How Does It End?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A writers publisher is hurt in a car accident and the writer goes to her bedside and reads her a story as he's writing it.

Submitted: August 12, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 12, 2012

A A A

A A A


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW DOES IT END?

 

 

A SHORT STORY

 

 

 

GREG BALDERSTONE


 

 

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

FRIDAY


 

Century Books

529 Madison Avenue

Suite 1204

New York City, New York

 

The Office of Georgina Peters

 

 

His appointment was for three-thirty and it was three.

 

It was only the second time he’d been in the office and he’d never actually met Georgina Peters, the publisher and senior editor, and he’d imagined her to be older, smartly dressed and serious.

She’d published his first novel last spring and a few months before that he’d come into the office to sign the contract for his book but Georgina wasn’t there and her secretary (administrative assistant), had given him the contract to sign and had smiled at him before she’d told him that she’d have Georgina sign it when she returned and that he could expect his advance in about a week.

This time Georgina’s secretary had smiled at him before he said anything and she said she was expecting him.

It wasn’t the beginning of a friendship or anything else but she’d remembered him and he thought it was a start.

He was holding the manuscript of his new book in his hands, looking down at it and wondering why he didn’t just put the stationary box on the table beside him but it was his book. It had taken him months to write it and it was important to him and he’d hold it before he gave it up.

He looked up when the secretary (administrative assistant) smiled and said, “Georgina will see you now, Arie.”

He liked it when she called him Arie and he thought about sending her roses.

He followed her over to the door at the other end of the room looking at her legs, her hips, her skirt and her hair and smiled deciding on two dozen roses, yellow with long stems and a note to say the stems reminded him of how long her legs were.

She held the door open for him and he smiled and looked into her eyes before he looked at the young blond woman sitting behind the desk reading something without looking up.

She was wearing glasses and she was younger than he thought she would be and she had a nice office and it wasn’t hard to look at her.

She looked up and he smiled. Her eyes were the color of jade and she had nice lips and if she smiled he knew she’d have a nice smile.

She was looking into his eyes and slowly said, “Goyo B.?”

He grinned and said, “Arie. Goyo is my….”

She quickly said, “Yes, of course. I’m used to seeing Goyo on the cover of your book.”

She smiled and pointed to the chair in front of her desk. She said, “I’m sorry I wasn’t here to meet you last spring when you came in, I had to go to London unexpectedly.”

He sat down and looked at her lips smiling at him.

He said, “Did you like London?”

She grinned. “I went to see my father, he lives there. I prefer Paris myself.”

Looking at the stationary box in his hands, she said, “Is that the manuscript of your new book?”

He put the box on the top of her desk and pushed it over towards her carefully. “It’s called, IT WILL SPEAK FOR ITSELF. It’s about a writer looking for the meaning of a book he wants to write.”

She leaned over and picked up the box putting it on top of a pile of papers on the corner of her desk. “I’ll read it this weekend and I’ll call you Monday.”

She had long fingers and she was wearing a white shirt from the Ralph Lauren shop and she was wearing nice perfume and when she stood up her hair fell over her cheeks and framed her face and she was beautiful in a way that made him think he’d known her for a very long time.

She was looking into his eyes again and they looked at one another for a long minute before she looked down nervously. “If you’ll excuse me I’m late for an appointment.”

He smiled and said, “Can I take you to lunch Monday?”

She turned her head and looked at her calendar and said, “I’d rather call you but…yes, all right. I’ll be ready at one-thirty.”

 

 

The Long Island Expressway

 

Long Island, New York

 

 

 

 

Georgina was a careful and an experienced driver. She reached over and turned the wiper blades on full when the rain started falling faster and she had trouble seeing the road and she didn’t see the truck turning the bend in the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART TWO

 

SATURDAY MORNING


 

Eastern Long Island Hospital

 

201 Manor Place

 

Greenport, New York

 

Room 218

 

 

 

Arie opened the door to her room and a nurse looked around at him and quickly said, “Are you a relative?”

He looked at Georgina on the bed with her eyes closed and a plastic tube taped against the side of her lips. Her hair was against the white pillow and she was framed by the bed.

He looked at the nurse and said, “I’m her brother, I just came in from Paris.”

He went over and sat on the chair beside the bed putting his notebook down on the floor beside him and looking at Georgina again. She looked like she was asleep. She wasn’t bandaged and there was no cast visible anywhere. She just wasn’t moving and there was a plastic bellows inside a wide clear plastic tube that was going up and down rhythmically, breathing air into Georgina’s lungs.

He looked at her hand on the top of the blanket and her long fingers and turned to look up at the nurse staring at him before he took Georgina’s hand. He said, “Georgie, its Arie. I know you can hear me and I want you to know I’m not going to leave you.”

Her hand was warm and it surprised him, but her hand was lifeless and he was more surprised by that then how warm it was.

The nurse smiled at him but he didn’t notice. He kept looking at Georgina’s eyes expecting them to open.

He let her hand go and reached down for his notebook. He said, “I brought my notebook with me so that I can do some writing while I’m here and the doctor told me that you can hear everything I say so I’m going to read what I’m writing.

But first I should tell you something about what I’m going to write. You like to have some idea of what it is you’re going to read before you start, don’t you? It’s a story about you and me.

