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Fiction Romance

When I first met my husband, I thought: Him. He is the one that I want.

We met at an after-school English program in Asia. It was my first day of my new job and I fell in love as soon as the elevator doors opened. He was nothing much to look at--at 23, he was already balding and his stomach was a bit soft--but as George shook my hand and looked directly into my eyes, I just knew. In the beginning of our relationship, it was his confidence that attracted me to him. Also, it didn't hurt one bit that he had a perfect, neatly-clipped British accent.

Her

My wife is correct. I don't always understand her. She is American, and Americans always try too hard. Have you ever seen a group of them enter a restaurant? Everything is a bit too much for me. Everything they do is meant to attract attention to themselves. They talk too loudly, and I can hear every grating word that they say, as they slurp up their food with disgusting table manners. They are rude, obnoxious, and boring. Heaven help me; I cannot believe that I fell in love with one.

Him

It's my birthday today. When I got up this morning, he carefully laid three birthday presents at my feet. This was not an act of worship; he knows that I have neck arthritis and can't do a lot of overhead movement on rainy days. Also, I can't reach out and quickly grab things. The pain radiates up my shoulders, and it's just too much.

Anyway, like I said, George was the most self-assured man I had ever met. He could walk into any room and people were instantly drawn to him. It was like he was a refrigerator and they were magnets.

Her

I don't believe in buying my wife flowers. They wilt. I wish she knew that flowers mean nothing when it comes to real love. Duty is always more important than romantic love, especially in a marriage. My wife and I are opposites in many ways, and I know that Clara thinks that grand gestures mean more than than the things I do for her.

Him

Once, after surgery, I bought myself flowers. When they were delivered to the house, George asked: "Who was at the door?"

"I don't want to tell you," I said. "You wouldn't understand."

"I might," said my husband.

"Alright," I said, and took a breath. "I ordered sunflowers."

"Can I see them?" he said.

"No," I said. "I bought these flowers for myself because you don't like to buy them. You don't get to see them because you'll just say something horrible about them."

George turned back to his video game. "Okay," he said. "I won't look at them."

"Good," I said. I quietly shut the door, and sat down on the bed in the back room. Then I cried.

Her

"Those flowers are shit," I said. I admit that this was a mean, petty thing to say. I am not a kind man, and I freely admit this fact. The truth can never hurt you, as I always tell Clara. She never remembers how I make time in my day to pop by her office, just to ask how her day is going. I do this to show she is important to me, and I love her.

Him

My therapist says that I have to be the one to change in my marriage, as my husband does not attend therapy with me. My therapist is a man in his fifties, and I know that he has most likely been conditioned from birth to believe that women must drop whatever they are doing in order to help men understand emotions.


The truth is that I am sick and tired of helping George. First, I helped him to build up the courage to ask me on our first date. Then, I helped him to have the confidence to succeed in the workplace. Currently, I am helping him in every way that I can. It's never enough for George. It's like he's a giant tapeworm, and I'm a succulent host. Sometimes it feels like there's nothing of myself left anymore. Like I'm all sinew, gristle, and bone.

Her

She steals my drinks, she steals my clothes, she steals my pens, she steals the toilet paper before I can use any. She steals snacks from my desk. I can't remember the last time I had a thing that was mine and mine alone. I have given her literally everything that I own, and it's never enough for her.

Clara will always want more than I can give. Her expectations are too high.

Him

The birthday gifts that he gave me were tasteful and expensive. However, the presents he bought were the kind of thing that he would want if he were a woman: a designer lap top bag, imported chocolate, and a heavy geometrical vase.

The truth is that that I prefer cheap paperbacks from used bookstores, and the kind of animal knick-knacks that my mother would hate. My favorite figurine is a tiny pig sitting on a tiny toilet, which I purchased for three dollars. George took one look at it and said it was a waste of money.

Her

My wife has terrible taste. If left to herself, she would eat highly-processed, nutritionally bankrupt foods like Ho-Hos, Twinkies, and Ding-Dongs. I admit all of these snack cakes are delicious, but they lack the nutrients or deliciousness of a good English roast. What would Clara do without me? She would probably starve to death within a matter of weeks, really. I taught her how to eat three balanced meals a day.

