Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others
and a love within recall that alters you.
“Excuse me.” A man brushed them as he hurried past them almost knocking her purse off her arm.
“I’ve known Dave since high school.” She had to follow him. “Like ten years now. Some people don’t believe we’ve never ever done it. You know how hard it is to stay a virgin. Yes, I’m a virgin … Can’t you tell? It’s not that I’m afraid of sex or anything or even that I was saving myself, but it just worked out that way, you know.”
Why was she telling him she was a virgin? It wasn’t something she’d set out to be but with Dave in jail for several of their years together and then her bout with cancer there wasn’t opportunity for anything beyond giving Dave hand jobs to convince him she wanted him.
“I see. You don’t want to be late for that rehearsal.”
“Are you married?” Yes, check if he’s free. It’s not too late to start her own life. This one was predetermined and fixed. Everything done for her because everyone felt she was fragile and couldn’t deal with anything not even her own wedding. It wasn’t her fault her parents were dead. That she really had no one to call family other than the aunt and uncle who had brought her up. Plus she did enjoy people doing things for her.
“No. But you are going to be soon.”
“Don’t you find me attractive.” She shouldn’t have said anything about being a virgin. He probably suspects she’s a sort of a religious nut. She shouldn’t have worn the red wig. It made her look sallow.
“It’s not that …”
“Please.” she grabbed at his hoodie sleeve and he pulled away. “There’s must be a bar nearby.”
“No, I have …”
“It’s just a drink. I’ll pay.” She pulled a credit card out of her purse. “I’m not …”
“No. Not tonight.”
“Later tonight?” She got out her cellphone and looked to him to give her his cell number. She hoped he didn’t notice her taking a picture of him once she turned it on. “I can call you after the wedding rehearsal.”
“Here’s my cell number. Call me around ten.” She wrote the number on the first piece of paper she found in her purse and pushed it into his hoodie pocket. “Even if we aren’t done I’ll leave. Dave won’t mind. I’ll tell him I’m not feeling well. That …. his mother is making me sick. He’ll understand.”
“No.” he started to walk away again.
“I’m not like this usually. I want you to know that.” She had never felt such a sense of being on the verge of freedom. That this man was her new protector, saviour from the life she had been living. Till now she never felt she had the strength to escape. She didn’t want marriage, she wanted escape with this man.
“Then maybe …”
“No. Get going or you’ll be late, won’t you?” He walked quickly away.
She felt useless, defeated. Her cell phone rang.
“Where are you, Francie? Everyone’s here.”
“I’m … I’m on my way, Dave. I got lost leaving the subway station.”
“That’s my gal. Having a blond moment?”
“Redhead tonight. I’ll be there a few minutes. Sorry.”
It didn’t take her long to get to St. Anne’s. She looked at the lights in the hall. She looked at the stranger’s picture on her cell phone. Could have been better lit but looked okay. Sweet smile. She posted it to her Facebook page then switched the cell phone off and walked back to the subway station.
*3 – Sunday*
After the lunch dishes were done his mother left him and his Dad at the kitchen table.
“Time for my afternoon nap. There’s apple pie if you want any.”
“Only your mother would serve quiche and follow it up with pie.”
‘Thank’s Mom.” Harris cut a slice. “You want a piece Dad?”
“No, thanks Helen, I’m crusty enough as it is.”
“For sure.” His mother gave his Dad a kiss on the forehead and left them.
Harris’s father pulled his chair closer to the kitchen table. “I don’t know if you’ll understand this but it’s time to tell you anyway.”
“If you’re going to tell me about the facts of life …” Harris laughed. His father’s face was serious. Shit! Time for the big ‘C’ announcement.
“Ah no Harris, if only it was a simple as that. Occasionally impossible things happen, you understand?”
“You stole me from gypsies.” Crap it is the big ‘C.’ Who is it going to be, his father or his mother?
“Have you ever wondered why you haven’t had a girlfriend for more than a week?”
