Taking Liberties (85)

Annette Gardner stood on the pier of Huntsport Bay with Dr. Brian Matthews, leaning on the railing that separated them from the water. Clouds from a passing storm lingered over the choppy, gray waters. A slight breeze ruffled their raincoats and stung their cheeks.

“It’s so peaceful out here,” said Annette, almost to herself.

“It must be something about the calm after the storm…I think a lot of people would find that comforting,” said Dr. Matthews.

Annette laughed at the doctor, “How cliché, Dr. Matthews.”

“Would you please stop calling me that? I told you, you can call me Brian.”

“Let’s face it, names sound better with doctor in front of it,” said Annette. She paused for a moment to watch the waves rock the boat in the harbor, then said, “You know, I could’ve forgiven him if he hadn’t gotten us into all this.”

“What do you mean?” said Dr. Matthews compassionately.

Annette almost seemed to be talking to herself, “Just one thing after another…it just snowballed. I’ve always felt cheating is something that shouldn’t happen, under any circumstances, but I know it does, unfortunately…but this whole thing with Elaine and Teddy…I hate to say it, but it seems like a slap in the face from God.”

Dr. Matthews leaned in closely to Annette, then turned her so she faced him. Without warning, he leaned in and kissed her firmly on the lips.

Surprised, she forcefully pushed him away, “Dr. Matthews! What are you doing? For God’s sake!”

“I–It just felt right, I mean, I wanted to–”

Annette turned back to face the bay, “You know, I can’t understand you. I begin telling you something deeply personal and you take it as a cue to romance. I’m not saying I dislike you, but I’m still married, and I won’t pursue anything until that’s changed.”

Dr. Brian Matthews stood facing her, dumbfounded once more.


Laura, Frank, and Elaine Gardner sat in their living room as evening fell over Huntsport. Frank sat in his easy chair, burning beneath his reading lamp as he analyzed The Daily Report. Laura sat restlessly with Elaine watching television.

“Elaine, honey, can I get you something?” asked Laura anxiously.

“Mom, the answer is the same as it was five minutes ago. I’m fine, really” said Elaine, half-amused by her mother.

“I know, but things change,” said Laura dizzily, “I like to be on top of things.”

“I promise, mom, I’ll let you know the second my stomach starts growling,” said Elaine.

Laura Gardner paused, thinking of her next unnecessary inquiry. “How about your medication? Have you taken it yet?”

Elaine did not answer immediately. Frankly, her parents had been a little much to handle. Their love had been somewhat overbearing, even though it was with the best intentions. She had taken two Prozac that afternoon. It had seemed like it was going to be a bad day.

“Um, no…I mean, I forget. I think I might have taken one this morning…”

“I’ll get it for you! You stay right here and get comfortable. Just relax,” said Laura, rushing from the room.

Elaine considered. It had been hard readjusting to living with her parents again. She desperately missed her apartment, but no one felt like it would be beneficial to let her stay alone. She herself realized that.

“Here we are! Make sure you drink the whole cup! We wouldn’t want you choking!”

Elaine took the cup of water and the pill. She frowned uneasily.

“Bottoms up,” said Elaine, downing the pills.

It was going to be a long road ahead.



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