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Prologue

Posted on March 16, 2012

Of all the guests congregated inside Touro Synagogue, no one was more delighted than Miriam Hartman, mother of the groom. She was sitting in the front row with tissues in hand, her husband to her right, the bride’s mother — a close friend — to her left. If only Noah had married a nice Jewish girl like Sarah all those years ago, Miriam thought, his life would have turned out perfect, just the way she had planned. Instead, his life was ruined by that shicksa Robin he had insisted on marrying against her wishes. She and Jerry tried to nip it in the bud before it was too late, but Noah was stubborn, some nonsense about butterflies and the way she looked at himFor the life of her, Miriam could not understand why Noah never listened to his mother, because after all, she only wanted what was best for him. And at this point in Noah’s middle-aged life, Miriam concluded, Sarah was best for him. With all the bad decisions he had made throughout his life, proposing to Sarah appeared to be the only redeeming one.

Relishing in subdued victory, there was no need for Miriam to ever take credit for the role she had played in getting the two of them together. For all Noah knew, running into Sarah at the premiere of Sand Dollar happened by chance, or perhaps even divine intervention — if you believe in that sort of thing. However, there was nothing divine about it — not that time anyway — because Miriam had secretly planted her there.

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FRAGILE: Handle With Care

Posted on March 16, 2012

Look at me. Not too shabby for an eighty-year-old man, huh? I’m feeling pretty good, although I can’t seem to remember how I got here or how this bandage ended up on my forehead. I hope I get out of here soon; I’d like to go home. After all, today’s our anniversary.

I lean closer to the mirror, turning my head to the side and touching the edge of the white medical tape holding the square gauze to my forehead. Let me just pull the tape up a little bit over here and see what this looks like. I hear a knock at the door. Better get back in bed.

I scurry out of the bathroom and run back to my hospital bed, jumping in with relative ease. There’s a second knock, this time louder. “Come on in,” I say, pulling the white cotton sheet up over my hospital gown.

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Priorities

Posted on March 22, 2012

“It was four years before that incident in Saint Barts with the sand dollar,” I tell Josh. “I had everything a man could possibly need — or so I thought. The year was 1992 and the place was Jamestown, Rhode Island…”

High on top of a hill rising up from a private, sandy beach sat a gray, shingled Nantucket-style house with six bedrooms, three balconies, and a large deck overlooking the mouth of Narragansett Bay. Scaffolding flanked the house on two sides. Thirty-five-year-old Noah stepped out onto the back deck wearing jogging shorts, a tank top, and running shoes, the sun just moments away from rising over the tranquil sea. He jogged down the numerous wooden steps leading to the beach below and along the vacant shoreline. Seagulls flew out of his way as small waves broke gently against an orange background.

The sun was shining as he made his way back to the house, running by a sand dollar sticking up in the sand, undetected.

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Life Before Robin

Posted on March 29, 2012

“Rachel was a complainer,” I explain to Josh, continuing with the story, “always complaining about one thing or another. She complained that I was shallow and self-centered. She complained I never listened to her, especially when it came to having enough chutzpah to stand up to my parents. Let’s see, what else… Oh yeah, she complained I was materialistic and loved my boat more than I loved her. Maybe she was right — I don’t know. In any case, it didn’t matter anymore because my lawyer had called to tell me that my divorce from Rachel was now final, and I could start dating again. But finding the right woman was going to be quite the challenge. I needed to find someone that would love me for me and not for my money. And with Internet dating, finding the right match soon became a full time job.”

“So I started with the Jewish pile first, not because it was important to me, but because it was important to THEM — my parents.

“What was important to me?” I say, repeating Josh’s question. “That’s easy… LOVE.”

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Life At First Sight

Posted on April 5, 2012

While Y-M-C-A by The Village People was playing at the main dance floor inside the Mardi Gras complex in Cranston, people were lined up outside, waiting to pile into the club. Noah and Scott were handed bottles of Heineken by the pretty, young ponytailed bartender as they stood watching the DJ spin records inside the mirrored booth. Scott resembled his brother, only with glasses, a slightly receding hairline, and an extra fifteen pounds from all the years of his wife’s good home cooking. Scott looked tailored, lawyer-like as a matter of fact, with a navy pinstriped suit, white shirt with gold cufflinks, and blue tie. Noah, on the other hand, was dressed more casually, wearing a blue sport shirt and tan pants.

