An Incompatible Affair
When does love end? Is there an allotted time from when love begins and fizzles out or does it just simply end? There have been times in my life when I have been left to ponder this question. Like when I first met Jack and knew that we'd spend the rest of our lives together. But I always had a inkling that something would falter. Whether it be me, him or something else to tear us apart. I never dreamt that that thing would have been an illness. I remember sitting under that big oak tree, gazing up into the complexity of the sky and imaging my life with him. Imaging what could be. He told me once that life is like a book. There are a thousand pages that he had not read and that those are the pages that he wanted to read with me. He was always the romantic. It was one of the many things that I loved about him. Besides the way his eyes lit up whenever he saw a book store, or the way his mouth grew into a wide grin showing off a small dimple on his chin every time he heard his favourite song on the radio. There are many aspects to Jack that will remain in my memory for as long as I shall live. Some, not so pleasant. Others, the best times of my existence. There were times when our love was really tested. Really tested. But he never failed to look me in the eye and made sure I knew that he still loved me. Even if he went about doing it in a peculiar way. I suppose that was part of the reason I was in love with him so. No matter how bad the day had been or how difficult it was to connect with him, I was always rewarded by a smile from his face or a squeeze of the hand. It was a sign that he was still with me, still there, not dead yet. It was those tiny tokens that kept me sane. Kept me going.
You see, that's the thing about love. No matter how many times the walls of it are knocked down and obliterated, it's still strong enough to with stand something as powerful as destruction. Jack and I were tested repeatedly throughout our time together. But no matter how many times he grew angry or lashed out, he would still be there behind closed doors. I guess that's why he lived for as long as he did. And while a part of me wants to believe that the whole time he was riddled with frustrating pain that he was still there behind his consciousness. I know that even something as powerful as love couldn't perform something as majestic as that. A part of me aches at the thought of being so close to him yet so far. It wasn't easy for me to accept the truth, to accept the inevitable. It was difficult to accept that I would go on living my life to its full potential whilst he limped behind me. But I never let him fall. Most people said that it was I who saved him. But I disagree. I know that it was he who kept me from falling. It was he who made me stay strong. You may be thinking that I'm crazy, blinded by love. And yes, maybe you're right. Maybe I couldn't see what was right in front of me: a disabled husband who had forgotten who I was years ago. But you see, love does that. It binds two people together for life. True love that is anyway. It's nights like these when I always find myself reflecting on the past and how he was slowly taken away from me.
June 1st 1943
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning here at the house. We were staying in the bigger of the three houses, father was doing a business meeting in the grand room. Which meant that mother had asked Mary to get me dressed into some clothes that wouldn't matter if they got dirty. I usually get shooed out of the house when father has meetings, which happens almost every week. I can't complain really. What fourteen year old wouldn't pass up the chance to go exploring for the day? Mary changed me and put my hair into a detailed braid. After being fussed over by mother, trying to make me look presentable as usual - presentable for whom I'll never know - I ran as quickly as I could out the door, sprinted down the stone path and before I knew it, I was in the town.
I smelt the warm fresh bread from the bakery and heard the noise of the nearby factories as they produced smoke from the tall chimneys. I stood on the pavement, baffled by the different sights and smells. I never usually went into the town on my own, but after hours of begging mother and scuffing my stockings as I knelt on the floor that she "had to let me go. It's a major part of growing up and exploring my urban roots!" She finally agreed once I said I'd clean my bedroom thrice a week. Not realising just how long it will take to assemble all my books alphabetically and neaten my doll collection... darn it.
So there I was, amidst the rural British town and what did I do? Of course, I went straight to the book shop. Now you may call it fate, or destiny but I like to think of it as a magnetic pull that caused me to choose that particular book store. And you know which one I mean. The one with the murky green paint on the outside and the dusty windows. It appealed to me almost immediately. So I entered the second hand book shop and automatically felt at home. The smell of old books hit me like a warm wave on a sandy beach. As I came farther into the store, I ran my hands along the books that I passed, feeling their smooth leather binding beneath my touch. A small smile grew in the corner of my mouth as I gazed around the infinity of written words. I felt as though I was surrounded by knowledge and understanding. For some of those books held ancient beings most treasured secrets. Most people travel the depths and breadths of the earth in order to reveal the truth about these long lost beings, but I think it just shows what pillocks they are. You see, all they need do is open a book and their secrets are revealed. It's rather magical if you think about it. As I reached the back of the book store, there was one particular book that caught my eye. The colour was a rich green and imprinted on the front were golden swirls and delicate writing. It read "The Secret Garden". As I picked it up I felt a warm presence next to me. The smell of peppermint and soft bread radiated off the being. I raised my head and stared at the boy next to me. It was your eyes that I saw first. Dark chocolate, with flecks of amber embedded in a barrier of long lashes which fanned out to perfection. You were older than I. By a three years at most. But oh how my heart contracted when I laid my eyes upon your face. A small smile played in the corner of your mouth as you gazed at my heated face. I almost didn't hear you when you spoke. You had such an overwhelming affect on me.
"Good book," you said as you gazed at the book in my hand, "I read it a few weeks ago. It's full of magic and beauty. I assume a young lass like you would invest in such a marvellous book, am I correct?"
It took me a few seconds to formulate a sentence. By which time, you already had your head enraptured in a book. So all I did was stand next to you, for what felt like an eternity, and pretended to read ten pages or so of that garden book, occasionally glancing at your dark brown locks and perfect profile. You seemed so interested in what you read. I noticed small frown lines appear between your brows as you took in the scriptures you were reading. I'm glad you found that book so enticing. It allowed me to stare at you with wonder. You were without a doubt, the most beautiful being I'd ever laid eyes on. I was instantly smitten with you. Suddenly, you snapped the book shut and the frown lines on your olive face deepened. I finally plucked up the courage to squeak out a few words.
"What's wrong, boy?" I whispered, cautious not to disrupt the sleeping books.
"She died," you frowned. I did not need know what the story you had read was about, or what type of story it was to understand your grief over it. So I simply reached up and placed my delicate hand on your stiff shoulder. It was bulky which indicated hours of heavy lifting and hard work. You froze from the contact, as did I. "Sweet girl," you said softly, "can you promise me something?" I felt myself nod. "Promise me you'll never give up on a book. No matter if the words don't appeal to you, just give it time and it'll see through. Keep on inventing stories in your mind. Stories of beautiful things and futures with no end." You whispered so quietly that I had to strain my ears to hear you correctly.
"How did she die?" I asked after your sentiment.
"She lost the clarity of the written word. She lost the meaning and beauty of it. A very sad story indeed." You sounded so sad. So lost. So you chucked the book back on the shelf you had found it from. You took one last look at the book, turned and walked away. Like a magnet I followed you, captured by your mystery. You must have felt me follow you because you swiftly turned around, stopping me in my tracks. "I'm sorry." You said. This confused me. What was there to be sorry for? "What is there to be sorry for?" I pondered. "I fear I may be turning into the woman. I fear I'm losing my hope in books." Your frown lines were now even deeper, and I longed to touch them.
"Nonsense," I said, "when you're at an impasse like you are now, just stop and say to yourself 'Come on you idiot, it's just words on some paper' and you'll be right back to your old self again!" I smiled at your saddened face and watch the knots of confusion untangle from your complexion.
"You're right, sweet girl. I need not be afraid of the words, I just need to find myself in them again." And with that, you leant down and planted the softest and rarest kiss on my cheek making my knees go weak. And then you left. Without as much as a whisper more. And I knew from that moment, that I'd be seeing you again.