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Contemporary Romance

Waves of pain were still radiating down my thigh to my toes. The pills they gave me helped a little, but it’s not like I could just ignore the fact that my leg had practically broken in half just a few hours earlier. I was just driving around the country, aimless, finding work where I could, and one day I decided I was going to be a roofer… that same day I slid off of a two story.

I couldn’t even remember what town I was in, but I laid there in that hospital bed, waiting for the nurse to come back like she said she would.

I had told her before when she asked that I had no emergency contact, and nobody to pick me up once they discharged me. She, volunteered to come see me after her shift ended to help me get something figured out… of course I told her I could handle it, that it wasn’t the first time something like that had happened, but she insisted….

To be honest it didn’t take anymore convincing, my mind was made up the second she asked, I just didn’t want to seem helpless… well, anymore than I already was at least…. 

I sat alone there for a while finishing off the meatloaf a second nurse had brought to me, and honestly for a hospital it wasn’t half bad. I set my dishes aside, stared out the window, and started listening to a Senators game on the tv… they were a baseball team…. 

I think it was around the bottom of the eighth when she walked back in carrying a stack of magazines, and a phonebook. I leaned over, holding in a painful groan, and turned the tv off. “You could have left that on.” She told me… her nose used to scrunch up when she smiled…. “Didn’t think it’d be polite.” I told her, trying my best not to stare, and I tell ya… my best was not good enough, not when it came to her….

She set the phonebook on a table, pulled a chair up next to me, and started showing me the magazines she probably brought from the lobby. There must have been some poor, bored bastards sitting out there, because I tell ya she brought me a stack of them… “I wasn’t sure what you liked…” She said shyly as she sifted through them; her cheeks went red like they did when she was embarrassed. 

“Well that’s okay,” I told her, “I don’t either really… I don’t read much.”  “Well there are some good ones!” She said excitedly, half showing me the covers while she went through them even faster. I couldn’t even tell then how flustered she was, I was too busy pretending to look at the options while I waited for my heart to explode out of my chest… She was always a beautiful woman, but God she was a knockout then….

I still remember that peach lipstick she was wearing, it just suited her, you know? Just like the nurse’s uniform… her glasses… her long red hair… I wasn’t very religious back then, but I can still remember thinking at the time that God had done me a huge favor… I could have been in a full-body cast, and the only thought going through my head still would have been, I wonder what her name is….

I didn’t want to interrupt her, she was on a real tear, but I couldn’t help it from slipping out. “What is it?” I asked, immediately wincing through my own stupidity. She looked up, and smiled through her squinted eyes, clearly confused. “What’s what?” She asked, politely ignoring the foot in my mouth. “What’s your name?” I asked her, finally with enough courage to look her in her big, brown eyes. She noticed my sudden brazenness, and her focus darted back to the literature in her lap. I didn’t look away though, not again, not for a second… any amount of time not staring at her would have been too long I decided.

 She pretended to leaf through a Time magazine while she shifted in her seat… I was worried I was making her uncomfortable, but I just couldn’t help it…. I waited though, like a bird waiting for the sun to rise I waited, for that one-word song… “Marge.” She finally told me, and that just suited her too. “It’s nice to meet you, Marge.” I said, extending out my hand a little too eagerly, I didn’t manage to hold back my groans that time, my leg yelled for the both of us….

“Sit back! Sit back!” She shouted, wide-eyed. “Sorry….” I choked out. She giggled at me when she could tell I was actually okay. You know that feeling when you’re walking down the street, and all of a sudden you see somebody walking a dog, but, then you realize it’s actually a puppy? That was what her laugh did to me… I couldn’t help but to smile through the pain…   

“Well?” She asked, looking me in the eyes intently, her gaze burning through me. My pain subsided… and my heartbeat rose. “Well, what?” I asked confused, worried I had missed something she said. Marge giggled again, God help me… if her cheeks were red, I’m sure my face looked like I’d been walking across the sun for the past hour. “What’s your name silly? Or is that it? Is it Silly?” She jabbed playfully. “Well, that was my mother’s first choice…” I bantered, “but she decided to go with Gordon.” I told her. “Well that’s a good name too…” She said, moving closer, hand extended, doing everything she could to keep me from unintentionally hurting myself again. 

“...it’s nice to meet you.” She said, I’m not sure if it was in the room, or in my head, but her voice echoed. I couldn’t even feel her hand from where I was, floating above my own body… that’s what it felt like at least. 

“So, do any of these look good to you?” She asked, looking back down at the stack of magazines. One of them did catch my eye, a Time magazine dated for that same day, July 10th, 1970. It might have sent the wrong message, because there was a woman in a bikini on the cover, but all I saw was the ocean behind her, so I picked it. “Good choice! I love the beach, I’ve always wanted to live somewhere like that!” She said, immediately flipping to that section in the magazine like she had read it already, and knew exactly where to look.

“I can mark it for you if you want.” She told me, already starting to dog-ear the page. “Sure… thanks.” I responded, staring at her again, noticing for the first time how she bit her lip when she concentrated on anything even a little bit. I half hoped she wouldn’t notice, but if she did… it wouldn’t have been the worst thing. 

She put the magazines on the table with the phonebook, and I noticed for the first time she had stuck some bookmarks in it, I’d find out later they were numbers for cab companies, motels, anything she thought would have helped me. I like to think it was love at first sight for her the same it was for me, but I know better, she’d do that for anyone… it was just the way she was….

“So… you mind turning that game back on? I wouldn’t mind knowing who won….” She said, brushing her hair behind one of her ears, I don’t remember which one, but I’m sure my eyes lit up. I wasn’t even thinking about the game anymore, but I was curious too so I did what she asked, just as the game was coming to an end as luck would have it.The Senators beat the Yankees 2-1 that night. “Damn!” She exclaimed as the announcers thanked everybody for watching. “Yankees fan?” I asked her, trying to hold back a big grin. “Well, not after tonight….” She said seriously at first, but then she started laughing, harder than I had heard before… it was also the first time I noticed the little snort at the end of it….

“Better luck next time.” I said, trying not to sound like I was poking fun at her, I knew I wasn’t doing a good job though. She just side-eyed me, still laughing… and then I knew kid… I knew right then, right there… she was it… the Senators wouldn’t even be a team a couple of years later, but she and I… we saw a lot of Yankees games together….

June 23, 2023 12:24

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2 comments

Karen McDermott
06:09 Jun 29, 2023

Cute story!

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L.B Rinker
13:21 Jun 29, 2023

Thank you! I have another on here called The Silence and the Sea that involves the same characters!

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