“Thanks for coming,” Noah said as they stepped away from the bar. “The last time I came to a place like this, it didn’t go so well. At least this time I have good moral support and a shoulder to cry on,” he said, laughing.

“Anything to help, Little Brother, but I can’t stay too long, or I’ll turn into a pumpkin. I promised Sharon I’d be back by midnight. I figure if she can have Girls’ Night Out once a week, I can have Brothers’ Night Out once in a blue moon, right?”

“Sounds good to me,” Noah agreed, clanking his Heineken to his brother’s.

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Butterflies

Posted on April 13, 2012

With a Kmart shopping bag in each of her hands, a woman wearing a black leather coat and gray wool hat crossed the busy Weybosset Street intersection in downtown Providence. The sign on top of the concrete building she entered read Emergency Family Services of Rhode Island. Standing behind the front desk wearing a white uniform and talking on the phone, Robin smiled at her and motioned with her hand to wait just one second. A young woman with greasy blonde hair and a torn coat waited anxiously beside the desk. Her two young children stared with blank faces at the TV across the lobby. The four-year-old, a cute little girl with curly, brown hair, spotted a penny on the floor, and without calling attention to it, she picked it up, examined it, and placed it in a large glass collection box containing only a handful of spare change.

“So you don’t have any beds open either, huh?” Robin said disappointedly into the phone. “Well, call me as soon as one opens up, okay? We’re filled to capacity over here too, and I’m running out of options for these people. Okay, thanks, Cheryl. Bye,” she said, hanging up with a frustrated sigh.

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Great Expectations

Posted on April 14, 2012

With a fresh coat of polish, Noah’s immaculate 1966 Ferrari pulled into Hartman Enterprises behind a beat-up, blue Mustang convertible, also a 1966 model. Noah followed the Mustang to the back corner of the lot and parked next to it. The driver, wearing a navy maintenance uniform, got out of the car and opened the trunk.

“Hey, Mike, I didn’t know you drove a classic,” Noah said, shutting his door.

“Hey, Noah,” the man replied, closing his trunk and putting a tool belt around his waist. “Yeah, that’s because I almost never drive it. I only take it out a couple times a year, just to air it out.”

“Sweet ride,” Noah said, peeking inside the Mustang. “I like the Pony seats.”

“The chassis is kind of beat up — not refurbished like yours.”

“What are you talking about? She’s a beaut,” Noah exclaimed, walking around the car, checking it out. “Besides, I don’t look at the outside so much as I do the inside. That’s where the real beauty is,” he said, stopping at the front of the car. “Do you mind?” he said, pointing at the hood.

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Total Surrender

Posted on April 23, 2012

Noah’s hair was riffled by the wind as he tacked his sixty-foot sailboat, her boom swinging across mid-ship as her sails filled with air. Majestic orange and red cliffs reflecting the setting sun welcomed her as she entered the mouth of Narragansett Bay into Newport Harbor. Gliding through the glistening water, seagulls squawked as they flew across her bow. The name on her transom read Freedom; Jamestown, RI.

As she lay on the teak bow, Robin looked back at Noah and smiled as they sailed by the abandoned lighthouse on the small private island, her red hair trailing in the breeze. Noah took a deep breath of the fresh air surrounding Freedom and smiled with contentment. He was living in the moment.

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Meet The Parents

Posted on April 23, 2012

A valet driver opened the door to Noah’s Ferrari convertible as it pulled up in front of Capriccio restaurant in downtown Providence. Inside the elegant Italian restaurant, the ambiance was warm and charming, with a cobblestoned floor, columns with decorative moldings, and tables glowing under candlelight. The pianist at the baby grand was playing The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra as Noah, holding a small gift bag, walked over to the alcove where Scott, Sharon, Miriam, and Jerry were sitting.

“Happy birthday, Mom,” Noah said, kissing his mother’s cheek.

“Come here for a second,” she said, motioning for him to duck down.

Noah grimaced, lowering his head as Miriam proceeded to lick her hand and pat his hair down. As a tuxedoed waiter approached, Noah pulled away and sat down at the empty seat beside his brother. As the waiter made his way around the table with a bottle of Dom Pérignon, he poured Champagne into everyone’s glasses.

