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Mountain Retreat

Mountain Retreat

By LeaSheryn

Mountain Retreat
By Lea Sheryn

When Uncle Mortie offered his mountain retreat for their honeymoon, Brian accepted with alacrity. Taffy, on the other hand, had different thoughts. It had taken her aback when Mortie raised his glass at their engagement party to make the announcement of his gift to them. The drunken uncle had been making a spectacle of himself the entire evening. This proposition was just another attempt to call attention to himself. Would he even remember it in the morning? Taffy had her doubts.

Even if Uncle Mortie—in his state of intoxication—forgot his offer, Brian was more than likely to remember. Other than making a scene in front of seventy-five family members and friends, there was little Taffy could do about it. Setting her champagne glass on a nearby table, she moved amongst her guests as she made her way toward the garden exit of her father’s country club. Lifting her long peasant skirt to avoid dampening it in the dewy grass, she ran toward the white gazebo. In a few weeks’ time, she would wed Brian Sinclair in this very spot. Tonight it was a place of contemplation.

Weren’t they supposed to make decisions together? Taffy wondered as she leaned against the railing of the gazebo and faced the country club. Gnawing at her lower lip, she began to have second thoughts about Brian. All her life, her father had made all the important decisions in their family while her mother sat back and allowed him the upper hand. Sure, things were different in her parents’ day. Her father was the breadwinner; her mother kept house. These days women had as much to say about life as men did. If she allowed her intended to make their first big decision without her opinion, wasn’t she stepping into the same role her mother held in their family?

“I was looking for you,” Brian stated as he came up the gazebo steps. “They’re playing ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’. I thought you would want to dance to it.”

“Why did you agree to the mountain retreat?” Taffy asked instead. Catching a strand of her long straight auburn hair, she nervously twisted it around her finger. “It’s our honeymoon, Bri. I thought we’d decide together.”

“Oh.” For a moment, Brian was taken aback. “I guess I didn’t think about it. Uncle Mortie offered and I said ‘yes’, that’s all.” After another minute, he stated, “I can tell him we changed our mind. He won’t be put out or anything; he might not remember in the morning. You know how he is.”

“No, I guess we better take him up on his offer,” Taffy relented, releasing the finger curl of her hair. “Everyone knows about it now. If we go somewhere else, they’ll wonder why.” It wasn’t as though she hated the idea of an outdoorsy type of vacation. They had often traipsed through the mountains on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon as a way to get out of town. Hiking and fishing with an accompanying picnic lunch were things they enjoyed doing together. Still, it wasn’t her idea of a honeymoon.

“We won’t have to pay for a hotel or meals,” Brian stated as he leaned against the opposite railing. “Uncle Mortie will make sure we’ll be well stocked for provisions. And we’ll be absolutely alone together. That’s what we want, isn’t it?”

“Hmm hmm,” Taffy responded as she moved across the gazebo floor to fold herself into her lover’s arms. “Just us and nobody else.” Suddenly she was beginning to like the idea of a honeymoon in the mountains.

“And I like the off the shoulder look, my dear,” Brian announced as he pushed the arms of Taffy’s peasant top down where they belonged. He couldn’t help but notice how it kept riding up with her every movement and how she became a bit frustrated by putting it back into place.

The funny little girl Brian Sinclair had teased in grade school had grown into a beauty. He first noticed Taffeta Miller in the second grade when his family had moved to Spring Valley. Freckle faced with her tawny hair drawn into pigtails, she was a sight to behold in a plaid jumper dress with white blouse beneath and wearing Buster Brown shoes and knee socks. There was an old bandage on her elbow where she banged it up after falling from her bike and sliding down the street. “Taffeta: what a silly name for a girl,” Brian had chortled when he first heard it. “Why’d your mama call you that?”

“Don’t you dare call me that!” the little girl announced as she charged the new boy at full speed. Using both her hands, she pushed him to the ground and stood menacingly above him. “Call me Taffy or don’t call me at all.”

“All right, all right, Taffy,” Brian answered as he jumped to his feet and wiped the dirt from the seat of his dungarees. Looking wistfully over his shoulder to make sure the other boys hadn’t seen him pushed down by a girl, he continued, “I’m Brian…Sinclair.”

“There are six other Brians in my grade. You’re lucky number seven,” Taffy proclaimed as she skipped away. When she reached a certain distance, she turned to stick out her tongue. “If you think Taffeta’s funny, you should hear my little sister’s name. It’s Chantilly.” Without another word, she skipped away to where a group of girls were playing hopscotch.

