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Do you Love Me

By , Cedar Springs, MI
“Do you love me?”
“Of course I do.”
“Will you always love me?”
“Forever and always.”
“I want to change.”
“Then change, my dear. I will love you always.”

Stepping off onto the raised and rocky ridge Sawyer, of man a great stature, and his wife Saline, dressed to kill, were excited about their trip away from home. Sawyer and Saline were newly weds. They had just gotten married under both of their parents’ praise. Sawyer was an artist. Saline was a rich woman of no particular talent or skills although she did have taste. Newly married their honeymoon was to last most of the year. Sawyer was there to practice his paints, and Saline was to bring grandchildren home. “Sawyer, this place is beautiful” beckoned Saline.
“You are beautiful, darling” complemented Sawyer. The rays of sun bounced off of Saline’s brown wavy hair, and her white skin glistened with all its beauty. Saline loved her husband. She loved the way his smile was slightly crooked, his brown hair cut short and trim. His body was so strong, and his emerald green eyes gave her endless joy when she stared deep within them.
She knew her parents sent them to this island to have children, but she hated children. She did not want to wreck her body with the harm of childbirth. When she mentioned not having children, the topic was quickly brought down and brushed away. There was no escaping or disappointing her mother. However she had done a swell of a job disappointing her mother when she was born. Sadness had overwhelmed her mother when the doctor happily announced that Saline was not a Sky. All through her life Saline was treated as a boy doing sports and she was denied all womanly activities until her mother and father got busy with work and she was forced to live with her grandparents. Her grandmother took her under her wing and taught her the ways of a woman.
However, no matter how hard she tried to; the memory flashed through her mind with grief. Saline grabbed on Sawyers sleeve as the car pulled up beside them. Exactly what she wanted, a 1936 Cord 810 Westchester Sedan exactly the same color and make of the car she grew up with as a little girl. She jumped in the driver’s seat before either one of the men could protest. Feeling the leather under her thigh, she hushed her husband. He had cautioned, “Saline, you know that this it not a custom for women to drive vehicles here like it is back in New York City.”
Saline smiled at her husband, “What little you know, darling,” then hit the gas.
“Madam,” announced the mayor hesitantly, “this is the only car we have on the island, so would you do me a favor and please slow down.” Saline thought for a split second before gunning the gas one last time. The waves of the ocean looked like a blur of blue, and the wind was almost suffocating at this speed. It took little to no time to reach the other end of the island where the mayor pointed out the gigantic house that they were about to accommodate. Saline looked up at the house. Bright yellow siding scaled up four stories. The vines that grew up the side of the brick foundation were being cut away by the gardener. It’s a shame, thought Saline. “I like the jungle look. I always thought of myself as a Tarzan.”
“You mean Jane, dear,” corrected Sawyer.
“No, I said what I mean.”
Sawyer tried to hide his embarrassment as he helped Saline with her bags. Young women weren’t supposed to act outlandish and silly. What was she thinking?
Saline took a step toward the mansion and felt the breeze of the surrounding ocean.
“Lakefront it is,” prided the mayor. This excited saline she took another deep breathe and let the salty air fill her lungs and warm her toes. The sun again lit up her figure as she skipped into the mansion.
Saline’s parents must have given the mayor a lot of money to stay here, thought Sawyer. He smiled up at the tall statues that lined the entrance, wondering if it was possible to stay there for the rest of his life. The beauty was astonishing. There was so much to capture he was not sure he had enough paint to get it all in one picture. This his chance to get his father out of the gambling debts and uphold his family name once again. How lucky his wife had money; however, he did feel lousy not being able to uphold his end of the finances. All he had was his paintings, and, well, his darling Saline. She was ever so gorgeous, looking up at the mansion. Her body was slim, and the waves of her cream dress slightly covered her knee. It was so short, how could he have not seen it earlier. Sighing, he grabbed up some of the luggage and went inside. Saline is Saline, and I love her no matter what, he mused.
The next morning Saline and Sawyer got up bright and early to go swimming in the sea. They would do this everyday for the next few weeks until their skin turned a deep crisp tan and quickly turned leathery with constant sun. They enjoyed the way a ledge was formed perfectly in the rock to make a diving platform as well as a tanning slab. They would not leave until the sun was past its peak, and the wind was picking up, leaving Goosebumps on their skin. This particular time was different, though. Diving deep, they observed many fish and an old broken-down sail boat. Saline went to the sail boat and began looking around. She saw an old ceramic object in the ruff and picked it up. Puzzled by its appearance, she started up toward the surface with it.
Sawyer saw the sun gleaming on the surface of the sea. The reflection of the water made it harder to see. He had gotten up for air and was looking around for Saline. He cried out, “Saline, sweet heart, where are you?” He dove back down to the sail boat to see Saline tangled in the netting that surrounded the boat. Shocked, he rushed through the water, ripping at the old, algae-covered netting. Searching desperately to find an object sharp enough to cut the net and break Saline free, he started digging though the sail boat. Finding anything would be a miracle. Finally, he reached through an old cupboard in the boat’s storage and found a tiny knife. Frantically he cut at the rope and managed to release his wife from the boat’s threshold. Sawyer pulled Saline up through the engulfing waters when Saline’s body went limp. In a stage of fright, he threw her up onto the shore and performed CPR on her almost-lifeless body. “Baby, please, wake up wake up,” he muttered between sobs. He glanced down at her cold blue skin and thought, she is dead...
With rage he threw his fists upon her chest one last time, and she gave out a huge cough of water. The pink rushed back to her cheeks, and she coughed and spattered. Locking his arms around his wife, he cried, and gave her a hug. She looked up at him and then down at the object she had gathered from the sail boat.
“What happened?” she questioned.
Sawyer kissed her on the forehead and prided, “You almost drowned my dear, and I saved you.” She gazed back down at the object and lifted it up. “What is this?”
Sawyer examined its worn body and noticed the figures shape almost at once. “It is a dove,” he explained. “It was said to bring good luck to anyone who possesses it.”
“It must not be that lucky if it brought down that boat down there and almost killed me,” Saline replied, perplexed.
“Well, I didn’t believe that myth anyway.” said Sawyer.

