The unspoken middle

She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath as she slipped her arms around his waist and kissed his neck. She coveted any chance she got to put her arms around him, particularly his middle, because it provided her with a feeling of being loved and protected. With her exhalation came a torrent of emotions flowing through her like a raging river for this man she calls hubby. Most days those emotions included love and desire but recently they were more intense and often negative. Inferiority, anxiety and a feeling of him becoming emotionally unavailable to her plagued her thoughts at night, making her defensive and on her guard during the day.

***

He looked up, smiled, and then went back to putting his tie on. He hated her touching his middle. She always wanted to put her arms around him and it made him uneasy. He was certain that her need to surround his stomach was her way of telling him he had become fat and out of shape. He was conscious of the fact that his middle had grown thicker since turning 40 and despite putting in extra hours at the gym it continued to expand.

‘Penny for them,’ she smiled.

He looked at her beautiful face staring at him in the mirror. His wife; the women he has loved for over 10 years. His life had meaning because of her, that much he was sure about, but he could never find a way to make her understand that fact so it made sense to her.

‘Not much to share,’ was all he said as he removed her arms from around his waist, ‘leave me be to get ready for work Judy.’ His voice was harsher than he meant it to be but her constant need to touch his middle annoyed him.

‘I love you,’ he said hoping to make up for his harshness, ‘I have always loved you.’

She smiled at him and left the room. He was conscious of her inability to express how she feels. He didn’t doubt she loved him but lately he felt a desperate need to hear her express it.

***

Judy made her way down the stairs and into the kitchen fighting to see through the stream of hot fresh tears flowing down her face for the third time that week. After what to her was another harsh exchange of words she was even more convinced he no longer loved her. His inability to touch her, or let her touch him, provided further evidence of his fading affections.

Sure he was good with words but, in her opinion, words are empty and cheap. She believed that love needed to be expressed through physical touch. What she needed right now, as proof of his love, was for him to hold her and say nothing; to touch her and be intimate without the need for words.

***

They ate breakfast in a room filled with stony silence that seemed to slow down time. They longed for the sound of the radio or the ringing of the telephone. Any excuse to leave the uncomfortable space they were once again having to endure. Eventually, finished with his breakfast and unable to find any other reason to stay, he stood up and walked to the door ready to leave for work.

‘I love you… Enjoy your day… See you later.’ is all he could think to say.

She sat with her body hunched over her magazine wondering if he could see that what she needed from him right now were not his words but his arms around her. She looked up and nodded her head in response. He turned and left.

 

The unspoken middle

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13 thoughts on “The unspoken middle

  1. We are all very different when it comes to relationships and how we express ourselves. What’s always important is getting the right balance. Even if someone is touchy- feely all the time and don’t like to express their love in words, there comes a time when the other person will want to hear how they feel about them. I’ve seen many relationships break down because one person doesn’t want to communicate in a way that is acceptable to the other person despite them being in love. And that’s a shame. Loved the post.

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  2. Oh, what a heartbreaking chasm between them. What they need is a bridge. The switch back and forth between perspectives was a little confusing at first, though entirely right for this story. You might consider adding a blank line between them or other demarcation just to separate the POVs a little. Nice little story!

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    • I appreciate your feedback Christine. I wanted to make sure the reader is clear on how they are both feeling and how easy it would be if they would just talk to each other! As three asterisks in a row represents a switch of point of view in a story I have used that – hopefully that helps a little?

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    • Thanks Janna. That was exactly the emotion I was going for 🙂
      As a short story maybe they might work it out…
      I have been following a free 8 week online course about storytelling and I didn’t realize people expect a happy ending most of the time. In many of my stories they don’t get one but it is at least open enough that people can create one in their own imagination about what happens when it gets back from work and have it turn out happy.

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  3. Diane, this is so heart-wrenching. It’s amazing how you can be with someone for so long and still not understand what goes on in their head. You did a great job interpreting both perspectives and that sense that finding the middle is nearly impossible.

    Thanks for linking up with us at the Speakeasy this week!

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    • You are right Suzanne. I did wonder whether people might think this impossible because they have known each other for so long but as this is based on an actual relationship unfortunately it is possible.

      I am so happy to have found Speakeasy. Its so great to have comments/feedback on my story and other people to connect with – I will definitely be taking part in another. 🙂

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