As much as he was glad she had grown into a beauty, Brian was pleased that she had retained her impish ways. When they were in a close embrace, he would whisper “Imp” in her ear and wait for her reaction. Sometimes Taffy would cuddle closer; other times, she would slap him with an open palm in the chest before running away. She never failed to stop when she reached a certain distance to put her tongue out at him. Laughter filling the air, he would chase her until he could grab her around the waist then pull her down into the soft grass with him. Oh how they kissed and loved each other!

“Marry me!” Brain exclaimed when they were eighteen and locked in such an embrace. “Yes,” Taffy responded without hesitation.

With just weeks to go until the big day, Taffy knew she had to make it clear to Brian that, although she loved him with everything she had, he wasn’t going to make all the decisions for them. She relented to the mountain retreat because it had been announced in the company of their friends and family. From that moment on, she was going to have her say in all matters. Emphatically, she made her point.

“Yeah, I get it. Women’s Lib and all that stuff,” Brain responded. “Not a problem. We’re in this together; we have to make decisions together.” He didn’t tell her it was what he intended all along. The fact was: he had accepted Uncle Mortie’s offer in the heat of the moment. Ordinarily, he would have discussed it with her before saying “Yes”. “Are we going in now? Our guests will be wondering where we are.”

“Let them wonder…” Taffy announced. Flinging her long hair over her shoulder, she trounced down the gazebo steps. Turning to put her tongue out at her intended, she marched along the path leading back to the French doors that opened onto the Country Club. Before Brian could catch up to her, she was on the dance floor with her arms around his best friend, Albert Gladstone’s neck. When the song switched from “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond to The Jackson 5’s “All Be There”, he thought he’d be able to cut in. Instead, Taffy put her tongue out again and continued to dance with Albert. Finally, she allowed him his chance with “It’s Only Make Believe” by Glen Campbell.

“Fun night,” Brian whispered into her hair.

“Wait until our wedding night,” Taffy whispered back.

After the final two-week dash, the wedding day finally arrived. Preceded by her sister, Chantilly, dressed in a flowing lavender halter style dress covered with the lace she was named for, Taffy stepped down the aisle on the arm of her father. It was her mother who insisted upon Chantilly lace for her sister and white Taffeta for her wedding dress. As much as the young lady wished to protest, she relented to her mother’s whim. Life was give and take, her father always suggested and, accordingly, that went for weddings too. Well, this would be the last time, she thought as she walked sedately down the garden path to the gazebo. After she was married, the decisions were hers…and Brian’s.

Such thoughts quickly exited her mind as she placed her eyes upon her bridegroom standing with his hands clasped in front of him. Wearing a lavender tuxedo with a matching frill and cummerbund, Brian looked as pleased as punch. Their blue-green eyes met with pride and satisfaction in the moment. With her father stepping back and Chantilly taking her place next to her, Taffy stood next to Brian as the preacher began the service. There was just a moment of anxiety when Albert Gladstone, the best man, had to search his pockets for the ring. Just as the groom leaned in for his first bridal kiss, Taffy’s tongue flickered out from between her rosy lips. “Bet you thought I wouldn’t dare,” she whispered before she accepted the pressure of his mouth against hers.

“Let’s get this reception over with so we can be alone together,” Brian responded as they turned toward their guests and rushed down the aisle.

As receptions go, this one lasted much longer than anticipated. There were well-wishes to accept, the cake to cut, the garter and bouquet toss. The men lined up for a chance to dance with the new bride while the available young women lamented to loss of Brian Sinclair from the bachelor pool. When the mother of the bride realized the cake topper had gone missing, all activity came to a halt. Finally, Uncle Mortie revealed that he had snatched it for a memento. After haggling with her new son-in-law’s relative for several minutes, Matilda Miller held the object up in triumph. It was, after all, the bride and groom’s keepsake.

It was well after midnight before the newlyweds had a chance to slip away from the party to change into their travelling clothes. Discarding the lavender skirt and blouse combo her mother had selected as her departure outfit, Taffy dragged an old pair of jeans and a pink, green and yellow polyester top from the old duffel bag she used for camping weekends with Brian.

“Mama said I should help you change,” sixteen-year-old Chantilly Miller stated as she entered the women’s lounge. Gasping as she noticed the faded bellbottoms her sister was zipping up, she exclaimed: “You can’t wear that!”

“Watch me,” Taffy announced as she pulled the multicolored blouse over her head. Tilly was a sweet little girl but her older sister always found her to be a bit insipid. The younger girl never questioned the clothes her mother selected for her and always did what she was told. She kept her dark hair tidily combed in a neat braid or high ponytail while her solemn blue eyes held a certain clear innocence. The rebellion that beat in Taffy’s heart was not present in Tilly’s.

“Mama won’t like it.”

“Mama can’t say anything about it. I’m a married woman now.”

“Oh.” Tilly’s mouth opened in a gape of amazement. It hadn’t occurred to her that her sister’s marriage would make such a change.