Saline tossed the wooden bird back out to the sea. Watching the figure float amongst the waves, she relaxed into the arms of Sawyer. “Take me home.” And he did.
When she woke up again, she was lying on her front porch, and the sun was shining warm on her exposed skin. She lifted her head and winced back down with agony. “Sawyer, I have an excruciating headache.” Saline beckoned her husband from the porch.
When he did finally come, he was covered head to toe in paint. Every color known to man had been splattered across his paint shirt, and his face and hands were many colors as well. He lifted her up and laid her on the small sofa in front of a painting he had finished. “Look here, my angel; I have finished your portrait.” Saline smiled peacefully at the beautiful picture and picked up a mirror from the oak table beside her. As she glared into it her beautiful smile sunk down to an immediate frown. In her mind she questioned her beauty and thought of her self as an ordinary person that could be painted by such an ordinary man. If her husband could capture her by paints and canvas, than she must not be as angular and as unique as she had first believed herself to be.

“Saline, sweetie, what are you looking at?” Sawyer was worried by the look on his wife’s face.

“Nothing, it’s not you. I just feel that I need a change.” Dramatically she played with the skin on her face and held her hair up then down. “Would you still love me if I looked different?” questioned Saline.

“Yes, I married you for your impeccable personality, not for the way you look, honey.” With a worried grin, he sat back down and began to paint again.

“I’ll be out for a while. I need to go to the market.” Kissing Sawyer on the cheek, Saline grabbed her hand bag and was off.

Something is peculiar about Saline, thought Sawyer, and he brushed another shade of purple across his already thick-with-paint canvas.
When Saline reached the barber shop, she was so overcome with the emotion of being different that she didn’t read the sign that read “Knock First”. She opened the door right on the barber giving his weekly shave to a man in red overhauls. The man’s smile was genuine, but the missing front tooth gave Saline a sinking feeling. She looked down at the floor covered in multicolored hairs and took a deep breath. The barber, being so wrapped up in his work, didn’t notice her until he was done wiping off the last bit of cream of the man’s bulky chin. When the barber looked up at her, he seemed shocked and a bit quizzical at why the young lady had stepped into his shop. Thinking it was a wife paying for another customer’s dues, he let her wait there while he fixed his last customer of the day with his bill. When the customer left, he ask the lady what her business was, and when she asked to have her hair cut, he roared with laughter. “sweet heart, the ladies salon is a few more blocks down. I only shave hair.”

