By Mary Tupper

Sam sank into the Muskoka chair and uttered a deep sigh.

Sam had gone through a torturous hell over the past few months.  She sat at her parents’ cottage, looking over the bay at Beaumaris Point near Milford Bay in Muskoka.

“How and why did this happen to me ?” she muttered to herself out of earshot of her doting parents.

The story starts when Sam met and fell in love with Rich.  He had said his name and Sam said, “Richard, it is lovely to meet you.”  He promptly corrected her and said “My name is Rich; like everyone wants to be !”

Sam thought he really knows what he wants from life.  To be wealthy and rich!!!

They immediately started dating and only after a few months, both their sets of close friends were saying “You two look like the perfect Ken and Barrie dolls.”  And quite frankly they did look like the dolls as both had thick blond hair with blue eyes and they seemed to always have a natural bronze luster about them. Everyone thought they were the greatest couple.

Within their first year of being together, Rich proposed and soon after that, the big day happened.  It was June 16th and the best day so far of their lives together; stunning wedding dress, bridesmaids in their purple outfits and the groom and his groomsmen – all were just a breathtaking ensemble.

They honeymooned on the Island of Aruba, at the Loreto Beach Resort, far away from family, friends – here just the two of them.

Ah, just the two of them – oh such cruel words now.  As Sam settled comfortably in her red Muskoka chair, she realized that twenty years of her life were gone;  just like that !

It was some years into their marriage that something strange started to surface with Rich.  Sam sensed something was not quite right.

Some of Rich’s friend used to tease him about being a “Metro” man; always getting male manicures and a pedicure now and then.  Knowing Rich, Sam just chocked it up to his vanity.  Then, one day in March, out of the blue, Rich stated that he wanted to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world and that he would start training that very weekend.

Rich did train and trained hard for six solid months with 3 to 4 hours each morning at the fitness centre and then after his work, would run at least 5 miles.  He was really putting himself through an incredible workout.  By September, with back packs and climbing gear ready, Sam drove him to the airport for his late afternoon flight to Kathmandu, Nepal.

One month later, after very limited communications, Rich returned to Toronto and made it home in an airport limo.  Sam did not believe what she saw.  She almost did not recognize him as he had easily dropped about 30 pounds and sported a full beard, long tangled hair and grubby clothes.  He looked more of a homeless vagrant than her husband.

Over the next week, she did hear all the stories from his lifetime adventure trip and as well, he kept a journal with his day-to-day activities.  One name that was regularly diarized in the journal was his good friend Thomas Langstaff.  He mentioned him too often – perhaps as they traveled together along with ten others and their Sherpa climbing guides.

And once again, Rich surprised her with quite shocking news.  Firstly, he and Thomas Langstaff were meeting up on the Island of Cozumel and Thomas would teach Rich how to snorkel and learn underwater diving.  Secondly, he would be leaving next Sunday for a week; then, he proceeded to tell Sam that on his return, Thomas and he would be moving into a rented house in Toronto.

Rich finally confessed to Sam that he was gay and meeting Thomas again had confirmed the feelings that had overwhelmed him through their twenty years of marriage.

Sam was in disbelief.  She always suspected that there may be another person coming between them. She actually though it was a woman he worked with but nothing ever became of that.

So there it was – this little secret that had haunted Sam and Rich for many years was laid bare.

Now, in the late summer, here she sat on her parent’s dock, with the welcoming lake breezes wafting over her on the red Muskoka chair, contemplating the next steps of her life.