Chords of Love
Her neck was smooth and dark, with a hard ridge running from just below her head all the way down her back. He gently rolled her over, admiring her sensuous curves, the feel of her under his hands and the shift of her weight. He had no doubt he could hold her in his arms for days at a time.
He first saw her through a shop window. The shop was one of a number of pawnshops trading near the top end of the city. Officially, these shops were full of unwanted gifts and jewelry; out-grown household items or superseded audio equipment. Unofficially, these stores provided cash turnover for a number of drug addicts, problem gamblers and petty criminals. He wasn’t sure if she was part of this unscrupulousness but decided he didn’t care either way.
She was behind the counter, almost hidden in the garish array of no-longer-useful thingamajigs and doodads. For him, it was love at first sight. He stood and watched her through the window for what seemed like hours then he carried the memory of her home on the train, fantasising about her curves. He was late home, had forgotten to pick up the dry cleaning and was left with little explanation for his wife. Although he hadn’t cheated on her, he still felt guilty.
He wanted to talk to his wife about her. He wanted to explain how he felt when he looked at her. His wife, over the years, had tolerated his passions. He was a good man with a weakness, that was all. It wasn’t as though he’d done anything to be ashamed of but he still found it hard to talk about. So he said just enough so he felt like he wasn’t lying to her, mentioning her in passing, or so he thought. He spent a lot of time outside the pawnbrokers just looking. He knew if he went in, he’d end up walking out with her. So he contented himself with his daily viewing. It wasn’t as though she would notice him. He was sure she had plenty of admirers and he was just one of the many.
A week before his 40th birthday, his wife asked if there was anything particular he would like. He felt tempted to tell her then that he knew exactly what he wanted but couldn’t get up the courage. He mumbled something about clothes and books and left it up to her to decide. He kicked himself for not be able to say anything.
His birthday rolled around. His wife woke him up slowly, mainly using her mouth. He closed his eyes and thought of her. He came quicker than normal, surprising both his wife and himself. She rushed out of the room giggling, to come back in with an arm full of presents. He unwrapped them, ooing and ahhing at the appropriate moments. Then he went to work like it was just another day.
His wife called him at about 4 pm. She was in the city and wondered if he’d like to meet for a celebratory drink before going home. He said he was pretty busy and wouldn’t be finished until about 5:30. Again, the guilt about his lies and what he was really up to weighed on his mind. His wife sounded a little disappointed. He quickly countered by saying he’d like to go out to dinner at the little Italian place around the corner from where they lived. She laughed and made a comment about his predictability, but agreed anyway. He always picked the same restaurant. His excuse was always that he knew the food was good and that he wasn’t going to be overcharged.
He left work at the usual time, intending to go into the shop. When he got to the pawnbrokers, he looked in the window and she was gone. His felt numb and useless. He knew he would never see her again. He stood staring at his dirty reflection in the window. It started raining and the cold drops shook him from his stupor. He looked at the time and realised he’d been standing at the window for over half an hour. He rushed up the hill to the train station.
By the time he got home, night had closed in early, almost in sympathy to his dark mood. He walked through the rain, hoping the water might wash away the depression he was feeling but by the time he got to his front door, all he was feeling was miserable and wet.
The house was quiet and dark. He shrugged out of his coat and hung it on the hallstand by the door. He called out to his wife but she didn’t answer. He wondered where she might be. Surely she wouldn’t have gone to the restaurant without him, he thought to himself. He walked down the hall to their bathroom. He started struggling out of his clinging wet clothes as he ran the shower. Ten minutes later he was clean and warm but still felt bleak and lost inside. He stood in front of the mirror, shaving and wondering to himself who had his love and where she might be. Then the phone rang.
He picked it up on the bedroom extension and his wife asked where he was. He answered her by asking the same. She sounded a little annoyed but answered that she was waiting at the restaurant for him and that he’d better get his arse into gear. She then hung up before he could respond. He hurriedly got dressed. This day was getting worse by the second. As he was heading out the front door, a noise startled him. It came from the family room at the back of the house. He walked towards the room slowly, wondering if he’d startled a burglar. As he neared the entryway, the lights in the room came on suddenly, and a multitude of voices yelled ‘Surprise’. He blinked rapidly, trying to get rid of the white spots in his eyes.
He looked around the room and the gathering of his friends and family. His wife was standing by the bar, a big smile on her face. He shook his head at her. She walked over, gave him a big, wet kiss and whispered happy birthday in his ear. He stood there trading handshakes and kisses with the rest of the party. As the group thinned, he saw her, standing behind everyone, with a big bow around her neck. Tears rushed to his eyes.
His wife saw he’d noticed her and gently took his hand as she led him to her. He looked at his wife in shock. She winked and smiled. He stood in front of her, undid the bow and lifted her out of the stand. His hands were shaking. He strummed an open E chord and listened for the first time to her beautiful tone. He looked back at his wife, his eyes asking the question his mouth couldn’t.
She again mentioned how predictable he was. She had known for some time that he’d found another instrument. After nearly 9 years of marriage, she knew his every thought. He shook his head at the shock of it all. He gently put the guitar back in the stand. A drink was passed to him and he greedily gulped it down. His wife laughed at the shocked expression still on his face. He bent his head and kissed her, then turned to join the party.
A noise behind him broke his recollections. Arms wrapped around his stomach and a body pressed itself hard to his back. He turned in the arms holding him to discover his wife naked except for a hair clip. Her breasts pressed hard to his chest and he could feel her nipples through his shirt.
“You had no idea, did you”, she asked, looking up into his eyes. He shook his head.
“How did you know where to go?”
“I had you followed.”
Before he could respond, she stretched up and kissed him. Meanwhile, her hands had unwrapped themselves and were busy with his jean buttons. She pushed him back onto the bed. As they rolled around, the guitar slid off the covers and onto the floor. He hardly noticed.