He’s a lying, cheating bastard, I think to myself. And I’m stuck with him for the rest of my life. I roll over and looked into Kenneth’s face. He has lipstick on his collar, and he doesn’t care if I see it. He never does. He’d dragged himself back to the hotel room at four in the morning. Here we are in Scotland for a “last effort to save our marriage” trip, and he disappeared last night. I didn’t have to ask him where he’d been.
I get up and take a shower, and wrap myself in a towel. I am in Scotland. Our daughter is with my mother for a few days, and I am not going to waste my time on Kenneth. He just isn’t worth it. I should have known this when my ex-boyfriend admitted to me at mine and Kenneth’s wedding that Kenneth had been sleeping with my maid of honor. But I had just said I do. And we had a baby on the way, so I stuck it out.
Kenneth rolls over and groans. “Come back to bed,” he says, his voice scratchy.
“No thank you.” I rummage around in my suitcase, trying to find something comfortable that I can wear for sight seeing.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, swiping a hand down his face.
“What do you think is wrong?” I take my clothes into the bathroom and put them on. I don’t want Kenneth to see me naked, not anymore. He isn’t worth my time. He isn’t worth my breath. He isn’t worth… anything.
I come out and he’s sitting on the edge of the bed. “Are you going to act like this the whole trip?” he asks.
“Where were you last night?” I bite out.
He hesitates for a second. “I met some people in the bar and, since you were tired, I hung out with them.” He doesn’t look at me when he says it, and I know he’s lying. He always is. If his mouth is open, he’s lying. “Seriously, April,” he growls. “Is this how it’s going to be?”
I heave a sigh. “Is it?” I ask.
He groans and gets up, brushes his teeth, and gets dressed. “Where are you going?” he asks.
“Sight seeing.” I pull my hair back into a ponytail and glare at him, daring him to try to join me.
He ties his sneakers. “I’ll come with you.”
I shrug. I don’t care.
We’re staying at an old bed and breakfast in Scotland. It has the old Scotch feel to it, and I stop at the front desk to see if they have any tourist brochures.
“Good morning,” I say to the man behind the counter.
He lowers his chin slightly at me, and shoots Kenneth a glare. Kenneth is oblivious to it all. “What are yer plans for the day, lass?” the old man asks.
I’m going to ditch my lying, cheating soon-to-be ex-husband and then go see the sights. “I’m going to walk around the town, I think. Can you make any suggestions about places to visit?”
He eyes Kenneth for a moment, until Kenneth walks around the corner. “Everythin’ all right, lass?” he asks.
“No,” I admit. “But it will be.”
An older woman gets up from where she was sitting at a desk behind him. “Perhaps ye should tell her about the falls, love,” she suggests, putting her arm around his waist.
The man jerks, looking surprised. “Like that, is it?” he asks. He smiles softly down at her.
She nods. “I believe so.”
The man takes out a piece of paper and draws a quick map for me. “It’s not on any of the walking trails, and it’s a wee bit of a nuisance to get ta it, but if ye’re up for it, it’ll be worth it.” He nods toward Kenneth when he comes back in the door. “Be sure ta take him with ye so he can keep ye safe.”
“Is it dangerous?” I ask.
“Only fer those who are not pure of heart,” he says, winking at me. “Legend has it that many a liar, cheater, and some general arse-holes have fallen to their deaths from the bridge.” He grins. “Perhaps ye’ll get lucky and he’ll tumble inta the rocks,” he whispers.
I thank them and walk toward the door. The old man calls out to me, “Go canny, lass, aye?” he says. “The lass who guards the bridge can be a wee bit fearsome.”
“The lass?” I ask.
“Aye,” he says. “Rumor has it that she killed her husband dead. Tossed his body right off the bridge, where he tumbled ta his death.”
“Oh.” The hair on my arms stands up. “Why did she do that?”
“She caught him with a hoor or five,” he says. He shrugs. “Canna let that pass without comeuppance.”
I snort. They have no idea.
I take the map, and Kenneth follows me quietly toward the exit. He doesn’t open the door for me, and he looks put out, until he sees a woman walk by with short shorts. His eyes follow her, so I just keep walking. He comes with me, but not until he’s done thoroughly disrespecting me.
I pick my way down the trail, following the map the man gave me. The trail is hidden in some spots, and I have to search to find it. Go canny, the man said. Be careful.
Kenneth grunts as I let a branch go and it hits him in the face. He swipes it back. “Would you be careful?” he snarls.
I once thought Kenneth was all I ever wanted. I gave up a sure thing, Matthew Reed, to be with Kenneth. Biggest mistake I ever made. But at least I got my daughter out of it. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
I stop when I see it. There’s a rushing river, and a large bridge. Water shoots off the rocks, and tiny rainbows fill the air from the spray of the water on the rocks. It’s beautiful. Mesmerizing.
