Contest #138 shortlist ⭐️

128 comments

American Romance Inspirational

“No, she isn’t my daughter,” he corrects a colleague. “She’s my wife.”

On cue, I beam at my husband, innocent and doe-eyed—like I did in my 20’s when he was in his 40’s. His friend invariably elbows him, making comments about cradle robbing and spring chickens. We laugh. I say something clever in reply. His companion looks surprised. 

And she’s witty, too?

My cheeks hurt in an attempt to hold a smile. They continue to talk like I’m not there, but my husband reaches out for my hand. Above all, we are the dearest of friends. 

But in public? I remain silent. 

Silence is expected of younger wives, but—trust me—I have plenty to say to his ogling peers and their stink-eyed wives, unhappy women stuffed into spandex. A decade or two younger than they are, I want to say that I am not some trophy that my husband picked up along the way to the corner office.

We met like they did. Phone calls. First dates. Long romantic weekends. 

His business associates' wives often assume that I lurked by the photocopier after hours, beguiling a hardworking family man, using the currency of youth to pry my husband from the steely grip of an imaginary wronged wife. 

What I want to say is that I am my husband’s first wife—my husband’s only wife. Because of our quarter century age difference, they assume I am a homewrecker. What disappoints them is that for over twenty years, I’ve been a homebuilder, as faithful and as loyal as their husbands pretend to be.

They assume my husband has children from a previous marriage, lost souls now bouncing from house to house in a never-ending custody dispute. They feel sorry for his fictitious children, all those missed soccer games, unseen plays on opening nights, dirty gym uniforms left at the other parent’s home. Doesn’t she know how much psychological damage she’s causing his offspring?

What I want to say is that my husband is childless by choice. 

And due to our age difference? He has made that choice for me, too.

The decision not to have children at the time we married seems plausible. We are involved in so many things that missing the pitter patter of little feet doesn’t matter much. Surely I can nip my need to nurture by the pitter patter of puppy paws?  

This plan works well in my 30’s. Cliché as it sounds, my rescue dogs rescue me, adding a new level of unconditional love and entrance into a welcoming community. I become a fixture at the dog park, the veterinarians, and the neighbors, apologizing for my dogs digging holes under the fence. 

But in my 40’s? I drop off my nephews and nieces after a day with their fun aunt, waving as they open the door to their cluttered and chaotic homes. My house is spotless, aseptic, quiet. 

Whenever I see a long table in a restaurant, filled with generations of well wishers—babies held by doting grandmothers, aunts leaning over to tussle a beloved nephew’s hair—I make an excuse and we leave. My husband doesn’t understand, thinking I don’t want to eat with so much noise and commotion nearby. The problem is that I do. But I want our noise, our commotion, our extended family that isn’t. Not the silence of two people with precious little to talk about—except for how the scallops were undercooked. 


People often ask us how we met. I understand the subtext. 

I know what they are really asking: Is your young wife a gold digger? Does she have daddy issues? Did she lose a bet? 

What I want to say to them is that I met my husband on the subway. It was—and still is—love at first sight. I still swoon when I see my husband pull his car into the driveway. It thrills me to no end to see his blue eyes twinkle when I walk by, his hands tracing my backside when he brushes past. 

I do love him. 

But these days, I’m afraid to go to sleep. 

Now in his early 70’s, my husband seems to age overnight. Exponentially so. 

Each day brings a new pain, new ache, new symptom. His left hip hurts. His cholesterol is running high—even though we have cut out red meat and cheese. He needs a stronger prescription for his eyeglasses, bifocals, trifocals—now, multifocals. 

More of his teeth need crowns; the crowns he has need root canals. 

I spend a lot of time at the pharmacy. With so many new medications, I buy him a pill organizer, since neither one of us can keep up. I pick up his high blood pressure medication along with my birth control pills. 

And his hair. God, his hair. At first, the gray around his temples looks distinguished. Like a university professor. Even when he becomes a silver fox, he turns heads. But in his late 60’s? His hairbrush is full of fine white hair, as his pale pink pate pokes through what had once been a forest of thick black curls. 

Every new change acts as a harbinger, a warning that time is a non-negotiable asset, a message that I’ll most likely spend my golden years alone.

I kiss him on his bald head when I crawl into bed, earlier and earlier in the evenings; otherwise, he’ll fall asleep on the couch.

It’s fine.

I like to read, reassured by his presence next to me, his light rhythmic snoring. 

