Prompt: Mistake

dolphin pool tiles

On moving day, Virginia realized that the cottage they were relocating to was completely furnished, thus rendering the van full of chairs, sofas, beds, lamps, tables, wardrobes, and patio furniture utterly redundant.

Cash had an “appointment” —he said he was applying for a job at the casino on the Indian reserve— so she was unable to communicate to him her displeasure at his neglecting to tell her that the place was furnished. And wow, was it furnished. For some reason, Cash’s parents (or decorator) had settled on a nautical theme, so everything was blue and white and jaunty— crisp, happy, striped sofas, anchor-patterned duvets, some kind of navigational maps under the coffee table glass; with dashes of red and yellow (a red and white lifesaver hanging on the wall, and an oil painting of pile of yellow life jackets).

It was the kind of place you might find charming for a weekend away by the seaside. But the decor was not necessarily welcome in your new, possibly permanent home in the coach house at your in-laws’ estate.

Virginia tried to call Cash. She got his voicemail. “Tell me please,” she said through clenched teeth, “where I should put this truckload of shit. I have a very good idea of where it should be shoved, so I think I will let you handle it.” She gave him the number of the moving and storage company.

Her mother and father in-law left a basket of fruit and cheese for them on the kitchen counter, wrapped in cellophane and covered in blue and white bows, with a printed message, Welcome Home, that could only have been meant for Cash, since he lived in this cottage the first time he was kicked out of college, while Virginia had never set eyes on it.

Everything about the move was such a rush. Sure, it was kind of Cash’s parents to offer the coach house, but it was also Cash’s parents who cut off what Virginia called “child support”; as in, they had paid half the rent on the glorious, spacious town house that she and Cash had shared, and Virginia paid the other half.

Mr Applegate told Virginia that he’d given Cash lots of notice. Cash said he was sure he mentioned the situation to Virginia.

“It’s not a punishment,” Mrs Applegate said. “But you know, the economy and all.” Virginia translated this to mean, it was either your house or our boat, and the boat won.

Virginia made a pot of tea. The teapot was a deep blue ceramic, and the matching cups had starfish on them. She looked out the kitchen window and saw a small plunge pool just off the patio, with ceramic tile dolphins jumping around its perimeter. That would be nice in summer.