 

 

 

 

THE STORY

 

He looked at her then at the blank page of his notebook. He said, “Page one, line one, ‘I was older and Jewish and I loved her. Sometimes when I looked at her photograph, it was yesterday and I saw her today for the first time, but it was ten years ago.

I’d recently renewed an affair with a woman old enough to have been Georgina’s mother and I’d gone back to university to complete my master’s degree in Early Twentieth Century American Literature and I’d moved from the residence at the university into an apartment with Georgina.

Georgina had advertised for a roommate on the board at the university bookstore and a mutual friend, Lea, had told me about the ad and she’d told Georgina about me and we met the night I moved in.

Georgina had found a three bedroom walk-up near the university. The rent was reasonable especially when it was shared and there was a lot of room and it was bright and there was a balcony off the living room and Georgina thought it would be fun to have a man in the apartment, especially a man who already had a woman in his life.

The first time I met Georgina I knew Ann wouldn’t like her.

She was wearing beige chinos with high heels and a short blue and white polka-dot dress without a bra. Her hair was long and blond and her eyes were a rich jade color and she had a perfect figure and her voice was soft and she avoided my eyes whenever I looked at her. She was twenty and she was a senior at the university studying Contemporary American Fiction and she liked acting like a grown-up and most of the time she did fine but some of the time the little girl in her showed and she forgot and didn’t try to hide it.

I was given the bedroom at the back. The middle bedroom was our library and work room and Georgina’s bedroom was the first one down the hall from the living room and she closed her bedroom door at night.

She could cook, but not well, and I was going to cook dinner and the meals on the weekend. The first Saturday after I moved in I went out and bought the food for our first breakfast together and Georgina came to the table wearing a black camisole without a bra and her chinos. She hadn’t brushed her hair and it was hanging down over her cheek and she looked at me, then down, telling me that she normally went to her parent’s house on Long Island for the weekend.

She quickly asked me what Ann was like.

It was the first time I realized how innocent Georgina really was.

And how beautiful she was and I didn’t tell her anything about Ann but he knew Ann wouldn’t like her.

Georgina had a dog, an Irish setter called Sarah, that she loved and she went home on the weekends to be with Sarah but that weekend she had to catch up on her notes and I hadn’t told Ann I’d see her that weekend so it was going to be my first weekend alone with Georgina and I wondered what it was going to be like living with her in the apartment.

The “library” had Georgina’s desk on one side and my desk on the other and when we both sat at our desks we had our backs to one another so there was no risk of me staring at her, or her staring at me. It was awkward at first. Her perfume was everywhere for one thing and our books had started to become mixed up on the shelves of the bookcases and she didn’t want me to know she wore glasses to read with and she had to try and hide them before she went over to the bookcase or she turned around to look at me to ask me something. It was still taking me a while to stop thinking about Georgina not wearing a bra under whatever she was wearing around the apartment.

We ordered pizza Saturday night but Sunday night I asked her if she’d have dinner with me in a restaurant and go to a concert at Lincoln Center.

She’d looked into my eyes for what must have been the first time because I remembered how clear and intimate her eyes looked and how young and beautiful she looked looking into my eyes and she asked me if I was asking her out on a date.

I’d chuckled and told her that we were roommates and that we didn’t have to call it a date it was just time out together. Although I didn’t know what I was talking about and I was asking her out on a date.

It was the first time I’d seen her without her chinos on and it was the first time I called her Georgie.

She’d looked at me as if she was going to tell me not to call her Georgie but she’d smiled instead, telling me that she’d have to be home by eleven. She giggled behind her hand as if it was the only joke she knew and she was proud of herself for remembering it.

At dinner she was holding her wine glass up and I noticed her manicured nails and soft hands and long fingers and the dimples on both sides of her lips when she smiled and I told her about Ann and about her husband, who I’d known for a few years before Ann left him without divorcing him and Georgie had listened as if she thought it was terribly romantic to be having an affair with a married woman whose husband was still my friend. Georgie had never been in love with anyone yet and she thought everything to do with being in love was romantic. And during the concert she’d put her hand over mine without thinking and she’d looked into my eyes again, whispering that no one ever called her Georgie and that I couldn’t call her Georgie in public, then she took her hand off mine and she never said another word until the intermission. She looked around at the older women with their husbands and the way they were dressed, asking me if Ann was beautiful.

I’d been staring at her and thinking about the piano concerto we’d just heard and I hadn’t thought about Ann until Georgie mentioned her. And I don’t think I’d thought about Georgie having a man in her life until then. But even then I didn’t want to know if there was a man in her life. I liked being the man in the apartment and I liked being the only one who called her Georgie and I don’t think I wanted to think about sharing her with someone else.

And when an older couple came over to us and the man looked at Georgie and smiled and called her Georgina and he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and he said that he didn’t expect to see her at the concert Georgie had smiled and looked at me, introducing me to the man and his wife as her ‘roommate’ and reaching over and taking my hand and holding it tight in case I let go.

The woman had been staring at me but when Georgie took my hand so I wouldn’t have to shake hands with them and she told them we were sharing an apartment the woman’s mouth fell open and she looked like she was going to call the police and have me arrested for holding Georgie’s hand in public.

The man smiled and ignored me, asking Georgie if she was going to take me to the ‘club’ to meet everyone and Georgie smiled selfishly and told him that she was keeping me for herself.

