March 2019 Competition WinnerPosted 2 years ago under Uncategorised,
As a former Airman, Legionnaire, and English teacher, Warren has developed a unique perspective when it comes to capturing a story. Influenced by some of the greats from American, French, and Russian literature, he aspires to actualize his own voice in the nature of the written word. You can find out more about Warren on his website.
By S. W. Stribling
I could see you sitting at a quaint little bistro on one of the nicer streets in Paris. Lighting cigarettes and looking attractively disinterested in the passing world. All of the boys would be walking past stealing glances but too afraid to approach. They could see the fire, the maddening fire that was your essence and none of them were the knights in shining armor you needed to save the princess in you from the dragon’s fire that was you.
We had met through my work. You were a fan of my work, but only after buying it for a friend who was a fan. After that, you started writing to me about how I should get my work more out there. How great it was and how everybody would love it, except we just needed to push it in front of them and make them read it.
I told you that nobody reads anymore.
You agreed and said people are stupid and close-minded and then made some other clever observations about people that I mostly agreed with.
Then we started talking about ideas. We talked about ideas and how those ideas infect people. In the beginning, it was about politics. The socialism of France that we were living in. The capitalism of America I was from. We agreed more and connected more.
Then we started talking about love. We talked about your partner. He was a good man you said, but you didn’t love him like that. He had a kid from a previous marriage and wanted you to be a bigger part of that life. You loved him in a caring way. You told me about how you held his head in bed and cared for him after his long day at work, but how you dreamed of being somewhere else. You dreamed of a love that matched your fire. You told me your partner was a good man.
Then you told me about your husband that you married when you were young. A man that did match your fire. You were both young. Not too young. Old enough to know what real love was, but not so old that you had given up on love. You told me how great it was. How passionate it was. How perfect it should have been. But he died in a car accident just after you were married.
I wasn’t surprised when you wrote me that you ended things with the good man. You needed something more. It was no doubt for the best. I thought for sure we might find our way to each other then. I remembered how we almost crossed paths by accident and never knew until later. A block away from each other, but we never did meet.
Once you got back out there, you told me about your romantic interest. A bit of what was good about them, and a bit about them you weren’t so sure of. I could always feel that the uncertainty outweighed the good.
So we went back and forth, talking about our ideas for a better world and talking about your men. I was never jealous. We had never even met. I would just be the quiet listener as you told me how you entered their lives and how they would disappoint you. As if you were merely a prize to be won rather than a hidden treasure to be found. These men, all winners by society’s standards, were rich and busy and always well-dressed for the world. But they were so concerned with the world outside them, of their riches and how the world saw their success, that they didn’t appreciate the beautiful girl laying in bed beside them. They didn’t understand what it was all for. The beautiful girl that would write to me with such passion and intelligence and humor that they never tasted.
I could see you writing these emails with your tiny hands while you were supposed to be working or perhaps staying up late unable to sleep until you told me about your day. Somehow it made the idea seem sweeter that you were cheating on your work or your sleep to be with me. To talk to me. To talk to me with such feeling, such fire, fierce fire that could tell no lies.
I regretted more with each email that we had never met. I regretted that we had never touched. I tried a few times to suggest a visit, either you to me or me to you. We agreed, but we never seemed to make it work. I sometimes wondered if we wanted to keep it that way to guard this sacred thing we had. You never even sent me a picture the way most girls sent pictures. You would just randomly send a picture of your feet kicked up on the table with a glass of wine and high heels on or a picture after a night out where I could only see you standing, dancing in the middle of the street by yourself with your back turned towards me.
But I loved you, in the only way a man could love a woman he had never met. I loved you through your words and occasional glances at the odd photos I had. Different pictures only showing a part of who you were. Like a puzzle, I tried to put together to see the whole picture. I could have loved you more. The type of love when you share more than just words and ideas. The love that comes from your morning hair tickling my face to wake me up or the sound of you pissing with the door open as I pet our dogs on the couch.
Then your letters got sadder. You told me how you felt betrayed by all your lovers. I told you that all lovers betray. Maybe not sexually, but broken promises, upset expectations. Almost all lovers betray what we wanted out of them.
It didn’t help.
You told me about your favorite place to sit alone and think. And I imagined you there. Sitting in your spot, overlooking the river passing before you. I imagined and felt your pain as you thought about and possibly wept over the lovers who had hurt you.
It made me sad to see you there alone. I wanted to tell you that you weren’t alone. I was there. You made belief in God possible again in a world where God was dead.
I wrote you back from your last email and then never heard from you again. A few weeks went by before I saw on Facebook that you had passed away. Left our world. I asked a mutual friend and he said you had committed suicide.
If we had met, maybe we could have loved. Maybe we could have given each other what we needed to carry on in this world. But it wasn’t meant to be. If we had met, I would maybe have been unfair to you or maybe you to me. This untainted love we had is now a fire I can carry with me.