Saline was a bit peeved that the man had insulted her pride and intelligence. The man didn’t understand that it was true; she wanted her head shaved. It took effort on her part to get the man to agree to shave her hair. In doing so, he was forced to close the blinds. He told her that he didn’t want to lose his reputation because he was chopping her hair. When the barber asked if she had asked her husband, she replied pridefully, “I am not my husband’s slave. He does not care what I do and lets me be my own person. I do not have to abide by man’s laws.” She was happy when she saw the barbers face so white. He looked down at her face in the mirror, asking her if she was ready. With a nod, she brought out the pretty penny that she was to be paying for this illegal hair cut and slapped it onto the counter. “I am ready,” Saline said.

When she stepped down the barber’s steps and ran her hand over her head. Smiling with her crisp brown skin, from lying in the sun too long, and chopped hair, that was now a bright and elegant shade of blonde from the resent visit to the barber shop, she was more than excited about her new look. First, she would take a walk through the village to absorb the endless possible stares and take in the sun once more. When she reached the middle of town, she was hot and needed a bit of a refresher, so she was forced to sit down and take a break from the heat. She chose to sit down on the outside patio. Happily, she sucked down two margaritas and watched the boats come in and out of the barge. A half of an hour had passed and she was on her third drink when a young lady with short red hair sat down next to her. Her eyes more bright green then Saline’s husband’s eyes had ever been. Her smell was intoxicating and her voice was unbelievably golden. When she spoke, it was hard to really hear her words because Saline was so focused on the sound of her voice she almost forgot to introduce herself.

“Hi, I am Saline,” she muttered and looked again into the lady’s green eyes with passion.

“I am Danny, and I have lived on this island my whole life. It is nice to meet you, Saline. Do you mind if I join you?”

“Of course, I don’t mind. Would you like a drink?” And this was all it took to get Danny and Saline acquainted. They eventually spent every waking minute with one another, telling stories about their experiences on the island and what their homes had been like growing up. Danny showed Saline to her home and Saline brought Danny to the sea platform. It was like they had been friends in another world, or at least that is what they would say about one another. One afternoon when the sun was going down, the girls found themselves at the highest point of the island. Danny had brought Saline there to watch the sunset. “Danny, what do you think it would be like to die?”

“I wouldn’t know. You know, some say that this cliff is where most people in the island end their lives for fear of leaving the island and so their souls are stuck here for eternity.”

“How come they want there souls stuck here for eternity?”

“Well, because the beauty of it all. The fear that they cannot go back home because of the previous life they have to return to or the people realize that this world, this island, is the only beauty they ever what to witness again. To kill themselves would mean that the beauty that see just before they jump is the last thing they see. The people have control over their last image in that way. I guess it would be peaceful for some people but not something I would so.”

“Really? That is peaceful?” Saline was astonished that people would take such a leap of faith so that they would never have to see ugliness ever again. Seeing ugliness give the mind an image to compare the beauty to so that the mind knows how truly beautiful the beauty is pondered Saline. She watched the sun set, feeling a bit depressed but humbled by the exquisiteness of it all. To much of her surprise, Danny reached out to touch Saline’s hand. She traced figures on the back of her palm leaving warm marks that sent the hairs on her arms and back of her neck on fire. She could feel the intensity of the moment and was lost in the warmth of Danny’s touch. She sort of liked it and didn’t know why but, she knew it was wrong to cheat on her husband so she was hesitant to stay there looking into Danny’s eyes. Her eyes were so forgiving and pure. This feeling was new to her and it frightened her a little bit. The feeling was one she never felt from her husband or previous lovers. Just as the sun was brushing the surface of the water in the distance, Danny leaned over closer to Saline. Saline felt Danny’s body heat as it blocked all chills of the late afternoon breeze. The passion in Danny’s eyes scared Saline because she could not read Danny’s mind. She couldn’t get herself to move from that spot. Frozen there in this moment, she was hypnotized and filled with tingles that started at the base of her lips and electrified her skin. She felt the kills in her toes and was startled out of her trance. Jumping up, she ran from where Danny and she were laying. She ran all the way back to her home before she began to cry out loud, “Why had she kissed me? I told her I was married.”

