Lady of The Ashley

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   James walked along the path from the hotel room towards the quaint bar located on the hotel's property. He was feeling morose - He and Sarah had been saving for months for this "romantic" getaway to a historic Charleston plantation right on the banks of the Ashley River. Now Sarah was bundled up in bed, fighting off God-only-knew what and for God-only-knew how long. They hadn't been exactly happy for some time now, and this was supposed to be the vacation that let them know if there was still a spark, anything at all left between them worth saving. James took Sarah's untimely sickness as a sign that everything they did as a couple was cursed. He still loved his wife very much, but it felt like a constant uphill battle to find common ground anymore. As he walked, he lingered on the memories of happier times, times when the two of them actually enjoyed the randomness of life. Now, it seemed like everything had order and purpose. There was no last minute "Hey, let's go do this or that." Now, if it wasn't on the calendar, it just wasn't done. That's why this trip had been so important. They had it all laid out with an exact itinerary of what time and where to be, down to the minute. That was shot to hell now, with Sarah's totally unplanned bug.

    As James stepped into the bar, he noticed how charming and quiet the space was. Soft music played from overhead, and while there was a single flat screen hanging over the fireplace, James was pleased to see it was not playing just sports news. The furniture was comfortable and inviting. Nothing screamed "bar," but rather softly whispered "Come, sit down, have a drink, and relax.".

James ordered a local brew, something he was accustomed to do when he traveled. He enjoyed sampling the different offerings of local microbreweries, having lost interest in many massed produced beer products. To him, they had sacrificed the taste of what he called "The Art of the Brew" and replaced it with dollar signs. This had led James to co-found a popular beer and wine blog called "Vine-N-Brew". What started as a passion for pairing microbrews and wines with foods had grown into a nationally-followed blog and gradually became a full-time job. Now, he figured if he couldn't spend this mini-vacation with his wife, he might as well get some work done.

James chose a seat next to the fireplace at a small, wooden table. The fire crackled as it burned, even though it was a gas fireplace, subtly adding to the ambiance of the softly lit room. James thought it was a perfect place for a pleasant and unplanned conversation, remembering Sarah, sick, back in the room. He wished at that moment that she was sitting across from him, laughing and talking like old times. He truly longed for the connection he and Sarah once had, talking for hours about nothing and everything. Now they sat for hours in silence, not speaking a word, both tapping away on their own mobile devices. This usually lasted until one of the two of them sighed and said, "Ok, I'm headed to bed."

  "How do two people go from being inseparable, even when physically apart, to being separate when they're sitting in the same room together?" wondered James to himself.

  James returned his attention to the beer he had purchased, planning to visit various local breweries now that his itinerary had been shot all to hell. The beer he had ordered was a Munich Helles Lager named 'Joggling Board', from a place in Summerville named Oak Road Brewery. James' inner critic took note of the aroma, color, froth, and taste of this new beverage. He found himself pleased with its attributes and decided he would for sure spend some time at that particular brew house. 

  James, deep in thought, hadn't even noticed the attractive young woman seated in the corner, curiously observing his little beer drinking ritual. She chuckled and said, "Looks like you're a little unsure of what you want to do with your drink there."

  James smiled and replied, "I guess it does look a little odd to somebody who's not a beer critic. I'm thinking about writing a review on my blog about this golden beauty, and want to make sure I do it some justice."

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