Fiction, Flash Fiction, Marriage, Motherhood, Writing Prompt

Blue

Writing Prompt: She had a cocktail in her hand and confetti in her hair.
Writing Time: 30 minutes

 


Over the bobbing heads of the dance floor crowd, I stare at the woman in the blue dress. She has a cocktail in her hand and confetti in her hair. Her lips are parted in laughter, the sound lost in the noise of the music. My fingers curl into fists against my stomach, mimicking the tightness of the air in my lungs.

Jealousy. It is nested in my chest.

It is not that I wish her to be otherwise. The night is better for the glow in her eyes. I do not wish it gone. I only wish to know it; to know the release of that laughter and the pleasure of my limbs swaying to the song.

“What are you thinking about?” my husband asks, his face close to my ear so I can hear him.

“Do you see her?” I point my chin in the direction of the woman. “In the blue dress.”

He cranes his neck to see. The silver hairs at his temple catch the light of the dimmed sconces behind our table on the perimeter of the dance floor. For a moment I’m transfixed by his profile, then he turns and catches my gaze. He is confused.

“Was I ever like her?” The question is spoken before I can filter it. I expect more confusion. Instead his face is transformed by a broad smile.

He leans in close again. “Even better.”

I rest my forehead against his cheek. His stubble is soft; a comforting texture on my skin.

“You still are,” I hear him add at the pause between songs.

When I close my eyes, a memory plays like a film projection. My roommate and I walking past the fountain at the center of the university campus. A small congregation of other students, strangers, with a radio blasting and an impromptu dance party coming to life. One of the guys pulling me into the group. Dancing with them until the song ends; laughing through every second.

My husband speaks now and I am startled to realize he is reliving the same memory.

“I’ll never forget watching you dance the night before we met. Sitting on the edge of that fountain, seeing you approach. You started singing along to the music. I hoped you’d stop and you did. I hoped you’d dance and you did. I hoped you’d keep laughing and you did.”

I finish the familiar commentary. “You hoped I’d sit down to rest on the edge of the fountain and I didn’t.” I require a deep breath to keep the tears behind the border of my eyelashes.

“You were transcendent.”

A sigh falls from my lips. “That girl is a stranger now.”

“Not to me.” He lifts my chin with his fingertips. “I still see her every day.”

Baby blues. Such a trite, pretty name for the darkness I dwell in presently.

“You’re still her. You are her and more.”

I tuck his words into the deepest corners of my mind, where they are needed. Then I watch the confetti scatter from the hair of the woman in the blue dress.

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Love, Marriage, Writing Prompt

The Rhythm of His Heart

Writing Prompt: I fell asleep to the rhythm of his heart.
Writing Time: 15 minutes

She laid her head on his chest, letting her nerves be soothed by his heartbeat. She felt her own heart steady itself. They’d been fighting all week. They’d been fighting for months, in truth. With each burst of regrettable words and cold glares, her heart raced. It pounded against her rib cage in a combination of threat and reassurance: a threat that it could become more than she could handle – more than they could come back from; a reassurance that she had not reached, and could not imagine reaching, a point of no longer caring if they could recover.

Every couple went through times like this. That’s what she believed. Turmoil was found in every coupling. Sometimes she was tempted to think their particular brand of turmoil could be worse than others but mostly she was confident it was not. It was what their bond, forged in passion and affection and joy, prepared them for.

Here with her ear over his heart, she hoped he still believed likewise. Despite her share in the mistakes and the pain they caused him, she hoped he still believed.

As his breathing slowed into sleep, she wracked her brain for how she could convince him that she was still glad she chose him. He needed to know she was still choosing him. That was the way she’d fallen short so often in these months. Her grandmother’s words at her bridal shower all those years ago came back to her.

“Choose each other every day. Above everybody else, choose each other. Even when you’re busy or you can’t physically be near each other, make sure your hearts are still choosing each other. There are so many things and so many people to choose from. You’ll be tempted to let it slide because you already have each other, but you’ll only have each other for as long as you keep choosing each other.”

In her naive, bridal bliss, the advice seemed quaint. Here, multiple kids, jobs, houses, and sufferings later, she understood.

“I choose you,” she whispered into his chest and fell asleep to the rhythm of his heart.

Love, Marriage, Photography, Pictures & Words Challenge, Writing Prompt

Pictures & Words Day 19: Then I Remember

Photo/Writing Prompt: Sometimes I…

Sometimes I forget how it felt the first time you kissed me, or even held my hand. The nerves, the doubts, the thrilling hope; the sensations have faded like a dress left out in the sun. The vibrancy has dimmed. If I put that dress back on though, if I slip back into the seams of that memory, then I remember it all. The substance of it is no worse for wear. It still envelops me and I sink gladly into it.

Sometimes I forget, but maybe that’s how it should be for the sake of the sweetness of remembering.

Love, Marriage

Love Through It

Let me tell you something about my husband. He is exceptional.

This morning I woke up feeling frustrated. Insecure. Disappointed. And my first fallen instinct was to let my husband feel the effects. In my attitude and demeanor, he was undeservedly on the receiving end of my weak mental state.

