Months before Her birthday, He stole one of Her favorite books. “Stole” is probably too strong a word – borrowed with hidden intent might be better. He told Her, “Oh, I want to read ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’.” He lied.
He packaged up the book with a note to Stephen Chbosky, asking Him to sign it for her birthday and return it in the provided shipping envelope. A month later, a beautifully dedicated book showed back up in His mailbox.
She quoted the book often: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” It was somewhat of a mantra for Her.
This weekend they hit a roadblock. Not an argument, just a realization in Her mind. A fear. An overwhelm. When She saw danger, all She knew to do was run.
“I’m not comfortable with you loving me,” She explained, “it makes me feel guilty. I don’t deserve the way you love me.”
When She was six weeks old, She was brought home from the adoption. She deserved parents who loved and cherished Her. Instead She found Herself uncared for by an alcoholic mother and a missing father. By four She had learned She could only depend on Herself.
Later, she fell in love in High School. He was a “bad ass” and nobody messed with him. She wanted to rely on his strength. “Nobody would mess with them” she thought. But he left, deciding he liked another better.
Then, while he and his new girl were driving too fast on a long stretch of Texas, there was an accident. His new love was killed. He was driving.
He sought comfort with Her again. He was broken and She provided temporary comfort. He loved the comfort, not Her. In that brief time when he was using Her body, Her smile, Her hopeful love for him, She got pregnant.
Her father, not understanding who She is, suggested abortion. She refused and married the man who didn’t love Her, didn’t cherish her.
He was often brutish. Her sensitive nature meant She lived in fear. She didn’t cower, but She hated it. Soon, She hated him. One too many nights of abuse. Breaking Her beyond recovery.
She stayed married for long after. After two decades She had raised three impressive children. She had built a career for Herself. When the offer came for another promotion, She was ready to formally end the marriage. Newly single, She left Her beloved Texas behind to start Her new life.
Still unloved, She had developed a strongly held belief: Love doesn’t exist. It’s just movies. It’s just one person using another. It’s all She’d ever known and it gave Her a measure of safety. If She didn’t expect love, if love didn’t really exist, then She would never be disappointed.
In Chattanooga, Her friends counseled Her: “You need to get laid.” That was a bit much for Her to accept, but at least She could try to date. She joined a site. Had a few unsatisfying dates. But She is determined in everything She does. She persevered.
That’s when She met Him. He rebuffed Her messages for months. She was just another girl and He had plenty of those. Of course, that made Her even more determined. Finally, after sending Him a flattering message “I can’t believe I blew it with a writer,” He responded.
She was in the game. She wasn’t looking for a love that didn’t exist, but She would beat this dating thing. Get over Her fear.
He was intensely sexual. He enjoyed seduction and He seduced Her by phone and text. She realized maybe, with Him, She could also get over Her fear of having sex. Over the months they talked, they developed an intimacy. When they were finally together, She said “I don’t know why, but it doesn’t bother me to be naked with you.”
He was going to be the guy who She slept with for a beautiful moment, then She could move on.
But during those months, He had made an adjustment in His own mind. He realized He wanted more than just sex. He wanted true life intimacy. That meant no sex with someone he wasn’t in love with. They fooled around together, enjoyed each other’s bodies, but He wasn’t ready for sex – even with Her.
And He was falling in love with Her. She was falling in “love” with Him as well, though that word was fuzzy and undefined. “Love doesn’t exist.”
They decided to try. To be a couple. To explore a “relationship” rather than just a fling. She got scared often and ran, but She always came back. Cat-like, She’d emerge from Her refuge under the couch, allowing Herself to be petted for a moment before something startled Her and She would hide again.
Gradually, She allowed Him in. To see Her. To touch Her heart. They started sharing more and more of life. They grew intimacy. Partnership. Something She had never known and never allowed Herself to know.
He recognized Her inability to receive love, to believe in love, early on. She loved and hated His love for Her. Gradually She learned to accept it, then enjoy it, then depend on it.
Until things would occasionally get messy. Then She would want to run. But now, since realizing She had “some kind” of love for Him, She would will Herself to stay.
