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Welcome to my story blog. I will post one new story here every day. You are welcome to comment on any or all of them. Enjoy!
                   --Lee Pound

Day 210 - The Relatives are Coming!

Andre dreaded the first two weeks in July, when his wife’s parents drove down from New Hampshire to spend two weeks with them at the Cape Cod cottage.

“This year it’ll be different,” he thought. “Gotta keep control, gotta keep control.”

Sue and John Wilberforce weren’t bad people. In fact they were bright and cheery. Andre simply couldn’t get along with them and he’d never been able to figure out why. Seemed like everything he said rubbed them the wrong way, even the most innocuous statements about the weather. Last year a simple comment on a wave had ended in a shouting match.

The alarm went off at 7 a.m. the morning they were to arrive. Andre woke and turned it off. He heard a muffled groan next to him. Sally wouldn’t wake up yet. Too early. He’d finished his shower when Sally walked into the bathroom.

She didn’t say anything.

“When are they getting here?” Andre asked.

Sally brushed her teeth, taking a long time to finish. “I don’t want any arguments this year,” she said. “You sound like you’re already getting upset.”

“I just wondered.”

“Well don’t wonder. They’ll be here when they get here.”

Andre said, “You don’t know, do you?” He opened his closet. “What should I wear?”

“You know we always dine out the first night.”

He shrugged and dressed in a good shirt and dark pants. If they insisted on a tie later he’d put one on. They were always so picky. What was this, the sixth year the Wilberforces had made their annual trek from the far north? That meant he and Sally were in their sixth year of marriage. No kids yet.

Andre couldn’t remember having a civil conversation with John Wilberforce. And Sue? Well, she never talked to him at all. It was weird. They could be in the same room and she would seem animated, even nodding to him but she never said a word to him or ever reacted to a word he said to her. John did all the talking.

At lunch, Andre sat across the kitchen table from Sally. “I’m going to ask some questions and I would appreciate it if you didn’t get defensive,” he said.

Sally glared back at him. “Is this about my parents?”

“You know I want to get along with them,” he said. “It’s just so difficult. Your mother won’t even acknowledge that I exist and your father is ready to take my head off the minute he sees me. It’s been like that for the last six years. I don’t want it to be like that this year.”

“I don’t control my parents.”

“But you take their side.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.

“I damn well do! It’s a conversation we should have had six years ago but you kept putting it off. I’m tired of going through hell every summer because you can’t stand up to mom and dad.”

“Grow up, Andre!”

“I did. Maybe they need to do some growing up. Look, if there’s an argument, it won’t be because I started it. Rest assured John will find something to go after me for. After years of complaining about all the arguments, maybe he’ll start complaining because I won’t argue with him. Think about that.”

“You keep starting them.”

“You watch this time,” Andre said. “I’m going to be the most agreeable guy there ever was. Just watch.”

Sally shook her head and got up from the table. She stood over the sink, staring down as if she had the worries of the world on her shoulders. “You don’t understand,” she said in a low voice with a slight tremor in it.

“I need to understand,” Andre said. “This nightmare can’t continue.”

Sally looked up at him.  A tear trickled down her cheek. “They blame you. Don’t you understand? They blame YOU.”

“What?!” He shook his head. “For what?”

“Don’t you understand about my family?”

“They never said a word to me. How could I understand or know anything? What are you talking about?”

“My father is a very proud man. I never told you but I had a brother who died when he was six years old. He was my dad’s son, an heir who would carry on the name.”

Andre said, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Sally said, “After Peter died, I was all they had left. I was their hope for the future. When I fell in love with you, they tried to break us up and I said I would marry you anyway.”

“I knew that.”

Sally hugged him. “We have no family, Andre, and they believe it’s your fault. They hate you for taking me away from them and even more for not giving them a grandchild.” She held onto him tightly. “I thought they would get over it someday and let you into their lives. But it never changed. It just never changed. I can’t stand it.”

Andre said, “Hey honey, I want children some day. It just hasn’t been the right time. You know that. You’ve always said you want children too.”

“They think it’s your fault that we can’t have children.”

“Can’t?” It was Andre’s turn to be puzzled. “We can have children. We just … What do you mean by can’t?”

“I didn’t want to tell you and they don’t know and it’s all my fault and you don’t know about it and I never told them and I don’t know what to do now. Andre, I can’t have children.”

Andre held her tight while he figured out what to say next. Did he even know her? What had happened? Did anything happen? “It’s okay,” he said. But he knew it damn well wasn’t okay, not with him and certainly not with her family.

The doorbell rang.

Sally stiffened. Andre stepped back, grabbed a tissue and wiped her eyes with it. “Look,” he said, “we are in this together. You look like a wreck and they’ll want to know what happened.”

She swallowed and in a weak voice said, “What do we do?”

The doorbell rang again.

“We tell them the truth,” he said. “For once, we tell them the truth.”

He opened the door.

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