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BETTER LATE -5

Shaynah stopped to open on-line ads one after the other and read each. She studied with great interest the photographs of the properties, wondering at the splendid environments and even more at the interior designs and furnishings. Compared to the rich, expensive, conservative environment that her religion demanded, these country homes looked comfortable, casual, and somehow happy. She began to enjoy fantasies about life in one of those country homes. She would rely on herself to get along without the support of the close community and commercial districts to which she had always been accustomed. Some of the ads showed people enjoying their homes and Shaynah became fascinated with their clothes, and pictured herself in those fashions.

A mother in tight blue jeans served a meal to a family. The teenaged daughter wore a revealing tank top that showed a narrow waist above the low-cut shorts. A handsome husband-father wore an attractive plaid flannel shirt. In another photograph the mother reclines on a poolside chaise in the briefest of bikinis while her similarly attired daughter frolics in the pool with the solidly built husband-father. Shaynah realised she was running her hands over her own breasts while she imagined herself displayed that way and determined to some day soon learn how it felt.

Shaynah’s attention was caught by an ad for a cosy cottage on an island in a large lake. It was accessible by boat or floatplane only in the warmer seasons. The freezing times of the year one needed a helicopter, hovercraft or snowmobile to get to and from the island over the frozen waterways. Shaynah couldn’t imagine how anyone could live the year ‘round in those conditions. She studied the ad at length, fascinated – even excited – by her imagined scenarios of such a life.

There was an array of photographs of the cottage and the island, including the natural environment around it. An aerial photograph showed the entire four-acre island and its proximity to the nearest mainland. The distance to the mainland was not more than a mile, but there was no civilisation there. Shaynah could see that there was nothing more than dense coniferous forest from the rocky shore to the horizon. She read that the nearest town was at least 25 minutes away by fast boat or hovercraft.

Shaynah perused the many photos of the cottage interior for almost an hour. The bedrooms looked warm and comfortable, with beautifully colourful curtains and matching duvets. The kitchen was spotless and bright, with a large stove and a large refrigerator. The living room centred on a large stone fireplace before a plump, beige sofa and two matching easy chairs with convenient lamp tables to separate the chairs from either end of the sofa.

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