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The Real World

Posted on April 30, 2012

High on a cliff overlooking a sandy beach, Zeke was giving Noah a huge bear hug in front of an old trailer at the trailer park. Zeke was big and burly, nearly double Noah’s size, with a thick beard.

“Sorry, we’re big huggers in our family,” Zeke admitted, releasing him. “Me and Mary are so glad to finally meet you. Robin has told us so much about you. And anyone who treats our little girl with love and respect is always welcome here.”

“Thanks, that’s really nice of you to say,” Noah said, recovering from the hug.

Mary was short, with long, salt and pepper hair. “Hi, Noah, I’m Mary,” she said, kissing his cheek and making him blush. “You sure are easy on the eyes.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Jaworski.”

“Mrs. Jaworski? Who’s that? Call me Mary. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll even call me Mom.”

“Sure thing… MOM.”

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The North Star

Posted on April 30, 2012

“It was great sailing weather that summer, and I got to spend time with my two loves — Robin and Freedom. Now what could better than that?”

As long as you had a boat, there was always plenty to do on Narragansett Bay during the summer months in the Ocean State. Noah’s sailboat was one of a thousand boats anchored off the Quonset Point Air Force Base for the annual air show. Brittany was wearing a purple life preserver, trying to follow the dazzling display of aeronautics through a pair of oversized binoculars. Noah took a picture of Robin blowing a kiss to him just as The Blue Angels flew by with a thunderous roar.

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The Marriage Proposal

Posted on April 30, 2012

My seventy-seven-year-old sister-in-law enters my hospital room and walks over to my brother standing beside my bed. “Hi, honey,” she says, kissing him. “Hi, Noah,” she says softly, looking down at me.

“Hi, Sharon. Thanks for coming,” I say, happy to see her. “I’d like you to meet my new friend Josh over here. I was just telling him the story about Robin and me.”

She looks into my eyes, smiles, and kisses my head, making me blush.

“You know, Noah, you’re a man after my own heart,” Josh admits. “I had no idea you were such a romantic. ‘And on that day you and I will simply sail away into heaven together’ — now that’s good stuff. Did you think of that all by yourself? Anyway, go on, go on; I love a good love story.”

They were all looking at me with pleasant eyes that encouraged me to continue. “So, like I was saying… it was a wonderful summer that I’ll never forget. But all good things must eventually come to an end. The air was getting colder and the leaves were starting to fall. And like the song says, ‘Seasons were made for change’, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Nothing could have prepared me for what would happen next…”

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The Company He Keeps

Posted on May 7, 2012

The phone was ringing off the hook as Noah lay motionless on the bed. Rosa walked into the bedroom and answered the phone on the nightstand. “Hello. Oh, hi, Mr. Hartman. Yes, Noah’s here, but he no want to talk right now. He knows it’s been two weeks since he’s been to work. He knows the budgets are past due. Okay, I tell him. Bye, Mr. Hartman.” No sooner had she hung up the phone than it rang again. “Hello. Oh, hi, Mrs. Hartman. No, Noah no want to come for dinner tonight. He still no feel good. Okay, I tell him. Bye, Mrs. Hartman,” she said, hanging up and leaving the room. The phone rang again, and Rosa could be heard speaking down the hall. “Hello. Oh, hi, Scott. No, Noah no want to talk right now. Okay, I tell him…”

“My life was not the same without Robin in it. I was depressed, and nothing could make me happy — nothing except for Robin, that is.”

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Destiny

 Posted on May 14, 2012

Light gusts of wind blew brown leaves in swirling patterns as Noah, rid of his beard, sat at his desk staring out the window, surprised to see a red robin sitting on the sill, waiting patiently for her mate to arrive with another twig. Like clockwork, the other red robin flew in, placed the twig in the nest, and flew away to go find another twig.

Diane sat at her desk watching him. “Noah, you okay? You gotta snap out of it and finish the profit projections that were due yesterday. Noah… Noah?”

“I can’t stop thinking about her. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

“Who? Cindy?”

“No… Robin. She was the one. I don’t understand what happened,” he said morosely. “Robin, I don’t understand,” he said softly to himself.

“Destiny’s funny that way. If it was meant to be, Robin will come back to you. If she doesn’t, then it was never meant to be. It’s like that saying, If you love something, set it free…”

Noah leaped up, grabbed his briefcase, and strode toward the door.