Georgie never told me who the older couple were or what ‘club’ the man had been referred to and I never asked and when they left us alone Georgie let my hand go and she didn’t look at me but when we were back in the apartment Georgie turned and looked at me and she told me she was sorry if she’d embarrassed me when she’d taken my hand and that she’d had a wonderful evening and she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek and she quickly went to her room and closed the door.

We didn’t talk very much the rest of the week and on Friday she was going out to Long Island for the weekend and Ann had shown up early, either to meet Georgie or because she’d left early I never knew which it was.

We sat on the sofa and I poured Ann a glass of wine and Georgie came out of her room and walked down the hall looking over at me and smiling, telling me that she’d be back Sunday night and that she wouldn’t disturb me if she got back late.

She looked at Ann and smiled before she said, “Take care of Arie for me, Ann.”

I tried not to smile but I did anyway and when Georgie closed the door behind her I knew Ann didn’t like her but she didn’t say anything until after we’d made love in my room and she’d smiled and said, “Isn’t she a little young for you, darling?”

A month passed and Georgie and I had decided to have a party to celebrate the beginning of spring. Georgie asked me if I was going to invite Ann to stay the weekend.

I didn’t like what Ann had said about Georgie being too young for me or the fact that she’d waited to say it until after we’d made love and I’d only seen Ann once since then. I thought about calling her and I decided it would be too complicated with Georgie in the apartment after the party and I never called Ann again.

We’d both invited people we knew at the university to the party and Georgie invited two of her girlfriends from Long Island and their boyfriends and we spent all day Saturday cleaning the apartment and shopping for finger food and wine and liquor for the party.

Georgie decided she wanted to make vodka and orange juice punch and we had to buy a glass punch bowl and glasses and after pouring the orange juice into the bowl we started pouring the vodka in, tasting it and smiling at one another before we added more vodka and we tasted it again. Georgie told me there had been a boy she was crazy about when she was fourteen and she’d let him make love to her because she thought she loved him but when she’d told him that she was pregnant he’d told her that his parents would pay for her abortion and that she never saw the boy again and that her baby was a girl.

It was a statement of fact. There was no apparent rational for telling me that she’d had an abortion when she was fourteen, she’d just told me and there didn’t appear to be a reason. She’d looked back into my eyes to see what my reaction was and I told her that when I was in Vietnam I’d cared about a nurse I’d met and that I’d taken her for a drink and we’d sat on the verandah of the Officers Club and I’d stood up and kissed her and walked over to the men’s room and pushed on the door and there was an explosion and I was thrown inside against the far wall and when they’d found me and they were carrying me out, all I saw of the verandah was the large hole where it had been and where the nurse I’d been with had been sitting waiting for me. Everyone was dead and they hadn’t found anything to give me that belonged to the nurse.

I looked back into her eyes and I told her that I understood what she’d gone through because I’d lost someone I’d cared for before I could tell her I loved her.

We’d invited about twenty people to the party and Georgie had put a short black skirt and a white blouse and black pantyhose and high heels on and I’d put a full reel of taped dance music on the reel-to-reel tape deck and when our guests started arriving Georgie put her arm through mine and she stood beside me at the door smiling at everyone. And when her friends from Long Island arrived the two girls looked at me, then at Georgie holding my arm. Georgie smiled at them and said, “We’re mad about one another. We keep separate bedrooms for appearances but I haven’t slept in my bedroom for weeks.”

I grinned but I knew her friends weren’t impressed and I ignored them and Georgie and I danced a slow dance and I held her against me and she leaned back and looked into my eyes and I leaned over and kissed her and we danced kissing one another until the music stopped and one of her friends asked Georgie if she knew everyone was staring at her.

Georgie leaned back and looked at her and said, “Let them.”

Holding onto my hand, she lead me out onto the balcony and closed the door part of the way before she put her arms around my neck again and we kissed again and she pressed herself against me. We kissed one another and held one another until someone opened the door and asked where the ice was and Georgie leaned back and looked into my eyes and said, “Please don’t follow me, Arie.”

She went to her room and closed the door and the party was over and I went back out onto the balcony and lit a cigarette, thinking about Georgie and about kissing her.

When I got up the next morning Georgie was gone. There was a note to say that she’d gone out to Long Island for the day and that she’d be back late and not to wait up. But it wasn’t late when she’d come back.

I was in the library working on my thesis and she stood in the doorway leaning against the door frame looking at me before she said, “Don’t get up and don’t touch me, Arie. I just let you kiss me because I wanted to impress my friends. I knew you wanted to kiss me and I let you and I kissed you back but I don’t love you.” 

She pushed herself up and said good night and she turned around and I stood up and put my hands on her waist and pulled her back against me smelled her hair and her perfume before I turned her around to face me and I looked into her eyes and said, “I don’t believe you, Georgie.”

She put her arms around my neck and leaned against me. She looked into my eyes and said, “It’s true, and I told you not to touch me.”

I was going to kiss her but she pulled back and she let me go. “You don’t know what kind of woman I am, Arie.”

She quickly went to her room and closed the door behind her and I didn’t sleep that night thinking about her and kissing her the night before.

Three days later she opened the door in the afternoon and said, “Darling?”

I went to meet her at the door and she dropped her bag on the floor and put her arms around my neck again and she held on.

She said, “I couldn’t sleep the other night so I went back to Long Island. I didn’t mean to hurt you, Arie, and I hated myself for what I said.”

