Here is a short story that Denyse has kindly given to us for our website:
It’s impossible to try and decide anything with these
constant interruptions, Ben grumbled to himself as he dodged yet another squabbling couple on
the promenade that ran the length of the beach. What’s wrong with everyone? He
wondered. Isn’t Valentine’s Day supposed to be a time for couples to concentrate
on romance? The more loving the overture, the better it is to receive? He
stepped onto the beach shingle, veering towards the tide line, taking out his
frustration as he walked along it, the crunch of the papery seaweed husks
simultaneously soothing and satisfying. Ben knew that he was singularly lucky to
have had Joanie to love all these years; they had never fought, not once. There
was no need for disagreements. They
enjoyed their togetherness too much to waste time in discordance about anything;
if one of them was happy with the task at hand then the other was able to enjoy
it by proxy. Which made Ben’s dilemma today all the more ridiculous. He shouldn’t be struggling to make the right
choice for Joanie; it should be immediately obvious to him because he’d had
enough years of loving her to know by now exactly what she would want.
Chocolates! Ben suddenly remembered buying her a
small box that first Valentine’s day. They’d
only been courting a few weeks and he worried that Joanie, his fashionable
hippy girlfriend, would think it ridiculous that he’d bought her such an
unimaginative and traditional gift. He’d
dithered, fretted and almost changed his mind in favour of a tie dyed bandana. She’d
professed delight with the confectionary of course and he’d enjoyed watching her
work her way through the box, the ones with nuts went first, then the cream
filled ones and finally the liquor laced ones all but the amaretto ones which
were left looking forlorn in their shaped sections in the otherwise empty tray.
“Chocolates are dreamy but I can’t bear the taste of
almonds,” she explained with a shrug.
Lifting an exquisitely decorated chocolate out of the box, she’d brushed
it against his lips until he parted them and crunched through the semi hard
shell, his teeth sinking into the sublime softness inside. He’d shuddered as a
frisson of delight moved from his taste buds to lower fore region, taking a sip
of his coffee to rinse his mouth before kissing her until the edges of his
perception softened and blurred in a most addictive manner.
following year he’d stuck to his first success of going the traditional route
and gave her a large bouquet from which
a stunning array of colours exploded from the mixed varieties of foliage and
flowers. He’d watched as she
surreptitiously stroked the petals of the large gerberas, over and over, during
the days that the flowers lasted. It seemed each time she kissed him afterwards,
that her lips were as soft on his as the petals were to touch.
birthday he’d gifted her with an arm load of gerbera ‘forever’ daisy plants and
two packets of bunny tail grass seeds. “I liked watching the way your face relaxed
as you touched the petals and I’d love to be able to see you look like that for
a whole summer”, Ben said, and smiled in response to her delighted grin. They’d spent a happy afternoon planting the
bulbs in the flower beds they’d dug into the lawn edges of their new home and
scattering the grass seeds in two large pots.
For months that year they’d been able to drift in their garden smoothing
the velvet skinned petals between their fingers and running their hands over
the grass heads.
they married, the buttonholes and bouquet were fashioned from flowers they’d
grown themselves; yellow, orange and fuchsia gerberas with cottontail grass
heads peeking out amongst the flowers. Even now these memories made his heart
swell with surges of joy, a reflection
of how precious those individual touches were, the ones that they’d added to the
day they formalised their love. And, so their love continued; special, altruistic
and rarely taken for granted. They
appreciated but didn’t need the frequent reminders of their friend’s subtly envious
comments. Each year Ben instinctively chose a Valentine’s day gift that Joanie
would describe as perfect or, that it was just what she’d wanted without
knowing it until she’d opened her gift.
“How do you
always choose the perfect gifts when I never give you any hints?” Joanie ask
curiously one year.
“I just picture
you while I’m shopping for your gift and the right decision’s easy to make. I
like to buy things that make you smile.” Ben grinned down into Joanie’s eyes
and wrapped his arms around her, relishing the softness of the embrace, knowing
there was more of the same to be found inside the woman he adored.
“I could never do that” said Joanie the eternal pessimist,
with a moue of disgust over her self perceived flaw. Ben knew that she always
expected to fail at the slightest hurdle whereas he, an eternal optimist, welcomed
the fact that each endeavour would be a success to varying degrees.
I want to be helping her chose a new
frock instead of having to decide which outfit in her wardrobe will serve as
what might as well be called her shroud, Ben thought miserably, tears welling in cadence with the
waves of longing to wrap his arms around Joanie and sink into the smile in her
eyes. Then, as he mentally flicked through the dresses in Joanie’s side of
their wardrobe, he was forced to smile at the way they were hung in precise
colour coordination, it was like looking at a cheery rainbow. Though he
outwardly kept placing one foot in front of the other, Ben mentally paused mid
step as he noticed the orange raw silk dress so bright it seemed to glow
amongst the other colours. That’s the
perfect frock for Joanie to wear one last time Ben thought and, somehow,
felt a little flicker of happiness.
Keep watching this page as Denyse has written a wealth of short stories and she promises to share more with us!!!
We are a not for profit organisation