Him

George has terrible taste in movies. He likes action films where testosterone-fueled men make stupid decisions that cause needless problems. These conflicts can only be resolved through loud car races, and even louder explosions.

Last week, he moaned about watching Anthony Hopkins in a well-written, excellently directed project. Seriously? Who complains about watching Anthony Hopkins act? What would my husband do without me? Most likely, his brain would turn to Jello pudding within three days. I guarantee it.

Her

My wife once called me out for mansplaining. Well, she continues to call me out for this. I remember I told her I like to explain things to her, and to no one else. She is the only one in my life--Clara has always been the one--who actually listens to what I say. The people I work with always want me to listen to them, and this is one of many skills I possess. I have no need to hide this fact.


However, when Clara listens to me, I feel like the best version of myself. A man of substance and character, if you will. In reality, I know that I am vain and arrogant. I can talk with anyone, knowledgeably, about any subject, but I never talk about anything meaningful or important. I don't want Clara to know this, but I think I would become a hollow shell of a man without her. I tell her, often, that she is my favorite person.


Our time is almost finished, and I don't mean to be rude, but my wife and I need to get going now. It's our 23rd anniversary party, and we don't want to be late. You know how it is. What? No, we don't want a divorce. We came in to talk about setting up a private investment fund for retirement. You're the one who insisted on meeting with both of us, separately. I thought you wanted an account of our personal relationship to give us better advice about the kinds of companies we should invest in.

Him

No, we don't want a divorce. Why would we want a divorce? Did he say he wanted a divorce? Oh, that's a relief. I was worried, but I'm often worried that I'm not enough for him, and that he'll leave me for a 20 year-old woman who is also a nurse. She'll hang on his every word, and will never disagree with anything that he says.

Yes, I know I have a wonderful imagination. Okay, I can see that you are laughing. Was what I said funny? Yes, we are running late for our 23rd anniversary party, and I really need to go. George hates to be late, and he acts like a grumpy cat, who's just tasted spoiled milk, if he's not on time.


Fine, I will answer one last question...no, I didn't think the questions you were asking were odd. If I were advising married clients on corporations they should invest in, I would want to know the history of their relationship. Okay, fine. If you won't stop laughing, I've got a joke for you...what do you call 50 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

Us

Him: What a strange lawyer.

Her: I know, right? I told him my best lawyer joke and he didn't laugh.

Him: That joke isn't funny.

Her: You don't know what joke I'm talking about.

Him: I know exactly what joke you are talking about. It's the one that goes: "What do you call 50 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?" The answer is: "Room for more."

Her: The way you just said it isn't funny.

Him: No, that joke is never funny. I wish you would stop telling it.

Her: Fine. Let's just get to the party. You know what you're like when you're late.

Him: What am I like when I'm late?

Her: You're an asshole when you're late, if you must know.

Him: You know I love you, right?

Her: Why do you say that?

Him: No reason.

Her: Really? I wish you would tell me why you love me.

Him: I love you because you are smart, funny, and beautiful.

Her: Thank you. I love you because of your butt. I hope you don't mind being objectified in this way.

Him: I don't mind.

Her: Did the lawyer ask you if you were there to get a divorce?

Him: Yes, why?

Her: He asked me the same thing.

Him: What an odd man.

Her: I agree.

Him: Happy Anniversary, lovely wife.

Her: I hate it when you call me wife. It makes me feel like you think I am something that belongs to you.

Him: Feelings aren't facts.

Her: What does that mean?

Him: It means exactly what I said.

Her: I am tired of arguing, but you are the only person I enjoy arguing with.

Him: I feel the same way.

Her: Happy Anniversary, George.

Him: Happy Anniversary, Clara.

Her: Would you ever leave me for a younger woman?

Him: Why would you say that?

Her: No reason.

Him: Absolutely not. Who else would be able to tolerate me? Would you ever leave me for someone else? Someone with a full head of hair, for example.

Her: No, but I may poison you in your sleep one day. From true crime dramas, I've learned that most women kill other people in this way.

Him: A couple of nights ago, I had a dream that you stabbed me with an incredibly sharp knife.

Her: Really? Just so you know, I would definitely poison you.

Him: I know.

Her: I love that you get me.

Him: I love that you get me.

