by Sherri Collins
I turned to look at my husband, Dan, and saw his fear.
Just before that, our dog, Riley, bounded up the steep hill to our cabin’s back deck, dropped a femur at our feet and stepped back, awaiting our praise for his find. Instead of praise, though, we simply stared at the long bone, crusted with dirt, gnawed and chipped by other animals.
Just before that, I saw Riley emerge from the trees with something in his mouth. I sat up in my lounge chair, set my glass of chardonnay on the table that Dan and I were sharing, and shielded my eyes to get a better look.
Just before that, I released a deep sigh of contentment and smiled at Dan, who smiled back, and for the first time in a long time, I could tell it was genuine. He reached across the table and stroked my arm.
Just before that, I gazed out at the mountain vista and the tops of the trees, listening to Riley rustling in the leaves far below. I told Dan he was forgiven, that it had been over a year since the affair, and it was time. He stared straight ahead for a long moment and then said quietly that he was relieved. He promised that she was long gone and would never, ever be a part of our lives again.