“Hey, where you going? What about the projections?”

Noah stopped and looked at her. “To pay a visit to destiny,” he said, dropping the completed budgets on her desk and disappearing down the hallway.

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A Kiss To Remember

Posted on May 21, 2012

As Noah loaded a cardboard box into the back of a small U-haul truck, Robin, wearing her new diamond engagement ring, hugged Julie in front of her apartment.

“I’m going to miss you,” Julie said to Robin. “One piece of advice… keep him this time, okay?”

“Oh, believe me, I will. I love him, and nothing could ever change my mind about that.”

“Well, maybe you should write yourself a letter… just in case.”

Robin laughed as she kissed Julie good-bye and headed for the truck.

Forty-five minutes later, the U-haul truck pulled into Noah’s cobblestone driveway in Jamestown. While Noah grabbed a carton from the back of the truck, Robin stood on the threshold fumbling with an orange foam keychain with her daughter standing beside her, clutching onto Pinocchio and anxious to go in. As soon as the door opened, Brittany ran up the stairs to find her new room, her smile fading as she entered. The walls were brown, the curtains brown, the comforter brown, and the dresser was black.

“Mommy,” she called out. “MOMMY !” she screamed nervously, not getting an immediate response.

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A Shack In The Woods

Posted on May 21, 2012

Forty-nine-year-old Brittany walks into my hospital room and joins Scott, Sharon, and Josh around my bed.

“Thanks for coming, Britt,” I say appreciatively.

This is little Brittany?” Josh exclaims, surprised. “Wow, she sure turned into a beautiful woman, didn’t she?”

Brittany places her hand gently on my face and looks deep into my eyes with her warm, loving eyes. I return the sentiment.

“How’s your mom doing?” Scott asks her.

“I just left her room,” she says, looking over at Scott. “Olivia’s still there with her now. When she and Noah arrived in the ambulance, she was hysterical. The doctor had to sedate her twice just to calm her down.”

“Is Robin okay? What happened?” I ask, concerned.

“She’s okay now,” Brittany says, moving my hair away from my eyes and mouthing the words I love you to me. “She’s resting comfortably. Besides, she’s much better off not knowing what’s about to happen to Noah,” she says, looking back at Scott.

“Britt, what are you talking about? What’s about to happen to me? Can’t I just go home?”

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Smooth Sailing

Posted on May 28, 2012

June 10th, 1996 turned out to be a beautiful day for sailing, with hardly a cloud in the sky. A sleek, black helicopter was flying just above the Newport Bridge with its door wide open. Inside the helicopter, a videographer motioned for the pilot to fly lower so he could get a different angle on the sailboat he was filming, which was sailing briskly toward the expansive structure. The name on the transom read Rockin’ Robin.

Noah was at the helm with Robin tucked underneath his arm. She was wearing a white wedding gown and a big smile. Her long red hair was flowing freely in the breeze. Noah, Scott, Jerry, Zeke, Jake, and two other men were wearing black tuxedos. Julie, Sharon, and two other young women were wearing long lavender bridesmaids dresses. Miriam and Mary were also onboard, wearing elegant floral dresses. Brittany wore a pretty pink dress covered by a purple life preserver. Scott and Sharon’s two boys, David and Sam, were wearing orange life preservers as they sat on the port side hanging onto the railing, their feet dangling off the side. Unlike the others onboard who were smiling and enjoying the moment, Jerry and Miriam seemed to be just along for the ride.

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The Curse Of Jean Pierre

Posted on May 28, 2012

A small island-hopper plane took off from the Saint Maarten airport. It offered one seat on each side of the aisle, a cabin not tall enough to stand up in, and no flight attendant. A white Igloo cooler filled with soft drinks was secured in the cabin for those thirsty enough to dare unbuckle in flight.

As the plane approached the neighboring island, it began its descent. Without a cockpit door, Noah and Robin held onto each other tightly as they watched the pilots fly the small aircraft downward at a steep 45-degree angle just above the treetops of the mountainous terrain. Noah wondered where the horizon had gone as the runway — growing ever so large by the second — filled the entire forward view through the front windshield. At the last possible moment, the plane leveled off and touched down. As the plane raced down the short runway, the brakes were applied, and the plane started slowing down, coming to a stop at the very end, where two topless women walked in front of the plane on a white sand beach.

