CHAPTER ONE/THE POND

To Glorious DeLaporte, Great Pond in Wellfleet Massachusetts was more than beautiful; swimming in it was one of the most precious memories of her childhood. And today, as she sat cross-legged on her towel, chatting with Allison, her sort of new, sort of best friend, she suddenly jumped up and ran headlong into the water, running until her feet could no longer touch bottom, and then taking a perfectly executed dive into its depths, the pure water descendants of the melted ice which the glaciers had left behind 18,000 years ago as they retreated.

Allison stood up to watch her, but only when Glorious had disappeared long enough for Allison to be concerned.

“Glorious?” Allison yelled, “Glorious, where are you?” Allison realized that, “Glorious, where are you?” had become a mantra for both her and her husband, Gavin Sanders, ever since they’d all arrived on Cape Cod on Memorial Day Weekend.

Glorious had always been impetuous, even though she’d been a very successful copyright lawyer. She’d always been high spirited and filled with what Allison had once described as “graceful energy," but lately her high spirits had turned into too many late night drunken binges, too many one night stands, and far too many sudden urges to do dangerous things, like jumping off a cliff last week into a swirling pool of water; how deep that swirling pool was, she had no idea.

“You could have broken your neck,” Allison had said. “Do you realize how lucky you were?”

Glorious’ response had been to snap at Allison and tell her to mind her own business. They’d been having their morning coffee in the house Gavin had rented for the summer on the beach in Wellfleet, and, Allison had thought, enjoying their conversation.

Glorious had headed for the front porch, but turned to retrieve her coffee cup. It was on the tip of her tongue to say something even nastier, something that would cut Allison to the quick, a talent Glorious possessed in spades with people she disliked, but she liked Allison and reined herself in when she’d noticed the tears welling in Allison’s eyes.

Allison had brushed the tears away impatiently. She’d realized that Glorious was about to apologize yet again, but this time there would be no “apology accepted.”

She’d said simply, “Where are you Glorious? What happened to the woman I met two years ago?”

Glorious had smiled. “It was two years and two months ago;” and then a slight, unanticipated and uncomfortable pause in the conversation. “I met you right after you met Gavin. Remember? I was having dinner with Gavin at Adele’s and you and that horrific…”

“Wounded,” Allison corrected her.

“Fine,” Glorious had thrown a look at Allison that said, ‘will you stop defending that idiot ex- boyfriend of yours?’

“Fine,” she’d repeated, “that wounded and horrific Jed Adkins. If I remember correctly, our law firm made a bit of money on that case.” At that point Glorious had decided their conversation was over and once again headed for the porch.

Now, as Allison stood on the small, hidden beach that Glorious loved so much, she decided that Glorious was fine out in the water, wherever she was, and that her own anxiety about Glorious’ state of mind did not extend to Glorious trying to drown herself in a pond that she’d cherished since childhood. And, she thought, it was much too passive a way to die for such an exquisite and self-absorbed woman.

Allison sat down and checked her cellphone for messages. Gavin had texted her that he’d be on the ferry from Boston that docked in Provincetown at 4:00 pm and that he’d made reservations for 4 at The Bluefish, his favorite restaurant on the Cape.

Then, as if she’d intuited that Allison had information about Gavin’s return, Glorious suddenly popped out of the water. She walked the short distance to her chair, and grabbed a towel. “So what ferry Is he on?” Glorious tilted her head and tried to knock some water out of her ear.  

She glistened in the sun. Her silver one-piece bathing suit fit her like a glove. Unlike Allison, Glorious had a small bosom, a model’s figure with her long legs, an athlete’s tightness of muscle, and a painter’s dream of high cheekbones and round, soft blue eyes.  She turned her back to Allison briefly and Allison noted the diamond cut-out shape in her bathing suit and how it framed her spine, her shoulder blades, and came to a point right at the tip of her buttocks. It was incredibly sensual without being blatant. That’s how Glorious was, or had been.

“He made a reservation for 4 at The Bluefish, so I guess Marie’s coming with him.”

“I like her,” Glorious mused idly as she dug her feet into the sand. “I didn’t at first but now I understand Gavin doesn’t know how he ever managed without her.” Glorious popped her toes out of the sand and wiggled them.

“Well, she’s been working even harder than her usual 24 hours a day, prepping for the Frankfort Book Fair. Gavin thinks she’s earned some time off.”

“That woman knows books like I know…”

But Allison interrupted her. “I just want to point something out to you, Glorious. You didn’t like me when you first met me either. And you hated Gavin when you met him and then you wound up dating him for almost two years.”

“So what?” Glorious peered at Allison over her Fendi sunglasses.

“So, I think there’s a pattern here. Your first instincts are almost always wrong.”

“I saw a trout, a Brook trout,” Glorious said whimsically.

