A Touch of Salt
“Let me tell you why you are here.
You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.
If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?" - Matthew 5:14 MSG
His blue eyes narrowed skeptically as he stared at the headline tucked on the fifth page of Friday’s paper. Scanning the story, touching on the all-too-familiar events, he was arrested by one detail. “I suppose the bastard thinks he’s hard done by! Two years, four months in prison! My wife lost her freedom for the rest of her life!” He spoke out loud, although alone. Cradling his fingers behind his head, he gazed out at the lake. Breathing deeply, he let his gaze shift to the western sky. Somewhere deep in his consciousness, he recorded the beauty of that evening glow, but it was Carol’s comment from two summers earlier he was remembering. “We’re going to love this place, Rand!"
The newspaper slipped from his knee, his mind sliding back as easily to two preceding summers. A hot one! The hottest in twenty-five years the weather reporters told them. He smiled as he remembered how he and Carol had compared the darkness of their summer tans while massaging each other to relieve the ache from those hard, hot days of work. They had framed up the summer cottage, starting late in July, and worked feverishly to have the roof on and windows in before Thanksgiving. His eyes measured the raw studding and focused upon a cobweb suspended between one of the roof rafters and the wall. A large ant hung in the delicate threads. “I guess we didn’t get it entirely ant proof after all, honey." He spoke as if Carol was with him in the room.
Over a number of years, they had rescued a deteriorating marriage, and finally, it seemed, had come to respect individuality and togetherness and to appreciate the other in both work and play.
“Let’s go for a quick swim!” she’d say after a long work period and off they’d run to the dock to cool themselves in the lake. Immersing himself now in the memory, he recalled how after the swim, they’d strip off their wet bathing suits, hang them on the makeshift clothesline and dart naked into the cottage to towel. “You look and feel great, forty-year-old," he told her more than once. A deep bond of trust and affection was present in that their fifteenth year of marriage.
A ragged piece of building wrap, torn loose by the fingering wind, now flapped across the window. He stared at the faded grey paper, remembering the white shade it had been when first rolled out against the wall. Time, he realized, recoiling from the thought, had equally changed his feelings and passion for Carol.
His eyes refocused on the small newspaper headline on the floor –Driver Jailed for Twenty-eight Months. The headline blurred as Rand’s gaze shifted to the adjacent pockmarked face of Ernest Mason. It prompted a memory, that sensation, of Carol being wrenched from his arm that cool October morning. A shudder rippled through his body.
The lake darkened as the western horizon deepened its shade of orange. His buttocks felt the sharp, unforgiving hardness of the old sawhorse. He stood, stretching his six-foot-two-inch body, and surveyed once again the rib-like features of the unfinished building. The structural lines were bold and daring. A small piece of cutting lay on the floor with numerical figures scribbled on it in thick carpenter pencil. The calculation of minute fractions giving evidence of a careful measurement made to ensure a perfect fit. Everything had been done to construct a building of beauty and lasting endurance; a place for him to write, for Carol to paint during summer months and in retirement. Picking up the scrap sheeting, he turned it over. In ballpoint pen in a smooth female script was written, “My Beloved is mine and I am his.” He had not been there since that summer but the memory of Carol handing him the note after they had eaten lunch flooded his mind. Practical, intelligent, artistic, a follower of Jesus and ever the romantic that had been his Carol! Evening darkened the lake. Those summer’s dreams, that summer’s love had vanished. The persistent ache of loneliness, of restlessness, pushed against those happy memories.
A breeze ruffled the twilight water, tearing the faded Typac paper a little more and slapping it against the window. An ant scurried across the floor. He bent to crumple the newspaper when his eyes focused upon:
Add a Touch of Salt:
See Sally Salt for all your Real Estate Needs.
He waited impatiently for the Real Estate woman. Impulsively, he had called her after reading her advertisement. He certainly didn’t know the woman’s skill! Expecting a matronly, well dressed, middle-aged woman, driving an expensive foreign car, he was surprised to see a well-used Jeep Cherokee nosing its way down the declining lane. Clad in his usual blue jeans, white tee shirt, and sandals, he walked out to meet her. She certainly wasn’t what he had expected! The thirty-something, five foot six, with shoulder-length, copper coloured hair, dressed in jeans, hiking boots, and a plaid shirt, bounced from the vehicle and with an extended hand announced, “Hi, I’m Sally!”
“Rand Gavell.” He noted Sally’s firm handshake.
“You have a beautiful location Rand! Sure like the way the property is laid out! Great view of the lake! Sally’s eyes finally rested on the unfinished building for a minute. “Interesting structure! Moving?”
Her vehicle, her energy, the clothing, but above all her voice had caught Rand off guard. “No! No! My wife’s… well, a long story…too many memories.”
Sally stopped her perusal of the property, looked closely at the lines that creased Rand’s cheeks, the fatigue pockets under his eyes. Had she detected bitterness or loneliness? “I’m sorry,” and for a moment both, ensconced in personal moments, watched a morning breeze ruffle the placid water near the dock. Sally continued. “Show me around, Rand.”
He walked her around the property listening to her assessment and comments, watching her measure distances, touching this, and examining that. She was knowledgeable, remarkable in seeing some little detail as a selling feature, and she was aggressive. He was captivated by the aura of her energy. “I’d love to list your property, Rand.”
Rand did no more thinking. His split-second decision last night to be rid of this place and its many “ghosts” was final. Sally prepared the papers.