Bienvenue à Saint-Barth,” the pilot announced proudly as the plane veered right, heading toward the small terminal. “Welcome to Saint Barts !”

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The Problem With Memories

Posted on June 4, 2012

Tony had a kind of arrogance about him, gawking at Robin as she reclined in the chair in his office and straightened her blouse.

“So how was your honeymoon?” he asked, laying a picture frame on his desk face down.

“Perfect… like a fairy tale,” she replied. “Which reminds me, did you ever see Pretty Woman, the movie?”

Before he could answer, she continued, “Julia Roberts wanted the fairy tale, remember?”

Tony nodded.

“Well, that’s what I got — the fairy tale. The only problem is… it’s a frickin’ fairy tale. I mean… that stuff only happens in the movies, right?”

Tony opened his mouth, but Robin spoke first. “I keep thinking any minute the clock’s gonna strike twelve, and I’m gonna get tossed aside, sent back to where I came from, while Prince Charming over here rides off into the sunset with someone else on the back of his fancy white horse. I hate feeling insecure like this. It’s a terrible feeling…” she said, shaking her head, “expecting that someday everything is going to be taken away from me, ya know what I mean? And where does that leave me, huh?” she said, looking at Tony, waiting for an answer.

He paused to observe her body language, and figuring it was safe to speak, he started to talk.

“ABANDONED, that’s where !” she shouted. “I don’t know, what do you think? Is it really too good to be true?” she asked desperately.

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 A Casualty Of Words

Posted on June 11, 2012

Robin and Noah were dining alfresco at Trattoria Simpatico in Jamestown as a jazz trio played instrumental music under an old beech tree in the background. The waiter removed an empty bottle of Pinot Grigio from the table and walked away.

“What’s wrong?” Noah asked, watching Robin push the roasted potatoes around her plate. “You barely touched your food.”

“Sorry, I just have a lot on my mind.”

“Like what?”

“It’s no big deal. I was just thinking about what my shrink said to me the other day, that’s all,” she said, looking away.

And… what did he say?”

“Nothing really. Just talked about fairy tales.”

Noah took a sip of wine. “I just don’t understand you lately,” he said, setting the glass down. “Ever since we got back from our honeymoon, you seem distant for some reason. Did I do something wrong?”

“No, you didn’t do anything. I told you, I just have a lot on my mind.”

“You used to love going out on the boat, and you haven’t gone out on it with me once since we got back. For that matter, you won’t even hang out on it with me at the dock.”

“You spend too much time on that thing as it is.”

“The boat’s not a bad thing, you know. You treat it like it’s some kind of other woman.”

“Look, just because you named your expensive yacht after me doesn’t mean I have to like it, okay?”

Noah looked at her, puzzled. “And every time I walk up to you to show you the least bit of affectionate, you walk away. You’re never interested in making love anymore. It’s not so much about the sex as it is about expressing our love for each other in a way that only intimacy can achieve. So what’s bothering you? Is it me? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Robin hesitated, took a deep breath, and spoke. “Yeah, there is something you can do to help…”

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To Tell The Truth

Posted on June 18, 2012

“Why did I have to push her into making a decision? Because I couldn’t wait to feel loved again? I should have been more patient — you know, wait out the storm until it blows over. I should have given her all the time in the world, whatever she needed. If only I hadn’t given up so easily… If only I had held on, never letting go…”

Looking like a Catholic schoolgirl with her hair in braids, a red plaid skirt, stockings, and a white cardigan, Robin was standing in the witness stand at the Newport County courthouse, her right hand in the air and her left hand on a Bible. Noah looked dazed, wearing a suit and sitting next to his lawyer, Ben.

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

“I do,” she replied.

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The Perfect Storm

Posted on June 18, 2012

Even the sky was gloomy as Noah sailed by the old, abandoned lighthouse on this cold, raw, November day. He was heavily bundled in a thick wool sweater, down jacket, wool hat, and wool gloves. The cold air added a drab shade of blue to a face reddened by the unforgiving wind. With no other boats out on the white-capped bay, Noah was utterly alone.

