Russell awoke with a start. He'd slept in the bed of his truck last night. It had been to overwhelming to sleep inside of the cabin. Besides, it wasn't in any condition to provide a good night's sleep anyway. He lay there for a moment with his eyes closed listening to the singing birds and feeling the warmth of the morning sun. God, he'd missed this place. He'd forgotten it's beauty and majesty of the place.
When he opened his eyes, he'd come to a decision. He was going to make the cabin livable again. He would put in the work with his bear hands the way he had so long ago. And, as he tore down the old, dying wood the bad memories would fall. The idea energized him and he hoped down from truck bed and entered the cab and headed to the hardware store.
Six Months Later
It took Russell six months to get the cabin in decent shape. Once he'd gotten started, it had become an obsession. From the time time he woke up in the morning until the time he went to sleep he was working on the cabin. He loved it. While he worked on the property, he was able to keep the nagging thoughts at bay.
He hammered and nailed relentlessly. The sweat dropped from his brow onto his ground. He and the earth were connected now. All that was being poured into this work made him love the place even more. It was the same excitement he'd felt when he'd first built the cabin back when it was just him and Janet.
Janet. His mind had released her name before he had a chance to shut the door on it.
It wasn't so bad. An image of her flashed in his mind and his heart quickened, her rich brown hair, the kind green eyes and the smile that would leave him breathless all came to mind. This was how he remembered her. No! This was what he chose to remember.
"Ouch!" Russell screamed after the hammer had slammed down on his thumb. "Fuck!" He growled grabbing his hand dropping the hammer to the floor. A rush of anger surged threw him. This was what he get for thinking about the past. The past couldn't be changed no matter how much thinking and wishing and regret. Life was about moving forward and he was determined to do so.
Exhausted, he decided to stop work for the day and instead spend some time at the pond. While repairing the cabin, he'd steered clear of the pond. The pond had a way of stealing time. It drew you in, mesmerized by its mystery. Something so dark and bottomless had to hold a lot of secrets...it even held a few of his own.
The pond had been a place of his childhood. Before the cabin he'd built, there had been another cabin built by his grandfather Albert Joseph and they had spent many summers at their grandfather's cabin...and the pond.
He had his first kiss on the dock over looking the pond. Had lost his virginity one starless night after skinny dipping in its cool waters. Even then, he'd had a love hate relationship with the pond. Despite it all, he always found himself back on the bank of the pond.
Six months later - he was ready to return to the pond. He sat on the dock and allowed his feet to dang off the edge and listened. The silence was echoed. The only thing sounding off were his tortured thoughts.
"I thought about you tonight, Janet." He said hoarsely. He swung his legs nervously. "I miss you so badly babe. I miss..." The words trailed off into the quiet. There was nothing more to be said. She could not hear him. She was long gone and he had been forgotten.
He had torn down the wall of memories and it was time to rebuild.
Russell wiped his hands nervously on his jeans while the phone rang. He didn't know why he was so nervous, it seemed like the right thing to do. Tremont College had been his second home for close to thirty years. Many relationships had been build with the faculty and students. He taught history for so long he felt like he knew every battle of the Civil War like the back of his hand. But, now he was ready to give it all up.
It has been a spur of the moment decision really. He'd been lying in the cot at the back of the cabin under the starry night and got the sensation that this was it. This was all he needed. After all, he wasn't a young man anymore and he didn't know how many more days of precious life he had left. Did he really want to spend them teaching a bunch of know-it-all kids about past wars that the world was doomed to repeat?
No, he'd thought. Russell Joseph wanted to spend his time at the cabin in peace with no future and, more importantly, no past. Here he was content. Here would drink his beer, get fat, and die is some mundane way, maybe they'd find on the cabin floor dead of a heart attack or stroked out in the hammock, with no one to care. That suited him fine.
It would have been a good plan too...if only she hadn't shown up.