When Harry Met Ginny

Submitted into Contest #149 in response to: Write a story about an unlikely group (or pair) of friends.... view prompt

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Coming of Age Contemporary Friendship

There were two males in Ginny’s life who did their best to hold a mirror of truth before her eyes. They each loved her in ways that fed her soul and filled many of the spaces that had left her empty and depleted for so many years.

The first and perhaps most important of these men, was her maternal grandfather. Ginny was his first born grandchild, born to his only child. His wife, Elizabeth Jean, had died 2 months before Ginny was born. As the child grew and began maneuvering her surroundings, her uncanny resemblance to the dead woman was somewhat disconcerting. Gin's grandfather on occasion became confused as to who was in his presence, a dead wife who he missed very much, or a beloved grandchild that he would lay down his life to protect. This man was honourable beyond reproach, and though he spoilt Ginny terribly, he never once crossed or even came close to that boundary that would have been most inappropriate. He set the standard by which his grandchild would navigate the seas of relationship, looking for that elusive mate who would capture her heart and win her hand.


Ginny sailed these turbulent waters with some degree of confidence. However, by her mid twenties, she'd already battled a few storms and found herself somewhat deflated with an ego that had been badly bruised.


When Ginny met Harry, they both belonged to a religion slightly outside the norm. Some called it a cult. Whatever. This organization met in one another’s homes and gathered periodically to share spiritual experiences and often food. Gin’s home was a center, the hub of a small active community, with people coming and going often visiting with her into the wee hours of the night.


Her husband tolerated this activity somewhat begrudgingly, mostly as it provided him with the opportunity to indulge in his favourite activity. While Ginny entertained her ever revolving entourage of guests, Joe would seek refuge in his favourite place of escape, their old garage. He would putter away fixing small things, tinkering with engines and other manly occupations. What he really liked to do was smoke his dope and occasionally indulge in other drugs.


Ginny did her best to overlook these minor defects of his character, and for the most part did a rather admirable job. Occasionally, her self-righteousness overcame her better sense and she would do things like open up a package addressed to Joe, knowing it came from one of his dope friends. It wasn’t bad enough that she chose to flush several ounces of prime weed down the toilet, the real crime was that she felt obligated to inform Joe of her actions. She truly believed she was helping him and that perhaps he’d come to realize that his habit needed to be addressed more seriously.

Joe’s apoplectic fit of anger did little to enhance their rather rocky marriage.


The first time Harry came to her home, Ginny was rather intimidated by him. For one thing he was huge, with piercing dark eyes, black hair and a well groomed beard. To Ginny he looked a little evil and scary. He was very quiet, which further intimidated her. The blank spaces in the conversation left her grasping for things to say, desperately seeking to fill the awkward emptiness.   


She had confided in her mother her feelings about this man and her mother had chastised her for her unkindness. “Ginny, that is a very lonely young man and needs some friends. You invite him to dinner and don’t be so selfish.”


Gin reluctantly followed her mother’s instructions and prepared to endure an evening of being uncomfortable. She knew Joe would be no help and true to his nature, he disappeared out to the garage shortly after supper. Ginny was left alone with Harry.

She made coffee, moved into the livingroom and resigned herself to an evening of torture. 


It seemed that no matter how she sat, feet tucked under, feet out in front, feet shifting this way, feet shifting that way, Harry’s gaze remained fixed on those appendages.

Ginny began silently praying he would get tired and leave, or more unlikely, that Joe would come in and rescue her. Eventually her discomfort must have become evident, for Harry smiled beguilingly, looked Gin square in the eye and said, “Well, I guess I should tell you. I have a foot fetish.”


Ginny was stunned for one second, caught the gleam in his eye and burst in laughter.

Somehow any traces of awkwardness disappeared and she realized that she’d found a kindred spirit. From that moment on, their friendship was cemented and they became constant companions. Harry moved into a spare room in their home and eventually even Joe came to like Harry. The three became a team that amused many.