When I finish a chapter, I look over at him. His mouth is open, chin buried into the folds of his saggy neck. He’s pale in this light, hands laying lightly on his chest that rises and falls with his shallow breathing. 

I find myself crying. There’s no reason for it. We aren't promised anything more than this moment. There's no reason for me to cry.

Except when you marry an older man, you don’t realize that one day you’ll be married to an old man. 


Inevitably, the day comes. Far too soon. 

“No, he wasn’t my father,” I correct a nurse. “He was my husband.”


March 23, 2022 18:09

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128 comments

Story Time
20:51 Apr 03, 2022

I know this isn't one of your favorites but it is a damn good read! Congratulations Maestro!

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21:38 Apr 03, 2022

She's hella whiny.

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Philip Ebuluofor
15:34 Apr 02, 2022

Really fine work.

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16:08 Apr 03, 2022

Thanks for the kudos. (I frankly kind of hated this story............shhh)

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Philip Ebuluofor
22:25 Apr 08, 2022

It's captivating work. It's fine work. Whenever you feel like that with your work, it's postive sign that something will happen.

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Cindy Strube
16:34 Apr 01, 2022

Congratulations on the shortlist!

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16:43 Apr 01, 2022

Woo Hoo 8th times the charm :)

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Brian Stanton
16:31 Apr 01, 2022

Wow, this was just fantastic. There an age gap between my wife and I... and the story just resonates with me so much. In the end, my wife will be married to an old guy, but I hope that I can protect my health and her happiness enough to make it all worth it. We do have kids, a 4 year old and a 2 year old. This story makes me think about our marriage and my life, that I have to be intentional about it all, and value every moment of it. When a story causes me to refect on my own life... Well, then you know that it was truly meaningful. Great...

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16:42 Apr 01, 2022

That's quite a comment :) Congratulations on the children -- those are some exhausting years (but memorable!)

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Shea West
16:06 Apr 01, 2022

Proud to call you my friend, writing buddy, and constant source of laughter! In all seriousness- I look up to you! You've helped so many of us here on Reedsy get more exposure with our published work! You've tirelessly edited our poor comma placements and encouraged us beyond the hours that are within a day. Well done!

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16:12 Apr 01, 2022

Oh we are going on a road trip with Hannah Barrett. Listen to her podcast. Don't tell me the three of us don't need to get into trouble in Reno or Vegas...

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Shea West
16:24 Apr 01, 2022

OK. Did you know that UNLV is my Alma Mater? I lived in Vegas for 5 years, it's where I did all my pastry cheffing. LET'S GOOOOO!

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Andrea Doig
15:35 Apr 01, 2022

What a great story. Wow. I, in fact, know someone very similar - and so the story was very real for me as I read it. Her story ended differently - and this was far more poignant with a different sad ending. The story was written beautifully, and also made me question their love. It seemed picture-perfect - but like everything in life was not perfect at all. She made sacrifices where he only gained. So all my sympathies are for her - even though it cannot be easy aging with such a life-filled and vibrant young partner. I love the psychology b...

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15:45 Apr 01, 2022

We definitely need to have lunch and spill the tea. I know similar real life couples just like this -- and yep, we could deconstruct the psychology all. day. long. :)

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E. B. Bullet
22:46 Mar 31, 2022

This totally recontextualized older relationships for me. It seems glaringly obvious, but I never took time to consider what an age gap can CONTINUE to do over the course of a relationship, especially in the later years. What a fascinating read ! To me it almost feels like the narrator is desperately clinging to the maturity of her decision, even though it is quite clear she is no longer happy with it.

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15:44 Apr 01, 2022

TBH, this "young bride" is my least favorite MC. So whiny... She does have her story to tell, but it's more like an ax to grind. :)

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E. B. Bullet
19:18 Apr 01, 2022

Oh I agree. Terribly whiny, but I didn't want to kick her while she was down LOL

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18:06 Mar 30, 2022

That's a good reflection on the troubles that seem to follow that kind of marriage. All the assumptions that seem to haunt it from becoming the ideal marriage it might have became in an alternate universe where these kinds of shameful views are not held among people. I think this kind of social commentary deserve at least a shortlist. Great job as usual.

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19:14 Mar 30, 2022

Thanks, Ismail. Let me know when you post next. I love reading your work :)

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Stevie B
17:29 Mar 30, 2022

Another well written Deidra Lovegren wonder!

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19:14 Mar 30, 2022

Always a fan of yours, Mr. B.

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Stevie B
20:58 Mar 30, 2022

Thank you.