THE END

June 06, 2021 09:16

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31 comments

Kelly Dennison
19:52 Jun 14, 2021

Okay, but like HOW FITTING that they would just unload on their retirement lawyer! This was an interesting read...it's wild what couples go through, right? ...is it wrong that I'm STILL irritated with George???

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Ruth Porritt
00:36 Jun 15, 2021

Hello Kelly, Thanks so much for reading. LOL, yes, exactly. :) Both characters enjoy talking about themselves. :) I like how every couple (in stories or in real life) has their own unique history and their own unique way of communicating. No, it's not wrong at all. George is a very irritating character. :) Have a great Monday/Tuesday, and catch you later, Ruth

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Keya Jadav
02:23 Aug 02, 2021

Ruth! I love your story, especially the ending. The way that you inserted the funny elements is really appreciable like when the husband asked 'Why do you love me?'. It's an incredible story justifying that no relationship is perfect yet strongly bonded. Good Work!

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Ruth Porritt
06:42 Aug 02, 2021

Hello Keya, Thanks so much for your kind words. This story was one of the occasions when it seems that the story came together by magic. (As you know, many stories can be a struggle to write. It's a beautiful struggle, though.) I was inspired to write this story by reading one of Paul Reiser's essay/comedy books about relationships. (I can't remember the title of the book, but Paul Reiser starred in the t.v. show called 'Mad About You'.) I find human relationships fascinating because the human mind is full of mysteries and contradictions....

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17:20 Jul 17, 2021

First of all: I didn't catch any Blatant Grammar Errors, so great job there! Second of all: WOW. This story is by turns devastating and funny. I really wanted George and Clara to succeed, even though they did have their struggles sometimes. They really do like to talk about themselves, don't they? They should go to a workshop on how to talk about others, and then they'd probably have fewer struggles. :) Third of all: I also appreciated how they were talking to a retirement lawyer, and how the reader is posing as the lawyer. It was ...

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Ruth Porritt
05:37 Jul 19, 2021

Hello Mr./Ms. Edits and Feedback, Thanks very much for taking the time to read and give feedback on 'Him'. I had a ball writing that one. :) Have a great Monday, and catch you later, Ruth P.

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18:17 Jul 19, 2021

No problem! It was a pleasure to read. :)

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S. Nicole
18:01 Jul 13, 2021

Absolutely loved this! I was pleasantly surprised when I realized they were speaking with a lawyer. It was also very interesting to learn their perspectives of one another. Great ending by the way!

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Ruth Porritt
09:39 Jul 21, 2021

Thanks, S. Nicole! :) You have made my day. Everybody inspires me, creatively, on Reedsy. I also enjoyed writing this one. (LOL, it wasn't like pulling teeth. Writing some stories feels like that.) Have a great week, and catch you later, Ruth P.

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06:46 Jul 07, 2021

I love this story!! The format is so captivating, it kept me interested in the plot. I also like how you couldn't quite tell who they were talking to in the beginning, only for it to be revealed in the end. Great job :)

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Alex Sultan
00:36 Jul 07, 2021

I like your writing style here a lot - the constant switch between two characters is really fun to read with how you present it.

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Ruth Porritt
06:18 Jul 07, 2021

Thanks, Alex! You made my day. :) It's always interesting (to me) how two people can think they have many differences, but actually have so many things in common. Have a great one, and catch you later, Ruth

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20:45 Jun 18, 2021

I love these two so much!!!!

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Ruth Porritt
04:09 Jun 19, 2021

Hello Sabrina B., Thanks so much. I must admit that I am very fond of George and Clara, and they hold a very special place in my heart. :) Have a great weekend, Ruth

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H L Mc Quaid
16:44 Jun 15, 2021

Great writing (honest and funny, and infuriating in equal measures), and I like how you've played with the format. Took me awhile to figure out that it was the attorney's perspective, but I enjoy a bit of mystery. Well done.

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Ruth Porritt
01:25 Jun 16, 2021

Hello Heather, Thank you so much. I like people, and I am interested in how we communicate (with each other) in relationships. As George and Clara were talking, I kept thinking: Yeah, but who are they talking to? :) I am glad that you enjoyed my answer. (so to speak) Catch you later, and have a great day, Ruth

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Charlie Murphy
15:57 Jun 15, 2021

What a funny story! Great drama! I thought they were going to divorce, but you surprised me. Great job! I like the format with Him/Her.

