“Perhaps they left the door to their hearts open too long, for fear and doubt managed to follow the trail blazed by love. They retreated to their respective corners, he to nurse the pain of lost love and she to revisit the ruins of a brief, disastrous first marriage.”—Burt Kempner
By Burt Kempner
GAINESVILLE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—April 2020—He didn’t realize he had been lonely until he met her. He was too busy trying to drink away the memory of a love that had gone bad eight years earlier. No one had told him that alcohol was also an excellent preservative.
It was a promising idea for a party. Each invitee would bring a member of the opposite sex with whom they were not romantically involved. She was the hostess.
He came with the receptionist of one of his clients. The small apartment was jammed with partygoers. One of her friends had announced the event at her group therapy session and every male member had shown up. Sheer chaos ruled the evening.
She approached him and they engaged in a spirited conversation. He only learned later that this was highly out of character for her. She was usually quite shy, but circumstances had turned her into a tigress: someone had spilled red wine on her tan carpet, a man was found masturbating in her bathroom, and her garbage disposal had backed up. For the remainder of that chilly December night, they had eyes for no one but each other. Afterward, he helped her search the apartment complex for her cat, which had taken the earliest opportunity to escape the noise and smoke. They kissed in a stairwell.
The next part of the story is more concerned with discoveries than deeds. Each of their senses became an explorer, but mostly touch. Over the months that followed, infatuation ripened into love and the shining possibilities in store for them seemed endless.
But then there came a crisis. Perhaps they left the door to their hearts open too long, for fear and doubt managed to follow the trail blazed by love. They retreated to their respective corners, he to nurse the pain of lost love and she to revisit the ruins of a brief, disastrous first marriage. They stopped communicating, lost trust not with each other but with themselves. Nothing short of dumb luck or divine intervention could keep them together now.
Reader, he married her.
Regarding the Illustration: Should you want a little more background on René Magritte’s enigmatic painting, go to “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938, Museum of Modern Art, New York–review.”