“Sort of, but I figured the right one hadn’t found me yet. Hard to meet a woman who knows who Morbius is.” he plucked at his tee-shirt. God they were lining him up with a neighbor’s daughter. Better that than the big ‘C.’
“You’re closer to the truth than you realize.” His Dad scratched himself under the chin.
“Truth?” This should be easy enough to nip in the bud. “You mean the truth that most guys are only interested in getting what they can. Look Dad I know you think it’s time for me to settle down. You were married by the time you were my age but when I’m ready, I’ll do just that. Guys are getting married later these days. Being single and in your thirties isn’t end the world any more, at least for men.”
“It’s not a matter of you being ready. You’re a lot like me, I wasn’t ready, though I always thought I was. You’ve never had a hard time with gals, right.”
“Yeah. Guess that’s what makes it harder to worry about finding the right one.” Harris leaned his chair away from the table.
“How about guys?”
“What do you mean. As in gay? No! You think I’ve never had a girlfriend because I’m gay!”
“Just asking. Your mother and I want you to …”
“Yeah. Yeah. I will when I’m ready unless you have a potential bride lined for me?” He set his chair back down.
“What I’m trying to tell you is that you may never be ready. It may not be up to you. It’s … Hell … I don’t know how to say this … It’s a curse.”
“Oh yeah! The curse of good looks, you mean.” Harris flipped his hair and patted his belly.
“It has nothing to do with looks, trust me. Till I met your mother I was like you, always found it a breeze to meet women, enjoy them, more than I could ever keep track of. Seemed to happen every day like clock work. I knew that if it hadn’t happened by a certain time it was going to any minute. But it wasn’t always women. A few times it was a man. Which I declined …. ”
“You telling me you’re gay, bi or what.” He stared his piece of pie. Was it okay to eat it while his Dad was going on? Yes it was.
“Harris you aren’t listening. It wasn’t something I could control but I could control what happened when it did happen. I turned the men down instantly but carefully. I recognized they weren’t acting their usual selves. It was a compulsion to be near me.’
“Yeah, now that you mention it I’ve experienced that. Women who wanted to be near me. I guess there have been a few guys too but …” Harris stopped. He could dimly picture a time that had happened but only that it was a male – no face, no conversations, came to him, not even what had happened after. He cut another big piece of the pie and started to eat it.
“See! You can’t remember, can you? Can you tell me who you dated last month or even last week. That’s what it was like for me too.”
“You mean I have inherited a short-term memory problem? I can remember who I work with, where I live.” He recalled the pretty woman on her way to her wedding rehearsal. He could almost see her face. What had he done with her number? She did give it to him didn’t she? He had stuck to his decision not to screw her. Hadn’t he? Possibly he did and now had forgotten it.
“What I’m trying to tell you is that people will find you attractive, irresistible. Strangers on the street. Once a woman in a car that passed me, turned around to follow me. She only had a glance of me. It’s the family curse. Your grandfather suffered from it too. It might go back even further for all I know.”
“Does Mom know?”
“I tried to tell her once. You know your Aunt Clara?”
“Mom’s sister – the one who lives in England.”
“Right. She did visit once. When you were thirteen.”
“I don’t remember her very well.”
“She was going to spend two weeks but only stayed about three days. Your Mom and me left her with you while we went for groceries. When we came back she and you …” His dad raised his eye brows. “were more than playing house.”
“What? She was having sex with me?”
“Your mother walked in you and her naked and …. well …. she threw Clara out of the house. Wanted to press charges but I didn’t think it was a good idea. I said to wait a few days and see what you remembered. By the end of the week you didn’t remember Clara had visited.
“When tried to explain about the curse to your mother she thought I was trying to make out it was your fault. That her sister was the victim. I couldn’t make her understand. So I gave up.”
“So this curse is a witch’s hex?” He waved his fork like a wand then put it down. “Put on our family for what reason?”
“I don’t know, but I do know we have this effect on random strangers.”
“Doomed to …”
“Never find love or something like that.”
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