By Odette Brady
On Valentine’s day I tried to make it work. I shut my eyes and thought of all the hunky men in my books, the many pairs of big arms packed into my romance novels. I wanted a big hand to cradle the back of my head and kiss me with a fresh, wet mouth. I thought imagining it hard enough might make it real. On Valentine’s day Keith forgot to put the heating on and I was cold. I had to make him hurry up, I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to be made love to. I just wanted it to be done with so I could roll over and sleep, and dream.
When we met we were young and we had fine facial features. As we’ve aged our faces have become fleshier. Keith’s face is all meat. His dreams are still refined. That’s all they are though: dreams. He told me he was taking me to Belize. I would have been happy enough if he’d dug the garden. The wet lawn and red blood in the skin of my eyelids – eyes closed and turned to the sun – would have been bliss. Dinner on decking, clematis on trellis. It would be ours. But he watched the rain and paced while I waited. He picked his nose and flicked through the sport channels while I read my books. He’d made snide comments about Christmas all through December, I thought he might cheer up by January. He looked miserable as sin when it came and it dragged me down. He trapped me in the slump of his jowls. Valentine’s day was his last chance.
Meanwhile, my sister was digging her own garden. She ruined her hands on her unvarnished spade and clogged her nails with black soil. Her elbows became leather in February’s frost. She took dead looking twigs and gave them time and affection. She threw seeds over the clay and she was patient, she waited, smoking cigarettes in the kitchen. In March I joined her and we waited together. We drank instant coffee and passed the time listening to the clock. We watched blade by blade of grass. Green overcame the black and shiny ground as days got longer. In return for her efforts purple flowers opened up and roses formed buds that were straight off the cover of a romance novel. By summer we had a lawn. In August we ate dinner on a blanket on the grass, closed our eyes and threw our heads back into the heat of the sun. Such was the bliss of my sister’s realised dream. I didn’t think about dinner on decking again. I forgot about clematis on trellis.
Author Bio: I am a fiction writer from London with a fascination for everyday people and all the things that make us similar. More of my stories can be found at odettebrady.com. I tweet as @odettembrady and my weekly serial novel can be read at soapnovel.wordpress.com