With Valentine’s Day being celebrated around the world for hopeless romantics like myself, I couldn’t resist peeking back over old computer files in search of a story I could share on Cupid’s day for lovers. Here is one of my rare fiction stories with a poignant message – may love always be close to your own heart..
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He’d always said it didn’t bother him she was blind. In fact, he had laughed,
“You’re the perfect partner for me, Kitty-babe.”
“Hmm?” She smiled.
He unravelled a thin yellow ribbon from his shirt pocket, winding it gently around her ring finger. “Yeah. No other woman I’ve been with can walk straight past a jeweller’s window like you do.” Placing his soft lips on Kitty’s fourth finger he added, “Save this one for me, OK?”
Fumbling to unlock the front door, Kitty’s scarf catches on the cactus plant he had bought from some dodgy second-hand shop on the not so fashionable side of Chapel Street. She jabs the key into the lock, ripping the yellow ribbon from her ring finger, and hurls the white cane down the corridor. She slams the door as hard as she can, crying, How dare he!
A crystal vase wobbles on the hall table as Kitty thunders past, knocking over the sagging red flowers he had given her. Shards of glass explode across the tiled floor. She crushes fragments of glass and petals under her black boots, his last words breaking her heart.
Moving around the bedroom, her hands can’t help but stray over every surface in search of anything he may have left behind. It was all going in the bin. Hands sift through empty drawers and cupboards, finding nothing.
Kitty kneels down on the shaggy rug on his side of the bed, burrowing madly underneath the low futon, her hands delighted to have found something of his she can shred to pieces. A pile of magazines, The Financial Review, no doubt.
He liked to scan through the pages as she lay next to him in bed, curled up and purring: with limbs intertwined and hands moving over each other’s salty-skin. He assured her it was important to keep an eye on rising trends in the stock market.
Kitty launches the magazines into the air one by one, aiming for the rubbish bin, none of them making it to the target, an assortment of papers littering the room. Prick! She curses, gathering them up.
A glossy photo on the front cover makes her take a closer look. Her tear-filled eyes widen, travelling carefully over the black font two inches from her face.
Bold, lush, defiant – PLAYBOY. What else had she not seen?
A pair of doves nesting in a tree with red blossoms outside the window wake her from her thoughts as they coo, You fool, you fool.
But the love birds continue their torment. Heat rises into her face and she hurls his pillow at the window, the smell of his sandalwood cologne making her feel sick for the first time.
In the early days of their relationship, his irresistible scent had comforted her as Kitty lay awake, wondering how a man could truly love a woman who was going blind. She craved to experience intimacy as a whole woman – not a partially-sighted one and it hurt to think how he would be limited by choosing a woman who couldn’t connect through visual body language.
Kitty wanted to prove to herself that she was more than vision-impaired. She knew how to bounce back when she suffered embarrassment: bumping into street poles, tripping over children, falling into holes, bruising shins and ego. Laughing at misfortune had become a way of life. Kitty had honed her wits to get her out of sticky situations: accidentally walking over wet cement, jumping a queue then ordering without a ticket, knocking items off a shelf, wearing odd-coloured shoes.
He went along with the humorous aspects of Kitty’s blind life - teasing her.
“Pity, babe, you can’t see how good looking I am?” They laughed that there were never any arguments about who had the car for the weekend, and he loved that she never gave him directions when they drove around in his make-believe Porsche.
But the day he announced he was moving interstate and thought it best they go their separate ways was the day he confessed he couldn’t face another divorce – two ex-wives had pulled the financial rug from underneath him. He wasn’t willing to risk a third marriage with any other woman, no matter how much he loved her.
Kitty’s Ivory Lover
In the fading pink evening light, the piano sits in the corner of the living room like a reassuring friend, calling to Kitty, Come. Come and play me. She returns to the only lover that had never betrayed her and Kitty’s mood softens as she moves closer to the iron-framed piano, a tightened brow replaced by a thin-lipped smile.
Fingers slip into the white spaces of the keys, spread elegantly like wings over middle C. With lowered head and eyes closed, memories of him force their way into Kitty’s thoughts, bringing a sharp dragging ache to her chest.
She shifts in the seat, hands diving for the lower register to strike at the keys, thumping out discordant tones while her foot stomps on the pedal. Internal heat pulses through fingers as they jam into black and white spaces of the keyboard. Thoughts and fragments of their conversations jump into her mind as Kitty’s hands randomly twist and turn over the octaves.
The long wooden hammers with their felt claws strike the strings beneath the lid of the piano, pounding as each dampened thud echoes her troubled heart, Why did he have to leave?
Hands quiver, shoulders release, tightened throat prepares for sobbing. Safe in the intimacy of free expression, her heart opens into a space where all she can do is let go of unfulfilled promises.
A torrent of salty tears trace a course down Kitty’s hot cheeks and over trembling hands. Thoughts plunge into the deep recesses seeking shelter from the snagging words, Let go, let go, let go.
The music plays on, dancing through Kitty’s fingers, the improvised melody lifting her heart over the maze of self-doubt. After several hours, she is cradled by the warmth of the pulse, and in the space between letting go and acceptance, Kitty’s heart is captivated by the sound emerging from the piano: deep ecstasy flowing through every part of her being.
The fading chords linger in the room, moonlight peeps through the lace curtains.
She hears the gentle pattern of breathing as long deep breaths escape from her lips. Placing a moist kiss on her open hand, Kitty pats down on the warm keys and gently closes the wooden lid. She edges slowly away from her ivory lover, tears rest like salt crystals drying on her cheeks: and as a smile breaks free, Kitty promises to replace the broken vase in the light of a new day.
The flowers this time, will come from her own garden.
Copyright © 2014 Maribel Steel