Love Stories (Part Three)

Four posts ago I proclaimed myself a love cynic.  (Well, then I sort-of took it back two sentences later.)  Eleven posts ago, I promised a love story.  And, in both posts, I claimed that I was working on one.  Well…  Well…  It hasn’t come easily.

A good friend, after reading the last short story that I finished, a story about unrequited love, gave me the feedback that my female protagonist had no redeeming qualities, that she was unlikable, and that one could not possibly see how she would ever break the chains of her patheticness (not a word) to become a woman with a successful career, a husband, and children.  Considering that all of my female protagonists are linked somehow to some facet of myself, this one stung.  A bit. So, I revisited the story and tried to give her a little oomph. (Since I’m full of all manner of oomph, I thought this should be easy.) And, I managed.  I think.  But, in the end, I also decided that not all protagonists have to be likeable.  Not everyone manages to overcome their patheticness.  Sometimes, people are failures in the world of women and men and women and women and men and men and so on and so forth.  That’s just the truth of it.

Still, and I reread this story again yesterday, I have to ask myself why I am so focused on the shadow sides of romance.  And, on relative youngsters. (The two main characters in the story are in their early 20s.)  My own relational immaturity must really shine through in my work.  I wonder if I am stuck still trying to work through the kinks of my young adult relationships and have yet to fully mature.  How embarrassing!

But, wait! Now that I think of it, I did write a short story in college about a somewhat successful encounter between a grown man and a grown woman.  In this case, the man (Bernard, I think) was the protagonist and was a complete and total anthropophobe, living with mannequins and shoving beef jerky between his cheeks.  I thought the story was raw and hopeful and quite funny actually.  My professor, who made not a comment about the humor, threw the story on a desk and claimed that the ending was just plain disgusting, gratuitous, pornographic.  I disagreed.  I was a bit mortified.  I wrote a poem about him later that year that was less than flattering but still artful and shared it with him.  I used to be both cruel and bold like that.

So, now, after conjuring up that creative writing workshop memory, I can just blame him instead of claiming emotional immaturity.  That horrible professor berated my work in front of the class and now I don’t like to write successful love stories!  Whaa! Whaa!  He even made me play second base!

No, no.  It’s not him.  It’s me.  I cannot possibly pawn off a major character flaw on a bad critique.  Plus, I’ll admit, the end of the story may have been a bit graphic…

Okay, so enough now about my flaws and inabilities.  We know they’re there and, now acknowledged, are doing little to help me in my pursuit of a romantic inspiration. What’s the next step in creating a successful love story?

My immediate thought was to start collecting stories from those people who are, in fact, happily in love.  Sadly, however, I couldn’t milk enough from friends and family to amount to a hill of beans.  I know that my sister, who is very happily married to the love of her life, fell in love over a serious and passionate rendition of the Robot.  I have a friend who bumped into his now wife as she helped him clean vomit off of his lap– vomit left there by an intoxicated other whom he was trying to “get with.”  I also know that my co-workers might have been hesitant when grilled because they A.) knew I’d probably put their story (anonymously, of course) on the Internet and B.) are just plain drained at work.  Still, I couldn’t get much out of anyone.

I am determined that this will not deter me on my quest for the inspiration to write at least one happy, happy love story.  I know I can.  I know I can.  I know I can.

So, here goes…  Right off the cuff.

There was nothing they could do.  Nothing now.  It was done.  He had shattered the boundaries and she was hurt by his shattering.  He had slept with another woman.  What’s done is done.

No, no, wait!  I can turn this around.  They will find one another again.  She will reach deep inside herself to empathize with his betrayal.  He will commit in new and powerful, meaningful ways.  They will both forge a bond of communication through conversation and eventually through a tall stack of origami love letters.  They will go to counseling, read books together, make mad passionate love.  I swear it will be true.

Or, maybe I should just start over…

She stretched the milky length of herself across the day bed and he almost cried. Her naked frame should have meant little to him, but he could see more to her than that…

Ugh, ugh.  Icky poo poo.

How about this…

She stretched the milky length of herself across the day bed.  That beautiful, imperfect body that he had known for years.  He couldn’t stop looking at her, at her pointed shoulders, at her stretch marks.  Though he sometimes felt that he had lost his passion for her, at least the passion he felt for her when they first met, he wanted her savagely.  Her familiarity a comfort and her laughter a net with which to drag him close to her again.

Porn?  Cheese?  I don’t know.  Let’s continue.

“What do you think of that painting we saw in that shop in the historic district?  I forgot how much it cost, but it might look nice in the dining room.”  She rubbed her elbow with a gentle hand.

“What painting?”  He knelt by the end of the day bed, taking her ankle into his palm.

“The painting of the magnolia with the deep red background.  You know, the one we talk about.”

He kissed the outside of her thigh and that, of course, was that.

***

The kitchen was warm and she rested her forearms on the painted tile of the counter to keep them cool.  She fanned her face with her hands gazing at the painting of the magnolia hung in the next room.  He was there at the table and he was quiet. The silence between them was not at all shallow, so she dare not break it.  She only sighed and, back turned to him, smiled. Ellen would be home soon.  Their week would be over and it would be back to the daily grind.

She thought of him now, this morning, not as her husband, the ultra-responsible and sometimes dreadfully serious man that she married, but as her lover.  It had been so terribly long that she had forgotten, even to look at him sometimes.  Now she turned and, though his head was bent toward the table top, looked at him with eyes that gouged deeply. She would not look away, and when he finally met her gaze he knew that he had made the right decision so many years ago.

There.  This post is getting too long and maybe hokey and maybe sappy and maybe poorly written.  But, I promised you a love story and I started one and I gave it to you right off the top of my head.  So, we’ll see.  We’ll see.

Stay tuned.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Melisa said,

    March 31, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    I was starting to think that the whole post was meant to be a story, a sort of meta narrative, story within a story thing. But the last characters were too happy. Maybe the grind will be too much.


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