#FlashNonFiction: Vignettes of a Fine Romance

9:52:00 PM

 The Mark Of A Predator

Nuzzle. Together, a flimsy pale blue sheet is kicked and yanked until it covers both our bodies. I lie supine next to her. She has her head buried in an orange pillow, her hands curled under her across the chest. She tries to smile, but half of her face is pinned.

The blinds are highlighted by a dark green rather than nothing at all. Dawn is breaking. I had only wanted to take a short nap against her warm body before going back home. My dog would need a walk since I went straight to her place from work. I take a deep inhalation of her shoulder and her neck through my nose. She coos mildly.

I had asked her to wake me up in an hour. She says to me that she knows I like to sleep. I agree. I like sleeping; I like sleeping with her more than anything, but_ 

"You told me not to wake you up," she says. She rubbed my chest.

"Sounds like me." I rub my eyes. There she is -- right there. She looks up at me. I don't want to leave her, but my poor dog.

"Your body said not to wake you up," she says.

"I did? I don't remember that."

She giggled. I kiss her shoulder.

I imagine my dog seated and exhausted in a corner of his kennel-- the other side of it wet with his piss and putrid from the droppings he couldn't hold in any longer.

"I really gotta' go," I said, hastily putting on yesterday's strewn clothes from off the floor.

I kissed her forehead and said, "I love you," but I have to admit: I was uncertain I was speaking truly to her -- in the storybook-sense. I did love the night we had just had (and had been having). There was the image in my mind's eye of her silhouette walking out of the room for a few minutes, the light from the hallway beyond the bedroom door making anything but the figure of her femininity indistinct. Her clothes had betrayed her beauty in the daydreams I'd been conjuring of this moment these last few months.

Then, there was the feeling of her warmth coming back into my arms and all over my legs again; I loved the squirming, and I loved just looking at her face so closely. Still do.

I still love the moments watching her talking to me about this and that; the perfect curve of her lips; her drifting back to sleep in mid-sentence - her tongue protruding slightly out from those lips -- her marshmallow lips.

This, frankly, is what I loved about her; and it was something I could love forever and ever. A fascination and wonder at being in her company so openly, and, presumably, with the kind of honesty that permits one to become vulnerable and unclothed, literally and in one's heart and soul.

* * *

Earlier in the day, after some kissing and love-play, before our conversation soured discussing arisen anger from the previous day — when then, after several hours of merriment from her repeatedly saying, "no me toques," (don't touch me) until the frequency started to sound more like truth than joking around; when then, she turned her lips away whenever my affections for her welled up within me and I leaned into her all puckered — as we lay rather solemn on the couch, she said to me that she can be “playful.”

What attracted me most to her was her "wanting." After all to say "I love you," in Spanish is to say that the person you love is wanted. Te quiero, I love you; I want you.

When it so happens that her playfulness becomes an endless rebuff -- to be told you're unwanted in a way that she has the benefit of mirth while I, the consequence of confusion, I begin to wonder if I would have rather preferred a serious girl -- one who didn't confuse joking with refusal; one who didn't sleep on the couch of fully-clothed so goddamned often.

I reason, I must just be taking things to seriously -- over thinking it, like I tend to do to a fault.

Sailboat Bend, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
October, 2004

Note: In the kitchen …

She embraces me vigorously — dressed, now, after the nighttime spent with our naked bodies pressed together throughout. She had come back to my place after working her fourteen-hour day on the set, saying, “I saved some of myself for you …” Also, days earlier at her place, she had said while underneath me, sweat dripping from both of us, “I haven’t been this happy since my dad was alive.”

There, in the flurry of kisses of the morning and in a deep embrace in the kitchen, the brewed coffee still permeating the space, I presumed her stroking of me further was to send me off to work with the attitude I now swooned in: strong and empowered by her blessing of me.

Indeed, throughout the day, I thought of her endlessly, eager to be wrapped back up in her naked embrace. Meanwhile, at my desk; during the commute back to her … there had been a discomfort while sitting.

Searching my back pocket, I find a polished stone — a tigers’ eye: what had been the “pain in my butt” all-along. Immediately it dawns on me that some of the amorousness and fondling from her in the kitchen that morning had been to put this token in my back pocket; something to ward off danger.

