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The little Cottage by the Lake
It seems like just yesterday I was living in that nice, cozy cottage we had alongside the lake. Andrew had built it with own two hands because my Pa wouldn’t allow me to marry a man that didn’t provide me with a house to come home to. You should have seen Andy’s eyes when he showed me that little cottage. He had said I deserved better, and he wouldn’t stop working until he had given me the best home I could possibly have.
Andy, you see is the nick name I gave him, and he won’t let anyone else call him that so I feel kind of special. He calls me Dimples because when I smile I get those creases on either side of my mouth, but my name is actually Victoria.
I had loved everything about Andy. I loved his sparkling blue eyes and thick black hair. With his looks our children might have the chance of looking at least somewhat decent. You must understand that I’m not a very pretty person on the outside, but I try to be reasonably beautiful on the inside. My eyes are brown but they aren’t the pretty kind. They’re the sad kind and I don’t know why, but when I’m with Andy my eyes are happier or at least they are when I look in the looking glass.
I didn’t come from a wealthy family. I never had expensive dresses or multiple long hair ribbons. When I met Andy I only had one short, blue ribbon to hold my long, blond hair out of my eyes. Andy on the other hand had a wealthy Uncle who ran a cotton plantation farm. Andy didn’t believe in paying workers next to nothing when their families were starving and the old man was rolling in money. Andy had decided long ago that he would never take any money from his Uncle. He said he was going to have a nice, little farm just like his father’s and I believed him.
The first three years we were married seemed like a fairy tale. After a long day’s work Andy would come in for supper, and after supper we would go for walks alongside the lake or dance in the kitchen. Everything was perfect until the following spring when I had my first child. It was a girl and we named her Mary after Andy’s late mother. She was a little angel with the blue eyes and black hair I had hoped for. She even had my dimples. Not too long after she was born we noticed something was wrong. The only thing the local doctors could tell us was what we already knew. We had an unhealthy baby.
Andy couldn’t accept that, he had to know what was wrong with her. We lived as simply as possible and saved as much money as we could so we’d be able to visit different doctors. We did that as long as we could but we couldn’t keep going on like this.
By this time Mary was about two she was just starting to talk. She could crawl but you could see in her eyes that she was in pain. Andy finally did the last thing he thought he would do. He went to his Uncle for help.
His Uncle was a very old, bitter man who only cared about his plantation. He had no children and no one other than Andy to carry on the family business. He wrote up a document stating that he would provide Mary with all her Medical needs if Andy took over the business after he died and Andy signed it. He said it was the only way we could help Mary. I believed him again.
One doctor finally told us Mary had a weaker heart than most. We had to feed her certain foods and help her do certain exercises and it helped, she learned to walk but she still couldn’t do as many things as a normal child.
When Mary was three she became very sick, so sick that she wasn’t aware of her surroundings. The doctor prescribed a medicine to her that seemed to help until we realized it had done more damage than good. When Mary regained consciousness it was evident to everyone that she could no longer hear.
We hired a tutor to teach Mary how to speak using her hands. Andy’s Uncle died not long after and Andy over took the plantation. It was as if he became a new person. He was always working and the more he worked the less sympathy he had for the workers.
One day a worker came to him requesting a loan, and Andy threatened to fire him if he wouldn’t leave. The man had needed medicine for his little boy, that was just like us a few years ago. That night I told Andy I was going for a walk, but I went to see the man who came to Andy. His home was so shabby and his little boy was truly sick. I gave him the money for the medicine and the next few days I brought the boy soup to nurse him back to health. The workers started coming to me for help instead of Andy because I actually helped.
As time went by Andy expected me to go to parties and gatherings of other wealthy people. I was expected to wear fancy dresses and long gloves. It was as if he was trying to change me. He told me that at these parties I was to call him Andrew because it was formal. I agreed because we didn’t need to fight over something silly like that.
It didn’t bother me until one night at a party when I walked into a conversation Andy was having with a girl much younger than me. She was calling him Andy and he wasn’t stopping her. Suddenly I didn’t feel special anymore. It bothered me a great deal but I didn’t mention anything to Andy that night.
By the time Mary was four she could fluently communicate with her hands. I had been learning along with her so I knew just as much as she did but Andy had been spending so much time with the business and social status that he had learned only a few words. Mary viewed him almost as a stranger because everything she heard from him was interpreted through me.
A short time later I asked Andy if I could teach the worker’s children how to read and write. He told me I couldn’t. I begged and pleaded but he wouldn’t change his mind so I went against his will. I secretly taught them while Andy was away and if Andy was to walk in I would tell him they were asking me if there was anything that they could do to help me or something along those lines.
The children who were too young to learn but wanted to tag along with their brothers or sisters would play with Mary. Some of the children even started learning to talk with their hands. It seemed to be going splendidly.
Later one afternoon while we were at a picnic I finally became bitter. I asked Andy why I was required to call him Andrew when he was letting all sorts of women call him Andy. He simply said, “If it didn’t bother you a year ago it shouldn’t bother you now.”
I became so angry that I took Mary and went home. I packed a suit case and decided it was time Mary and I paid my parents a visit. I wrote Andy a note saying that we would be back soon.
It felt good visiting home again. I walked along the side the river and I visited the cottage. I saw the family that was living there now. They were so happy and I sat there and wondered what our lives would be like if we had still lived there. Maybe we would be happier.
My mother convinced me to go back two days later. I remember that day clearly. Mary and I opened the French doors and walked in. We climbed up the grand stair case. When we reached the top Andy came out of his study yelling at me. He kept saying things like, “You had no right to take Mary!”
“She’s my daughter too!” I screamed back, echoing through the house.
“I found out about you teaching those children behind my back!”
I saw Mary backing away slowly.
“If you had done the right thing and helped those people then I wouldn’t have to lie to you! You have become so self-centered you don’t about me or your own daughter!”
That was when he hit me. His cold and bitter hand against my face. He had the nerve to hit me in front of his own daughter. I looked over at her. She was horrified and her eyes were big with fear.
Mary ran. She turned and ran down those grand stair case steps. Half way down the stairs she tripped. Screaming she reached out but was only able to grasp air. She plummeted down hitting her head against railing and crumbled, rolling the rest of the way down. I immediately sprinted to her side. She wasn’t breathing. I looked up at Andrew with my sad, brown eyes trying to search his blank expression. I needed him to tell me what to do but the truth was he couldn’t do anything. Our daughter was dead and there was nothing anyone could do.
Still I screamed at Andrew. “Help me, please help me!” my voice cracking.
All Andrew did was turn away, walk into his study, and shut the door. He opened a bottle of bear and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.
Andrew and I don’t talk much anymore. The only time I see him is when I meet him at the bottom of the grand stair case and he escorts me to a party or a social gathering. It’s been years since Mary died but he hasn’t changed. Some say I should leave Andrew but I won’t. I still have hope that someday he’ll remember who he used to be and why he loved me and if he never does remember I’ll just stay here. Looking out the window with my sad, brown eyes thinking back to the good times we had in the little cottage by the lake.