, and started calling school districts in all the small towns within a hundred-mile radius. In September, Elizabeth “Bess” Hartmann, moved into a teacherage in a rural district with just under three hundred students.

That had been ten years ago, and she’d enjoyed every minute of every day with her wiggly, sometimes raucus, first-graders. It had taken a year for the school board to discover who she was--or who she’d been. Now almost everyone knew, but no one really cared. She’d established herself as a top-notch teacher, and that’s all anyone wanted from her.

But now, with her fiftieth birthday looming, she was moving on again. She looked up from taping a box closed as Ben poked his head through the kitchen door. “Checking up on me?” she asked.

“Figured I better.” He crossed the small space and pecked her cheek. His sheriff’s badge hit one of her gold hoop earrings and pinged. “I’ll be glad to turn this in next week.” He slapped the holster on his hip. “Gladder to get rid of this.”

“We’ll hope there’s no invasion of dangerous desperadoes between now and then.”

“Hasn’t been in thirty years.”

“Lindsay called this morning to say she’d be out tomorrow to help me with the packing.”

“That girl’s been after me forever to get married.”

“She said she doesn’t even remember her mother anymore. I’m sorry about that.”

“Well, I am, too, but that’s just how it is. She was only five with Ruth got sick and died.”

“She asked if she could call me Mom, and I told her she could call me whatever she liked.”

Bess got to her feet using Ben’s arm as leverage. “I hope you’re going to feed me tonight.”

“Sure. We’ll stop by the house first so I can get out of this uniform.”

“Did you get the reservations made?”

“Dottie did. She gets bored sitting at the dispatch desk with calls few and far between, and she’s better with the internet than I am.” He circled her with his arms. “You gonna miss teaching?”

“Some, I guess, but I can’t teach and travel the word with my husband.”

“Reckon not.” He kissed her for a long time. “You think the governor would approve of all this?”

“Yes. Yes, he would.”

“I think Ruth would, too.”

“Then we can’t ask for more, can we?”

“Get your purse and let’s go hit the steakhouse before it gets crowded.”

She smiled. “Party of two.”

 

 

 


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