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Short story – Romance

Short story - Romance

Circles

‘Do you still love me, Pete?’

‘What sort of a question is that?’

‘The sort of question that I want you to answer. Truthfully.’

‘Of course I love you – I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t, would I?’

‘You might. You get all your meals cooked for you, your shirts washed and ironed, your children cared for, all your physical needs met…’

‘Okay, okay, okay. Why not just call me the world’s most useless husband and have done with it.’

‘You’re not useless, just…’

‘What? What am I, Lisa?’

‘Well, a bit neglectful, I suppose.’

‘You suppose.’

‘What I mean is, I don’t feel loved. You always have that phone stuck to your ear and you don’t do anything that makes me feel cherished.’

‘Cherished? Ha! I don’t have time for cherishing. Have you not noticed that I work all the hours God sends to keep you in clothes and food and holidays and everything you ever need?’

‘So you think that running this house and bringing up the kids isn’t hard work? You should try it.’

‘I’m not saying you don’t work hard, I’m just…’

‘What? Making out that what I do isn’t as important as your fancy job selling houses?’

‘No! Listen to me! Look, we both work hard, we’re both tired at the end of the day. I think we both need to make more of an effort to care for each other.’

‘Well, you need to.’

‘Lisa, do you love me?’

‘Don’t go turning the tables! I’m the one who’s feeling unloved, remember?’

‘Do you think I feel loved?’

‘Well, you should do, the amount of things I do for you.’

‘Actually, I’ve been worrying lately that you’d gone off me, stopped loving me.’

‘Pete, how…’

‘Let me finish. I appreciate all the work you put into looking after me and the kids, but when was the last time you sat down and talked to me?’

‘I’m always talking to you.’

‘Yes – about the kids needing new shoes, or how you got held up in a traffic jam on the school run. I’m talking about real talking, where you ask me how I’m feeling about life, about us.’

‘I’m talking to you now, aren’t I?’

‘You are, and I’m glad. But it’s still about you, isn’t it, Lisa? You want me to do something to make you feel better.’

‘Well, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what marriage is all about?’

‘Marriage is about mutual, unconditional love, Lisa, not about one partner making demands of the other and then sulking when they don’t deliver. Come on, don’t cry; let’s make a pact to show each other every day how much we care.’

‘I’m sorry, Pete, I…’

‘There’s nothing to be sorry about. I know you love me.’

‘But do you love me, Pete…?’

Short story - Romance

Love at First Sight

I can remember the first time I met him.

I hadn’t really been looking, I guess that was the irony of it. You’re not even looking for that special someone but that’s when you meet them.  There you were, happy, settled, in a routine and life is good. You don’t feel the need to share your life. You wonder if you really want to rock the boat, or have the energy to invest in a new relationship. Do you really long for someone and for them to want you in return, or feel the need to be needed? Then you hear your friends talk about how happy they are, how much their lives have changed and you think ‘Well maybe I need that too’.

I just remember walking into the room. I didn’t see him straight away but when I looked around I realised his eyes were fixed on mine. He didn’t look away; he wasn’t shy or embarrassed at being caught staring at me.  There were others there too, milling about the room, coming in and out, but somehow it just seemed like there was only him and I there.  He watched me as I walked across the room, I knew it, I could feel it.  And when I turned round to check, there he was, still staring. And then I smiled and he got up and came over to me. And that was it I guess, I fell in love, just like that.

And more importantly, and I suppose this was the real clincher, I felt him fall in love with me. And there is something so wonderful about that beautiful, uncomplicated, devoted love. The fact that he was so handsome, with his soft brown eyes and thick wavy hair was a bonus, but it was his complete love for me that really swept me away.

He was younger than me when we met. He was still living at home with his family, and I used to visit them until we decided the time was right and we took the big step, and he moved in with me. I spent ages getting the house ready, trying to anticipate his every need, buying a new bed, towels, the kind of food he liked, so he would feel happy, welcome and at home. I didn’t want him to feel out of place, or doubt my love or feel that it was too big a step.  My worst fear was that he wouldn’t be happy with me. But that is the anxiety that often accompanies such a deep and compelling love.

So now, here we are, still living together two years later. I love him so much. I never thought it possible but I love him more with every passing day, I feel my heart will burst, and I know he loves me. It is in his every movement, his every gesture, the way he looks at me.  He is so loving and caring, and very protective of me but not in a controlling or suffocating way, only with kindness and concern.

We share a lot of the same interests which helps.  He loves the garden too, and we love long walks in the country, visiting pubs, meeting up with friends or just sitting and cuddling on the sofa.  And the best bit of all is how we know each other so well, we really can read each other minds, we are so attuned to each other.

Sometimes I don’t even have to say anything, I just look at him and smile while putting on my coat and he jumps up immediately from whatever he is doing and races to get his lead. I don’t even need to tell him; he just knows. It’s time for walkies!

Short story - Romance

Gravity

I listened to the dial tone until it flat-lined into a single note. Please hang up and try again. The receiver was heavy in my hand. Please hang up and try again. I pressed the red button to reset the phone, vaguely remembering the days when hanging up was more literal. The world was more physical then. We were more physical then.

Perhaps I should have seen it at the time but I always thought I was content in the moment. Now I think I was slow. What was it you used to say? The appearance of things depends on how quickly you’re moving: that was it. That was typical of you. Making a joke about relativity when I was telling you how much I loved you. Still love you. You were always moving faster than me. I guess love must have looked different to you.

I knew what had prompted it. The reason I was holding the phone. The urge to make contact. On the radio this morning they’d babbled excitedly about gravitational waves, about detecting the ripples from broken stars across the furthest reaches of space. We can even hear it. God’s pulse. The universe’s heartbeat. But I needed to hear you, laughing at my ignorant wonder and explaining it all; rational, precise, sure. God’s pulse? I could almost see you shaking your head, that mocking half smile. Signals converted to sound waves and frequencies pitched for human ears. You might as well let a child press random notes on a synthesiser. People will still claim they hear God. That’s what you would say, that or something like it. You were never cold though. Just different. I knew you’d hear the beauty in the sound of dying, ancient black holes, even if it was us that had given them artificial voice. You marvelled at the ineffable but saw no guiding hand, no designer. Love had been the great unknown for you once. Something you felt but could not explain. The only thing I could ever express better than you.

There was something else I’d heard listening to that gravitational surge, something magical amid the traffic news and weather and stories of strikes and crime and footballers and missiles and award shows. I also heard hope. Or more accurately I remembered hope. I remembered us. To me it was like a distress beacon from the past; my distant collapsing heart, folding in on itself all that time ago, still yearning, still beating, only for its absent twin.

I dialled the number again, each digit echoing down the line and back across the years. You pick up.