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Annette C
19:54 Mar 29, 2022

I'm sorry that I'm reading this story so late. I'm new to Reedsy, there are so many talented writers and so many good stories to choose from. I loved your story, how deep it went with saying little but screaming much. I just gasped at the last sentence, it was good, sad but good.

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00:05 Mar 30, 2022

I'm happy you read it any time :) Welcome to Reedsy! Great people. Loads of talent. Welcome aboard and thanks for the read.

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Frank Lester
19:33 Mar 29, 2022

Excellent writing. The story behind the words was both captivating and sad. There are sacrifices we make with every choice, and the result may be the biggest sacrifice of all. It was clear she chose love over loss. That can never be taken from her. Well done.

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00:11 Mar 30, 2022

Thanks, Frank. This isn't a favorite story of mine, not by a long shot. It was hard to write and it seemed forced and a little (lot?) contrived. (Listen to me trash my own story!) The MC just doesn't appeal to me, but she had a story to tell. Onward :)

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Frank Lester
11:39 Mar 31, 2022

You're welcome, Deidra. I trash my stories, too. Most authors are hard on themselves and their writing. This is still an excellent story and well done. You can take that to the bank. Be well.

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00:26 Mar 29, 2022

This was so beautiful it brought me to tears. The concept sucked me in immediately and the writing kept me going. Beautiful tale, heart wrenching and very good.

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16:24 Mar 29, 2022

Thanks, Alexandra. I had no idea where this was going until it was done.

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Ola Hotchpotch
03:54 Mar 28, 2022

Nice story about issues that people have about age. Its not only their judgements about who should be the older among the partners and those stereotype assumptions that women mature fast or men always remain boys etc but also what is the appropriate colour for which age. Some colours do go well with young age though. Can't figure out why white colour looks good on older people. Language and the sarcasm was realistic. It seemed two friends were talking to each other.

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J.C. Lovero
00:37 Mar 28, 2022

One of my best girlfriends and I have talked about this very topic since there's an age difference with her husband. But at the end of the day, love is love. I'd murder to have a love like them (figurately not literally). Well done! Hope this one gets the recognition it deserves!

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J.C. Lovero
23:03 Apr 01, 2022

Popped in to say congratulations Deidra! Well-deserved recognition for this story.

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Jay McKenzie
02:31 Mar 27, 2022

This is really very beautiful. I love the reason why she doesn't want to go to sleep.

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19:27 Mar 27, 2022

I'm sure there is an Aerosmith song (or two) with the same sentiment :) Probably not "Dude Looks Like a Lady" -- haha

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Cindy Strube
18:51 Mar 26, 2022

Ahh… I’m swallowing a lump in my throat as I think of my grandparents. (Obvious difference - they were not childless!😉) He longed for a family of his own, but didn’t meet “the one” until he was 40. She just happened to be 17, which could sound creepy… but it wasn’t. He had a youthful spirit, she was very mature, and her mother adored him. (I have the cutest photo of the three of them…) The sad part is that she became a widow at 54. She was never interested in other men - he was always the love of her life.

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19:32 Mar 26, 2022

I think you've written a far better story in your comment than I did in my short story :) I learned long ago not to judge couples. The heart wants what it wants. And no one knows what really happens in a romantic relationship. My mother used to say, "Every pot has its lid." True, true.

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Cindy Strube
21:04 Mar 26, 2022

Aww- no, but I appreciate your response! Sage woman, your mother! I’m *slightly* older than my husband, and I just loved my dad’s outlook: he said that, after I was born, God decided there was no one for me - so he made my husband a couple years later. (My story this week is from the same prompt as yours, but entirely different take. Brains are so intriguing…)

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20:03 Feb 27, 2023

The story was well paced and sentimental.

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13:12 Mar 01, 2023

Thanks B :)

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20:02 Feb 27, 2023

That was amazing love.

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13:12 Mar 01, 2023

So glad you liked it :)

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Ivy Spade
13:19 Sep 22, 2022

I'm sorry, but I couldn't not comment on this masterpiece of a story. The way the story flows and the realistic aspect of the love story is fantastic. I never thought about that big of an age gap in a relationship. Plus, taking it in a different way rather than the stereotypical way it goes typically, it was so fun to read!

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16:26 Sep 22, 2022

Your comment about not commenting was complimentary. Thanks for your kind words. I loved that you found it fun to read :)

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Ivy Spade
13:23 Sep 23, 2022

Of course!

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Hen Neralany
12:42 Mar 31, 2022

This story was just. . . absolutely awesome. You bring up wonderful reads every time.

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