“Don’t stand there with your mouth opened,” Taffy coolly responded. “I don’t need your help. Toddle along and don’t say a word to mama.” Slipping her feet into her worn Birkenstocks and pulling her orange poncho over her head, she was ready to make her appearance. Stepping out into the corridor that held the men’s and women’s lounges, she leaned against the wall to wait for Brian to emerge.

“I couldn’t wait to get out of that monkey suit,” Brain exclaimed as he stepped up beside her. His brown and tan striped bellbottoms where frayed at the bottom while his polyester shirt with it’s diamond pattern was slightly too tight. His feet were clad in Birkenstocks also. “Ready to head up into the mountains?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she breathed as she leaned in for a quick kiss that continued much longer than first anticipated. “Let’s wow them!” Clasping hands, they entered the reception hall.

Gasps filled the air. “What do you think you’re doing?” the mother of the bride whispered into her ear as she grasped her daughter’s arm.

“Going camping!” Taffy responded.

“Camping,” was all Matilda Miller could mutter before Uncle Mortie raised his champagne glass in a toast. “To the Bride and Groom,” his drunken voice called out across the room. “May your days be plentiful, and your nursery filled with joy. Or is that: May your days be full of joy and your nursery plentiful. Or maybe…”

“That’s enough, Mortie,” Matilda admonished as she fluttered her hands to quieten the drunkard. In a fluster she hardly realized how her voice carried across the assembly.

“Either way, we’re off,” Brian called out as he took Taffy by the arm and pulled her away before anyone else could make a toast. Scooting down the back corridor, they exited the Country Club. Stepping into the cool night air, they both exclaimed: “What?!”

Brian’s prize Fiat Spider was plastered from front to back with shaving cream. The windshield proclaimed: JUST MARRIED; old tins cans hung from the back bumper. “UNCLE MORTIE!” the newly married couple shouted in unison. Laughing, they scooped armfuls of cream from the windshield and smeared each other’s faces with it. Brian landed a huge gob in Taffy’s ear while Taffy opened Brian’s shirt to lather his chest.

“Get going, you two!” Uncle Mortie stood in the exit with both hands against the sides of his mouth to magnify his voice. “Go, young fools, while the night is still young!”

“We’re going, we’re going,” they called out as they waved frantically at the uncle. Without bothering to open the convertible’s door, Brian leapt over it to land comfortably behind the wheel; Taffy jumped in on her side. With a roar, the Spider smoothly swept down the long drive onto the deserted road leading out of town. The mountains beckoned them.

“Slow down!” Taffy screamed as Brain pulled his snazzy little car around a hairpin turn. “You’ll get us killed before we’re married for one day.”

“Nothing to sweat about, my love,” the young man grinned as he pulled the same maneuver on the next turning.

As she leaned back into her seat, Taffy realized Brian was far more intoxicated than she had realized. Perhaps they should have waited until the next afternoon to leave. It would have given him time to sober up. “At least let me take the wheel,” she suggested as the car swayed across the line.

“Noooo,” Brian drew out the word as long as he could. Turning his face toward his new bride, he could only see a blur of her.

“Yes and I mean it, Brian. Let me drive.”

“All right, all right.” Pressing his foot firmly on the brakes, he brought the little blue Spider to an abrupt halt. Taffy felt the back wheels lift from the road before settling back down.

“You’re drunk, Brian,” the young lady exclaimed as she flung her door opened.

“No worse than you,” he answered, grasping the wheel with white knuckles.

“Correction: I didn’t drink as much as you did. I switched to juice after the toasts.”

“Smart ass.”

Instead of responding, Taffy stuck her tongue out.

With the new Mrs. Sinclair at the wheel of the convertible, the rest of the trip was uneventful.

“Ah, the mountains,” was Taffy’s first thought as she opened the door of Uncle Mortie’s mountain retreat the next morning. “Nothing better than fresh air.” Stepping onto the back porch, she gasped in wonder. The lake was no more than a few steps away. Crisp blue waters seemed to beckon her with an invitation of coolness. Leaving Brian to his dreams in the loft bedroom, she stepped down onto the path and practically skipped to the edge of the lake.

Turning in a three-sixty, Taffy took in the entire scene. The log cabin was tucked neatly within an alcove of tall pine trees. At a quick glance, it looked almost a part of the shadows. If it were the right time of day, it would blend in entirely and disappear. The little Fiat looked out of place parked alone in nature’s playground. The vista facing away from the hide-a-way cottage was breathtaking. The tall mountain surroundings held the lake in it’s cozy elbow.

Spying an upside-down canoe at the water’s edge, Taffy couldn’t resist pulling it upright and sliding it into the lake. If she paddled to the middle, she could float at her leisure. When Brian came out, he could swim out to join her.

