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The International Writers Magazine: True Fiction

• Oswaldo Jimenez
They had reached a phase in their relationship she called ‘cocooning.’  “Everyone in our age-range is doing it,” she had said to him with a smug, matter-of-fact tone in her voice that reminded him of the tone his mother had used when calling him to dinner.

He’d seen that look on her face before, too. He’d made the mental note that they were approaching the end of their relationship and there was nothing he could do about it. He didn’t want to spoil it for her by revealing that their relationship would be ending soon, too soon, because he was aware that she’d been going on the clichéd assumption that  “It’s the climb” that counts. She was happy.

( Spoiler alert )  They break up that night. Six months following the break up she marries an older man who looks like the drummer from the band Genesis (before he became the successful singer-song writer whom she lusted after and had said out loud “jokingly” that she wanted to have his baby.) He becomes a successful entrepreneur and marries a younger woman, after going through some terrific soul-searching and a couple of nervous breakdowns involving copious amounts of alcohol. He turns out O.K. in the end.

They engender children: she has a boy and a girl (which she had planned for as long as she could remember.) He has a girl whom he names after his defunct mother; a name that his child would eventually change legally to “Mouse,” and would post it on her FaceBook page with themes of rodents from comic strips and movies.

He and she would eventually look for each other and find each other’s profiles on FaceBook, and browse through their family pictures at night while their spouses where sleeping. They would not post anything, just clandestinely satisfy their curiosity: to see what they looked like, to see who was doing better than whom, and to imagine what would’ve happened had they not watched that scene in the movie “IRONCLAD” streaming on NETFLIX that Friday night.

That Friday night they’d retired to the couch for a night of togetherness (cocooning.) They had decided to stream the flick “IRONCLAD,” which was a “suggested movie,” based on their (mostly his) interests (movies previously watched) chosen by some random algorithm designed by some programming guru somewhere in the vastness of silicon valley, or some such flaccid place. The movie had scored two-and-a-half stars in an average of 570,138 ratings. He had been basically mesmerized by the pithy description on the page:

“Backed by his "Magnificent Seven," a principled Knight Templar (James Purefoy) defends Rochester Castle from the ruthless King John (Paul Giamatti) and his advancing armies, who seek to rule England's free men by force -- no matter what the Magna Carta might say. Charles Dance, Kate Mara, Jason Flemyng, Brian Cox and Derek Jacobi co-star in this action-packed period piece set at the height of the Middle Ages.”

The words “Action-packed” and the name “Kate Mara” had been more than enough to convince him. She, on the other hand, was a little put off when she read the two-star review from a fellow streamer:

“Good movie, but what a bloody mess. Ouch ouch ouch!!!!! LOTS of blood and guts, but probably more true to the times than we'd all like to think. Gonna have to shake off some scenes, and couldn't look at others. . .but overall a gritty and true to the times history lesson.”

She had decided that she would let him 'have' this one because, she’d thought, it was what couples did, it was what cocooning (togetherness) was about. “Go ahead,” she had told him with that same smug, matter-of-fact tone in her voice, just  “Let me change into my jammies before you start the movie.” She had said this to him and gone up to the bedroom to change. In less than five minutes she had come down wearing the baggy flannel pajamas she had bought with her AMAZON discount.  The pajamas were pink, sprinkled liberally with white wooly sheep randomly floating amid puffy clouds. He'd told her she looked ‘cute’ in them. He still wore his sweats and had gone straight to the refrigerator to get a cold  beer, and had sat on the couch waiting for her holding the remote control in his hand, ready to fire.

They’d sat together watching. He’d been on fire enjoying the streaming action on the giant flat-screen. The movie was, in fact, packed with hacking, chopping; with dismembered bodies spurting of blood everywhere. She’d taken advantage of the gory mess to practically glue herself to him, with her legs wrapped around him, clutching his arms, burying her face in his chest each time the dark-and-handsome hero cut people in half with his long sword, a not-so-subtle phallic symbol.

They had had to pause the movie several times. Once, so he could rush to the bathroom, another, so she could spoon herself some chocolate ice cream. During one of those pause-and-play times, when she’d taken over the remote control, while she waited for him to come back from the bathroom; she’d inadvertently pushed the play button causing the movie to resume its streaming, starting at the point when the ruthless King John (Paul Giamatti) was chopping the heads, or hands, of some pitiful wenches or lads.

Startled by the loud screaming of the wenches, she’d fumbled the remote under the couch when trying to stop the action. She’d covered her eyes with both hands and buried her head on the pliable surface of the leather couch. The thunderous noise of the music score and the screaming of wenches, and lads, had urged him to finish his business quickly and rush out of the bathroom to fetch the remote from under the couch where it had landed and attempt to rewind the movie to the spot where the’d left it.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know how to stop it” she’d said with an innocent smile.
“It’s O.K., I got it back close to the spot,” he’d replied.

