Drama Romance

“‘Be careful what you wish for,’ Do you remember when I told you that?” She never meant to hurt them. It wasn’t intentional. She knew it was because she was fundamentally flawed, and experience had taught her the only way she could live without the guilt was to make it their choice. She was honest from the get-go. It was always their choice. “I told you I couldn’t make you happy.”

He hadn’t said anything, but the weight of his hand on her bare shoulder spoke volumes. She knew he wanted her to reach deeper, to find more, but she had nothing more to give. She had warned him that this wasn’t who she was. She’d told him he would regret falling in love with her.

“What time does your show start?” There was no bitterness in his voice, no disappointment masked by cheerfulness. His tone conveyed acceptance without understanding.

“Seven. You don’t have to come. I’m fine, you know; I don’t need you to watch me. I don’t need your support.”

He leaned in to kiss her shoulder, but even with her back turned to him, she felt his approach and pulled away. She moved to the edge of the bed, passing off the dodge as though unaware and merely getting out of bed.

He loved her most, first thing in the morning. Though he knew she would recoil from any such admission. Every day presented him with an opportunity to indulge in her beauty, a thing she tried to shed the way dawn disburdens the night.

He couldn’t tell her how time stopped when she raised her slender frame from the mattress and her platinum-blonde hair fell from her neck, washing into the milk valley of her shoulder blades. Or how even the birds fell silent when her hips rolled back and chest arched.

He said nothing about the sunlight peering in from the east-facing window that silhouetted her body in a halo, its rays bouncing off the side of her breasts. Or how he thought even God’s shine understood it had to bend around her lest she feel His beauty spotlighting her existence — the very thing she understood the least.

He couldn’t tell her that each morning; he hoped it would bring a day when she would accept him. Instead, as always, he sought the neutral, non-invasive ground, “I like listening to you — you know that too. It’s not support, it’s selfishness. I believe you sing for me when you’re on the stage like I’m the only one there.”

She rose, taking the sheer blue nightshirt from the knob of the dresser, and pulled it on as she turned toward him. Her face, elegantly heart-shaped with delicate hollows beneath the rise of soft half-pillow cheekbones and full, pale, pink lips, looked sullen. Eyes the colour of mountain lake-blue trapped beneath a sheet of ice stared with mild irritation, and her slightly upturned button nose twitched while she regarded him. “I wouldn’t make much of a living if I could only draw an audience of one, would I? You already do too much. I appreciate everything. I appreciate you.”

She believed her words because she understood the other side of the equation; she loved Abby as much as she could love another person. “I love you, Abby. I don’t want to be like this, but I can’t apologize anymore. Of course, you can come, and I’ll be happy to know you’re there — just remember that it’s me you’re seeing on that stage.”

Abby rose from the bed, pulled a t-shirt over his head, and meandered to the kitchen to make coffee while Eden slipped into the bathroom. He set the coffee urn in the sink, raised the lever on the tap, filled it with cold water, dropped a filter in the basket, and counted in six scoops of the organic, ethically farmed, medium-roast grinds.

He stood staring out the back window with his attention drawn to the chrysalis hanging from a branch of the cherry tree. Last week, it had been inseparable from the green leaves flanking it, but now it was nearly translucent, the caterpillar inside nearly through its metamorphosis. The parallel between the insect and his wife felt profound and symbolized the enigma that neither he nor she seemed able to reconcile — which was the real Eden?


Seated on a stool under a soft blue light, Eden couldn’t have looked any more enchanting. Her hair, woven into a Dutch braid, looked like ropes of white gold. Her darkened eyelids and lashes made her aquamarine eyes radiant orbs of magic and charm. Her lavender-painted lips added mystique and sultriness. A tight white crewneck t-shirt with the sleeves cut at the bend of the shoulder revealed slender, delicate arms dusted with dandelion fluff-hairs and a long denim bib skirt overtop a curvaceous bust completed the scene — she was like a beautiful car accident, devasting to look at for more than fleeting glance but averting the eyes took effort.

As he sat silently watching his wife begin her first song without any introduction or salutation but simply appearing beneath the soft purple light, Abby was filled with the same amorevolous infatuation as the first night he saw Eden, and he still caught himself like others in the audience, unabashedly grinning. He scanned the seating capacity crowd and could see patrons falling in love with her before she’d splashed into the chorus with her high, agile, angelic intonations.

The audience listened and watched, mesmerized and enchanted by the force of her femininity, her voice’s physical dexterity, and the beautiful shell only a dullard could refer to as “a nice body.”