Saline was caught between wanting to be free and wanting to be herself but, sacred at what that life had in store for her. She went to bed that night in the arms of her husband. But, however hard she tried; she couldn’t unlock her mind from the feeling of Danny’s kiss. It grew on her through the night and her mind and body yearned for the feeling again.

Saline wanted to apologize to Danny and ask her why she had kissed her. She didn’t want to admit to her that it was amazing but she needed to. She needed to feel the lips again on her lips. Saline said good bye to Sawyer telling him to prepare for a guest for dinner of she could convince Danny to join her.

It was 3:00 when Saline had finally found Danny sitting on a bench by the sea. Danny’s hair was in disarray and her scent teased Saline’s nose as it ran through her senses like mad. “Danny, I apologize for freaking out on you.”

“It is ok Saline. I should never have kissed you.”

Saline knew that Danny was right but, the way she spat the words out made Saline’s heart break. Why did she feel this way over a girl? “So what was that?”

“You’re gorgeous Saline, prettier than any girl I have seen on this island and I have been here all my life.”

“What is this Danny? What do you want from me?” The questions just spit out of Saline’s mouth before she had a chance to ponder them.
“You could say I am your girl.” With a smile Danny grabbed Saline’s hand. “Is that ok with you?”

“I think that will be fine.” And she laughed. “Will you join my husband and me for dinner?”

“That sounds wonderful!”

Once the girls arrived back at the mansion Sawyer was waiting for Saline and the guest she had promised. He was wondering who the person was that had been taking up all his wife’s time every day. When the two young ladies walked through the door Sawyer’s mind raced with anticipation to hear the red head speak. Her beauty astonished him. The way her lips parted slightly with nerves. He reached out to shake her hand. How soft they were. The paleness of her skin and the freckles on her nose made her look almost porcelain like a doll. He couldn’t imagine a more wonderful person to set his eyes on.

“Sawyer dear would you show our guest to the kitchen I need to clean up a bit”

With the sound of his wife’s voice he snapped out of his gaze. How long had he been staring? How embarrassed he was to think this way about a lady he had never met before. Walking her to the kitchen he noticed the way her hips swayed. Again he was lost in a trance so deep that when she first spoke he could barely understand what she had said.
“My name is Danny.”

“Oh yes right... Yes” Sawyer wanted so badly to smack himself for his rude behavior. “Would you like to see some of my paintings?”

“Oh of course your wife talked a lot about our paintings. That would be lovely.” Together they left the Dining area and entered Sawyers painting room. Sawyer walked Danny around. Showing her all the detailed discoveries he had been working on. Danny smiled and acknowledged what an amazing job he had done. His wife never came in this room. She never loved his art. Since the day she set foot on this island she had been off on her own ignoring his ever existence. But Danny she was here she was walking through his paint room. Intensely staring at each one giving his self esteem the needed lift he had been longing for. Sawyer walked over to Danny and placed his hand on her hip guiding her to the couch. “I want to paint you.”

Danny was shocked by how authoritative Sawyer was. He was pushing her to the couch and it frightened her. She couldn’t help but like the feeling of his breath on her neck when he asked if he could paint her. “What about dinner?”, she had questioned.
He mumbled something about how it could wait. She could feel his constant gaze on her. It felt warm but aggressive. She had never been with a man before. There were usually only girls born on the island and to find a husband you had to hope the fisherman that dropped off the newlyweds wanted a second family to feed. Not many men got through to her father anyways. She had lived here all her life and the attention she was receiving from a foreigner gave her the Goosebumps. She could feel her body longed for him and she couldn’t wait for her chance to get a good taste of him. When he ran his hand close to her inner thigh positioning her on the couch she tingled everywhere. He started removing her shoes and taking a blanket off from the back of a canvas. It smelled of wine and grass. He told her to remove her clothes. Danny did hesitantly and Sawyer calmed her by saying had taken care of Saline. Danny didn’t want to hurt her friend but the smooth voice coming from the man in front of her comforted her and made her feel at ease. She nodded and got her dress hung up on the back of a chair. With the blanket draped around her lower back she was repositioned and Sawyer began to paint. She saw the greed in his eyes but she was sure that he could read the yearning in her face.

