Write On!

Diamond Vows

In Responses, Uncategorized on June 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

by Jen Gregory

Certain things are private, strictly between a man and his wife. That is why when Gertrude Lawson unfolded the brittle paper, read it, gasped and marched away without so much as a word to her son Eddie he shrugged it off. He sat in the quiet little retirement home with its fuzzy carpets and faded yellows, lulled by the warmth, the ticking of the mantle clock. He heard shuffling in the next room and leaned his balding head back onto the nubby chenille throw he and his wife had bought his parents maybe seven years ago. It drove him mad the silence in this house, as if noise itself were sucked into another dimension, only enough vibration left over to sit at your ear and slowly whisper. The refrigerator is running. The neighbor is mowing his grass. Someone just flushed the toilet. It was as if the noises were more hearsay than something you actually heard.

Eddie was a bachelor as of late and he was possibly extra sensitive to the quiet because his own home had become somewhat the same except that he kept the TV on non-stop to avoid that reality as long as he could. Linda had only been gone four weeks. They were still talking but not about how to save their marriage as much as how to divvy it all up. The kids had been devastated. Dylan was irate and huffy while Thomas was brooding and siding with his mother. What did they know about love anyhow? Dylan was twenty and Thomas was a freshman in college. No. They didn’t know much at all. They knew nothing of the way a woman could drive you nuts. They didn’t know how quickly a man could cease to exist as a person to a woman.

Maybe five years into the marriage right after Dylan had been born he got an inkling that Linda wasn’t happy, that he should fix something but he got the picture the only thing Linda wanted fixed was his existence. He stayed at work, at the golf course, hunting, anywhere to not exist a little more in her eyes. He loved her though, hated how she seemed to hate him, but he loved her. She was sweet and good and easy on the eyes. Soft, smart and a good mother. Truth be told he would do whatever it took to get her back but just like twenty years before it’s hard to make someone happy who is only happy when you are not there. He’d like to know how to fix it, because church hadn’t done it, counseling hadn’t done it. In his mind nothing had worked, she just plain despised him.

His phone beeped so he fished it out of his pocket, pulled his glasses onto his nose and saw that Linda was asking about the plans for the weekend. With both boys in town from college they had agreed to a family dinner. Linda was all about a civil split. Her text said, Boys want to go to Franks Fish and Fries, you okay with that? He hated the place but knew it did no good to say it so he text back, Of course, sounds gr8. He could hear a distant muffle, almost sounded like crying and then his mother came out of the room his father lay in and said, “He’s gone Eddie, just up and left us.” Gertrude stood poised at the door, delicate at ninety, but still tall and dramatic. Her hand gently held a small white hankie to her nose and dabbed at her fragile paper thin eyes. Eddie leapt up and put his arms around her, white tufts of coifed hair nudging at his chin. When he did that she sobbed so much he thought it might not be good for her. After she collected her breath he asked her, “Mother, I’ll need to call 911. Do you need anything before I do?”

“No honey, I’m just going to sit in my chair and think a minute.” She said weakly.

Gertrude Lawson sat her thin frame into her rocker and felt the paper inside the pocket of her wool cardigan. She wanted to talk to someone about what had just happened but no one would understand. If her sister Lizzie were alive she would, she would know and Ernest mother, rest her soul, would have understood but when you round ninety there are less and less people to talk to about things, of course there is less things to discuss at ninety but problems don’t just disappear because you are confined to four walls. She could hear a faint hint of Eddie’s voice from the guest bedroom. She supposed he had gone and said good bye to his father. He had loved him so, but what did Eddie know about him really? Eddie bought into the whole, mother and father stuck it out for sixty two years, still love birds, I wish I had what they had. What did Eddie know about love anyways?

She started coughing a little as her blood pressure rose and then lowered. “Curse this fickle heart she thought!” She pulled out the paper and read it again, just a little slip of ticker tape, an old telegram.

B4 8 AFTER 6 C U THEN ABE

It was dated November 19th, 1944. Approximately one month before Ernest had come home from the war on December the 8th. Abe was short for Anna Beth Easly who had been very easy to put it bluntly. Rumor had it she and Ernest had been friendly before Gertrude married him but those are the types of things nice girls don’t listen to. Problem was Ernest was a red headed man and when Anna Beth had shown up in town with a red headed baby everyone had wondered, including Gertrude, but the math had seemed wrong. He had been at war and then at home with her, or so she thought.

The baby was born early August and she remembered because they had played bridge together, they had lived in the same neighborhood and been friends up until Ernest had gotten so week two years ago they couldn’t really leave the house and then Anna Beth had died one night. Her son had hugged Ernest extra hard at the funeral but he had always been like a father to the boy whose own father had died in the war a few months after Ernest came home.

Gertrude rubbed the paper in her fingertips and thought about what had just happened in the bedroom. Showing his watery eyes the slip, reading it quietly to him, watching his lips try to speak as she had softly told him what she now knew to be fact.  As she was crumpling up the paper Eddie walked in with a glass of water and startled her, causing her to drop the old piece of paper at his feet. If he hadn’t known better he would have sworn she looked guilty. She was acting odd, but what did he know about loving someone you had been married to for 62 years? Not much, he couldn’t keep his wife happy that long. His mother grabbed back the paper he had brought to her from his finds in the attic and silently went back into the bedroom where his father lay.

He remembered her reaction when he had handed her the note and her gasp as she read it. Some things are just between a man and wife and Eddie wouldn’t intrude. Just then the doorbell rang and it was Linda. She had gotten his text. The walls vibrated with the loud ring. Silly as it sounds his first thought was, “I hope that didn’t wake daddy.” He shuffled to the door and opened it placing his hands in his khaki pockets because he wanted to reach for her and didn’t know that he should. He was glad to see her all the same. Some day he wanted to have a love like his parents, he hoped it would be with his wife but he just didn’t know if they had what it took. He and Linda turned the corner into the living room and saw his poor mother hunched over sobbing again. A beautiful picture of marriage, Linda thought. Her green eyes pooled with tears, she realized she had not loved Eddie like this, had never tried to. She looked at his soft hazel eyes, whiskery chin and broad chin and wondered how she had missed it. How had she failed to see something worth loving? He was kind and honest. She glanced over at Gertrude composing herself, red eyed and her heart warmed at the reality, the image of this forever love.

Till death do us part, she said to herself. Until death, do us part, she thought with sudden hope.

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