She leaned back and looked into my eyes and I kissed her and she kissed me back before she pushed herself back and said, “I’m not going to hurt you, Arie.”

She went to her room to lie down and she just played with her food at dinner and looked at me. “I’m going to Boston for two weeks in the summer so you’ll have the apartment to yourself.”

I looked into her eyes and didn’t say anything and she said, “Don’t look at me like that.”

She stood up and went to her room.

Then, a few hours later she came into the library wearing a long white shirt with long sleeves and sheer yellow bikini panties. Her hair was pinned up on the back of her head and she looked like she’d been crying and she said, “My shoulder hurts, can you massage it for me?”

I stood up and put my hands on her shoulder and she said, “Shouldn’t I be lying down so you can do that properly?”

I’d never been in her bedroom before and it was a girl’s bedroom.

The curtains over the windows were pink with sheer white in between and there was a dressing table with make-up and perfume bottles on it and there was a teddy bear on the side of the table staring at me. The bedspread on the double bed was pink and there were several paintings on the wall of women but none of them were Georgie and the only light on was on the bedside table where she kept her glasses and a book she’d been reading. Her clothes were folded over the blue swivel chair and her pantyhose were on the floor.

Georgie turned and took her shirt off and let it fall on the floor before she laid face down on the bed with her arms bent and her hands under her chin and her eyes closed.

I looked at her long legs and her sheer panties over her firm hips and her tanned soft back and I wondered if her mother could be Italian but I didn’t ask about her mother.

I leaned over her back and I started to massage her shoulder and she put her hand out and pulled on the drawer in the bedside table and said, “You can use baby oil if you want.”

I took the baby oil from her and put some on her shoulder and I started again and she smiled. She said, “I think the other one is sore too, and my back and both my calves.”

I smiled and said, “I think you’re spoiled.”

She giggled and said, “I am, and I’m used to being spoiled by you, Arie.”

I massaged her back and I felt the sides of her full firm high breasts against my fingers and I waited for her to protest but she didn’t and I carefully started to massage her sides and down over her breasts and under them, to her swollen, hard nipples and she made a sound in her throat but she didn’t move. I massaged her back down to her waist and I looked at her sheer panties and I put my fingers under the waistband and lifted them down over her hips, looking at her to see if she was going to protest but she didn’t and I massaged both her hips with her panties down around the clefts of her hips, then her thighs and the back of her legs before I told her that I should let her get some rest.

She turned over on her side and looked into my eyes and I saw how small her areolas were and how swollen her nipples were and she looked into my eyes and she put her hand up to my shoulder and we kissed.’

 

* **

 

He looked at Georgina’s eyelids closed tight over her eyes then at the tube against the side of her lips.

He moved his thumb over the top of her hand thinking about her opening her eyes and looking at him sitting there holding her hand, almost expecting her eyes to open because he’d willed it to happen, but she didn’t open her eyes.

He turned and looked at the nurse when she came in and she smiled at him. She said, “It’s lunch time. Why don’t you go and get some rest and come back in a few hours after the doctor has been in to see her. If she wakes up I’ll tell her you’ve been here all morning and that you’re coming back.”

He smiled and put his pen down and closed his notebook. He looked at Georgina and said, “I’ll be in the waiting room. I’ll come back after the doctor looks at you, Georgie.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Three:

Saturday Afternoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He sat down beside the bed and took her hand again. “The doctor says you’re doing fine, Georgie, and that when you decide to wake-up you’ll be able to go home and I’m not leaving you until you wake-up.”

He opened his notebook and took his pen out.

 

The Story

(Continued)

 

‘Georgie was asleep when I went back to my room and I lay on the bed. I loved her, but I wasn’t sure I should. She was young and impressionable and innocent and her whole life was in front of her and I was older than she was even when I was her age now. I was older that she was ever going to be.

I closed my eyes and she was in my thoughts and in my temporary dreams until I dreamed about her for real and I tried to stay asleep the next morning to keep dreaming about her.

She smiled and poured my coffee when I got up.

She was wearing a robe and nothing else and every time she walked over to the stove for something the robe fell open over her long legs and thighs and I smiled and she smiled because I did and after breakfast she sat on my knee and put her arms around my neck and looked into my eyes. “Are you coming to Boston to see me?”

I’d thought about driving up to Boston to see her, but that was before….

I held her back and looked into her eyes before I said, “Are you sure this is what you want, Georgie?”

She smiled and leaned over and kissed me. “You can call me Georgie in public now.”

We went to movies, we went shopping and I bought her lingerie and an angora sweater and a few weeks later her mother and her aunt from Boston came to visit and Georgie met me at the door and kissed me before she told me they were there.

Her mother was a good looking woman and her aunt was good looking too and both of them looked at me as if I was responsible for the corruption of Georgie before I went to the library to work and I heard Georgie’s mother telling her that she had to end it now, before something happened and her aunt told her that there was a nice boy at the club who was interested in meeting her.

Georgie opened the door and looked at me. “My mother wants to know what your intentions are before she calls the FBI.”

I looked at her and said, “Do you want me to tell her?”

She giggled and went back and told her mother that I had said that I wanted her to have seven children in a row and that I wanted her to learn to cook and that I’d gone to Art School and that I wanted to paint the three of them in the nude on the wall behind the sofa.

Her mother and her aunt both left without saying another word.

Georgie’s corruption was complete.