To her delight, Taffy discovered the lake extended further than she realized. A small cascade lead her into a larger expanse of water. Surely Brian would find her when he was ready. She anticipated a long frolic in the cool wetness when he arrived.

“Hello!” Brian’s voice came from a rocky outcrop above her. Bare chested and clad in cutoff jean shorts, he held up a fishing rod and crewel for her to see. “I’m going to catch us some lunch.”

Drat! Taffy thought as she realized he had just blown her plans. “Come swimming!”

“Fishing first!” he called back. “I’ll catch us a mess of fish to cook over an open fire for lunch.”

“Then we’ll swim!” Taffy called back as she sat up to wave at the man she loved. Laying back in the canoe, she stared up at the puffy clouds floating in the blue sky. Well, that was another plan laid to waste, she thought to herself. It had been her idea to spend every waking hour together—and the sleeping ones too. Instead Brian had gone off on his own for a morning of fishing. What a way to start a honeymoon!

Brian, in the meantime, found a comfortable spot where the mountain lake turned to form a river. Not only was it the perfect place to catch that mess of fish but it gave him a clear view of Taffy in her canoe. He loved the sight of her in her cut off short shorts with the calico patches sewn in awkward positions across her derriere and the fringed orange bikini top that covered extraordinarily little of her breasts. Instantly he wanted to drop his pole and silently swim out to tip over the canoe. Just as he was going to put his plan into action, a nibble came to his bait. They could play after lunch.

Hiking, fishing, and swimming filled their idyllic days in their mountain retreat. Even Taffy had to admit that Uncle Mortie had been right to send them to his cabin by the lake. It wasn’t fancy but it gave them an opportunity to be alone together during the first days of marriage.

“If we could stay here forever…” Brian began as they sat with their hips pressed together on a log before a roaring campfire.

“It would be ideal,” Taffy responded, as she reached to turn the spit their freshly caught fish was roasting on. “Communing with nature. What a life!”

“I guess we’ll have to go back tomorrow. I’ll have to be at the construction site early in the morning. Seven on the dot, Mr. Mason said when he hired me.” Brian’s voice showed his lack of enthusiasm.

“And I have to go back to the bank.” Taffy wasn’t thrilled about returning to her teller’s job.

“Reality.” Brian leaned toward the fire with his elbows on his knees.

“Blah. Blah, Blah.” Taffy placed her elbows on her knees too.

“Yeah, blah, blah,” Brian added.

“Let’s never be like our parents, Bri,” Taffy stated as she caught his eyes with her own. “I hate the status quo.

“Me too. Why be a part of it?”


“We’re going to end up like them, you know,” Brian finally stated after a long pause in their conversation.

“Parish the thought!”

“Well, we are.”

“Say who?”

“That’s just the way it is, Taff,” Brian stated as he picked pebble out of the sand and threw it into the roaring fire.

“We’ll hang on to what we have for as long as we can,” Taffy sighed then paused. “I love it out here. Wish we could stay.”

“Maybe Uncle Mortie will let us come back.”

“It’s a thought…”

Morning. Silently the young couple gathered their things for the trip back to Spring Valley. They were both sad to leave. With a last sigh, Brian latched and locked the cabin door then climbed behind the wheel of his Spider. “There’s a general store in the village about two miles down. Why don’t we grab a couple sandwiches and sodas? We can picnic on the way home.”

“Sure,” Taff distractedly responded. She was sad to leave.

While Brian ordered ham and cheese sandwiches, bags of chips and bottled soda at the deli counter, Taffy wandered amongst the novelties the general store held. Wistfully she purchased matching tee shirts with the mountain vista printed on them and a set of souvenir silver spoons to add to her collection. It was still hard for her to part with the honeymoon time they had spent in the lakeside cabin, but she could hold onto the memory.

“You two the ones staying at that cabin up there on the mountain,” the old proprietor asked as they were headed toward the door. With nods of affirmation, the fellow continued: “I have a bit of mail for you.” Rummaging through a stack of letters, he finally came up with a long business envelope.

Questioningly, Brian and Taffy exchanged a glance. What could it be? Who would send them mail?

“It’s from Uncle Mortie,” Brian exclaimed as he tore open the envelop. “Taffy! It’s the deed to the cabin! It’s ours!”

“Dear Sweet Uncle Mortie!” Taffy cried out as she flung her arms around Brian’s neck. “He’s my favorite uncle!”

“Congratulations, you two!” The proprietor announced. “Mortie said you were just married when he dropped that off.”

Cheerfully waving good-bye, the newly married Sinclairs headed out to their Spider and turned it back up the mountain. There was no question of what they were going to do. It was good-bye to Spring Valley and the norm. They were mountain folk now.

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24 Apr, 2022
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