Back in November, I wrote a short piece of fiction that I always thought could be something more. And a few readers suggested the same. But I never wrote more… until now. I’m beginning with a slightly edited version of the original post. More to come… but I do not have much written beyond this initial installment… I’ll be making it up as I go. So please set your expectations accordingly…
[Originally posted 17 November 2015. Edited.]
I don’t wear my wedding rings at the gym. For practical purposes. It never occurred to me that anyone was paying attention to my hands… looking for a ring… or looking for not-a-ring.
Inevitably, dragging my tired ass into that loud bright building at the same time each morning, I tend to see the same people. Every time. The staff knows me and I know them. We greet each other. But the other members, well, I don’t talk to anyone. I just pop in my earbuds and go. But there is this guy.
Some members walk past me without a glance. Some eyes meet mine and quickly look away. It’s oddly comforting to see others as stranger-shy as I am. But there is this guy.
I never turn off my music at the gym. Not until I’m back in the locker room. It keeps me going, but that’s only part of it. It’s a security measure… a protective barrier. I’m not forced to interact. Much. But there is this guy.
Every time he sees me, I see him. I really see him. He makes eye contact. He smiles. He’s quite beautiful. Hey, I’m married, not dead inside. I can’t help what sends stirring little shockwaves through my body. It just happens. And, God, it feels good.
One day, after I’d seen that guy at the gym, I had an afternoon to myself. No plans, no responsibilities. I took off to read for a couple of hours at the bookshop my husband hates to visit. After those hours passed, I was tempted to have another cup of coffee and read longer, but I resisted. Guilt set in and I knew it was time to go.
I’ve never hidden my strange little psychoses and paranoia. So when I arrived back home and saw an unexpected package resting against the front door, it should be no surprise that I had a mini panic attack. Clearly, something is wrong with me because knowing I was not expecting any sort of delivery, my mind immediately imagined ridiculous fatalistic scenarios. It’s a bomb. It’s some sort of poisonous gas that’s going to kill me the moment I open the box. It’s a dead rabbit. It’s a human hand.
I was shaky when I lifted the box and brought it into the house. (Oh, I know, I am a huge contradiction. I thought it was going to kill me but I brought it inside anyway.) Upon laying it by the kitchen sink, I noticed a small logo in the corner. A logo I recognized. The flower shop next door to the gym. I passed it almost every day.
Flowers. A bunch of gorgeous, vibrant gerbera daisies. I lifted them and searched for a card or a note or anything to tell me who sent them. Nothing. I knew they weren’t from my husband. Flowers for no reason? I laughed for even thinking it. Mom? Sister? If they wanted to surprise me, they’d probably send money! But flowers… no.
Assuming the delivery must have been a mistake, I called the florist.
Not a mistake. ‘He wanted to remain anonymous. He paid cash. We don’t have his name.’
I gave up and put them in water. I made dinner. My husband came home and we ate. We watched a movie. He was even still awake at the end. And only then did he ask, ‘What’s with the flowers?’
He couldn’t have truly cared. He had been home for hours before mentioning them. They were on the dinner table so there was no question he saw them. He just wasn’t even curious.
But I answered him. ‘I don’t know.’ The truth. Conversation over. He didn’t even ask a follow-up question. Another check mark in the he-doesn’t-care column. He probably assumed I bought them for myself. Which is ridiculous because he knows I would never do that. And yet another check mark in the he-doesn’t-care column.
None of those check marks surprised me. I hadn’t felt like he truly cared for me for months. Maybe it had even been over a year. I stopped keeping track. Instead, I tried to forget what my life had become.
Not alone but lonely. Running away to the bookstore… to the gym. Hiding what I felt because whenever I tried to discuss it with him, he couldn’t be bothered to listen. I wanted more than what I was getting. And I was plagued with thoughts that it wasn’t worth trying anymore. Not with him. But I never wanted to talk to friends or family about it because it felt… embarrassing… that my life had become so unsatisfying.
On my way to the gym in the morning, I smiled when I walked past the florist. And I promptly shook my head at my own childish giddiness.
Earbuds in. Treadmill rolling. I tried to get those flowers off my mind, but I couldn’t. I didn’t really want to. The florist said he wanted to remain anonymous. He. A man. A mystery man. I adored the attention.
I stepped off the treadmill and peeked at my phone to change my music. While walking. A brilliant move. Of course, I crashed into someone. My earbuds fell from my ears. I looked up to apologize, and there he was. That guy. And his eyes. And his smile. And his hand… holding a beautiful vibrant gerbera daisy.
To be continued…