The prompt for the latest episode of R.B. Wood’s Word Count Podcast asked that we use February in the setting AND the picture below:
My story inspiration
Given the prompts, it was almost too obvious to write something about Valentine’s Day, but I did so anyway. As my stories usually have a twist, (and I’m a bit twisted myself), “Love and Death” became the result.
You can also listen to me reading the story on episode 63 of R.B. Wood’s podcast.
Hope you enjoy. 😉
When February rolls around, I think of two things: love and death. They happened at the same time for me many years ago, and I cannot unlink their connection in my brain any more than I can sever my arm from my shoulder.
Actually, the latter would probably be easier to do.
How many years has it been? I’ve lost count. If it were not for the calendar hanging by my bed, I would not know what day it was.
It was supposed to happen on Valentine’s Day, going on a decade ago now. It was the day my love and I had planned to be together. After so many false starts, which included a death in his wife’s family, and my husband’s surgery, we finally saw nothing else to delay our union. We decided on Valentine’s Day as our official “coming out” day. It was perfect. How could it be any more romantic? Two people who had loved each other privately for years would now finally be together.
I don’t recall how we determined that I would tell my husband first. At the time, it wasn’t important for me who made the initial move. I just knew that by the week of February 14th, we would no longer have to keep our relationship a secret. After that critical step, we would separate and file for divorce. We would try to make it as painless as possible, even joked that maybe our respective spouses might not be too upset about it. After all, neither of our marriages had been on solid ground for some time.
We had decided not to reveal the affair to our spouses. What was the point? There was any number of reasons I could use to end my marriage. I ended up telling my husband I was tired, tired of his apathy. It was true. After so many years, his lack of affection had whittled away at my self-confidence. The kids were gone, and it seemed like he no longer needed me. At one point, I even thought that maybe he was having an affair, but he wasn’t the type. He was a workaholic and much too timid to seek out another relationship.
No, he had just gotten lazy. He took me for granted. It wasn’t a new problem. We’d gone for counseling for this very issue only a couple of years after we got married, but old patterns are hard to break. I know. I fell into them myself. We grew further and further apart until I became numb. Then Jack came into my life and everything changed.
I meant something to someone who appreciated me. And Jack was that someone, and he was so appreciative. God … he was amazing in every way—boyish and playful outside the bedroom, powerful and insatiable inside of it. I had never felt so alive than when I was with him.
* * * *
At Jack’s request, I saw him the day before Valentine’s day. It seemed odd that he had texted me instead of responding to my lengthy email from several nights earlier, an email in which I explained how happy I was that I had told my husband about us. I went into great detail about what I had said. Jack and I were always good in that way. We didn’t keep any secrets from each other. It did not alarm me that he didn’t respond immediately to my email. He and his wife had taken a weekend away to their cottage. It was there that he had planned to break the news about us to her.
When Jack and I met in the apartment I had secretly rented for our meetings, he appeared like he always did—happy to see me. He came with a bouquet of red roses in hand and kissed me. I felt loved by him, like I always did. I remember placing the flowers in a vase, taking my time to relish the moment of not having to hide anymore. We could finally live our relationship in the open, or so I thought.
My memory is fuzzy from the time Jack spoke that night. I don’t recall hearing the words, but I know he must have said them.
I can’t leave my wife.
She said she would kill herself if I did.
I’m sorry. I am so sorry.
His words hit me like a slap that resonated throughout the echoey apartment. I remember touching my cheek as heat rose to cover it. I picked up the shears I had used to cut the stems of the roses and then everything went black.
To this day, I have no recollection of what happened afterward that evening. They said I killed Jack in a fit of rage; I’ve accepted that I must have. I just wish I could remember it. It’s hard to imagine I could do such a thing, but perhaps love does crazy things to people.
Thank you for reading and/or listening. Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.