But two weeks later she had a cold and she took something with aspirin in it and Lea told her that aspirin nullified the effects of the Pill and Georgie took my hand and pulled me down the hall to the bathroom. She closed the door and said, “I could be pregnant.”

I was staring at her. All I could think about was that if she was pregnant we’d have to turn my bedroom into a nursery for the baby.

I told her that I hoped it was a girl and that I hoped she looked just like her.

Georgie hugged me and kissed me and remembered Lea sitting in the living room.

She went back and told her that I’d said I hoped we were going to have twins.

But Georgie wasn’t pregnant.

When her period started she cried because she wasn’t pregnant and we stopped looking at maternity clothes and baby clothes and Georgie asked me if I wanted her to stop taking the Pill.

I was happy with Georgie.

I don’t remember ever being happier with anyone but I didn’t want her to have a baby to keep us together, but I didn’t want to ever lose her, either.

I held her against me and I told her that we’d talk about it when she got back from Boston and I knew I was going to ask her to marry me when I met her in Boston.

She settled down after that. She didn’t try to shock anyone with our relationship and she didn’t talk about us except with people we both knew and we talked about loving one another always and forever and even when we were walking down the street she’d turn and look at me and suddenly put her arms around my neck and she’d tell me she’d love me always and she’d look into my eyes and smile then she’d be satisfied and we’d walk on.

And a week before she left for Boston she came to the classroom where I was teaching a second year class and she called me out into the hall and held me tight against her and said, “Nothing will ever happen to us, will it? Nothing will ever make you stop loving me, will it?”

She was wearing a pretty cotton print dress and beige stockings and she sat in the back of the classroom listening to me and smiling at me then we went to my office and we made love on the top of the desk.

We went out for dinner that night and I asked her what was wrong and she looked away, saying that she was just tired and that she was being silly. But I knew something was wrong and I knew it had to do with her mother and father in the house on Long Island, but even when I asked her she wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, she just made me promise to meet her in Boston.

She’d been gone for three days when she called me to tell me that she’d be on the Common the next day at eleven in the morning and I told her that I’d be there.

Lea knew Georgie before I did and she knew her parents and when she came over that night for a drink she saw the photograph of Georgie I’d taken a week ago on the end table. Lea picked it up, sat on the chair across from the sofa and took her drink from me. She said, “Are you going to ask her to marry you?”

I sat on the sofa and opened the ring box on the coffee table to show her the solitaire diamond engagement ring I’d bought Georgie.

Lea put the photograph down and looked at the ring. She said, “Has she told you about her father?”

I took the ring back from her and closed the box and said, “What about him?”

Lea picked up the photograph again. “She’s going to be twenty-one soon and she’ll graduate next semester.”

I smiled and said, “What about her father, Lea?”

Lea smiled and sipped her drink, looking at the photograph. She said, “Her father owns Century Books. He’s the publisher and senior editor as well as the CEO and Chairman of the Board.”

I smiled. I’d heard of Century Books, everyone had heard of the publisher of some of the best young writers in America but I didn’t see what Georgie’s father being a publisher had to do with Georgie and I and I said, “So Georgie’s father is well off….”

Lea grinned. “If you call having a house sitting on twelve acres on Long Island with a view of the Sound and a driveway that stretches for a quarter of a mile from the road and a chauffer, a butler and a cook ‘well off’.

But I don’t think you understand the kind of life Georgina has on the weekends she’s not here with you or the life her parents have in mind for her.”

She sipped her drink and said, “She tried not to love you, you know. She lied to you about trying to impress her friends when she let you kiss her at the party because she wanted you to kiss her. And she hoped that you’d keep on seeing Ann so that she’d have an excuse for going home every weekend and for not letting herself fall for you. But you started to fall for her in the beginning, you just didn’t know it. And she fell for you the second day you were here. And when her mother and her aunt were here…. Georgina was only half joking when she told them that you wanted her to have seven children and learn to cook. Part of her wanted to go off the Pill and make you to drag her off to the bedroom and make love to her so that she’d be pregnant with your baby and you’d have to fight for her if you wanted her. And you would have had to fight her father to keep the baby and her. The other part of her wanted to push you away and forget about you while she still could.”

She looked at me and said, “Her father wants to go to England to live and he wants Georgina to take over Century Books as the publisher and senior editor after she graduates. He’ll stay on as the CEO and manage the Board of Directors and you aren’t in the picture I’m afraid.”

I sipped my drink and said, “But Georgie’s only twenty and she’s only….”

Lea quickly said, “And she’s bad in love with a man who’s eighteen years older than her and has led a nomadic life ever since the war and is finishing a Master’s degree rather than a MD or a law degree or at the very least a PhD with the promise of a tenured position at Harvard.

You’re not from the right class, you’re not ever going to be wealthy enough to keep Georgina in the manner she’s used to, and you’re too old for Georgina in her father’s eyes.

Her father’s opinion means nothing to Georgina, of course. She’s absolutely crazy about you and she’d marry you tomorrow…and if she has any sense she will. But she knows her father’s lawyers would have the marriage annulled or dissolved in return for a cash settlement.”

I smiled and said, “I’m not interested in their money. I only want to make Georgie happy and I’d take Georgie away somewhere.”

Lea grinned. “I know you love her and I know you’d fight for her and I know her. She’s never been this happy in her entire life. But she’s scared. She’s never been able to stand up to her father and her mother won’t help her. Her mother thinks you’re a gypsy who just wants Georgina’s money and her body….”