There was still a blackness looming in Her. A blackness She had never faced. A darkness so terrifying She buried it deep in a box and refused to open it.
All of those experiences of Her childhood. All those years of marriage. She learned not that love doesn’t exist, She learned She was unlovable.
Saturday it came to a head. She had to face it in all its morbidity. She talked to Him about it. She cried. She tried to be introspective. Tried to face it. The idea of Him truly loving Her opened the box, and all She wanted to do was shove it closed.
He offered Her a break. Time to figure herself out. If after She wanted His love, He would. At least for a time. He wasn’t willing to put His life on hold waiting for Her, but He could give Her some time.
They made love Sunday morning. Amazingly intimate as always. He enjoyed Her body, maybe for the last time, and then they were done. She cried. They held each other. He left, more than slightly wounded, and headed the 100 miles home.
He realized this morning how deeply He loved Her. Even if it meant not having Her in His life, all He truly wanted for Her was to believe She was worthy of real love. If He never got to show Her that love again, He hoped the two years they’ve spent together would at least give Her that.
Margaret had wondered for most of her adult life why she seemed so male in her thinking. Her female friends bored her too often with their over-emotionalism. She wanted facts, to fix things, to do things. Like a guy.
She wondered why she had a tremendous desire to visit England, Ireland and Wales as often as possible. Her husband’s job took him their periodically and it gave her a chance. In some ways she felt more at home there than in the states.
Liam tried to concentrate on his maths as the teacher wrote on the board, but his mind was on the new “cat’s eye” he had just traded Fabian for before school. He had wanted it for weeks and couldn’t wait for the bell so he could play with his friends.
Pantglas Junior School was an integral part of the small hamlet of Amberfan, Wales. The school was home to over 160 children who worked on their maths, spelling, reading each day.
Liam was not a studious child. For that matter, he wasn’t a good student at all. His father, a supervisor for the National Coal Board, chided him often for his marks. But Liam was an active boy of 12 and sitting still for lessons was a chore at best and an impossibility at worst.
Liam wanted to play football or marbles or wrestle with his friends. His “da” had all but given up on his goal for Liam to be the doctor he hoped for. Well, at least the Coal Board was always hiring.
As Liam looked out the window, day dreaming about marbles, he noticed something strange. A shadow was climbing down the hill next to the town. Strange, he thought, it was a sunny day, but the shadow was black. It almost seemed as if the ground itself were turning black and flowing into the town.
The coal slurry buried Liam, crushing him and filling his lungs with black goo. There was no air. Fortunately his end was quick.
At the same moment, half a world away, a baby was born.
“What will you name her?” asked the obstetrician.
“She’s Margaret” was her proud father’s reply.
This needed four more words. Hope you enjoy. -Kevin
“I LOVE your apartment, Jack!” Sarah’s voice was faux-effervescent in the annoying way a woman tries to be “bubbly” at the beginning of a relationship.
“It’ll do” replied Jack’s monotone. “Let me open a bottle of wine and let it breathe. Red or white?”
“Oh, thank you! White please, red makes me blush.”
While Jack busied himself in the kitchen, Sarah surveyed his living room. Neat, orderly, clean. Cleaner than her’s ever. Nice leather furniture, industrial accessories complete with the bare brick wall. Giant television. Expensive looking stereo.
The brick wall anchored shelves displaying an eclectic assortment of oddities, lit by track lighting. Their prominence made Sarah think they must be important to him. She walked over to the display and eyed an antique locket.
“This is a beautiful locket” she spoke over her shoulder to the kitchen.
“Thank you, just one of the things I’ve collected along the way.” Jack was always polite and gracious. “Pick it up if you want, it won’t break, it’s endured worse.”
Sarah’s eyes took inventory of some of the other items. A pair of concert tickets in a small frame, a swatch of cloth in another, a mag strip Hilton hotel key in a third.
Jack joined her at her side, placing his arm around her waist, fingers caressing the curve of her hip.