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Ruth Porritt
04:54 Jun 19, 2021

Hello Charlie, My apologies to you; I thought I had replied to your earlier message, but found that I hadn't. Anyway, thank you so much for your kind words. :) Honestly, I wasn't sure if George and Clara were going to divorce, or not, (lol) but I believe in the power of love, hope, and faith. Aren't these things wonderful? :) Have a great weekend, and catch you later, Ruth

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03:45 Jun 15, 2021

Ruth, You possess this polished feel and cleanness in your writing that I adore. I could literally read for days. I tremendously enjoyed your characters and how they bounce off each other. They seem to always have a quip under their sleeves. The humor is on point. I adore the way they get each other and their curious way of affection. I have to admit, I was scared that they'd separate. I'm so happy that they didn't. I can't see anything amiss with this story. Absolutely perfect in my eyes. A truly enjoyable read. It had me laughing all the w...

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Ruth Porritt
04:13 Jun 15, 2021

Dear Ruthy, Those words mean so much to me, coming from someone whose work I greatly admire. :) Thank you very much. I am so glad that you enjoyed this story. (I must admit that I had a lot of fun writing it.) Aren't relationships interesting? Each one is different and unique. I am always delighted (and honored) when someone laughs at one thing, or many things, that a character says or does. Thanks again for your kind words, and catch you later, Ruth

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Stevie B
20:50 Jun 11, 2021

Ruth, a very nicely and original you've produced here. Especially enjoyed the refrigerator/magnet simile-vey clever!

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Ruth Porritt
08:51 Jun 12, 2021

Hello Stevie, Thanks so much, and thank you for your lovely messages. I think in similes, and I am never sure if the ones I produce are good ones, or if they stick out like pimples on a 90 year-old woman. :) I will reply to the rest of your kind messages, and have a great weekend, Ruth P.

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Deidra Lovegren
19:25 Jun 07, 2021

Yep. That's a healthy marriage :) hahaha

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Ruth Porritt
02:57 Jun 08, 2021

Yes, the only "normal" in marriage is the setting on the dryer. Lol. :) Are you married? (If this is too personal a question, I apologize.) If you are married, (and the question is not too personal) who would play you and your partner in a movie? (I am married and would want Kristen Bell to play me, and Laurence Olivier to play my husband.)

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Deidra Lovegren
16:17 Jun 08, 2021

Happily married 27 years. Me: Vivien Leigh Husband: Leslie Howard :) https://sites.google.com/view/deidralovegren/home

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Ruth Porritt
01:24 Jun 09, 2021

Dear Deidra, I think I just fell in love with you a bit when you said that you've been married for 27 years, and Vivian Leigh would play you in a movie. (She and Olivier had a torrid love affair.) Awww....Leslie Howard! :) He was completely adorable. I also like George Reeves (as one of the Tarleton twins) in that film. Clark Gable was very handsome and charming, but I prefer him in "It happened one night". I will check out your google site. Have a great Tuesday/Wednesday, Ruth

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Ruth Porritt
02:58 Jun 08, 2021

Yes, the only "normal" in marriage is the setting on the dryer. Lol. :) Are you married? (If this is too personal a question, I apologize.) If you are married, (and the question is not too personal) who would play you and your partner in a movie? (I am married and would want Kristen Bell to play me, and Laurence Olivier to play my husband.)

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Josephine Samuel
11:23 Jun 06, 2021

Wooo.. those opening paragraphs 😍😍 The premise of this story makes me think of Rainbow Rowell's ATTACHMENT. I love the humor too. This is superb👌

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Ruth Porritt
00:42 Jun 07, 2021

Thanks so much, Josephine. You have made my entire day! :) Catch you later, Ruth

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Francis Daisy
12:29 Aug 08, 2021

Dear Ruth, OMG! It's like you have been eavesdropping on every conversation I've ever had in my house! Do you have my house bugged?!?!? This is SO realistic and spot on for a married couple! Well written, Ruth, well written! I cannot believe I am just now discovering your writing on Reedsy. I look forward to reading more of your pieces. Ruth and George, 23 years and still going. Good for them! :)Amy

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Andrea Magee
10:13 Aug 08, 2021

Awwwwww.....absolutely great story! Those two were meant to be. You are a skilled writer!

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