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-Our Love- A short story

September 1, 2015
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“someone should write a book where the main character slowly falls in love with the reader” “last line of the book, “please don’t close the book, i don’t want to die.” “oh my god” “I’d just like, keep the book open and tape it to a wall.” “i’m almost afraid to want it.” “john green, we’re waiting.”

 

 

so, as a small ‘fuck you’ to john green (sorry not sorry), and a huge spark of curiosity and inspiration, i decided to do that. sort of. I made it into a short story instead, and the characters were already in love. lemme know what you think!

 

Our Love

You think your lips are too thin, and your eyes too close.

Even so, I insist that we attend a party my parents are throwing, in celebration of my father’s seventy-sixth birthday.

During the drive, we sing our favorite 80s song, courtesy of your iPod playlist- it doesn’t take long.

The winding driveway leads up to the house I remember growing up in. Sprawling, white and filled with illegal, exotic servants. You never judged; you knew my parents were fair, though you hadn’t met them before these next moments. You knew they believed that every human deserved the right to a good, well-paying job.

And, if you didn’t believe me before, you do me when my mother answers the door. A flair of grace and humility touching her perfectly coiffed hair as she hugs us both ‘hello’. “Darlings! How wonderful to see you! And you…” she takes your hands with both of hers, “…how wonderful to finally meet you!”

My British father greets us down the hall in the study, where my mother leads. “’Ello, you scamps! How wonderful to have you for my birthday!”

I look to the lanai through the curved windows of my father’s study. Very few people are sprinkled across the lush lawn, and many of them were servants or caterers. Some were setting up a large white tent that would presumably cover tables and the microphone and a karaoke machine somebody was attaching to a thick bundle of cords, extending out from the house. There is a temporary stage built beneath. Decorations cover the garage, guest house and hang over the pool, swaying in the light summer breeze. Thankfully it has not gotten too hot.

I watch as you and my father awkwardly handle introductions and small talk- you look magnificent. Your confidence exudes through you, as it always does, and I can tell my father is instantly charmed. My mother was smitten from the moment we walked in- I figured she would love anybody who could treat her baby so well.

“Where are Hansel and Gretel?” I ask. My only siblings- the twin Rottweilers my parents adopted once they’d learned they could have no more children. “They didn’t rush us when we came to the door.”

Mom laughs. “At the groomers, of course. You know your father wouldn’t allow them to be mangy for his big day.” She musses my hair, her bracelets jangle. I groan, ducking away from her and fix my ‘do for the day.

“What about the guests?”

“Fashionably late.”

I nod. “How many?”

She gives me a look. I know that look. That look means, It’s your father, what do you think? Which probably also meant, a lot.

In the next couple of hours, the party ensues. You and I are sloppy drunk, and by some miracle, my father is persuaded on stage. He sings Great Balls of Fire.

You and I are laughing, and have an even harder time containing our laughter when my mom joins him. They make a great harmonious homage to the late Jerry Lee Lewis, as drunk as they were. Even Hansel and Gretel are participating in the festivities. No alcohol for them, but I see plenty of people slipping them bits of food.

From my perspective, it is the best, happiest birthday my father has ever had.

His friends, coworkers, employees and extended family members; all there to have a good time. To celebrate my father’s long and successful life; thus far. He’d been an oil magnate- one of the first, and his luck had continued. He’d had a sense. We liked to joke that his feet were the equivalent to divining rods; that every step he took indicated on another oil deposit.

The party lasts until the wee hours of the following morning. Being that we are as drunk as we are, we stay in my childhood bedroom. We laugh at the posters and toys of bygone eras, then make loud, passionate love in my twin bed. It wouldn’t matter as my parents were across the house. We fall asleep in one another’s arms. When we wake up, you’re on the floor with the blanket and pillow, having left me with the sheet and my teddy bear beneath my head. You smile grimly at me, grimacing as the punishment of last night’s libations pound against your forehead.

I kiss in that exact spot and we dress, wandering downstairs to find something to eat.

This is where we find Estelle, my parent’s cook: she came from Puerto Rico almost forty years ago, and has cared for them, and me, since. She jabbers at us concernedly in Spanish and points us to the dining room with the spatula that she is using to cook scrambled eggs with. You grab a freshly baked biscuit as we are ushered out; I give you a wink.

