Fair Love (short story)

We’re drunk and she’s naked in my bed and pulling my belt off. She’s ravishing, she tells me to kiss her, and I do, as hard as I can, I put my soul into her and pull back holiness. I touch her breast and her eyes light up and she unbuttons my pants, she is beautiful, she is touching me, how strange to be touched, how wonderful, how wondrous, emotion, life, love.

We wake up, we’re hung over, I’m in her bed, and we just lie there looking at each other, both awake, but both afraid to break that silence. She asks me if she was my first, I nod. She tells me I was wonderful. I ask her if she wants breakfast, she silently nods, I touch her shoulder, let my finger run up her neck, to her cheek, her hair, she is beautiful.

We’re eating, out conversation is stilted, uncomfortable, it’s dinner, our first date, and we don’t really know what to say. She asks me if I heard that a family was killed in a car crash very near her house last night. I tell her no, that that is terrible, that I’m so sorry, life is tragic, and short, you have to make most of the short time you have. Our eyes meet. I order two drinks.

We’re at the mall; it’s noon; we spent all morning and all afternoon in bed; life is good and beautiful and lovely. We’re walking and I confidently have her hand in my hand, and we’re talking ceaselessly. Yes, reality TV is stupid, I can’t believe people watch that trash. Yes, blue does look good on a girl with blue eyes. Her hands in my hand, its so soft, she leans against me, looks up into my eyes, and my mouth catches, time stops, don’t ever stop looking at me, don’t ever stop. Please.

We’re both quiet. I just told her I love her. I meant to. I meant it. I wait. She looks like she might cry, then she looks up, looks me right in the eye, then tells me she loves me. I say it again; she says it again. Like that, we’re in love. Lovers in more than just bodies. Love we have. It is ours, I can feel it, she completes me, she is perfect.

We’re shouting at each other. It’s a fucking stupid idea, it’s icy out, I won’t let her drive around, yes I’m a fucking control freak, but I’m sorry if I give a dam. She starts to cry, and leaves the room and slams the door. I yell good. Then I cave. I go to the slammed door, and I lean against it. Oh, you know I don’t mean to yell, it’s just I’m worried, you’re welcome to go, but what if something happens, what would I do, it would be my fault, what would I tell your parents, what would I do with myself; you know I love you. She opens the door. She kisses me hard. She kisses me harder. She tells me I’m a wonderful man, that she’s so lucky to have a star like myself watching over her, and that she’s sorry for being the fool. She kisses me the hardest I’ve ever been kissed; I can taste blood; she says instead of her going out, we should go to the bedroom, she’s beautiful, eyes fresh from tearing, cheeks still flushed from anger, I pick her up, a bit like a football I suppose, and carry her to the bed.

We’re sitting hand in hand, and her parents are looking at me. It’s dinner, and the conversation is stilted, like from that first date. Yes, I’m a university student; yes, I have a good job; yes my grades are good; I would like to an English teacher when I graduate; yes it is a good profession. Her father smokes, and he uses the cigarette like a maestro’s wand, I can tell he is playing me so that I sing the songs he wants. Even more I can tell he is pleased with my answers. Her mother is staring at the father, and when he looks away, to light another cigarette or what not, she looks approvingly at me, and when she thinks both I and her husband are looking away, she gives a conspiring wink to her daughter my lover. We go to the next room, and my heart goes and plays the piano while the mother cleans the dishes and I talk the stock market with her father. It’s a Renoir scene.

We’re hugging, she’s just pulled me from my knees and gave me a passionate yes. I wonder if it is ok to cry. I am ecstasy, I am wonderful, I am the happiest I’ve ever been, she is so beautiful, so wonderfully wonderfully beautiful. She cries, she cries my tears, we are one, oh my god, lord thank you for love, for these emotions, let life never be as happy as this moment, for fear I will explode, life, what wonders, what wonder, awe, awe, awe.

We’re married. We are middle aged. I know I am getting older, a few gray hair, but I look at her, and she is as beautiful as ever, more so, a line or two around her mouth provides her dignity, her hips have filled out to give her a shape, and her eyes have a confidence that was not there when I met her. She goes to the washroom, comes back, and tells me the news we’d both prayed fervently for, our hard work had paid off, life would continue on, our love would have a physical embodiment, we were joined forever, I kissed her, harder then I’ve ever kissed anyone, whispered in her ear thank you, and put my hand on her stomach and didn’t stop.

We’re all here around the breakfast table and she’s mad at him, our wonderful little boy, since he has slept in and might be late for school. She’s getting his bag together and giving him a lecture, but it is not mean hearted, it is parenting, and my heard fills with pride: my family, my wonderful family, my universe, my constellations, everything that I need, everything that I have. I give a laugh, and she looks at me, and sees that she’s being a bit over stern and starts to laugh to, and my beautiful son, my beautiful son, the son of my beautiful wife, looks at her, then looks in my eyes too, then starts to laugh. We all laugh and I tell them they had better run off or else be late to school. I had to hurry to my own school; teach English.

We’re so sad; shattered. He has left us, our beautiful boy, our son, has grown, grown like grass in the spring, when you look out and you wonder how, how did this happen; he is gone to school, in another city. She is crying, I go to her and hold her, wrinkles here and there, grey hair yes, but oh still so beautiful, so wonderful, all I want, and tell her I love her, that we have been good parents, that she is wonderful; I hold her, I hold her weeping frame, let my own tears fall in her hair knowing no one will ever know my sorrow, the sorrow in the creeping recesses at the back of my mind. We did good, I think, we did good.

We are old, my son, a man, visits us every winter, he brings his children, and we regale them with stories and games. My wife, my partner, has become frail. She radiates a glow when the kids come to play, three grandchildren, their laughter is infectious, we feel young, as young as our minds feel, we could play their games, we want to play their games, when did we ever stop, why? I see my son looking at his mother my wonderful wife and his face is pained; I look at her a second unguarded and my face is pained; she looks at the both of us, gives a laugh, and continues to play with the grandchildren, her withered frame breathing deeply every breath so deeply; poignantly aware it could be her last.

We are separated. She is dead. Died years ago actually, but I still wake up and expect her warmth to be next to me. Terrible start of the day, always realizing you’re alone, then thinking of why. My son visits often, and his children are getting old, thinking I’m a fragile piece of furniture, someone to whisper around. But they are beautiful; what an equation, she and I made so many who will make so many; live forever for sure. But they don’t visit every moment of every day, how could they, they have their own lives, their own loves, their own hopes, their own dreams; I spend much of my time alone; thinking. Sometimes I wonder if it’s good to think. I think that I’ve lived my only life, that the bottle is almost empty, and I suppose it’s natural to wonder if I chose right, if maybe I should have read the label more carefully, that maybe I should have drank quicker, that maybe I should have drank slower. My life ends, and I look at the receipt, and I see how it all adds up. I used to dream like everybody else, big dreams, emperor or something. I used to dream of love. Did I have love. It was good. Life was good. Beautiful family. What more could I want. Did I not have everything? What more could I want. What more would be fair to want?


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