After reading Carissa's review of Ordinary People, I started thinking about love at first sight. I'm not generally a believer that people fall madly in love immediately upon meeting and it lasts forever, but I often think about circumstances it might be possible/plausible. This very short story is the result of last night's thoughts:
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
“Do you believe in love at first sight?”
Ian looked over at his partner of nearly forty years. Chris sat ensconced in his favourite recliner, rug over his knees, bald head shining in the warm lamplight as he read. Echoes of Chris in full rant over a political decision or a crookedly planted flower tumbled together with images of the two of them through the years.
"Why do you ask?" It was always a good idea to find out exactly what Chris was talking about before Ian said something that set him off again. Although, truth be told, Ian had quickly worked out he liked setting Chris off on a rant. That level of energy always needed an outlet.
Chris shrugged. “I read a book and the two characters basically took one look at each other and that was it. They knew they were destined to be together forever.”
“Did it work in the story?”
“Oddly enough, it did. One of the characters had no doubts at all and persued the other poor guy relentlessly.”
“What about the other one?”
“See, I think that’s why it sounded believable. The other guy didn’t believe it.”
“Didn’t believe what?” Ian struggled to hold his smile inside. Chris could very well have been describing the beginning of their relationship.
“Well, sure he was attracted. It was instant lust.” Chris scowled at Ian, and Ian grinned at him. He was getting it now, making the links between the story he’d just read and their own lives. “But,” Chris continued forcefully. “That doesn’t mean it was true love. The love had to have time to grow.”
Ian left his chair and climbed on top of Chris, wincing slightly as his knees bent under the pressure of his body weight. Even five years ago, it didn’t hurt at all. They were getting old, he and Chris. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Chris’s forehead. They were growing old together, just like he’d known they could, all those years ago. “I think,” he whispered, “that if the first one hadn’t recognised they could love each other, the second one would have walked away from the best thing that could ever happen to him.”
Chris lifted his face for a proper kiss. The press of their lips was familiar now, comforting and soothing. Their kisses still held the promise of passion, but it was muted after so many years. They’d spent years learning each other and learning, also, that there was no need to hurry. They’d be together forever, so if the passion didn’t built and bear fruit, it was okay. They’d pick it up again tomorrow, or the next day.
“You knew,” said Ian. His breath washed over Chris's tissue-wrinkled cheek. He inhaled as he pressed his cheek against Chris’s soft flesh. He still smelled the same: warm and masculine with a slight undertone of sawdust. These days, Chris’s work with wood consisted of whittling children’s toys, rather than building rustic furniture. “You knew you loved me from the moment we met.” He kissed Chris again. “I don’t think I’ve ever really thanked you for recognising what could be between us.” Forty years ago, it had been Chris pursuing a sceptical Ian. There’d been times, Ian knew, that Chris had wanted to give up. Fighting against Ian’s snark and negativity had been hard, but he’d stayed the course. It was because of his Chris, and his determination to have the love he deserved and offer Ian the same, that Ian had the wonderful life he’d had.
“Are you suggesting what we had was love at first sight? Insta-love? Really?” Chris’s voice was a mixture of scepticism and hope.
“Of course it was. You just needed to hit me over the head a few times over the course of a year or two to get me to see it.”
Chris chuckled. “You’re an idiot.”
“You tell me that every time you want to fuck me,” Ian teased.
Chris sighed resignedly. “Well if I must, I must.” Then he spoiled it by grinning. “Do you need help getting off me so we can go to bed? I think our days of fucking in the recliner are long gone.”
“You’re right about that. And, yes, I do need help. My feet have gone to sleep and I don’t think my knees want to straighten at all.”
Chris pushed as Ian slid awkwardly off the chair. They both rubbed Ian’s legs until the circulation had returned and he could walk again. Together, they banked the fire and turned out the lights, then walked arm in arm down the hall toward their bedroom.
Ian leaned his head against Chris’s shoulder. “I’m glad you knew,” he said. “I’m even more glad you didn’t give up on me.”
“You’re worth fighting for, love,” whispered Chris as he closed their bedroom door behind them. “I knew it then, and it hasn’t changed. None of it.”
E E Montgomery
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