Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Guest Fiction Series: On The Other Side, Part 1

The Anniversary

Lou Rawls was playing in the background and all I could think about was what time Martin would be home. He was working a double shift, which meant he wouldn’t be home until late. It was already 3 pm and I couldn’t think of anything better to do, but drink wine and listen to vinyl. The kids were at a sleepover and I’d had the house to myself for the past 12 hours. I couldn’t imagine trying to clean a house with the kids constantly dropping remnants of teenage goodness all over the place. I didn’t have the time to clean up after them, not that day.

June 15th marked the fifth anniversary of finally finding someone who could put up with me. I’d tried to surprise him before and it always failed. Considering, he’d forgotten our anniversary for the past two years, this year probably wouldn’t be any different. When he told me he’d be working late, I got excited at the thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to pull off a surprise that he might actually enjoy. I loved him. I just wasn’t sure that the feeling was mutual. Our anniversary would be the perfect night to find out.

It was 9:43 pm and Martin texted saying that he was on the way. The candles were lit, the steaks were on the grill, the baked potatoes were in the oven, and my spinach Florentine had just finished, by the time he walked in the door.

            “Why are all the lights off, Kamaria?”

            “I’m trying to save on the electricity. I’m in the kitchen once you’re settled.”

The bathroom was always his first destination once he stepped foot in the house. He would shower and get dressed in his favorite pair of sweats and Ole Miss T-shirt. Nothing was different, but it was taking him a little longer to come out of the bathroom. I figured I would go and check on him.

            “Martin, are you okay?”

            “I’m fine, just trying to find my t-shirt.”

            “Isn’t it where you left it? Oh, I forgot I did laundry today; it’s in the laundry room. I’ll get it for you.”

Walking down the stairs, I could hear Martin mumbling under his breath. He always hated when I would leave his clothes in the laundry room. Shortly after I made it down the stairs, in he walked, shirtless, with an irritated expression.

           “I would’ve brought it to you.”

           “Don’t bother, what’s for dinner?”

            “Come into the kitchen and see.”

We walked to the kitchen where I had made a beautiful spread. It had been years since we’d had dinner by candlelight. Actually, if I remember correctly, it was the last time the light company disconnected our power. Things were rough the first year of our marriage. That was mostly my fault, but I had to know that he would take care of me at all cost. I didn’t tell him about my inheritance until the second year. He never really forgave me for that stunt. But he’s never stopped working.

            “Smells good, why the candles?”

            “You forgot again, didn’t you?”

            “I’m sorry babe; it’s been a long day.”

            “I know, it’s fine. I thought you might enjoy the candles and the music. I made your favorite.”

We sat down to eat and he looked disappointed. I’m sure it was because of his inability to remember one important date. 

            “It’s really okay babe, I’m not upset. I just want us to enjoy the rest of the night if that’s okay with you.”

            “Of course, babe.”

            “You did an awesome job with dinner tonight; I wish I had done something special for you.”

            “Oh, this is just the beginning.”

I led him to the bedroom. By the time we finished dinner, we could no longer hear Lou Rawls playing in the background. I switched the music to the surround sound and listened to some digital tunes. While Martin was at work, I created a playlist of every song that reminded me of him. Since he was a thriving musician, I assumed he would appreciate the gesture.

I pushed him onto the bed and straddled him. I hadn’t sat in his lap in a long time. I couldn’t remember the last time we made love but he wasn’t fighting me tonight and I wasn’t complaining. I must have been doing something right. He kissed me back and I melted. He ran his fingers up and down my spine in a way that let me know he missed me. I missed his touch just as much. He knew that my body reacted to his touch. While we kissed, I reached for his shirt, still no resistance. He was stronger than I was, and I admired his ability to give any personal trainer a run for their money. I only wanted to make him feel good in a way that he hadn't allowed for quite some time. I wanted to help to relieve the stresses of his day, and this time he let me.

I could tell that he was fighting it. All I wanted was to hear his voice, to hear the sound of my name echo over the sound of Xscape playing in the background. The softer my touch, the better he felt and the more he begged for me to continue, the more he craved my touch, my lips, the softness of my hands. I could feel all of the stress leave his body. I could feel his anger, his despair, and depression enter the very sacred part of my being.

I allowed him the opportunity to recuperate. He motioned for me to come lay with him. I lay in his arms and kissed him. He held me as though his life depended on it. Now all of a sudden, I felt lonely. I could feel the excitement leave my body. It was as though whatever he was feeling had completely taken over my body. All of a sudden, I was anxious.

It comes naturally, like the birth of a child born into a family of two.
I’ve grown accustomed to nurturing you.
Am I selfish for wanting to be held
when I know there’s room for me?
Am I wrong for wanting to fill that void if only for a moment?
We’re human.
It’s not always about what will be,
but what is.
We’re in this moment and I like it here.
Lying here, hands exploring limbs untouched.
Tension leads to anxiety
so natural it’s almost scary.
Natural in the way you touch me,
in the way our fingers intertwine.
like notes on a staff.
It’s too hip not to notice.
It’s too smooth to ignore.
It’s like music, the way you speak.
I hear melodies in moments,
whispers in time,
thoughts in seconds.
Why intoxicate the idea of now?
Let things happen naturally.
It’s more enjoyable that way.

There we lay for the rest of the night, in silence. We just enjoyed each other’s company. It had been a while since I felt so much peace, so much anxiety all at once. It wasn’t a bad feeling. As I got up to use the bathroom, I noticed Martin’s phone on the bathroom sink had 37 missed calls. Seriously? I always pride myself of being trusting,  but this must have been an emergency. Who would call someone 37 times, unless it was an emergency? It definitely had to be someone in his family. For his sake, I surely did hope so.


Verina Wherry is a writer, poet, and aspiring author who spends her free time listening to music, shopping for incense, and watching Criminal Minds reruns.

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