Harry worked hard to draw Joe into the triangle. He managed to pull Joe out of his introverted shell and into a world that was both exciting and totally out of character for him. To Gin’s great surprise, Harry was able to convince Joe to join a small theatre group and the two of them continued to bond in ways that amazed her. What truly amused her was the fact that Harry quite freely revealed that he was bi-sexual and that Joe, an ardent homophobe, still chose to be friends. 


In reality Harry was more easily typed as simply, sexual. His passion for life, his unbridled enthusiasm and extravagant displays of grandiosity both attracted and repelled Ginny.


Harry was a huge man in so many ways. He stood six feet five inches, weighed in over two hundred pounds and was strong as an ox. He had to be so large to house his huge heart, for it beat to a tune that pulsed around the globe and gathered all that he met.

His favourite way of greeting people was to give them a big hug and then exuberantly lift them off their feet and twirl them around. Some liked this, others not so much. Gin loved his attention, for he made it perfectly clear that were she not married to Joe, he’d not only sweep her off her feet, literally, but would woo her unlike she’d ever been wooed before.


Harry held a deep respect for her and Joe’s marriage. He genuinely loved these two friends and knew Gin would never entertain anything beyond a friendship. This awareness kept him from making serious advances towards her. 


Quite simply, Harry and Gin adored one another and over the years became very close. Even though he returned to the coast, they continued to stay in close touch. His visits to the prairies were some of the highlights of Gin’s memories and along with their frequent phone calls, the touchstone that often pulled her out of depressions so deep that it is a wonder she ever rose above.


Harry also suffered with his own demons. His dips into depression and ever and ever more dangerous forays into schizophrenia left Gin worried that each phone call from his family would be one telling her he had not survived. Their shared experiences bonded them even closer and their love for one another deepened as time passed.


When Joe and Ginny separated, Harry was genuinely saddened. His love for these two friends was deep and though he was very fond of Joe, there was no question as to where his true loyalty lay. He became a wonderful sounding board and sympathetic ear to Gin’s heartbroken tales and spent hours listening to her stories of unhappiness. It was the year after her separation from Joe that she decided to take her children to British Columbia, to visit her family and her dear friend Harry. Her children had never been to the coast and she was keen to take them exploring the nooks and crannies of her beloved Island home.


Harry joyously awaited their arrival to his house. They’d not seen each other in several years. Gin never forgot the drive into his yard. Her children spilled out of the car, scattering quickly to the four winds of freedom. Harry and she shyly walked towards one another. He hugged her hard, picked her up off the ground, twirled her around and then put her carefully down. They looked into one another’s eyes and each realized that much had changed. That boundary that always made their physical contact a place of safety, was gone. Without saying a word, each knew that without Joe’s presence, the dynamics in their relationship had changed drastically. They’d entered unfamiliar territory.


Harry’s life, as usual, was seething with volatility. He was living with a transgendered woman who met him during his/her transition. Each had held hope of building a solid relationship. It was not destined to be. When Gin arrived for her visit, the couple were definitely on the outs and tension ran high. Harry was living in a small guest house on the property. He supervised settling her children, who found the swimming pool, trampoline, and an acre of land more than adequate entertainment. Harry had built a room in a tree and they were thrilled to get to sleep there. This arrangement left he and Gin alone in the cabin. They spent hours filling each other in on all that was going on in their lives. They discussed possibilities, but each knew she was still in love with Joe and yearned for reconciliation. Again, their deep respect for one another kept them from exploring a deeper relationship.

It was many years later, after Joe met and married Sarah#2 that Gin and Harry once again decided to test the waters. They’d often joked about getting married, but each knew that though they had much in common, their differences would most likely have made for a disastrous union. The biggest drawback in the consummation of their relationship was Ginny’s sense of smell. Being a Leo, her ability to detect and track through that sense was keenly heightened. She was a true cat. Somehow, though not offensive, Harry’s odour offended her. In the end, this dilemma of pheromones always hindered their efforts.