I chuckled and quickly said, “At least she understands me well enough to know I have an eye for a nice body.”

Lea looked at me seriously. “I just want you to know that if Georgina says no, and I hope to god she doesn’t, it won’t be because she doesn’t love you, it will be because she can’t say yes.”

I was staring at Lea. “Why are you telling me this, Lea?”

Lea looked down at the photograph. “I want you to know what you’re up against and what Georgina’s been going through the last couple of weeks, ever since her father told her he wants to leave and that it’s time for her to return to the house and to stop playing house with you.”

I smiled and said, “You don’t understand. Georgie and I love one another and Georgie’s stronger than you think. Together we can fight them and we can be happy.”

Lea smiled. She looked into my eyes and said, “And you don’t understand the kind of life Georgina’s used to. She took this apartment and advertised for a roommate to see what it was like to live like her classmates at the university did.

I told her about you because I thought you’d look after her. You had Ann so there wasn’t anything to worry about as far as you and Georgina were concerned but then Georgina fell for you and you fell for her and it suddenly got a lot more serious than it was ever supposed to. And now she’s waiting for you in Boston and she wants you to ride up to her on your horse and lift her up and put her behind you and ride off somewhere where no one can find her or take you away from her. And she thinks she’s willing to give up everything to be with you and that she’s even willing to learn to cook and do her own laundry and ironing and to look after a baby.”

I smiled and said, “Women have been doing it for centuries you know.”

Lea looked at me seriously again and said, “Not women like Georgina. She had to ask the cook to show her how to boil an egg for your breakfast. Her monthly allowance is more than you’ll make as an assistant professor at a college in six months of the year.”

She looked down and said, “She called me to tell me that you’d bought her a sweater and lingerie and she was so happy because you’re the first person who ever gave her something without wanting something in return and who was actually thinking about her when you bought it.”

I smiled. “I still don’t understand why you’re telling me all this. You seem to think it’s hopeless and that her father will win no matter what we do. And I do have an interview for a position at Harvard by the way. What do you want me to do?”

Lea smiled. “I want you to forget I was here and everything I just told you and I want you to go to her in the morning and give her the ring and ask her to marry you. And I want her to say yes and to be engaged to you so you will have the right to go to her father and tell him you aren’t going to let Georgina go.

Two years ago I wanted a young man to tell my father the same thing but he wasn’t strong enough and my father….”

I was trying to understand what she was saying about herself and I asked her what she was talking about and she told me that her father was the senior partner in the law firm that represented Georgie’s father and that she lived on the ten acres next door to Georgie on Long Island.

Lea stayed for another drink and I sent her home in a taxi and I sat on the sofa and looked at Georgie’s photograph for another hour before I fell asleep.

The next morning I was in Boston at ten-thirty and I was on the Common waiting for Georgie by ten-forty-five.

I remembered everything Lea had told me whether I was supposed to forget or not and I was prepared to do anything to make Georgie happy, even if it meant fighting her father.

Georgie showed up and she was even more beautiful than I remembered and I put my arms around her and lifted her up off the grass and kissed her.

I couldn’t imagine being happier than I was at that moment unless Georgie told me she’d marry me.

I took her hand and we walked to Faneuil Hall talking about missing one another and where I was going to stay in Boston while I was there. And at the market, near Cooperfields Restaurant, Georgie leaned back against a brick wall and looked into my eyes and I opened the ring box and said, “Will you marry me, Georgina?”

Georgie looked at the ring, then at me and said, “It’s beautiful, Arie.” She held her left hand out and looked at the ring when I slid it over her finger. She looked at it and wiped the corner of her eye. She said, “Can I give you my answer tomorrow?

I want to spend the whole day thinking about marrying you and being with you forever. And you’re invited to my aunts for dinner. I want to show you the most fantastic house I saw.”

I smiled and said, “Tomorrow, Georgie.”

We had breakfast at Cooperfields and I couldn’t stop looking at Georgie and the diamond on her left hand. She’d worn her hair down and she was wearing a white dress that showed off her figure and her long legs and the top of her breasts and she looked tanned and happy and she smiled often and she told me she loved me often.’

 

* **

 

The nurse came in and looked at him. “It’s time for Georgina to have a bath. You can wait in the waiting room and if anything changes I’ll call you.”

He closed his notebook and looked at Georgina. “I think the nurse likes me, Georgie. Don’t go away, ok.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Four:

Sunday Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’d brought a novel he’d been reading and he spent the rest of Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening reading to Georgina. And this morning he was going to continue the story he was writing for her.

He sat by the bed looking at the tube between her lips and listened to the rhythmic pumping of the machine while he held her hand and he looked at her closed eyelids. He said, “I missed you last night, Georgie. I went for dinner and walked around for a while thinking about you and wishing you’d open your eyes so I could see you looking at me again. Your story is almost finished but I’ll keep talking to you as long as you want.”

He opened his notebook and picked up his pen.

 

The Story

(Continued)

 

‘Georgie had already made reservations for me at the Copley Square Hotel and as soon as I closed the door to my room Georgie had her arms around my neck and we were kissing.

I was convinced that she was going to say yes the next day and I thought about meeting her father and convincing him to let Georgie go and to stop interfering in her life.

We made love and she was lying against me with my arm around her. It was a warm sunny day and the sunlight was coming in through the sheer curtains and I thought about the sheer curtains in her room in the apartment.