To have felt the desire of this foxy-beautiful and strong lady to want me to be safe — to have claimed me as important enough to preserve and to cherish, is, no shit, everything I had ever wanted in life.

The Eternal Sunshine

“That's about the size of it,” she used to say to end some discussion we had been having during the many nights we would talk for hours over the phone — in those days leading up to us becoming acquainted with our bodies. It was her way of writing it all off — everything we had said to each other — the innuendos and flirting — as if it were all a wash; a lot said, leading to nothing. That's about the size of it was code, in those days, for chalking it all up to the grandeur — the mysterious cosmos. Letting it be, as it were, but to be what?

I would always exclaim after she said that, “Is that all there is?!? I thought it would be huge -- and deep ... a much, much bigger ... very enormous!” Sometimes I would follow it up with, “And, I never got to see your boobs!”

Back then, her boobs were always the topic. I can testify after 16-years in close quarters to them, her boobs are very nice -- heavenly; perfect. But, back then, they were, presumably, going to fall off after an abnormal mammogram she had had a few weeks before suggested, per roentgenographic protocol, nothing more than a follow-up.

Still, her anxiety over her boob's fate came in waves -- at least one major fit-per-day on a phone call that would make my right ear throb from having been pressed to the receiver for so long trying to console her.

Sometimes, I wouldn’t answer her calls, knowing I’d have to, once again -- laboriously, and in great detail -- rehearse my firm conviction that her boobs would be okay. And if, God-forbid, their fate was something beyond either of our imagination during our early twenties, then I would insist -- flirtingly but with all seriousness that she would be gracious enough to let me play and fondle them before the surgeons had their way with her mammaries. I had become, by then, such a stakeholder in their welfare, after all ...

And, Fuck me! Somewhere in all of that dalliance in the daily hoo-ha, I found myself hooked -- enchanted and enraptured by us going through this script we had crafted for ourselves-- our own private little daydream and private universe for us. I'd go there with her the moment she'd say, "That's about the size of it."

It would go like this for hours, quite tediously:

    "That's about the size of it."
    "That's it?" I would say. "Cummon', Easmanie, I think it's a lot more massive and throbbing than that."
    "But, seriously, what am I going to do, J.C.?"
    "First off, lady friend, your boobs will be fine. They just need to take x-rays a few more times."
    "But what if_"
    "You don't have cancer. But if it comes to that -- if it really comes to that -- you'll pretty-please permit me to inspect your boobs thoroughly ... a second opinion."
    "I'm serious! I have the whole pattern thing down for pressing on them!"
    "I did that already in the shower, J.C."
    "And, I bet they're now sore with all that panic; and, now you think they're gonna fall off." You remained silent, so I continued indulging my imagination: "What they need is to be relaxed and reassured ... with my tongue. We could give your boobies their last hoorah. I need to speak to them directly; make sure they know they're here to stay."

    I hadn't known yet, you didn't like that kind of dirty-talk, but, I felt like I made my point about needing someone to talk you down for hours on a daily basis. Either you deal with my flirtatiousness, or find someone else to tell you it would all be okay every single day -- twice-a-day sometimes. It really was a drag. I was always left perplexed that you weren't convinced once and for all that you would be okay.

Then again, you had your mid-life crisis about turning thirty-years-old on your twenty-ninth birthday.

I would gab on-and-on with such gusto about how okay everything would be that I hadn't noticed you'd been trailing off into sleep for the last 20-minutes. Most of the time, I would listen to your light snoring for a few minutes before putting the handset of the cordless phone on my nightstand, shutting off the lights and drifting off into sleep with you.

It was sweet and real with you n back then.
But, yeah, that's’ about the size of it … and so it goes ... since, from then till now, it’s been the irreconcilability of those first few days or the months that led to them — the two extremes of wanting and of being completely turned away. “And so it goes,” you said that same week just prior to our consummating our wanting of each other. "And so it goes," you said was your having given up on your longing for me— the same week I was building up the courage to make something of that soft glow my sight now saw you bathed in.

The glow was of warmth and welcoming. It appeared that night Cupid’s arrow struck me — the day I was gazing at you through the French doors that led to your yard. You were then, as now, surrounded by stacks of books all around you; and, that glow hasn't ebbed ... not even a bit.