When she was draped in the lush green blanket Sawyer set up his paints. He looked at her and how the green reflected her red hair it was a perfect set up. The beauty was far more extravagant than anything he had ever painted before. He started his stokes growing old with anticipation to make sweet love to her. He had not seen his wife in over two months, besides the blank figure that walked past him in the hallways and the cold rock that slept on the far other end of the bed then him, he didn’t even know his wife anymore. He wondered were Saline’s mind was. He had no problem reading Danny’s. The way she laid there on the bed and the way her eyes were fixed on his chest he knew she wanted what he wanted.

He swept his brush along the canvas with ease giving it the last few stroke of perfection. He smiled and asked Danny to take a look at it. She did. Her face lit up and he grabbed her hand leading her through a secret door in his room which led to the garden. He quickly removed his clothes making them both seem as though they were Adam and Eve. He led her to a bed of flowers that were slightly sprinkled with due. The night sky was a thick purplish black and the stars shined like tea lights. It was comfortably warm when they sat down on the green blanket. He rolled on top of her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Her smooth pick cheeks were soft and warm like he had expected.

Danny saw Sawyer leaning for a kiss and turned her face slightly. She wasn’t sure if she was going to do this. She wanted to but her mind kept returning to Saline. After his lips made contact with hers there was no doubt in her mind she was going to do it.

Saline was walking out of the bathroom when the maid called to, “Sawyer told me to tell you to meet him and Danny in the market.”

Saline was slightly shocked that Sawyer didn’t wait for her. She wondered how long it had taken her to get ready. She grabbed her handbag and started walking to the market.

When she reached the middle of town she realized it was going to be much harder to find them then she thought. She began asking folks if they had seen Sawyer or Danny. With no luck and a hungry stomach she settled for a small bar. She ordered a few drinks and turkey sandwich. The night grew darker so, slightly upset but more worried, she headed back to the mansion. The night sky was a thick black but the stars where heavenly.

When she got to the top of the stairs she asked the maids if they had seen her husband and friend. With no luck she knocked on Sawyer door. “Sawyer it’s me Saline. I am coming in.” And with that she opened the door. The room was empty. But nothing seemed out of the ordinary until she looked by the couch and saw a freshly painted picture of her friend as naked and naked could be. Irate Saline grabbed the painting and tore it into. She destroyed that picture along with all the rest of the pictures. She was screaming with rage and busted through the doors back into the dining room. She ran up stairs to find Sawyer standing by the bathroom door. He smelled of tulips and grass. As calm as she could she said “Did you have sex with Danny?”
To her demise he replied, “Yes.”
Saline’s face turned white. “Where is she now?”
“I don’t know, she left”
“I never want to see your face again! I hate you. I never wanted to be with you. Can’t you see? I am not and will never be able to be your wife.” Saline gathered up the rest of her pride and ran to the only place she felt comfortable.
Walking around the rocks Danny spotted Saline crying. She knew she had to apologize and explain herself. She knew she had no idea how she was going to do so. Walking over she sat next to Saline.
“What do you want?” Saline spat.
“I want to tell you I am sorry that I had sex with your husband. I will leave and never speak to either of you again.”
“Wait, don’t you see. I don’t care what my husband does. I am mad that you had sex with him. I care about you. I love you Danny. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you leave with me to be happy together? With you by my side I can do anything.”
“What? I am not a lesbian.”
“But you kissed me. How can you say that? I can give you anything you ever dreamed of.”
“No, I want a husband and a family you cannot give me that.” And with that Danny left.

Watching Danny leave broke Saline’s heart in two and she sat and cried and cried. She cried until her face was so full of salt that her face was pink and puffy. She cried until the sun peaked up over the horizon. When she saw the sun she was reminded of the way Danny had kissed her. She walked over the edge of the cliff and she watched the small pebbles hit he rocky waves. Closing her eyes she imagined Danny’s smile she imagined the first time she had seen the red hair of the woman she fell in love with and she jumped.

Sawyer packed his bags and get ready to leave home with the coffin. He had to return home to the funeral of his dead wife. As he walked out the door he said a solemn goodbye to the beauty he was to leave behind. He understood the reason why Saline had jumped. Looking across the sea he stepped onto the boat. He watched as the waves hit the surface of the shore. A tear slid down his cheek and he reached for a handkerchief wiping away the tears he shed for Danny and the tears he shed for having to go back home and face the fact that Saline was dead. He looked one more time out over the ocean. Floating in the distance was the figure of a wooded bird.





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