Her usual aggravated expression was in full swing beneath her spotless perm this morning as her business heels clicked down the sidewalk. Avoiding the indifferent bump of strangers (to spare her starched power-suit from stain) was always a task in the city, and the whistles and cries and begs of the many homeless she ignored – with poise, of course – didn’t help out either.
She didn’t have time for the feckless. The meeting was in an hour, and the tugging vibrate of her cell phone told her that everyone was pacing together like soon-to-be fathers in a waiting room.
Down the stairs, on the train. Across the street (to the honking chagrin of nearly-colliding motorists). Finally, Market Street… the home stretch. Twenty stories of office building glowered down at her from all sides, front maws open and streaming with Professionals.
She checked her watch and rounded a corner, which was probably her worst move. In spite of the jarring smack of a full-frontal collision with a six-foot tall human wall, she could clearly see five dollars worth of Frappacino reach for the sky.
His tongue was in her mouth before she could get out the first exasperated utterance of “excuse ME!“.
It was a brutal, wild, limitless kiss. Powerful hands surrounded each bicep and drew her close with the passion and strength of a man gripping the edge of endless. The heave of his solid chest, pressed against her own, wrung the breath out of her lungs. As her muscles deflated like too-old balloons and everything became lighter, she wondered (of all things!) whether her hiptop would break when it hit the ground.
Wide-eyed and blind, his passion stampeded and gored her. He eclipsed her. She was merely an extension.
So this was Love.
She was unconscious before her head hit the pavement.
There were no more shipments of flowers these days.
Nobody asked why her husband stopped coming to visit. Breaking from mighty and long-lived tradition, none of the nurses gossiped a single word when they heard about the divorce papers being finalized. Nobody wondered what happened when the foot traffic to room 416 tapered off, then stopped altogether.
Sitting at the edge of a bed was no kind of life, not for anyone. He was the noblest husband any of the staff had ever seen, spending year after year jockeying for space with IV units, reading stories aloud, holding her hand, and enduring – in silence – the neck strain that comes from sleeping in a guest chair. Everyone secretly cried inside when the family would show up, gather around the bed, and – not knowing anyone was in earshot – beg her to twitch, or open her eyes, or come back to them, or tell them what happened.
But everyone knew that these requests were – at least partially – insincere. They had the feel of a pig wearing a tuxedo. What everyone wanted, what everyone really wanted, was simply to see her stop smiling.