This man beside me works daily to support our family, spending his hours at a job that doesn’t make nearly enough use of his great skills and talents. He is unwavering in his dedication to raising his sons in uprightness. He apologizes when he is in the wrong, and talks through mistakes to move a step forward by them rather than letting them push him backward. He will push through any discomfort or pain to accomplish what is necessary, and usually a good stretch farther than necessary. He is relentless in ensuring I smile and laugh enough each day.

And when I give him scowls instead of smiles, selfish words instead of generous ones, he loves me through it.

He loves me through it.

I pray every wife is able to say that of her husband, and vice versa. We must love each other through it. All of it.

Love, Marriage

Still New – Day 1, National Week of Marriage

I sometimes forget I’m a newlywed. Caught up in new motherhood, my awareness of the newness of my marriage fades. Then a moment comes along that catches me by surprise and immerses me in it once again.

My husband and I have been married for 1 year and 4 months. That still qualifies as newlywed, right? I certainly believe it does. We are still learning. That is what I have to remind myself so often as I attempt to balance all sides of this life we are living together. Learning to love, learning to live as one. Learning to rejoice and to forgive. Learning to fight and to make up. Well, maybe we have the making up part down fairly well. Learning to laugh at ourselves and with each other. Learning to challenge and accept. Learning to wait and to work.

With each passing month, I gain a deeper appreciation for how our strengths and weaknesses offset each other. Matt does not make me whole. No, only my Lord does that and I will wound my marriage every time I try to fit my husband in that role instead of Christ. But Matt does complement me, and I him. Together we are stronger, wiser, better.

Love is amazing. It is awesome. I mean that in the true sense of the word, not the trite way we usually toss it around. Awesome – filling me with awe when I contemplate the way it can build a person up to more than they ever thought they could be. Or how it can inflict pain, even unintentionally, when it is sacrificed for the sake of self interest. The power in the nature of authentic love is massive. Every day people sell themselves short with their conceptions of what they should gain or feel or experience in the name of so-called love. And God just keeps giving us more chances. More days. Each one an opportunity to let the truth dawn on us that real love is possible. It is available. We are capable of it and we were created to receive it.

Real love. Another phrase we can’t simply assume we understand. God is love. All human love is a share in the life of God. If something has no place in God, who is all truth, all beauty, all goodness, then it is not real love. There is no standard lower than that which should be applied to love.

Real love manifests itself in endless forms. Faithfulness – from our very thoughts to our outright actions, not merely avoiding unfaithfulness but dedicating yourself to falling more in love with your spouse by noticing the good, complimenting the beautiful, encouraging the potential in the other. Self-sacrifice – in the daily grind of taking care of the home, working long hours to support your family, putting the other first in even the smallest ways so you will be well practiced when the time comes to put them first in a big way. Joy – celebrating the presence of the other in your life, praising God for them, thinking each day of a reason to be thankful for them rather than taking them for granted. Affection – touch with intentionality, kiss with purpose instead of absentmindedly, learn each other’s bodies and desires as lovers, small caresses and deep intimacy. Forgiveness – always forgiveness. Without hesitation, every day we have together, forgive. No grudge, no ‘holding out’ will make you or your marriage better. Fight respectfully and forgive generously. Prayer – lift your spouse and your marriage up to God. Let Him tend to it, guide it, form it, The two of you are never alone in this relationship.

I love my husband. As a new wife, I am still learning how to really love my husband.

Love, Marriage

Keeps Getting Better

On my brief commute this morning, I flipped between radio stations a few times. The latest Katy Perry tune just wasn’t my cup of tea nor were the DJ’s bantering conversations. I settled on a Rascal Flatts song I hadn’t heard before. Only half the song played before I reached my parking spot but that’s all it took to leave me disappointed. The theme was the urgency of getting married because there wasn’t any reason not to do so. His most persuasive argument: “I can’t imagine loving you any more than I do today.” Romantic? Sweet? Or the makings of a failed marriage?

I know, I know, I’m being far too analytical about a country song, but the statement really bothered me! Maybe when you first realize you’re in love, it’s so intense that it’s valid to say you can’t imagine loving the other person more than you do at that point. However as the relationship continues, as time passes and the bond is deepened and solidified, you learn, with considerable amazement, that it is indeed possible to love your beloved more today than the day before. You begin to hope that the trend will continue: tomorrow will see more love than today; next month will see greater commitment than this month; next year will see a richer experience of each other’s love than this year. The journey towards marriage ought to make it perfectly reasonable to have confident faith in the ongoing growth of your love for one another. The urgent lust that seems to underly this man’s request that they get married immediately? Sure, that might cool off. The passion might even out. The love, though, just keeps getting better. That’s what I’m waiting and hoping for; nothing less will persuade me to attend the wedding.
Love, Marriage

I Do Love a Good Wedding

The Office Wedding tonight!!! The level of my excitement is probably a tad disproportionate to the reality of it being a fictional, television wedding. Yet, I can’t suppress it. Jim and Pam are getting married and I am so happy about it! (I will not admit aloud how much I will be wishing during the episode that I were the one marrying Jim Halpert/John Krasinski.) I almost feel like dressing up for the occasion and pouring a glass of champagne!

“You only fall in love once; the rest is merely practice to make sure your heart can take it.” (Unknown)