My parents are already sitting down, nursing hangovers of their own. Coffee and orange juice sit before them, as well as a large bottle of pain killers.

My mother offers me the bottle as we join them. “Great bash last night, eh, Dad?” I take it from her and dose out some for you and I before returning it.

He looks up and smiles at me. “Best ever, yeah?”

Mom looks to me, hearing my stomach growl, then eyes you picking at the biscuit you’d plucked from the kitchen moments ago. She smiles. “Estelle should be done soon.”

Surprisingly, you don’t look as nauseated by the smell of greasy bacon and sausage cooking as I feel. Funny, how you can feel like you want to throw up, but still be hungry as hell.

In a matter of moments, Estelle has her underlings bringing out trays covered in plates of hot, steaming food, and places them on the table around us. With each dish is a serving spoon or fork. We are so hungry we don’t always use them, using our hands instead.  If Estelle saw this, she would have a fit, and that makes me laugh a little.

Soon we are all feeling a little better, with food and painkillers in our bodies. Mom invites us to stay for the day, and we agree, because that pool looks so inviting on this warming summer day. Thankfully, it has not yet gotten to the slimy, sticky part of summer yet, so it’s still pleasant.

Mom and Dad lounge by the pool, while you and I race from end to end. You win three times- your legs are much stronger than mine are.

We stay for lunch, which was served poolside, and went for one last swim before returning home.

You tell me how my mom kept asking you when we were getting engaged, and we laugh, because my father had asked me the same thing.

“Not that I don’t want to,” you say, smiling. Your eyes are bright; sparkling. Teasing.

“I wouldn’t mind it,” I say with a teasing smile of my own. What you don’t know, is that I have been planning on asking you for months. True, it had seemed that perhaps you were getting the same idea, so I was trying to wait you out, to see if your mysterious comings and goings had this same fruitful ending. Well, that’s just it, I think as you take my hand. I will do it this weekend. Friday, when we go out.

You stare down the road as we drive, the windows down- it’s mostly country out here. Fresh air, green grass… the occasional farm. I chuckle as you sputter and choke, having taken a deep breath of the results of said farm.

To relieve you, I roll up the windows and turn on the A/C. You squeeze my hand in gratitude.

“Too much country air, my dear?”

You laugh, and playfully slap my leg. “I am all city. Although,” you say knowingly, “I could get used to it out here.”

More hinting about our future together.

I gaze at you, and you are simply stunning. Even in last night’s clothes, even though they’d been laundered. We’d showered at my parents, but had no essentials like makeup or razors. I am sure many people would look at us and say we looked rough. What was it they said these days? Hot mess? That’s what we are right now. Hot messes.

You return my gaze of adoration then return your eyes to the road ahead. Which is where I should be looking, but I’m not. When I finally am, it’s much too late.

I had taken this route because of its beauty, because I knew you would appreciate getting in touch with nature a little, even if it was a drive-by. I had forgotten that it was sometimes used by truckers because of the time it saved them from going through town.

One of these truckers is barreling towards us right now. Bright red, the driver laying on his horn. I cannot swerve in enough time to save myself, but hopefully I save you. Hopefully the driver is not harmed either; those trucks are like tanks.

I hope that I am the only one harmed in my mistake, in my moment of weakness as I admired you across from me.

There is a deafening crunch of metal against metal, coupled with the screech of brakes and sounds of muffled screams. Am I going deaf? Or in this moment, am I more alive than I have ever been? Is time slowing down, to punish me?

I look over at you, and your face is filled with fear, but fear for me, not yourself. Your hands are out in front of you protectively, and you try to pull me from my seatbelt. You are crying, your face is streaked with tears.

Even after the cacophony, you still try to free me. You yank at the polyester safety device, and scream in frustration and anger. You scream at me, but not because I hadn’t been looking. Not because I could have avoided this accident.

You scream at me because you don’t want to go through this life alone.

But I feel it. The grill of the truck had crushed in the driver’s side of my car, and lodged itself in my ribcage. I feel the blood pooling inside my body. I feel where the rib has punctured my lung.

And because I don’t want to die alone, I gasp to you, “Please, don’t leave me.”

 

 

 

LFA Turppa, 1743 words

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