By: Reese Scott
They weren’t anyone anymore. They were just still here. They didn’t expect very much. Because there was nothing to expect. This is where they lived.
Jane. 52 years old. She married at nineteen. Had a daughter that same year. It was not a mistake. She never once thought of it so. She promised she would never stop loving her. But she did. Jane remarried at twenty-seven. It was not a happy marriage. She knew early on that she had married someone for the wrong reasons. When she saw him now she only could see what she did not want to be. Her husband was the one to move out. He showed little emotion during this. It was like he knew before she did. They even spent their last night together. Not making love. But watching an old Alfred Hitchcock movie together.
After that, Jane still thought there might be someone. But she knew she would never be married like she was the first time. Over time Jane stopped thinking as much about being with someone. Without noticing, Jane was slipping away. When Jane finally realized that there was nothing left, she found it difficult to look at life as she had before. Eventually, there were areas where she had no memories at all.
Arthur. 54 years old. He finished college. He finished graduate school. He finally became a professor of philosophy. Arthur was one of those people who were born inside out, but in a way that nobody noticed. It was as if somehow the outside looked like everyone else. But the inside was far from that. He had his first girlfriend at sixteen. They lost their virginity together. They dated for eight months before they finally made love. It was something he would never forget. All of it. He had a serious relationship when he was twenty-two till he was twenty-five. They were together for five years. They were in love. The true sense. There was nothing impure about it. For the first two years they lived in separate cities. Seeing each other monthly no matter what. There was never a doubt in faithfulness. For some reason they both knew this would not be an issue. It wasn’t. Eventually their love drained. One says that his girlfriend’s personal issues were the reason. For quite some time he stood by not knowing, not wanting to know, what was happening. And what it did to him. Or it could be that she didn’t want that much. But he slowly began to disappear. It felt like he was having an affair with his work. No matter how that might sound funny. It was far from not. After that Arthur dated briefly through the next ten years. Then something he happened. He realized he no longer had girlfriends. He realized he hadn’t kissed someone in a year. He hadn’t come close to having a date. Something had changed. It wasn’t a total surprise. He knew he had always been very shy with girls. He knew each girlfriend he found had one thing in common. They didn’t judge the same way. That was the reason they could care for him.
His life changed somewhat too early. So he ended up no longer thinking about falling in love. He dreamed of falling in love. But he knew he would not.
Jane and Arthur are in bed. It is a hotel. They lie naked under the sheets. One can’t tell if it’s day or night. They look like they have just finished making love. Except their bodies are aligned with one another in such a way it seems like they are just about to begin. But instead they lie there staring at each other. There is not a sense of good or bad in this. Until she slowly begins to cry. She looks at him and says, “If I fall in love with you, you have to promise not to hurt me.” He looks into her eyes. “It’s impossible for me to promise you anything else.”
She looks at him. Her eyes open. He stares at her. His eyes open as if he suddenly feels life for the first time. Jane speaks carefully. “You have to promise me. Cross your heart. Hope to die.” She says this as if the words had never been said before. He looks in her eyes without blinking. “Cross my heart and to die. In every way possible.”
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