Pick and Choose (fatherless)
There were parts of the relationship that were magical. A good portion of our time, however, was spent negotiating my place in the schedule, on the team, in the “lover” position. It was the definition of insecure attachment. But, I was not on the team. Frequently, I was on the bench, while she and her son played one or two sports per season. She had a sports obsession too. Like mother, and in the image of the mother, the son.
The lack of stable partners in his life, the lack of a father, was mitigated by a string of hangers-on older gentlemen from past dreams, still tethered to her on his behalf. It was an odd show when the holiday calls and flowers would arrive from Vermont. Always Vermont. Her college town. The site of her only long-term relationship in the last year of college.
This wasn’t about them. This was about her. She was indeed unforgettable. As she said, months before I was let go, “You’ll never meet anyone like me. I know I’m worth it.”
I was skeptical.
It’s funny, I think more about her boy than about her. What’s he up to? Is he still playing baseball? Does he remember our shutdown schoolhouse fun?
Not enough to become another satellite of missing lovers.
At one point, I asked her to tell the “flowers guy” that she was in a real relationship. She was upset. “What’s it to you? Why does it matter? He’s living a fantasy, there’s no harm.”
In that she was correct, without a partner, she and this gentleman could continue their imaginary love story.
“He’s a sad man. He lost his mom. There’s no harm in getting flowers a few times a year.”
“And the love letters?”
“You’ve seen them. They are like Hallmark Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Birthday cards.”
“With the accompanying bouquet of flowers.”
“What’s the harm?”
The last time I bought her flowers, I bought her 10 bouquets. I put red roses all over her house. She had “theoretically” told him to stop sending flowers. I wanted a show of force, a show of my presence, a show of my affection that was not matched or muted by his outreach.
Over time, the flowers around the house died. She made bouquets of the dead and drying red roses.
I haven’t seen her in 8 months. I had the urge to say “hi” over the holidays. I’m sure her vases and mailbox were already overflowing again, now that I was no longer complaining about her ghost lovers. It was an odd thing. And the “father figures” were not all that vibrant or healthy.
I did send her kid a New Year’s greeting. I still think about him.
Read more Short-Short Stories from John.