JUST ANOTHER LOVE STORY
by Anne Yoder
I am tired of telling stories about a guy and a girl who fall in love but have some non-negotiable problem or problems, as the case may be—because there is always some problem with falling in love that goes unnoticed until one or both of them has already taken the plunge. He has hidden his hang-ups about his mother, beginning with the way that he will answer her calls even when he’s having sex. He has forgotten for now about flirting with waitresses and office assistants, in this grace period when this woman fulfills his desires. She has sex with him in the morning and at night, she finds his fear of monogamy and commitment endearing, his silliness hasn’t begun to wear thin. She has come to think of his penis as cute with its mushroom tip, she welcomes his tender kisses, they are not smothering, and she begins to cook.
And yet what’s more interesting than their mutual affection, in this specific case, is the way that light travels through their apartment from morning until night. In the morning the kitchen emanates a sweet violet hue, made by the sun hitting the aubergine curtains, not yet open because the guy and the girl are still in bed. She is moving her body over his chest and he is moaning. He is bored, slightly, and she is trying to be sexy and resist the urge to pass gas, because even at this point of having slept side by side for many months she knows she would blush.
She is not bleeding yet but hopes she will be soon.
Now the sun is setting in the background, beyond the trees, and the light darts through the bedroom window on the west with a warm shade of peach. The peach hue tints her post-coital chest, and she thinks the brightness is brought on by contentment. His eyes are closed as he feigns sleep. She thinks he’s overwhelmed. He is tired and doesn’t know what to say.
At this moment, meteors collide beyond the earth’s atmosphere, with pieces penetrating and falling through roofs, crashing through bedroom walls, burning craters in the ground, in gardens, in beds of dahlias.
What is our lovely couple doing? Are they still endeared to one another while this shower of fire and rock falls over a neighboring town? He is making birthday cake for her, and not because it’s her birthday but because he wants to do something special. He adds extra handfuls of colored sprinkles.
In another county, there’s a deadly collision; in another state, a massive protest; in another country, the beginning of a civil war where the government’s army goes door to door and shoots anyone who looks suspicious. This includes the man with a wandering eye, the couple who takes too long to answer the door, the thin man who shields his eyes from bright sunlight. An entire town was massacred yesterday.
The guy and girl sometimes sigh with wonder at the ways people kill each other without mercy, but they know there’s not always a reasonable answer. Usually they don’t think about it.
Forgive them for their fatuous distractions. Although love is no excuse.
Affairs inevitably turn sour. His affection becomes misplaced, there’s another woman, who wears leopard-print panties, whom he desires. He bets that she doesn’t snore. She, the girlfriend, realizes she’s never quite seen him for what he is. She once took his reticence for shyness and depth of intellect. She found this charming but now she’s dismayed that she still finds it difficult to converse. She actively pulls words from him. The yeses and nos are easy, it’s the longer phrases that get stuck in his gut and she feels obligated to help him find a way to release them. She has him lay down and rest his head and she sticks her hand down his throat and fingers his lungs as they’re expanding, searching for the sticky sentences he fails to emit. She’s previously applied lubricant to his tongue. There are easier sources of language, she knows, other springs she can divine.
She wonders what attracted her to him in the fist place? More than the way he moved inside of her, as if he were tapping out an S.O.S. Should that have been forewarning? All of it now falls short. He stopped baking cakes. She spends her evenings outside and watches the sun set. He stopped singing sweetly in the morning. They no longer whisper goodnight.
Anne K. Yoder’s fiction, essays, and criticism have been published Fence, Bomb, and Tin House, among other publications. She is a staff writer for The Millions, co-editrix of Projecttile, a journal of nontraditional writing with a feminist bent, and a member of Meekling Press. She lives in Chicago, where she’s at work on a novel.