The scene was at Rochester Castle, when the movie resumed. It was a scene in the movie where the lustful wench Isabel (Kate Mara,) seduces the dark, handsome, principled (celibate) Knight Templar (James Purefoy) the exact fateful moment when the relationship of the cocooning couple started to end:

“She’s nothing but a whore,” he’d murmured softly.
“What do you mean?” she’d inquired, without moving her eyes from the screen.
“What?” he’d asked, unaware of the question.
“What do you mean, whore? she’d repeated politely.
“I mean she just wants to, you know, seduce him,” he had said still watching the movie.
“Why does that make her a whore? she’d asked, looking at his profiled face.
“Well, it’s the middle of a freaking battle, they’re about to be crushed by King John and his barbarians, she’s married to the guy who owns the castle, and all she’s thinking about is screwing the Knight Templar,” he had replied, without moving his eyes from the screen.

“Wait, wait, wait,” she’d demanded, with a hint of exasperation. “The bastards rape the women as they conquer the lands, and just because a woman falls in love with a man she finds desirable, she’s a Whore?  “Please!”  she’d answered, staring at his profiled face again.

“That’s not love she feels for the Knight!” he’d replied jerking his head briefly look at her. “It’s all lust, just raw animal lust, she wants to, you know jump his bones because, obviously, her husband is not capable, and she hasn’t had 'any' in a while, probably years, in those times!”  he’d said, mockingly, pausing the movie, so that he could look at her face directly, expecting her to agree with him.

“That’s bullshit!”  she’d replied with contempt, “You’re gonna sit there and tell me that she’s a whore because she’s fallen in love with the Knight Templar, and that all she’s feeling is lust?”  she’d  said, unfolding her legs and forcibly planting them on the carpet as if ready to bolt.

“They’re stuck in a freaking castle!  Being torn to pieces by fire and hailstorm and it’s probably the end of life as they know it, and, what? she falls in love with the Knight? he’d said, followed by “all she’s thinking of is the Knight’s oversized...sword!”  he’d said mockingly, motioning his arms outwards, in a gesture men use to show the size of the fish that had gotten away.

“You men are all pigs!”  she’d responded. “Why do you have to bring it down to that level? she’d said angrily.

The oversized heads of the two characters in question: the Knight Templar (James Purefoy) and the Queen of Rochester Castle, Isabel (Kate Mara) were frozen on the large flat-screen with their eyes fixed on each other before a choreographed kiss. The glow from the the screen reflected on the faces of the arguing watchers with an orangey afterglow.

“O.K.” he’d replied with a condescending tone in his voice, “so you’re saying that she has fallen IN LOVE, mind you, with the Knight Templar in a matter of, what, a day? 
“You’ve never heard of love at first sight?” she’d murmured, folding her arms and shifting her body in the direction of the large flat-screen.
“There is no such thing as love at first sight,” he’d screamed back, losing his composure.
“Really!  You really don’t think so, do you?”  she’d replied, standing up, and placing her closed fists on either side of her hips, stretching her luxurious long neck out like a mother hen. “So you’re saying that all women are whores, that all we do is lust for men’s penises, and we walk around looking for bigger, and better, all the time, regardless of our emotions, or feelings?  she’d said, standing straight up and looking down at him.

“All I’m saying is that there is no such thing as love at first sight,” he’d replied, surprised at her angry reaction.
“SO!”  she’d replied with a gotcha look on her face, “you’re saying you don’t love me?”
“All I’m saying is that love is really nothing more than a reaction that conceals the real truth of the matter; the matter being, either physical attraction, or common goals and interests,” he’d said trying to reason with her.
 “All this time you’ve been with me you just wanted a good lay? Is that it?”  Her anger had been palpable in her tone. “You never told me you felt this way. I wish you had said something about your idea of what Love is about!”  she’d said angrily. 
“You never asked me!” he’d replied, while pushing aside the remote control causing the Knight Templar (James Purefoy) and Isabel ( Kate Mara) to resume their sensuous kiss followed by the consummation of their desires right on screen in full surround sound.
“I am not a whore! and I will not have a relationship without love!” she’d screamed at the characters on screen. Without another whisper of a word, she had taken herself to the bathroom, sobbing, and locked herself in.

“Fine!”  he’d screamed back still keeping an eye on the action on the screen: King John had found the vulnerable spot to dislodge the occupants from Rochester Castle by having his miners dig a tunnel beneath it, and releasing his largest pigs and setting them on fire, burning the foundations of the castle, thus succeeding in toppling the stone structure down.

(spoiler alert) In the end, the unreliable French Army arrives to the rescue. King John is vanquished and dies of consumption.  The Knight Templar (James Purefoy) survives all his wounds, and rides out of the ruins of Rochester castle with Isabel (Kate Mara) sitting side-saddle, submissively with the Knight Templar on his white steed.

The cocooning couple never saw each other again.

© Oswaldo Jimenez     April 2012

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