After the song, when she introduced herself with a voice that danced with playfulness and invitation, Abby leaned forward, ready to catch the butterfly emerging and to see the girl who’d bewitched him with the huffy breathwork beginning of her first verse and had made him fall in love when she exhaled into the layered octaves of the chorus.

As she did each time she performed, Eden left the physical plane and floated away on those butterfly wings into the ethereal beyond, with only the resonance of her voice keeping her tethered to the earth.

Eyes closed with her chin angled to the moon, Eden’s voice emanated from chest to head and ran through to the ends of every appendage as fingertips danced over strings and toes on bare feet swirled, dipped, and curled. When gravity found her between songs, she floated down and nestled in the awestruck energy of the stunned audience.

They hoped to spend the rest of their evening in her company.

Abby only hoped that Eden would remain in his a little while longer.

The blue light bled to black, and Eden vanished into the shadows overtaking the stage. With an earth-cracking smile, she’d rejoiced in the audience’s demand for a third encore — accepting a request then raising the roof by crushing her rendition of a Taylor Swift hit, but now, it was time to go.

She felt the slip — gravity, ever patient and loyal, taking hold of her bones and pulling her back down. Her bravado, conviction and poise faded like the plangency of the last chord plucked from her guitar.


The traffic light changed from red to green, but Abraham didn’t notice. He was looking past the intersection, beyond the road and stared glassy-eyed over the edge of the world — Eden’s voice filled the car, and the shock of her words cracked his soul.

“Do you hear me? Have you ever listened?

Or was I just so lovely you needed me commodified?

Clarity and infatuation in its chaos, I am christened.

Beautiful and broken, my love forever unsanctified.”

Angry blasts from a horn brought him back from a lost life. He pressed down on the accelerator and finger-punched the radio off. He’d soon be divorced for almost as long as he was married, but rarely a day passed without thoughts of her hovering in his consciousness. He’d managed to dodge Eden’s debut album, boycotted NPR and Spotify, and not once did he watch an interview or video — he’d loved her too much then. He loved her too much now.

Homes blurred into a beige, brown and black banner as he drove the street, trying not to think of his ex-wife, but it never worked; Eden was evergreen.

He returned to the moment they met, after her song that silenced the coffeehouse with even the baristas ceasing their loquacious labours and reaching his hand across the guitar case, “Hi, I’m Abraham.”

She’d raised her head and looked at him. A silver-blonde ponytail swung around her shoulder for a peek, and her light-blue eyes, seasoned with charisma, shone. She allowed a quiet smile, then shook her head and said, “No.”

“I’m sorry?” he answered.

“You might be,” she replied while zipping up the case, “Because Abraham isn’t going to work — not for me, not for my purposes. Would you like to take me out?”

“Yes, I would. Very much.”

“Good!” She took his hand, “As long as it’s not for coffee, Abby.”

“You don’t like Abraham?” he asked.

She paused momentarily, still holding his hand, seeming to consider his question earnestly. “Abraham is an old name, and I am not an old soul; I am born brand new every day, Abby.”

Turning left onto the boulevard leading to their home, he pushed a finger against the plastic clips, sending both windows down. Air rushed across his chest and sucked her voice out into the wind, but not before he heard the last time she’d said his name.

“I can’t stay, Abraham.”

“I know,” he answered.

“You can’t stop believing that I’ll choose who I want to be — the girl on stage or off — you think there’s a difference. I don’t. Can’t you see the clarity and infatuation? That I’m vulnerable and intimate? Inside the music, it makes sense. Existence has harmony, rhythm and pace. Freedom.”

He parked in the driveway and waited for her ghost to leave.

“Outside, life is chaos. Distorted. Filled with noise and oppressed by control. I don’t want to live there. That’s my truth — what’s yours?” Her anger was cold steel taking meat off the bone.

“Hope.” He’d answered. “Hope was my truth — that I’d be enough.”

And then she was gone.

He turned the key and opened the door to a hollow house. A few months later, he turned on the T.V. and saw her accepting an award. Her sophomore album went double-platinum, and the title track, “Ashes for Abraham,” won for Song of the Year.

Her hair, woven into a Dutch braid, looked like ropes of white gold. Her darkened eyelids and lashes made her aquamarine eyes radiant orbs of magic and charm.

When she looked into the camera and out over the audience and said, “Thank you,” he believed, for a moment, that he was the only one there.

May 30, 2024 09:02

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Lindsay Burns
05:34 Jun 07, 2024

Towards the end when you write about when they first met, it said to me that Abby would never be quite enough for Eden. I really felt his sense that she was drifting away, and his heartbreak when she’d gone. A great story!


Arpad Nagy
15:25 Jun 12, 2024

Thanks so much, Lindsay!


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