We were living in cooling coals of past fires. We‘d gotten together nine years earlier; gotten together, I say, because neither of us felt marriage was necessary, that it would keep us together. Marriage twice failed us with past partners. We, hands over hearts, pledged allegiance to true love
. Love I did, as though love would nourish that part of my heart that marriage had impoverished. We ate at the table of each other’s desire, reduced to ashes what had only smoldered in other affairs.
She read, wrote and was introspective, seemed content, never insisted on more than we shared. I--maybe by nature--was infected by an itch I’d never been able to scratch. There wasn’t a day that passed that I didn’t think about scratching.
I don’t remember when I grew blind to all that first attracted me to her, when I began looking at other women. It was though the dog of discontent had made a bed in me and was chewing the bones of my happiest moments. Wasn’t long before it demanded I feed it more succulent scraps, wasn’t long before I slipped into the easy habit of fantasy shopping to keep the dog content. The world was a shopping mall for hungry dogs. I was running in the streets with the pack. I was slobbering. I was always hungry.
There were women who saw my hunger, who promised to fill my bowl. I could tell by the look in their pet-store eyes that they loved big dogs. I was tempted to let them collar me, and scratch and scratch and scratch.
I’m not one to wear a collar…yet, and this bothered me…it felt as though one was around my neck, placed by the hands of love. I’d never felt its tug before. There wasn’t a chain.
I went home that night and looked at her again, really looked. While I’d been pissing up fire hydrants, something in her had changed. She had become new, newer than sunrise, a day waiting to dawn, newer than any new that had ever happened. Newness awakened and crawled out of bed, stretched her arms and filled me with something I’d forgotten…for too long…only dreamed.
She looked in my tired eyes, kissed my neck and scratched me where I couldn’t reach. In a way that only she knew, she made me new in her embrace, so effortlessly completed me, so perfectly answered what I’d forgotten without once asking for explanation. She knew before I did what I missed in life, gave me what I’d thought I’d lost. Though I’d given it to her nine years before, she gave me back me.
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