It was more than a place where the Keller’s pontoon boat bobbed in its dark shelter. Margaret rarely thought about the boat. Rarely accompanied her husband on his little fishing jaunts around the lake. The boathouse was Margaret’s retreat. An escape from a life of disappointments, a life of misplaced dreams and wrong choices. The boathouse was a place for her to face her secrets head on. The retreat didn’t make Margaret’s life better; it made her life bearable.
The boathouse was bigger than most. Elaborate some would say. Margaret’s husband, Don, had added to the modest structure years ago when she had shown an interest in journaling. At the time, her sewing room was where he would usually find her curled up in the armchair, scribbling in her diary or reading a book. When his head poked in the doorway, she would sigh and put away whatever she was doing. It was that sigh, bloated with frustration and resignation, that finally prompted Don to give her a space of her own. A room away from him, or so he thought.
He built that room with love and care. The new part was insulated to keep out the Texas summer heat and the occasional freezing winter winds. He decked it out with built-in shelves, windows for natural light, and plenty of outlets for lamps and whatnot. A throw rug, local art, a desk, and an armchair with a matching ottoman rounded out the haven. Pleased beyond measure, Margaret clapped her hands at the finished room. She told him she would only use it occasionally, but those occasions stretched into a daily routine. Margaret didn’t mean to become addicted to her space, to her loneliness, to journaling her secrets. It just happened.
At the unveiling, Don gave his wife the only key. He never once invaded her privacy. He never knew the secrets she kept in her heart and in her new space in the boathouse. He never knew what demons chased his wife away to such a solitary place. He never knew why her eyes stopped smiling all those years ago. He never knew.