“It was as if the life had been sucked out of my body, and there was no happiness in the part of me that was left behind. I thought perhaps I could find God out there on the water, but he was nowhere to be found. I determined he must not exist… because it was just me… all alone.”

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The Educated Decision

Posted on June 25, 2012

A line of Mercedes, Lexus, Range Rovers, BMWs, and Porsches waited in front of Capriccio restaurant, followed by a black Ford F150 pickup truck. Wearing a sport jacket and tie, Noah got out of his new pickup truck and tossed the keys to the valet. He walked into the dimly lit interior and passed a baby grand, where a man in a tuxedo was playing That’s Life by Frank Sinatra. He joined Scott, Sharon, Jerry, and Miriam at a candle-lit table.

“What on earth were you thinking?” Miriam exclaimed, angry. “How could you just quit like that? There isn’t another company around that will pay you half as much money as your dad’s been so generously paying you. And this is how you thank him?”

“I don’t care about the money,” Noah responded. “I care about being happy.”

“Don’t be a fool,” Jerry added. “You could be happy anywhere. It’s your responsibility in life to take whatever job pays you the most amount of money. Everyone else seems to enjoy making money. Besides, how do you plan on paying your bills without it?”

“I guess I’ll just have to downsize, that’s all… sell the house… whatever it takes. At this point in my life, it’s more important to me to have a career that I love.”

“And what career would that be?” Miriam asked.

“Well, I’ve got this new idea I’m working on. You know that lighthouse on an island in the bay across from my house? Well, guess what? It’s for sale ! I could buy it, fix it up, and turn it into a charming bed-and-breakfast.”

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The Three Reasons

Posted on July 2, 2012

Wearing a navy robe with matching slippers, Noah headed out the front door to fetch the Providence Journal, which was on the front lawn resting up against the For Sale sign. Shuffling back inside, he sat down at the patio table with the newspaper folded under his arm and a cup of coffee in his hand. It was a dreamy summer morning. The air was dry, and there was a light breeze shooting off the bay. Seagulls squawked as they fought over a scrap of food on the beach below. Noah’s coffee was getting cold as he sat there, staring off in the direction of the old lighthouse in the middle of the bay.

Unfolding the Providence Journal and glancing at the date — June 10th, 1997, he tore off the corner with the date printed on it, crumpled it up, and tossed it on the ground before getting up and going inside. Upstairs in his closet, he climbed a wooden stepladder and reached for a box on the top shelf. As he grabbed it, a large manila envelope resting on top of the box fell on his head. Sitting on the bed with the box and the manila envelope, he removed the lid from the box and looked inside. Resting on top was his wedding invitation, the date reading June 10th, 1996.

­­­­

“It would have been our first wedding anniversary. We never even made it a year. God, I missed her.”

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Testing The Waters

Posted on July 9, 2012

“I wouldn’t listen to your parents if I were you. If your heart’s set on buying the lighthouse, then just do it,” Robin advised, stretched out in Noah’s arms on the teak deck of Noah’s boat, anchored out in front of the old lighthouse on a lazy summer day. “I can definitely picture us getting married there,” she continued. “It’s such a pretty spot. You know, it’s too bad they don’t make you wait a year to get divorced. Otherwise, we’d still be married right now, and we wouldn’t have to go through all that paperwork again just to get remarried. Speaking of paperwork, when are you planning on having me sign another one of your stupid prenups?”

“There’s not going to be a prenup this time. I guess I’ll just have to take my chances, that’s all.”

“But what about your parents?”

“What about them? You’re marrying me, not my parents.”

She smiled and continued with her list. “I want to have another child,” she announced.

“Of course, I’d love to have a child with you… but what kind of child exactly are we talking about?” he joked.

Robin laughed. “I’ve always loved the name Olivia — if it’s a girl, that is.”

“I think Olivia’s a beautiful name for a girl,” he said, eliciting a smile.

“Oh, and one more thing…” Noah looked at her closely. “I don’t want to be a social worker anymore. I’ve always wanted to be an X-Ray tech.”

“I think you should do whatever makes you happy, Robin.”

“Well, it would mean quitting my job and going back to school full time for a year until I get my certificate.”

“So when can you start?”

A big smile stretched across her face. “You’re the greatest. I love you, Noah Hartman,” she said, leaning in for a kiss, standing up and dipping her foot into the water, testing it.

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