“Excuse me?” Allison said. “I thought we were talking about your subconscious.”

“In the pond just now, there was a beautiful Brook trout. They restock them every spring you know. Of course you don’t know. It’s just a memory from my childhood.”

Allison felt tentative about engaging Glorious on the subject of her childhood memories. Actually she felt tentative about engaging Glorious on any subject more intimate than the weather lately. But she decided to take a chance.

“Tell me more about spending summers in Wellfleet. You know my grandmother and I used to come up here a lot and spend a week or two in a cabin in Truro. One summer we stayed for a month.”

Glorious’ eyes lit up. “Why didn’t you tell me this before? I’m sure you’ve been to the beach here, tried to climb the hill at Newcomb Hollow, god that’s a hard one. I’m sure you saw tide pools in the bay, walked the hiking trails, been to the Lobster Pot. Allison, we could have talked about…stuff.”

“It’s like paradise here. I mean we only rented a little cottage, but this is a magical place.”

Glorious looked enraptured, as if she’d just entered a secret garden with her friend. She lowered her eyes and made a quick line in the sand.

“That’s me,” she said, pointing to the line. “You’re with me or against me. I love you or I hate you.” She hesitated and spoke in a whisper. “I’m sorry I’ve been so bitchy lately. I love this place. You love this place. So I guess we have something in common besides both of us loving Gavin.”

Allison pushed back her raven hair and gazed across the pond. Glorious noted the beauty of her profile and, when Allison turned to look at her, she couldn’t help but be, once again, astonished by the truth that was always, always in her eyes. Those slightly tilted blue eyes that put her own to shame. They dared you to look deeper. They challenged you to live up to your own best self. They were the color of some jewel that had not yet been discovered, the color of the glacial water from Great Pond as it existed 18,000 years ago.

“You never loved Gavin.” Allison spoke quietly. “You said it yourself. You told him two years before he even met me that you were meant to be friends, not lovers.”

“He told you that?”

“He did.” Allison said. She held her gaze steady and waited.

Glorious sighed. “It’s true. At least it was true then. I broke up with him and married my own private idiot. No, Will is not an idiot, it simply wasn’t meant to last.”

“You had a child together. You still see each other. He’s a great father to Adam.”

“True,” Glorious admitted. “An infrequent father but a good one.”

Allison checked the time and started to gather up her things. She felt slightly awkward in Glorious’ presence whenever the subject of Gavin came up, but she was convinced that part of Glorious’ erratic behavior was caused by her belief that she’d made a mistake by ending her relationship with him. And, call it feminine instinct, or just her writer’s gift for detailed observation, Allison knew that Glorious wasn’t in love with Gavin, and probably never had been.

“I’ll drive,” Glorious seemed to have come to some unspoken resolution that she was going to shake off her bad mood and her erratic behavior, at least for now. “Let’s go get that man of yours.”

“Don’t forget Marie.” Allison smiled.

“Who could forget Marie?” Glorious spoke cheerily and, Allison hoped, sincerely. They packed the trunk of the car with the beach chairs and towels and took off down Route 6 towards Provincetown.

Allison was quiet in the car. She loved driving past the hiking trail where wild beach plums grew, reminisced about the times she and her grandmother had biked over to the restricted area where there were always seals bobbing on the waves, eyeing  the shoreline to see if it was safe to come on land for a few minutes and bathe in the sun.

Pilgrim Lake came into view, silent and ancient, one of the only lakes on the Cape where no swimming, no boating, no fishing was allowed. It was simply there to be admired.

Glorious seemed comfortable with Allison’s silence. Allison studied Glorious’ profile, her Versace cover up, her Christian Louboutin sandals. “You’re rich,” Allison said flatly. Glorious didn’t bother to answer. “Not nouveau. Old money. Born rich, like Gavin.”

“What would you like me to do about it?” Glorious glanced in the rearview mirror and switched to the left lane. “Next exit,” she said, more to herself than Allison.

“I’m not blaming you.” Allison had anticipated Glorious’ answer. “I’m uncomfortable being part of it. Sometimes I think that you and Gavin have a coded language, a coded lifestyle, a way of looking at the world that I’ll never understand.”

“We do,” was Glorious’ answer. They drove again in silence. At the next stoplight, Glorious took off her sunglasses and stared at Allison for as long as the light stayed red. Then she hit the accelerator. “But you, my darling Allison, my gorgeous, darling, middle class, orphaned, darling, brave and talented, eternally naïve Allison, with an unshakeable and depressing attitude that all people are good, have something that is so intrinsic to your nature, that it has blessed you with a richness of life that neither Gavin nor I have ever possessed.” She hesitated. “You were loved.” Glorious hit the accelerator again and screeched a sharp left turn at the next light.

