by michele sprague
print and online
a literary magazine
He loves me. He loves me not.
Twenty years ago I couldn’t get enough of him. We talked for hours and never ran out of things to say. We greeted each other with anticipation, smiles and lust.
I was 18 then. Putting stock into childish games, I used daisies like people use Ouija boards – as a tool to search for answers. With a pull of a petal I said, “He loves me.” Then I pulled the next petal and said, “He loves me not.” I continued pulling petals one-by-one until the last petal revealed the answer. If I didn’t like the answer, I started the game over with another flower.
In the meantime, our friendship grew. We fell in love and married. On our wedding day he looked lovingly into my eyes and said, “I’m going to make you so-o happy.”
I remember some of the good times we shared together. He took me to the botanical gardens and served as my chief photographer; he woke in the middle of the night to help me with a computer program so I could meet my story deadline; and he surprised me with a decorated Christmas tree when I was too depressed to celebrate after my friend passed away.
Nineteen years passed. Our king-size bed, which was once a marital playground, provided distance and loneliness. His body hugged the edge of the right side of the bed; mine hugged the left. The snoring he found cute when we were first married annoyed him.
I didn’t remember the last time he said he loved me. Come to think of it, I didn’t remember the last time I told him. We didn’t laugh together anymore. We rarely went out as a couple, except for an occasional movie and little conversation. The bulk of our activities involved our children.
I remember the early days of our marriage. Just seeing him brought a smile to my lips. I actually enjoyed getting up at 5 a.m. to fix his breakfast and spend quiet time together. Now, I can’t remember the last time I fixed an early morning breakfast for him.
And I remember seeing the lit porch light when I returned home in the evening. To me, it represented my home, which was filled with love, comfort and security. It represented coming home to him – the man I dearly loved. As the years passed by, the porch light dimmed. The house no longer felt like a home – it was cold and lonely.
Time moved swiftly from those early, carefree days before our children and advancing our careers. We’ve drifted apart as if on separate ships to distant countries. And we no longer spoke the same language.
Most nights he retired at 9 o’clock. I was up with the kids, who were winding down. Then I’d retire about midnight. To be fair, he went to bed early because his work day started at 5 a.m.
We spent too much time away from each other – not enough time really listening to each other, taking walks, indulging in playful behavior…We spent very little time being friends, companions, lovers; and almost no time that said “I’m so glad I married you.”
The house was very cold. It felt as if oxygen was being sucked out of it. I played the flower game, which I haven’t played in 20 years. “He loves me. He loves not.” The last petal indicates he doesn’t love me. So, I tried the game again but with a different question – “Should we stay together? Should we part?” I cried.
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