Sunday, August 06, 2006

All We've Got

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The house was . . . well, Rich had been a bachelor for a long time. And, really, it was too late do anything about it. Lynne was Mrs. Stemberg now. And she'd have to get used to the fact that over-sized foyer was a trampoline room.

Not a room with a trampoline in it, she would explain to her mother, maybe tomorrow. No. Maybe next week. The entire floor was a trampoline. And hopefully mom would never find out that ninety percent of the house was in a tree.

Rich had made his money in the dot-com boom in the mid-nineties. It was exactly what it sounded like. Anyone with Rich's flair for persuasion could have made money with even a half-baked idea like that back then. He was in his early twenties at the time. Young, hot blood, and fast money -- she shouldn't have been surprised that this was the house he built. Should not have been surprised. Didn't mean she was pleased by the idea of taking a rope ladder up to her bedroom. The fire pole down to the kitchen was something she would have loved -- when she was five.

The view was nice. It was Florida, it was wilderness (could snakes get up here?), it was on the river (Did alligators live in moving water?).

"We can take the canoe to the grocery store," he said. Way to sell it, marketing guru, she thought. She noticed the orange slide spiraling down to the dock.

"I'm moving into a funhouse," she said.

"I know!" Rich said. "Isn't it awesome?"

"Rich. You can't be serious. You're almost thirty-five years old. You've got to want something more than this."

"Sure, but this is what we've got right now. This is all we've got. We might as well enjoy it."

"This is temporary right?"

"I told you it was."

"Tell me again."

He wrapped his arms around her and emphasized each word with a kiss. "This. is. temporary."

"You promise."

"You think I want to be here in the heat of summer? Not to mention the hurricanes."

"Oh my god, the hurricanes."

"We won't be here. Come on," he said, holding up the big paper bag he'd brought in from the car. "I'll show you what's going to pay for your summer house in the Hamptons." He took her by the hand and led her through a door off the kitchen she'd assumed was a pantry. It fed out onto a deck about fifteen feet in the air which snaked around the treehouse and out of sight.

"Take off your shoes," he said, kicking off his loafers. "Better grip."

"I'm not climbing the tree, Richard."

"Suit yourself," he said, squeezing her hand. "Just hang on tight." He pulled her along.

"All right, all right!" Lynne said, stumbling out of her shoes. He led her along the length of the deck which ended in a bridge arching over to other wonders in another great oak.

"This is like the freaking Lord of the Rings or something," she said.

"It's better," he said. "This is real."

Across the bridge, he took her to a spot where a net made of thick rope was slung between two huge tree limbs.

"What's this?" she asked, as he climbed down into it.

"It's my super-hammock! Come on."

"This is ridiculous," she grumbled, but she crawled in alongside of him. The hammock was curved like a chair. They got comfortable in its pocket and hung their feet over the side. They were almost directly above the river and had to speak up to be heard over the rushing water.

"Look," he said. He pulled a plastic bottle out of the bag, twisted something set into the bottom, and handed it to her.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Champagne," he said.

"In a plastic bottle, how romantic. Hey, it's getting cold!"

"There you go. A little chemistry in the base of the bottle and you're chilled. We're going to be the Southeastern distributors of these babies next month."

"Oh my god. That's great." She twisted off the cap and took a sip. "It tastes good, too."

"AND it's less filling. Okay, I made that up. It's not really less filling. It might even be more filling."

"You're such a dink."

"Look," he said, opening his own bottle, "There's something you've got to know about us dinks. Lot of ups and downs with us. You're going to be rich with me and you're going to be poor with me."

"I am poor with you."

"My point exactly. One thing you won't be with me, is bored."

Lynne swigged the bottle down in a couple of gulps and let out a prize winning belch.

"That's my girl," Rich said.

Maybe the alcohol was lightning quick or, more likely, she was exhausted from the flight. She was ready to fall asleep right here. She sank back against his warm body. The air was cooling off, but here it was, December and everything was green. She may have dozed off for a couple of minutes. All right, perhaps the super hammock was the one saving grace of the overgrown treehouse.

"Nice out here, huh?"

"Mm," she conceded. "Maybe I could try it for a couple months."

"I told you the house kicked ass."

"I meant the hammock."

"Deal. We'll live in the hammock."

"How much of that champagne did you bring?"

"This is all we've got," he said, holding up the bag. Lynne reached in and fished around for another.

"We might as well enjoy it," she said.

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