The Boston ferry was just pulling into the pier as Glorious parked the car. Allison pushed open the door before Glorious had even turned off the engine, and ran to greet Gavin and Marie. It had only been a three week separation, but, as it always did, it felt like a lifetime.

They were standing on deck with their suitcases, waving at her, and smiling. Gavin looked tan, his thick chestnut hair rustling in the breeze.  Marie, of course looked stressed and happy to be that way. She was loaded up with an armful of books.

Glorious walked up behind Allison, jiggling her key chain. She thought about how, when she and Gavin were dating, he always complimented her on her cool exterior, her always fashionable presentation and her precision-cut blonde hair. He loved the way it played against the passionate woman she was in bed.

But Allison always dressed in T-shirts and shorts or jeans. She wore her heart on her sleeve and never hid her feelings from Gavin. She was, quite simply, in love and basked in every moment of it because…well, because Gavin was in love as well.

He and Marie came down the plank of the boat, and Glorious realized that all he could see was Allison. Everything else, everyone else, was an afterthought.

He dropped his suitcase on the dock and reached towards his beautiful wife. She ran into his arms. He cradled the back of her head and kissed her in a way that even brought a blush to Glorious’ face.

When she looked back on that moment, she thought that what happened next was because of the brilliant sun, the sparkle of the water, the slight swaying of the dock and the overwhelming sense of being wrapped in a warm blanket whenever she was on Cape Cod.

But she swore that she felt Gavin’s lips against her own, she felt his arms so tight and strong around her body, she smelled the sweetness of his breath and looked into the depths of his eyes. She was giving herself over to every one of her senses, becoming part of him. She was so safe in his arms that she could simply surrender. And then she realized she was losing consciousness.

Marie watched as Glorious landed in a heap on the dock. She lay on her side, her left arm extended in front of her as if she’d been reaching for something, or someone.

“My God!” Marie dropped her books and ran over to Glorious. “Somebody, help!” Marie spotted a man standing in a small kiosk on the dock, selling soda and other drinks. She bolted over to him and grabbed a bottle of water. “Give me a cookie too!” She slammed some money on the counter and ran back to where Glorious was still passed out, looking for all the world like she was simply taking an afternoon nap. Gavin was kneeling on one side of her, Allison on the other. People were milling around.

“Here!” Marie handed the water to Gavin and the cookie to Allison, who looked at it questioningly. “You’re right, no cookies.” Marie took the cookie and threw it towards the closest person she could find, a teenage boy, who shrugged and walked away, munching on the cookie. “She sure was pretty,” the boy mumbled.

“She’s not dead!” Marie shouted.

Back to the kiosk. “Do you have any orange juice?” The man answered that he had grapefruit juice. He stuck his head out of the kiosk and peered down the dock.

“She OK?”

“I think so.” Marie sounded unsure. “Give me another water!” The man handed over the water and said, “That’s $3.00 for both.”

“Tomorrow,” Marie answered. “I’ll bring it tomorrow.”

But Glorious was sitting up by the time Marie returned, and the small crowd was dispersing. Gavin was running his fingers through her hair, pushing it back from her face, telling her to look at him.

“I’m fine,” Glorious said, struggling to stand up.

“Don’t move, just stay there for a minute and drink some juice.” Allison popped open the grapefruit juice and handed it to Glorious. “What happened?”

Glorious had lowered her head and covered her face with her hands. “I was in his arms, he was holding me and I didn’t think I needed to…I thought he would just hold me.”

“Who?” Gavin asked. Glorious took her hands away from her face and stared directly at Gavin.

“You, of course.” Her eyes wandered over to the books that had spilled all over the dock. She idly picked one up and glanced at the spine which was imprinted with ‘S&G History.’ She picked up another book, ‘S&G Classics’. Sanders and Grisham. “Everywhere I look, there you are, Gavin.”

Gavin pulled out his cellphone. Marie asked him if he was calling a doctor.

“Dr. Wellstone, it’s Gavin Sanders.” Gavin quickly walked to the edge of the dock so that he was out of earshot. Marie began picking up her books.

“Don’t give him an argument, OK?” Marie spoke sternly and impatiently to Glorious, because she expected some kind of smart ass response from her, but all she got was a quick nod of agreement. It was clear that Glorious was embarrassed, or as embarrassed as it was possible for her to be.

“Help me get up?” Glorious extended a hand to Marie.

“Up you go.” Marie was as strong as an ox. She smoked, drank a little too much, never exercised but was absolutely positive that the exercise she gave her mind almost every minute of every day, was a bulwark against getting physically sick.

Gavin returned and said that Dr. Wellstone could see Glorious as soon as she could get there.

“Where’s there?”

“He’s right in Wellfleet, so we’ll drive you and then we’ll wait at the house. Just call when you’re ready and I’ll come get you.”