One of the last times Harry tried was both sad and funny. He’d carefully taken a bath, lightly cologned himself and gingerly climbed into bed with Gin. At first, his cologne sweetly masked his scent and she held some hope that this time they would achieve their desired goal. They began tentatively embracing and kissing one another. Then Harry’s slightly ascorbic, tangy body odour overcame Ginny’s ability to participate.

She decided to try overriding her repugnance but Harry sensed immediately that the rhythm was off. He held her close and rather sorrowfully asked, “I don’t smell right, do I?”


She almost cried as she softly whispered, “No.”


With resignation, they dressed, climbed back into bed and simply held one another for the rest of the night. It was enough. They both agreed, the possible moments of sexual pleasure would not have been enough to risk the loss of their friendship. If anything, their mutual decision strengthened the bond between them.


It was a number of years later when Gin had moved back to the Island to be with her mother before she died, that Harry and Ginny once again contemplated marriage.

Harry was in a manic phase and in his enthusiasm, almost convinced a reluctant Gin that the possibility existed. Her reservations rose from a much deeper concern than mismatched body pheromones. Harry’s mental state caused her great worry and at some level, a fear for her safety.


The last time she ever heard his voice, was on a phone message. He was on his way to the Island from Calgary and had phoned to tell her that he would be a day late as he had things to wrap up on the Homefront. Ginny had become more and more apprehensive about his visit and in her fear had chosen not to take the call and rather let it go to voicemail. As she listened to the message, her heart fell.


Harry was frantic, a panic in his voice she’d never ever heard before. He begged her to pick up, the desperation in his voice striking her with remorse for not having the courage to speak to him. She almost called back but instead chose to sit quietly, meditating upon the best course of action. She knew she needed to tell him that she didn’t want him to come. She cried and prayed, cried and prayed trying to come up with the words which she knew would break his heart.


It was only a few hours later that her phone rang. She recognized the number of Harry’s sister and immediately picked up. A cold numbness began to seep into the core of her being as the sister gently began to explain that Harry had passed away earlier that day.

Gin was stunned, unwilling to accept what she was hearing. 


“That’s impossible,” she gasped, “He just called me.”


“When?”


“About 3:30”.


The sister was silent for a moment as she explained, “He died of a massive coronary just inside the door of the medical clinic and bled out before anyone could do anything.”


It was only the next day when Gin listened again to the message and checked the time, that she realized he’d called her 10 minutes before he died. She was devastated, knowing that the last time she heard his voice was through the echo chamber of a mechanical device. She was beyond grief.


Fate had yet another blow waiting for her. She began to make plans for a trip out to Alberta to be with Harry’s family when she got the phone call that her mother was in the hospital. The next two weeks were a blur for Gin. She had to cancel her plans to be at Harry’s funeral in order to sit beside her mother as she slipped into a coma. She died shortly thereafter.


Gin stumbled blindly from one grief to the next. Two of the most important people in her life were gone within a span of three weeks. Somehow, she managed to recover and as always, did her best to carry on.


For many years after she simply refused to entertain any possibility of finding a companion. It had been with great surprise that she found herself falling in love with Kristopher. He was as unlike Harry, as day to night and yet, she knew deep in her heart that Harry would have encouraged her to explore possibilities with this man.

 

Her angst and the seeming impasse in her efforts to win Kristopher over would have caused him concern. His advice would most likely have been to urge her to move on and find someone that deserved her. Ginny knew somehow that Harry still looked after her. She knew without doubt that she’d been loved by a man who stood heads above many, both figuratively and literally. She knew she’d been wanted, desired, loved for exactly who she was, as she was. It was enough. She knew that if she were ever to question her memory of their relationship, the nature of the deep love between them, and whether perhaps she’d exaggerated things between them, his deep rich voice would resonate across the abyss of time...FAT CHANCE!



June 06, 2022 12:08

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