International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Families
Kinds of Love
rained the day before Thanksgiving. This worried us because our
youngest son, Gene, who was 21, was driving from Berkeley to spend
the holiday weekend with us in Sacramento. When he hadnt arrived
by ten PM we called but got only his answering machine. Gene arrived
early the next morning and nonchalantly explained that hed
been running late, not unusual with him, hadnt gotten to Sacramento
until after midnight and had stayed overnight with one of his friends.
He couldnt understand why wed been concerned.
two cats, Mickey and Binky, came out & investigated all the
strange people in our house
found a frozen pizza, put it in the microwave, then went into the family
room to watch TV. My wife was busy in the kitchen preparing the turkey.
I went back to what was now my room, formerly the bedroom of our oldest
son, Ken, and sat before the computer to work on a short story Id
Id been retired from my state job (the reason we lived in Sacramento)
for three years and had somehow gotten into doing free-lance pieces
for our local newspaper. Now Id started writing some short stories.
The current one was called "Being in Love." I was trying to
show what it was like being a young man in love, at least as Id
experienced it. I wanted to describe the obsession with the beloved,
thinking that any young woman glimpsed in the street was her, imagining
hearing her voice in a crowded restaurant. I wanted to convey the anxiety
of waiting for her to return a phone call. Then there was the jealousy
evoked by seeing her in the most innocent circumstances with another
man. Above all, there was the realization beneath it all that it would
eventually end, and, after it was over, the incredible pain, the knife
twisted in the heart.
Gene looked in on me on his way to the bathroom. "At the computer
again, huh, Dad?" I nodded. He continued on his way. None of my
three sons had ever shown the slightest interest in anything I wrote.
Ken and his fiancé Pat arrived in the early afternoon, bringing
a bottle of wine and a pumpkin pie Pat had baked. It was funny about
Ken. In high school, hed been our most rebellious son, cutting
classes, doing drugs (we suspected) and all but flunking out. Wed
managed to get him into our community college and then, after two years,
hed gone off to college in Chico with a beard and long hair coming
down to his shoulders.
When, after four more years, Ken had finally graduated hed returned
to Sacramento, moved into an apartment with Pat, worked at a few temp
jobs, now had what seemed like a secure permanent job, and he and Pat
were to be married next spring.
Ken and Pat took their usual places on the living room sofa, side by
side like the old married couple they really were after living together
several years, and we asked if theyd heard from our middle son,
Jack. They hadnt. We talked some about the upcoming wedding. Even
though it was still months away, Ken and Pat had started calling about
a place to have it and many were expensive. Id just as soon they
eloped to Tahoe or Las Vegas but Pat wanted a nice wedding so that was
out of the question.
At around four, Jack came with an attractive blonde girl he introduced
as Alice. He said theyd gone out to brunch, then back to his apartment
before coming over. Alice was quite a chatterbox. She wanted to know
all about Ken and Pats wedding plans and about Genes major
at Berkeley and she was amazed that Id become a writer. She then
spotted our family albums in a bookcase and soon she and Jack were looking
through them, almost intertwined, and not so covertly doing what we
used to call necking. It was likely, I thought, that theyd spent
the night together.
With all three sons there, I called my parents in New York. My mother,
who was 88, had recently had surgery and I wanted them to say hello
to her. My father, who was 95, answered the phone. I asked him how my
mother was doing. He said she was started to nag him so must be feeling
better. This was what he always said about her. In the background, I
could hear my mother saying that she never nagged him. Then she came
on the phone and said that while she was in the hospital my father couldnt
do anything for himself. This is what she always said about him. Theyd
been married 70 years. Everyone took turns talking to my mother, so
that was taken care of.
Our two cats, Mickey and Binky, came out and investigated all the strange
people in our house. Alice made a big fuss over Mickey, our skittish
cat, who ran behind the sofa. Binky sat in one of her customary spots,
on top of the television set, and observed everybody.
After the usual big Thanksgiving dinner, my wife began to clean up the
kitchen, While Pat went back to the living room, the talkative Alice
surprisingly stayed in the kitchen to help out. Around nine, the two
couples left and Gene went out to do something with his friends. Id
started a fire in the family room fireplace. My wife and I sat in our
side-by-side Lazy-boy chairs, wrapped in our electric blankets, watching
something on television. Binky sat on my wifes lap and Mickey
sat on the back of my chair. At eleven, we went to bed.
My wife liked to have her back scratched at night. After I did this,
I kissed her and we each turned on our sides to go to sleep. On Monday,
my wife went to her part-time job and I went back to my computer and
finished the story, "Being in Love." Id named the woman
Julie, which was in fact her real name. After so many years, what difference
did it make? But who would have thought that after all those years an
echo of that long ago pain remained.
© Martin Green June 2009
Nicks going to ask you for that loan. I
knew it when they announced those furloughs.
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