I wait, and stare, and wonder what the heck I’m doing with the asshole who can’t keep his dick in his pants, wasting time, wondering where he is or who he’s with.
Suddenly, a woman appears on the other side of the bridge. She has long hair that has tumbled down over her shoulders, and she’s wearing a corset and a long dress. Maybe she’s part of a reenactment? She’s dressed in what I imagine could be old Scottish garb.
“Who’s that?” Kenneth asks.
I shrug, and walk to the edge of the bridge. She walks slowly toward us, her gaze on Kenneth.
“Good morning,” Kenneth says to her, and he’s using that voice I hate, the one that has an invitation in it.
She drops into a curtsy.
“How cool is that?” Kenneth says, punching my shoulder lightly.
The woman turns to face the rail, and I step up beside her. Kenneth stands between us, but he’s more interested in the woman than the scenery. He’s trying to look down her bodice.
“Rumor has it that the bridge can see inta the soul. That it kens the heart of a person, good or bad,” she says quietly.
“And what does the bridge do about such individuals?” I ask.
“The good are allowed ta pass. Many a bad person has fallen to his death.”
“Kind of like trolls who guard the bridge?” Kenneth snorts.
She wraps a lock of hair around her finger and twists. “Do I look a troll ta ye, sir?” she asks.
“You’re the keeper of the bridge?” I blurt out.
“For many a year now.” She smiles at me. Her expression goes serious. “Do ye want fer me ta take him?” she asks me.
I laugh. “Oh, you definitely don’t want him,” I say, waving a breezy hand through the air.
She laughs, too. “Oh, I believe I do.”
Kenneth has the gall to look flattered.
“I’ll leave you two to it, then,” I say, and I turn to go back the way I came.
“Be certain,” she calls to me.
“I’m certain!” I yell back over the rush of the water. I’m certain that I would be happy if I never saw him again.
Suddenly, a huge rush of air pushes me back from the bridge. I turn back, and watch as the woman takes Kenneth by the arm and jerks him against her. He goes willingly, his lips touching hers.
I feel nothing. Nothing. So, I know that my marriage is over, at least. Relief hits me.
But then the woman stumbles against him, and she and Kenneth fall over the rail of the bridge wrapped in one another’s arms. I run to where they were standing and look over the edge. I watch them go end over end, and suddenly, there’s a thump as they hit the rocks below. Kenneth lies still, and I see that his arms and legs are canted at odd angles. His eyes stare blankly ahead.
The woman gets up and brushes herself off. She waves at me from below. “Ye’re welcome!” she calls. She smiles at me and walks into the forest.
I jerk awake and look around the room. Kenneth is lying beside me and he has lipstick on his collar. We’re in bed at a bed and breakfast in Scotland, where we were making a last ditch effort to save our marriage. Or at least I was. But that dream…
I get up and get dressed. I want to go home to my daughter. I want to be done with Kenneth.
I pack quietly and quickly, and he sleeps through it. I pull my suitcase to the door and give him a final glance. I’m done. So done.
I step into the hallway and close the door. I breathe in a sigh of relief. I haven’t felt this calm in a really long time.
I go to the desk and check out. The old man is behind the counter and he smiles at me. “Was yer stay all that ye expected, lass?” he asks.
“That and more,” I say.
“Will yer husband be joining ye?” he asks. “Or will he remain with us for a few days?” He smiles kindly at me.
“I have no idea what he’ll do.” And I really don’t care. I have a flight to change, and a baby to return to.
“Oh, if he stays, perhaps we can show him the falls,” the old lady says from behind the man. She walks up and puts her arm around his waist.
“The falls, ye say?” he asks her, grinning. He kisses her forehead. “I’ll be sure ta send him in that direction.” He nods.
I grin as I go out the door. I know it was just a dream. But it was a dream I needed.
“Oh, lass!” the man calls to me.
I turn back. “Yes?” I say.
“Best of luck to ye,” he says. He winks at me.
I think about it a minute. “Who is the lady on the bridge, may I ask?”
He raises his brow. “Oh, ye saw old Madge, did ye?”
I nod. “We met briefly. Who is she?”
“She’s a local legend. Rumor has it that she had a lying, cheating husband, and she shoved him to his death from that very bridge.”
I nod and shrug. Makes sense to me.
“She’s been luring unsuspecting men to their deaths ever since. Only those who deserve it, mind ye.”
I laugh. Those who deserve it.
I shove out the door and walk into my brand new life.
“Go canny!” the man calls me to me.