And so it goes ...

It was a fine romance, to be sure — an exemplary one, as far as I’m concerned. I felt blessed, despite our having gone through all manner of hell-and-back together -- several times over; I still feel it as having been wonderful despite all the hurt we both indulged in, showing the small, but "deal-breaker"side of ourselves.

It turns out that the small but infinitely disgusting aspect we both have in our natures was much, much more intolerable than all the virtues we saw in each other or bring to bear for each other. We were good, but those few hours every so-often when the worst parts of our nature took possession of us where enough, not only to erase, but also ruin any chances of either of us making the other fell safe and wanted.

And again, it would seem any love we may have or have had for each other was insufficient to overcome our distaste for each others' flaws. 

At least we had found, if only in those first few days, the chance to travel through the world together in mutual thriving in and through each other, unfettered by what tends to happen just over the horizon of “happily ever after;” with all the inevitable hurt, and the rigors of parenting, and world-wide pandemics that cancelled our Karaoke nights and the grinding of our bodies whose union, you know as well as I do, is none other than the beauty and goodness we witness manifest in our daughter.

But, that's not what we ended up being for each other, of course, even though we were smug enough to think we'd be the ones to make sure we'd live "happily ever after." We were stupid. But, we can't be blamed.

It was the kind of stupidity that happens all the time -- the kind of stupidity that every harbors such as thinking one will never be the one to face great misfortune one reads in the newspaper, or like how no one truly believes that they'll, inevitably, die someday.

PRINCETON, NJ, Aug. 2019

While enveloped in a tired
bitterness over
those things beyond anyone's
I caught a glance at your thigh
in our unlit bedroom,
in which you slept now
after weeks

Seeing your skirt cinched up from
the spasms of your dreams,
I remembered I had forgotten to
thank The Lord
for having given me:  you
— my woman.

And, I was struck by what must be the
bleakness you must have to face
when I,
        your man,
have grown distant,
turning away from
everyone, and
            including you ...

Even though we deny each other at every turn,
those tribulations, which now have passed,
had me forget you are the sacred gift, 
                    as I am for you —
        The Blessing —
given us by our maker that
we both might chance at glancing Heaven
in those moments 
        our bodies
            are intertwined.

* * *
I love you very much, Easmanie Michel. I can't help it; can't help but admire you as a person, but also say, without equivocation, that you were a rotten lover. I'm sure most can understand what it is to be a rotten person, and yet, still be loved, regardless.

 If that weren't the case then, really, the whole human enterprise would be nothing more than evil made bare. To be unworthy of love, and yet to receive it ... God, ... well ... St. Paul did a great treatment of that ... most parents make that clear to their children (hopefully).

I hope you get this notion, someday, of being irredeemably-loved. We are all worthless in the big picture; no one is *truly* worthy of anyone else's love, and yet, it exists -- this thing called "unconditional love." You know it for your daughter, if not for me.

And, despite ourselves, and everyone and everything that says one *must* be alone; sovereign and self-sufficient ... I'll always be just a few thumb-flicks away for you or your mother or sister or you niece ... even, and notwithstanding any other distractions. I Shit You Not; and, I don't make promises lightly, don't cha' know. 

As far as me and my relationship to my daughter, I'm quite convinced that there is no power here on this earth or in heaven that will be able to prevail over what she and I are for each other -- "motherhood," notwithstanding (is if, that were all a child would need ...; or, what you could've allowed to be conceived in you by any man whatsoever). Alas, one must, as you know all too well, suffer the fools. 

That's not going to be my fate nor that of my daughter's because I'm very sure we both know that one is loved ... just because; and, one can be vulnerable (if only in this one place) ... that one can find (AND give) wherever and whenever: quarter.

For what it's worth, it's my, personal, takeaway for the Metta Sutta.

It doesn't take much for me to feel loved. A hug is a pretty easy thing to get once one allows it AND asks for it. There's a lot of people walking down the street who just want to be hugged -- like me. I feel sorry for those who find that a trivial (or meaningless) thing; or, worst of all, those who think it's *optional* or contingent on the exercise of one's will and want over and above another sentient creature's well-being.


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