Fiction

Love and the Man: A Short Story by Elnathan John

Darkness silently suffused the dreary room. The bed sheet lay lazily, barely covering the large bed. The mosquitoes sang gaily, their monotonous song. And the lanky man sat and thought. In the distance there was the miserable echo of a hundred wailing worshipers beckoning, it seemed, a deaf god. Also, the occasional screaming of an angry mother, calling her recalcitrant son to come home and sleep. And through it all the man sat and thought. He jumped out of his thoughts for a moment when it seemed someone touched the door. He peeped. It was only Maisy, his neighbor’s cat.

Tonight the world was small – shrunk to fit into his room and his head. It was often so when he thought. Everyone died, everything disappeared, nothing existed but him and his thoughts. And he would absently wiggle his toes or chew on his nails or play with an object. But he would be the only one in the world.

Tonight he thought of Katherine’s tears that were shed on his bed only last night. Bitter tears. Painful tears. Tears that streamed not from the eyes but from the belly. Uncontrolled tears. He caused the tears. But he lay down without pity, only thinking hard. He asked himself why he should feel pity or even remorse. He did what he ought to have done.

A good woman she was, in all probability the best he ever met.But she had to leave! That night she told him gently of how unhappy she was at the way he was avoiding her. And he admitted his fault and he was sorry. He pleaded. And she cried for making him say he was sorry and for making him plead. She wished she had not said anything and just endured it as she always did, until it became better. He too felt sorry for making her cry and he cried along with her. And they both cried and kissed each other passionately until love passed through their bodies. And then passion. Then wild passion. Gradually the rhythm quickened, rising until they reached the point of no return. She whimpered and squeezed him tight, suspending her legs in the air. Their bodies pulsated and they could hear their heartbeats as they held on to each other. They made love passionately again and again until the fire in them finally died down. And they lay on their backs sweating and breathing hard…

But all the while in was in him like a thorn and he wanted to tell her.Now it was harder for they had made love and fire had passed through their bodies and consumed them and left them helpless. But it never left his head; through the love, through the passion, through the fire. And as she fondled his nipple, he braved it and told her.

“Katherine, I’m sorry. It’s over. You have to go.”

She stopped fondling his nipple, sat up, and told him to sit up. He said it again and she couldn’t believe her ears. Why then did he make love to her and make the hardness of her body go away? Why then did he love her with such passion?

She looked round the room and then buried her head in her lap. Her whole body shook as she sobbed. Her breasts also dangled as she sobbed but not enticingly. They were large and she was naked. Suddenly she stopped crying and turned to him and asked: “You’re joking, are you?”

And he repeated it as if by rote. The same words he had said to her before. She shook her head in utter disbelief and cried. She looked at her naked body and suddenly felt ashamed. She started putting on her clothes and when she had her pant and bra on, she stopped. And she asked: “What did you say?”

And almost without feeling he repeated his words. Now he looked ghoulish to her. He was not thinking. He just lay there on his back, naked. The room suddenly became smaller and it was as if the roof was going to cave in. He shut his eyes and sighed.

“I don’t understand,” she mumbled and continued putting on her clothes. This time he did not answer. He had said it twice without mincing words…

He had loved her once but now he loved another- Esther. And Esther was like a sickness in him. She did not always make him happy like Katherine but he loved her. And always he could not understand that Katherine loved him very much but Esther, very little. Yet he sent Katherine away.The idiosyncrasies of man!

The love he had for Esther made him sick. A fire burned within him whenever the svelte Esther passed by. Sometimes she would not even stop to give him a hug. And sometimes she would just wave without smiling. But Katherine worshipped him, cared for him, loved him. She quaked when he was angry and let the hardness of her body go when he touched her…

And today he heard from Dorothy, how much Esther loved another man who lived far away. How she worshipped and adored him. And it pierced him to think that perhaps she even let the hardness of her body go when the man touched her. He had never even touched her!

As he lay thinking of the tears that Katherine shed and of Esther who didn’t care for him, he felt sick. Maybe life was meant to be so; maybe as we loved a person so that one loved another; maybe it was meant to be so- that he should make Katherine cry and now that Esther should make him sick. He felt a dull pain in his chest and rolled over. He was exhausted from thinking. And he slept like he had not done in a long while.

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