Marcus pulled his truck up to the cottage, a small structure he and Eva had built overlooking a lake near Ely, Minnesota. The same place they’d honeymooned when they first married all those years ago. The house had been no problem to put on the market, he found a realtor for that and held an auction to sell all the things that wouldn’t fit at his new home.
Marcus exited the truck and looked around. It had been beautiful when they found the property and the summers they’d spent building the place were warm spots in his memory that only served to show how cold he truly was inside. Mirroring, in a way, the frozen barrenness of the land around him.
Feeling wasn’t going to help anything, neither would talking. Jack and Eva had been the only two people in Marcus’s life since the war who he really felt comfortable opening up to, who seemed both interested in what he thought and able to just get it without too many words.
Besides, who would he talk to? His father and mother were dead, the gang all seemed to be either dead or old or just gone. For the first time in a long time, Marcus was an island.
Well, he thought. Tears caused the tin man to rust and they’ll do the same to me. I’d best get to work.
Opening up the cabin was no treat. Marcus turned on the water and the power and set to dusting the place. The most unexpecting thing about living alone at the cabin wasn’t how simple it was. The most unexpected thing about living at the cabin was realizing over and over how much work Eva did to make his day smooth for him and how assumptive he’d been about it.
Marcus wasn’t an unhelpful man by the standards of his generation and it’s true, that aside from barbeque in the summer and a few holiday duties like carving roasts and turkeys, he didn’t do much of the “woman’s work” of those days. Memories of his mother trying over and over to teach him the lesson every farm teaches to its kids came back to him in guilty flushes over those first two weeks.
“No one’s gonna do it for you” was more true for Marcus that day than it had ever been before. Marcus had always been a clean person, but he didn’t realize how much of that was made possible by his wife taking one day a week to go through the houshold laundry and get it done.
When he and Eva made their plans for the cottage, they’d assumed each would be picking up slack for the other. Learning the rhythm of how to cook the food so that it was ready in time rather than forgetting to eat until he was ravenous, and driving to town for a burger at a bar, where he’d often miss the time they shut down the grill by what seemed like minutes was a challenge. Marcus had always believed in workin g to the job, not the clock and now, with no squad, no crew and no wife it was biting him in th ass.
When in the hospital, Marcus had lost a good deal of muscle mass and gained a bit of weight from all of the vending machine snacks and commisary food he was eating while Eva wasted away. It was apparent to him the first time he woke up after chopping wood. He was sore. Marcus couldn’t remember having been this sore before.. I mean sure, in wrestling he’d been sore, on the farm he must have been sore, but it was never like this. Something was going to have to change soon, or this wasn’t going to last long.