The writer’s group I’m in has gone from writing really short pieces once a month to writing a story before each meeting. We’re posting the stories on the net so that everybody gets a chance to read them before the meeting. (Well, in theory anyway.) Since this means I’m spending two or three days a month on writing that is not blog-related I thought you might like it if I posted them here too. The following story was written for April’s meeting, and I have linked to it before.
The Man I Love
Maybe a story. With love in it.
Someday he’ll come along the man I love,
And he’ll be big and strong,
The man I love,
And when he comes my way,
I’ll do my best to make him stay…
Sandra took a sip of her red wine and continued staring at the singer. What a stupid song. How does one make somebody stay anyway? By buying the right lingerie? Applying the right makeup? Cooking meat and potatoes? What if you were in love with a woman?
What was love anyway?
“Did you say something?”, Kevin asked.
“Um.” She wasn’t aware of having said anything. But sometimes Kevin could pick up her thoughts. That probably meant something.
“I wondered about the song. The lyrics.” He gave her a blank look. All of a sudden she wished she were here with Matt. He’d get it. “All these words about ‘the man I love’. As if one suddenly looked up and saw the one and only. I don’t even know what love is, anyway.”
“Well,” he hesitated a bit, and looked at his wineglass, playing with its stem, “well, it’s what I feel for you.”
In defense she gave him the warmest smile she could muster. “Kevin, that’s so… I really don’t know what to say. You know I like you very much.”
“Liking isn’t love.”
“I honestly don’t know. Maybe I do love you. I’m still not sure where liking ends and love begins.”
He leaned towards her and whispered in her ear, “I’ll show you. Later.”
He’ll build a little home,
Just meant for too,
From which I’d never roam,
Who would, would you?
And so all else above,
I’m waiting for the man I love.
That’s what they all did, Sandra thought to herself. Waiting for love. As if love made everything perfect. Like in fairytales. And then they lived happily ever after. That seemed to be Kevin’s idea too. Putting the two of them in a little box, maybe with a white picket fence, and then keeping her there.
She was weary of “I love you”s. She could deal if somebody wanted sex. Or companionship. Or friendship. But love? Life wasn’t like the movies where two people set eyes upon each other and were committed for life, or more often, beyond death. And then they always gazed into each others eyes and started kissing right away.
In the last year alone four men had told her she were the love of their lives. That obviously couldn’t be the case, and at least two of them had found other love interests since then. Even the deepest affection seemed transferable eventually. At least she hadn’t heard about anybody wasting away from unrequited love lately.
She went outside for a bit of fresh air as the singer crooned yet another love song. Love. It was everywhere. Like dust. Or bacteria. As if it were the most important thing in life.
She checked her cell phone. A message from Matt. He was back early. She dialed his number.
“Hi. – Yes, I’d love to see you too but I’m out with a guy. – Kevin. – I could dump him but that wouldn’t be very nice. How about breakfast? – Breakfast in bed? – I’ll bring the croissants then.”
She went back in. Maybe it would have been better to dump Kevin after all. But then he was a pleasure to be with. It was a pity that he had become that moonstruck. She would have to get rid of him eventually just because of that. This love-thing really made things complicated.
Matt thought that maybe he should have called Sandra a bit earlier. He liked her company. At least she didn’t talk about “commitment” all the time. He thought about going out and finding another girl for the night but then he would have to explain why he had a date for breakfast.
This was one of the moment where he regretted not loving in the late sixties. Who would have thought that the 21st century would make people that uptight. With a bit of caution everybody could have much more fun. There was enough love to go around. No need to ration it out. But no, it was like being back in the fifties. You almost needed to be engaged to get a little cuddly these days.
After the concert Sandra and Kevin went to his apartment. Kevin believed in romance and candlelight (and foreplay of course) so it took a while until Sandra finally could have some sex and sleep. Making love with Kevin was like eating a nice ham sandwich. Wholesome but only mildly exciting. Already she was looking forward to a nice bowl of chili so to speak with Matt.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you, I have to get up early, I’m meeting somebody for breakfast.”
“You don’t know her.”
She had given up telling him the truth because he always got so upset when she was meeting other men.
When she left Kevin’s apartment the next morning she felt elated. She hated lying. But she didn’t want to hurt Kevin either and she knew she had hurt him enough by not speaking of love. Lying by omission all the time. Another reason to dump him. But he was nice. He even tried to make her breakfast. But she shouldn’t have to lie to him.
A bag of croissants in hand she went to Matt’s place. It was a good thing she had her own key, he usually slept like a log, and wasn’t exactly a morning person.
What was that commotion in the street? Was there smoke? Fire? Her heart beat wildly in her chest even before she started running. Matt, what about Matt? He’d be in there. Sleeping. With all that smoke. And fire. She ran as fast as she could, the bag in her hand forgotten. Racing along the street she saw the fire engines. People. No Matt.
Matt had woken up uncommonly early and found that he didn’t have any coffee or butter left. He came back from the grocery store to find that there was smoke everywhere. His apartment was burning. Oh my. Oh. Sandra. She had her own keys. What if something happened to her? The line in the grocery store had been tremendously slow. She probably had been waiting for him.
Both of them felt distinctly unreal when they spotted each other in the crowd. It was exactly like one of those movies where everybody needed a lot of tissues. But of course they didn’t care.