Monday, November 14, 2011

The Truest Life: Chapter Two


Chapter two
Then there were the oranges.  Nikki did so many things with grace and charm and she had a way of touching everyone she knew with maternal devotion.  She was a caretaker, a friend, a listener and confidant.  And when she peeled an orange her delicate fingers meticulous in their expert motion, she did so with such loving care that the moment became precious.  Her fingernails slicing into the rind just so, leaving only the juicy pulp in their wake.
After a particularly awful night, when my hands would shake and before I began taking a drink in the mornings to calm my nerves, I would fumble with the fruit, desperate for the citrus to replenish the nutrients I had so deprived myself.  Each morning she would sit across from me at our small kitchen table.  She would take my hands in hers, and the shaking would stop.  She’d kiss my hands, take the orange and slowly, lovingly she would peel the citrus and hand me sections as she freed them from the rind.
We never spoke in these moments.  They were too precious to ruin with apologies and promises unkept and soon to be forgotten.  It was a moment that can only be shared between a man and a woman who are in love and in pain.  And I remember each morning as a separate perfect moment.
I would admire Nikki everyday of my life and even more so after her passing.  For one who has never learned to love myself, I was always in awe that such a perfect, fragile creature could have the courage and devotion to love me.  I can’t remember a time that I ever deserved a love like hers, but it never mattered to her.  She loved unconditionally and she gave this gift to me as a promise of forever and kept that promise until her death and after in my heart.  Nikki was my angel and I was a devil.
Later, after I was old and we had separated, Nikki would check on me, making sure as she put it, that I was still alive.  She told me that she had the right to know whether I had died and she knew I lacked the common decency to tell her if I had.  Some days I was cruel, full of resentment and anger.  I tried to avoid any alcohol when I suspected she would come to see me.  If she came in the morning, I would sometimes have managed.  Her afternoon visits were greeted by my most reserved drunkenness.  Often she would pour out all the bottles from the bar, not because she thought it would stop me from drinking, but she knew it would cause me inconvenience.  Secretly I welcomed any attention she gave me and would find myself in adulation of her when I would go to buy new stock. 
She left me because she was a good healthy person who loved a sick man that refused to get well.  I know there were times she felt weak and used for staying as long as she did and for taking care of me after the divorce, but I never thought of her that way.  It isn’t wrong to fall in love and we never get to choose.  All we can do is love with all our soul, and take care of ourselves.  And that’s why she had to leave.
     I gave her everything except myself and in that fatal mistake, I betrayed her deeply.

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Scarlet Hopewell