Isabel’s Choice

I’m sitting on the porch, watching the thunderheads that have been building since morning, great columns on the horizon darkening through the day.

Isabel called earlier, saying that she’d finally had to tell him, that she couldn’t avoid honesty any longer. She was always the direct one: my neighbor’s daughter who grew up hanging around our place, before marrying her childhood sweetheart.

“He totally flipped; he’s on his way to see you,” she warned me.

After my wife died, my boy was always too busy to come by. “Never mind. I’ll come and sit with you,” she’d said, and we grew closer through companionable silences.

Less distant thunder rolls, a promise that the long, lazy sunlight is coming to an end.

When my despair lifted, we started talking, and I told her things about my wife no one else knew. In return, I learned about her distracted and indifferent husband. “He doesn’t appreciate you,” I commiserated. “A girl like you deserves to be treated right.”

I can see his sedan, wrathful in the distance, the air too heavy for it to be throwing up much dust. The first scattered raindrops pock the ground.

Relieved to open up, we shared secrets and disappointments, finding comfort in confidences. Slowly but inevitably, we became lovers. My Isabel, so dear to me now.

The moment crystallizes as he pulls up and steps out of the car, tense and wary.

Her husband.

My son.

The storm, arriving.