I looked at her and said, “Lea came over for a drink last night. She hopes you’re going to say yes.”

Georgie smiled and opened her eyes.  She looked down and said, “Did she say anything else?”

I lied and told her that we talked about the position as an assistant professor at USC I’d applied for and Georgie smiled and said, “Did you apply at USC?”

I smiled and said, “You’d like California, Georgie, especially the sea and the sun.”

She leaned back and looked at me. “You didn’t apply to any of the universities on the East Coast?”

I grinned. “There was a letter from a small university in Cambridge saying that I could go in and talk to someone, but you know I have trouble with the accent.”

She quickly said, “Harvard, when are you going for your interview, darling?”

I smiled and said, “I think that was the name of the place. It’s old and I’d have to get a tweed jacket….”

She giggled and quickly said, “When is your interview?”

I grinned and said, “The day after tomorrow at eleven. It seems someone told the Dean of Arts that I had a couple of books of poetry out and he liked my work.”

She kissed me. “I’ll wear my black dress. It makes me look like an assistant professor’s…woman.”

I grinned. “You almost said it, Georgie. All you have to do is practice.”

She smiled and looked down. “You can wait until tomorrow. And I have practiced saying it, Arie B. I just want to be sure. I want to be with you forever.”

I pulled her to me. I kissed her and looked into her eyes.

We walked for a couple of hours looking in shops and stores before Georgie smiled and said, “You’re going to have to get used to feeding me, darling. I can’t be expected to make love all day without something to eat and a nap in the afternoon.”

I chuckled and she took me across the street to a small café with a patio out the front so I could smoke a cigarette.

She said, “It must have been Jon from your department at the university. He’s always liked you and he knew you’d published a few books of poetry.”

I looked at her and smiled. “Of course it couldn’t have been a certain young lady who I happen to be madly in love with?”

She smiled. “I don’t know who you mean. I’m just a student who would listen to me?”

I wondered if the dean of arts at Harvard could just happen to be Georgie’s uncle or a close family friend but I didn’t really want to know. I just wanted to hear her say she’d marry me.

She picked up her cup and held it. She looked at me and said, “Lea sent the dean your books. I remember her saying that her mother had a brother that taught at Harvard. But why would Lea…?”

She put her cup down and looked away. “She told you about Daddy, didn’t she?”

I lit a cigarette and said, “She wants you to be happy, Georgie and she thinks I can make you happy.”

She was staring at a point in space. She said, “Did she tell you about the boy who wanted to marry her?”

I reached over and took her hand. I said, “We don’t have to talk about your father now, Georgie. When the time comes, if it comes, I’ll talk to him and convince him that your happiness is more important than anything else.”

She looked down. “If I took over as publisher it would mean that we’d be living in the house on Long Island and if you’re teaching in Cambridge….”

I smiled and quickly said, “You haven’t showed me the house you liked here.”

She smiled and we finished our coffee and Georgie took me to a men’s wear shop to look at suits to wear to my interview and she picked out a shirt and a tie and a three piece suit. She smiled and said, “And you need a haircut and you need to have your beard trimmed.”

I grinned and put my arm around her and lifted her up off the floor. “I thought you loved the bohemian in me?”

She giggled and said, “Arie, everyone is looking at us.”

I looked up into her eyes and said, “I love you very much, Georgie, and I always will.”

I put her down and she looked away, wiping at her eye. “If you knew what you do to me when you say that….”

We went over to the counter and she smiled at me. She said, “I’m paying for everything, Arie, and you have to look away.”

I cheated and looked at the platinum credit card she gave the clerk, wondering how I’d pay off the card on my salary.

Georgie’s aunt lived out in Needham and the house that Georgie liked was on the way.

It was a house to rival any house I’d ever liked. It looked like a renovated barn with three stories and a long verandah out the front with wicker furniture on it and enough chimneys to heat our whole apartment block in New York but it was painted white with black trim and the roof was black and the yard had trees and there was a swing hanging from one of the trees.

Georgie was smiling and staring at the house and I knew she liked it and I liked it a lot but I kept thinking about meeting her aunt again.

I smiled and said, “It’s big enough for our seven kids and when you’re cooking with just your apron on we can send the kids out to play in the yard.”

Georgie giggled. “Let’s start with one baby and see if we like being parents before we beget the tribe of Arie and

Georgie B. And if I’m going to wear nothing but an apron you’ll have to go and work in your office or you’ll have to order pizza for dinner.”

The house in Needham was a lot like the house Georgie liked so much except that it was only two stories high and there wasn’t a swing hanging from one of the trees in the yard and there was only one chimney. But it was white with a black roof.

Aunty had a husband, Michael, who drank Jack Daniel’s and I liked him right away. We shared a common belief that Jack Daniel’s should be the national drink of the United States.

Aunty didn’t find the idea amusing and she’d worn a sweater with a cowl neck up to her throat in case I got it into my head to look at her breasts and sketch them for the fresco on the living room wall of the apartment. But she smiled at me, looked into my eyes and said, “We were never introduced. I’m Linda.”

I smiled at her. “I’m Arie, Linda. Thank you for taking care of Georgie, she’s happy being here with you.”

Linda smiled, looking at Georgie then into my eyes again. “You made her happy, Arie. She only started smiling this morning when she knew you were coming.”

