Miranda greeted the man at the farmers market. August was tourist season, a busy month on the island. A gray haired woman sat sleeping in a folding chair, a scarf tied loosely around her head, the ground dusty beneath her feet. Plastic bins of figs, peaches, and eggplant tempted curious travelers, while spirited twin boys escaped their parents’ grasp and sent a tower of watermelons tumbling. There was no place more beautiful than Santorini, the most celebrated of all the Greek islands, the place Miranda now called home.
It had been just over a year that Miranda married Dominic Manos. The wedding was a small, private affair, attended by Dominic’s family and a few personal friends. Sadly, Miranda’s own family couldn’t be there. It all happened on such short notice, and she knew better than to question her future husband. Dominic was very sorry things didn’t work out better, and promised her a trip back to the states soon.
They did a lot of travelling that first year. The house on Ocean Drive was much like the house she shared with ex-husband Harry Stowe, but with six bathrooms, marble statues, and a waterfall under the lanai. The time they spent in Miami was brief, mostly visiting with Dominic’s business associates in bars at night. As a midwestern girl, Miranda struggled to fit in. But Dominic assured her that in time she would learn to love the city.
Next, they spent some time aboard Dominic’s yacht, the Atlantis. Of course Miranda was thrilled to be back in Michigan, full of happy memories of her boat, working for Tiller, and her much simpler life. But with her former friends at the Mallard Point Club looking on, she knew she was being scrutinized. It wasn’t the homecoming she thought it would be. And it didn’t help that Dominic Manos was not popular among her old crowd.
No one seemed to have much use for a girl who once cheated on her adoring husband, wreaking havoc among the couples who were true to the vows of marriage, and sending the message that no loving union was secure. Their thoughts were with Harry, his new wife, and the crash that killed them both. Even Charlie Fine looked the other way.
Miranda also wondered about the mysterious man who gave her that Bible one autumn day, the day before she journeyed to Charlevoix for the winter. She wondered how God could let so many bad things happen to her. She certainly didn’t deserve it. She was basically a good person. Miranda gave it a thought, but dismissed it. Sometimes she secretly wondered if Dominic was a big mistake, too. But she had the perfect life. It made no sense to question it.
When they first arrived in Greece, Miranda devoted herself to learning the culture, getting to know Dominic’s extended family, and enjoying her beautiful new home. Her husband doted on her, filled her huge closet with many beautiful things, and was proud to have her on his arm at every social affair. Switching from scotch to vodka made all the difference in Miranda’s sobriety– she hardly drank at all, at least not every night.
In spite of his unflattering behavior the night they met, the man who was lucky number 30, the man who revealed photos, documentation, and secrets about her private life, Miranda decided it didn’t matter. After that night aboard his big yacht, Miranda didn’t give it another thought. Dominic Manos was a man of success and great wealth, with a business and reputation to consider. Obviously, he had to make sure she was the right girl to fit into his world, to make his fourth marriage work. Even though she didn’t like all those pictures, and the fact that he hired Neil Lipman to watch her, she reminded herself that nobody is perfect, not even her husband.
In spite of it all, there were times when Miranda felt a deep longing, an undeniable sadness and despair. She would hide in her dressing room, hiding from her heart. The room had a window and a view of the Aegean Sea , but she really just wanted to go home. Miranda thought about the night she spent with Drew, her face snuggled against him, his broad chest a refuge from all her worries. She missed the nights they stayed up late at her little house in Petoskey, watching movies and eating pizza, and a big slice of pie at midnight. Those were such happy times.
But the memories also brought tears. There were times she cried and couldn’t stop. It happened a lot more than she was willing to admit, and she imagined Drew holding here close, telling her it was okay to cry. Looking at her dressing table, and the piles of wadded up Kleenex that littered her pretty things, she sometimes wondered how she could go on without him. Even her lovely new orchids, all lined up in a row, couldn’t ease her pain. She loved him, she loved Drew. What she wouldn’t give to visit the old boat house just one more time, to feel him kiss her neck and say, “Goodnight, Kitten.” While the flowers were blooming, Miranda was dying inside.
She wondered if Drew had met someone…
She dried her tears, blew her nose, and tossed another Kleenex onto the pile. At least she had a maid to clean up the mess. Miranda had to consider her lifestyle. Maybe all her material things, the treasures that only money could buy, would comfort her broken heart– eventually. Dominic kept a close eye on her, probably to help keep her new life on track. She could never contact her lover. For all the wonderful things Dominic Manos had done for her, he deserved her faithfulness, even if it was just in her heart. She would learn to love him.
Miranda took off her pretty new sandals, walked along the beach, the black sand warm against her feet. She kicked a stone along the way, the dark pebbles reflecting her sullen mood. Back in Charlevoix, Drew kicked off a pair of worn dock shoes, climbed the steps of the old boat house, the place he would always call home. He still lived alone, no one to share it with. Miranda turned to look at the palace, the highest peak on the cliff, the place where she felt so alone.
If only she had told Drew her secret, how much she truly loved him. But intimacy didn’t come easy. Why did she need to protect her heart? What was she hiding from? Miranda walked along, eyes filling with tears. She recalled how Drew listened to all her fears and stories, how he was always there for her. At the same time, she wondered about his mysterious quiet side. He was a deep thinker, and often kept his thoughts to himself. Miranda often pondered what she might be missing.
In spite of his sadness, Drew continued to live his life, the simple life that suited him. Even though months had passed, he still missed her yet hoped she was happy. But when he thought about that night, that magic between them, he knew where she really belonged. He was convinced the Miranda would choose to be with him for the right reasons, as a man of character and integrity. He knew that she loved him, that his secret inheritance, over time, would not have mattered. All she needed from him was his heart– and a snack– he was sure. Drew would go on, fixing old boats and fishing when there was time. He would never forget her, but he would get past the sadness. He was no stranger to loss.
The sun came out, softly illuminating the pebbles beneath her feet, somewhat lifting her despair. She would greet Dominic with a hug, a kiss, and a lively story about her day. In time, their marriage would improve, she just knew it. Miranda was happy after all! She put on her husband’s favorite smile, almost convincing herself. Even so, she would never stop missing Drew. She feared her tears would go on forever.
There was a familiar breeze, a memory. She pulled a soft, ripe peach out of her basket, took a bite and frowned. It was bitter.
*This story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2012, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.