HOME - BACK YARD
here's your sweater," Burt Lamont said as he walked up behind his
girlfriend Janet Stokes as she sat on a pallet in the grass, working on a
painting. "I know that it's rather nice today, but once the sun goes
behind the clouds, it's going to cast quite a chill."
"Thank you, dear," Janet
smiled as she took the sweater from him and wrapped it loosely around her
shoulders. "It's been so long since I've taken the time to work on my
art that I was beginning to think that I'd lost my touch."
"You're too talented for
that," he nodded and then sat down next her her on the ground.
you," she blushed and then returned her focus to her work. "I'm
really glad the weather turned out so nicely today. I just got this sudden
itch to paint and I knew that this would be the perfect spot. Do you see
the way that the clouds are moving behind those trees?" She pointed
off in the distance to a small grove of trees, not yet showing the first buds of
spring. "The stark nakedness of the branches shows quite a distinct
contrast to the white clouds and golden sun. I think this painting is
going to show the ability for hope to shine through even the most barren pit of
Janet," he commented as he furrowed his brow in confusion and again glanced
at the painting. "I think you're doing a really good job at capturing
"I try. You know, the sun
and those trees is kind of like a metaphor for us and what we've been
through," she muttered softly as she brushed another color onto her
canvas. "The rays of hope that continue to shine through even
"You mean Judith, don't
you?" Burt let out a small sigh when he realized what was truly on
her mind. He knew that his long ago affair with her sister wasn't
something that she could readily forget. Even more difficult to get past
was the fact that he'd fathered her sister's child---a child that was now dead.
"In a way, yes," she
nodded and then leaned back to look at her work from a different
perspective. "But also my past with Gordon Scott. Burt,
we've both...got things in our pasts that haunt us. We can't necessarily
go back and change anything. We've just got to accept what we've done and
"That's very philosophical of
you." His eyes narrowed as he turned to look at her curiously.
"Are you...trying to say that you forgive me for what I did with
Judith? Can you really get over my past with your sister?"
"Why not?" she asked as
she paused in her work to gaze at him lovingly. "You didn't know who
she was. You didn't know who I was, for that matter. That was my own
fault. I wasn't honest with you when we first met. You had no way of
knowing how we were connected."
stopped and lowered his head as he considered the truths that she was
telling. She was right, after all. Everything had all been a huge,
cruel twist of fate---his romance with Judith, their baby, his eventual love for
Janet. Now that Judith was a part of his past and the baby was gone, maybe
it was finally time to put the past to rest and move on. Certainly there
was no way that any of it could affect them anymore. All of the secrets
were out and there was no longer anything that was being kept hidden.
"Do you ever think about
getting married?" he finally spoke in an almost casual tone.
paused in shock and turned to look at him. "Of course I...think about
getting married. What girl doesn't?" She eyed him suspiciously.
What had brought this on?
"I was thinking...well, because
of Reginald and
Jillian's wedding.... It was making me think about the
future." He hesitated for a moment and glanced down at the
ground. "I know that it didn't turn out quite the way everyone
thought that it would, but I...well...it just made me think about the two of
"Burt, are you...asking me to
marry you?" She stared at him as a mixture of anxiety and
anticipation began to churn inside of her. "Are you...trying to
"No," he replied
softly. "Well, at least not yet."
"O-oh," she muttered and
hung her head, clearly disappointed.
"Now, don't get me wrong.
I do want to marry you someday," Burt tried to explain as he gently
put his finger under her chin and lifted her face so that he could look deeply
into her eyes, "but I want the moment that I ask you to be my wife to be
the most beautiful and romantic moment of your life. It's just not the
right time, yet."
"Oh, Burt, just you proposing
would make it the most wonderful moment of my life," Janet sighed
dreamily. "I don't care where we are or what we're doing. Just
being with you will make it special."
"Thanks for saying that,"
he grinned, "but I have a very specific idea of how I want everything to
go. I know exactly how I want to take this next step in our lives. I
want to be absolutely certain that nothing could spoil that moment when I ask
you to be my wife." He paused and leaned in to kiss her tenderly on
the lips before speaking again. "Because once we're husband and wife,
they'll be nothing that can ruin our happiness."
As Burt held Janet tightly in his
arms, the sense of hope that she'd felt quickly turned into a sense of
fear. If he thought that there was nothing left that could tear them
apart, he was dead wrong. If Burt were to ever find out that she was the
one directly responsible for the death of his own child, he'd surely hate her
forever and any hope that they might have had for happiness would be ruined.
As she lifted her head from his
shoulder, she glanced at the painting that she'd been working on---the bright
sunlight pouring through the trees had been intended to symbolize hope.
Now, however, as she checked the sky that she'd been so diligently copying onto
her canvas, she noticed that the sun had disappeared behind the clouds.
And not just any clouds, at that. They were now storm clouds and they were
quickly rolling in.