I looked down at the Irish setter that sat between us. “You must be Sarah?”

I patted the dog’s head and she licked my hand and looked up at Georgie and Georgie put her hand out to pet the dog’s head.

Linda looked down at Georgie’s ring and grinned and said, “Georgina where did you get that absolutely beautiful diamond ring?”

Georgie looked at me and she put her arm through mine. “I told Arie I’d tell him tomorrow if I’m going to marry him.”

Linda looked at me seriously before she smiled and she said, “If she doesn’t say yes I’ll lock her in her room until….”

Georgie quickly said, “Please don’t say that, Aunty Linda. I told Arie….”

She let my arm go and she ran into the kitchen crying.

Michael looked at Linda, then at me and said, “Go on, just don’t do anything to make Linda blush when she opens the door.”

Linda said, “Wait until after I take the roast out of the oven.”

A black woman came out of the kitchen. She looked at me and said, “If you’re waiting for someone to tell you what to do you isn’t the man for her.”

I smiled and walked past her and said, “I’m her man.”

I went into the kitchen with the dog following me, looking at Georgie standing at the counter crying.

I went over to her and put my arms around her and turned her towards me and I lifted her up onto the counter. I held her and wiped the corners of her eyes and her cheeks. “I’m not supposed to pull your dress up and make love to you on the table until after the roast comes out of the oven.

She wiped her eyes and looked at me. “No one has ever asked me to get married before and I want to remember this always. Please let me, Arie.”

I kissed her and looked into her eyes. “They didn’t mean anything, Georgie. They just want you to be happy.”

She held onto me. “Don’t let me go, Arie. Just hold me and….”

The black woman came in and the dog looked at her and I turned to look at her and she said, “I knew you’d figure it out. He’s a man all right, miss Georgina.”

Georgina giggled. “I know he is, Selma. And I’m in love with him.”

Selma smiled and said, “Miss Georgina I’ve known you ever since you wore your first diaper and I know you don’t need me to tell you but I’m going to anyways. If this man wants to marry you, you marry him because he loves you bad and he’s man enough to handle you and to make you happy.

There, I’ve said it, now you two go on doing whatever you were doing just don’t get my counter messed up.”

Georgie put her hands on my shoulders and I lifted her down and she went over to Selma and kissed her cheek. “I love you too, Selma. But he wants me to cook with nothing but a little apron on.”

Selma giggled. “There’s cooking, and there’s COOKING, Miss Georgina.”

Looking at me and smiling, she said, “It’s about time there was a real man in this family.”

I smiled and said, “I’ll try not to let you down, Selma.”

Georgie giggled and took my hand and took me out another door and out onto the porch off the kitchen.

She put her arms around my neck, saying, “Where were we?”

I kissed her and held her against me and the dog wined and lay down beside us.

She smiled and said, “I’ve been coming to visit Aunty Linda ever since I was a little girl. Whenever I wanted to run away from Long Island I would come here and Aunty Linda would phone mummy and tell her I was here and that I’d be staying a few days and she’d wait until I told her what was wrong then she’d make me cocoa and put me to bed and everything would be all right until the next time. And she knew why I came to see her this time even before I told her.”

I smiled and said, “She likes you, even if she did put a bra on in case you looked at her funny.”

I chuckled. “I like them all. Linda’s a lot like you.”

Georgie giggled. “I’m a lot like her, darling.”

Reaching down to pat Sarah’s head, she said, “If you’d tried to touch me the night of the party when we were kissing you wouldn’t be here now I wanted you to so I could tell you that you had to leave but you didn’t and I loved you for not trying but I wanted you to. Then I thought I’d see if you’d make love to me so I could hate you when I asked you to massage my shoulder but you weren’t going to before I practically asked you to. And then I thought you’d just satisfy yourself and leave me alone, but…. Every time I tried to find a reason not to love you I just fell more in love with you.”

Looking down at her ring, she said, “And now I don’t know how I’d live without you. But I still want to wait until tomorrow to give you my answer.”

 

* **

 

He looked up at Georgina’s eyes and there was a tear falling from the corner of her eye and he closed his notebook and said, “I’ll get the nurse, Georgie. It’s ok….”

The nurse told him he had to wait outside and the doctor came running down the hall, closing the door to her room behind him.

Then another nurse went in with a cart and she closed the door.

A half an hour passed and the doctor came out and looked at him. He said, “She asked for you.”

He went over and put his hand on the door and the nurses came out smiling at him.

He went in and Georgina turned her head and looked at him. She said, “You’ve been here all the time, reading me a story you were writing as you read it to me, my story.”

He sat down and took her hand. “The doctor told me you could hear me. I wanted to give you something, Georgie.”

She smiled and said, “That’s what you called her, Georgie….

How does it end?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW DOES IT END?

 

 

A SHORT STORY

 

 

 

GREG BALDERSTONE


 

 

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

FRIDAY


 

Century Books

529 Madison Avenue

Suite 1204

New York City, New York

 

The Office of Georgina Peters

 

 

His appointment was for three-thirty and it was three.

 

It was only the second time he’d been in the office and he’d never actually met Georgina Peters, the publisher and senior editor, and he’d imagined her to be older, smartly dressed and serious.

She’d published his first novel last spring and a few months before that he’d come into the office to sign the contract for his book but Georgina wasn’t there and her secretary (administrative assistant), had given him the contract to sign and had smiled at him before she’d


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