“Why all the wine bottles?” she asked, counting 11 empties on the shelf.
“Wine represents the joy of life. When I share wine with a friend, I sometimes like to keep the bottle to remind me of the joy of that moment.”
Sarah turned into him, their faces just a few inches apart. “A ‘friend’, huh?”
“Yeah, a friend.” Jack pulled her tight against him, kissing her deeply. His hands explored her back as she felt him harden against her thigh.
They had been dating four weeks. Six dates. He had been to her’s twice, but he had been slow to invite her to his. He had been slow about everything. They would talk late into the night with sexually charged conversations, and they had made out almost to the point of no return several times, but he had refused to take the plunge.
She was sure tonight they would, and she ached for it. He was smart, sexy, funny and surprisingly compassionate. He wasn’t like the other men.
He broke off the embrace. “Let me go pour our wine. You sit on the couch.”
Sarah obliged. She always did as told. Jack returned with two glasses and handed one to her.
“How did you become a crime writer?” she asked, hoping the conversation would be short and they would move to the bedroom. They had talked enough.
“I just find it fascinating, the psychology of criminals. Especially the most deviant ones. Murderers, especially serial killers, have fascinating psychology.”
“That sounds creepy.” Sarah gave a little shiver.
“I guess the fascinating thing for me was discovering they’re not much different than a so-called ‘normal’ person. We all have the capacity to kill for many reasons – financial gain, sex, ego or even just the thrill. The difference in serial killers is they don’t have an ‘off’ switch. We all have the same desires, but serials don’t have the limits other people have.”
“I guess that is fascinating” Sarah lied. “I don’t think I could kill anyone.”
“The crime shows always get it wrong. They picture these people as monsters. We’re all monsters, just some have the ability to suppress it. Some don’t…” Jack’s words trailed off as he took another sip of wine.
“For example: Trophies. They think serials keep trophies so they can go back and, what, masturbate on them? That’s not why serial killers keep trophies.”
“OK, that’s just gross.”
“But, see,” Jack continued, “that’s exactly what I am talking about. The media portrays these people as sex-crazed monsters, but that’s rarely the truth. When you really study them you begin to understand that isn’t an accurate picture.”
“So tell me, newspaper boy, why does a serial killer keep trophies?”
“For the same reason you have that picture of your grandmother on your end table. It makes you smile to remember her, it brings back memories of the time you spent together. It gives you a moment of joy. A smile.”
“But enough about that stuff,” Jack said, standing. “I have plans for you tonight.”
Sarah smiled a coy smile. Jack took her hand, pulled her to her feet and led her to the bedroom. Finally Jack would get the release he had been anticipating for weeks.
An hour later, Sarah emerged, fully satisfied, freshly showered and dressed. She didn’t enjoy the “after”-cleaning up the blood, wiping down the prints. She grabbed the bottle from the counter, pouring it into the sink. Corking it, she placed the bottle in her ample purse.
“Crime writers always get it wrong,” thought Sarah, as she locked the door behind her.
Sex is an itch you can scratch.
Love is an itch in that part of your back you can’t reach and you need someone to scratch it for you.
Most of my friends are Christians at one level or another.
As an atheist I often see discussions between atheists and Christians where each are trying to persuade the other there way of thinking is correct. Typically this devolves into alienation, ad hominem and anger.
Last night I was interviewed by Larry Rhodes on the Free Thought Radio Hour about this topic and I lined out some ways atheists can talk to Christians in civil and mutually beneficial ways. We even had an interesting Christian caller who demonstrated this technique perfectly.
If you would like to listen in, click the link below (it’s an mp3 of the show). You can write click to download or click and it will open in a new tab to listen:
Feel free to leave your comments, questions and rants below. I’m happy to learn from you.
Tonight I’ll be on Free Thought Radio with Larry Rhodes at 6pm Eastern time. I’ll be talking about how an atheist can have a discussion with a Christian about faith in a reasonable way.
I’d love for you to listen in and, possibly, call in.
It will stream live online here:
The call in number is (865)333-5937
Hope to “meet” you on the phone tonight.