kayeaton: (Default)
Kay Eaton ([personal profile] kayeaton) wrote2011-01-20 05:51 pm
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ooc - after julius dies

As promised to Sarah, the story in which Kay meets her second husband.

He worked, he said, at an advertising agency somewhere in Manhattan. When you met at the restaurant, you realized that in heels, you dwarfed him--only by an inch or two, but still suddenly evident as you shook hands. He took it well, with an easy smile. He rarely frowned when he spoke, the hints of what must once have been an impossibly thick Brooklyn accent still coloring the vowels of his words as he told you about his work.

He was decidedly uninterested in yours, dismissing every magazine you wrote for as uninspired trash, and too often smutty to boot--and then, realizing his mistake, assured you that you were undoubtedly a talent beyond your peers. At that moment, you found yourself unable to be too rankled, but nonetheless you shifted the subject to your belated studies in English, delayed some decades for want of money or time. Those, he thought a great idea, though he admitted he had never pursued many English classes past the requirements for his business degree, years ago.

Of course, he did read, but mostly literature, and as you did enjoy what they distinguished from pulp in those days, you spent the rest of the evening trading Fitzgeralds for Jameses and comparing tastes.

You became aware, over time, that the figure he cut was born of necessity rather than any sartorial love. He confided in you the third time you met over dinner--what anyone less in denial would have called your third date--that if he wasn't expected to show up at work in the finest suits he could acquire, he would dress for the golf course every day of his life. The occasional missing tie-tack began to catch your eye, or the socks that did not actually match except on very brief glance.

Eventually, you spoke of children, namely his, and he had the grace not to comment on the fact that you were childless. It was a moment you had been dreading, the moment he would sigh over your missed opportunities--or worse, having seen the photographs you had not been able to bring yourself to put away, expressed his relief that you had never gotten around to the matter. He had two, who generally lived with their mother but were utter angels you would no doubt come to adore as he did--though, of course, he did not say all that at first. Perhaps he realized how thoroughly the subject reeked of a commitment neither of you seemed sure of.

After your evenings out, when he left you at your door with a kiss, you curled into your too-large bed and wondered whether you would have wanted Julius to see other people, had you died first. You found yourself as unable to choose between the lady or the tiger as Stockton was, and on particularly lonely evenings, wished the third choice was available: that Julius could have lived to eighty, and you to eighty-four, so you would never have needed to wonder about the man you met for dinner once a week.

If there were three choices, you would never have had to hesitate. But there were never three choices, and the loneliness you still brimmed with sometimes would never be completely eased by either of the two remaining options.

The night you first saw your advertising executive's room, from the vantage point of his bed, was the night you decided. It was carefully, if blandly, decorated, with a small bookshelf half-filled with books. Though it was neatly organized, the way he threw his tie haphazardly onto the bureau suggested the burden of tidiness was born by a cleaner. When he touched you, you didn't direct his hands in a throaty whisper, and he didn't notice the loss.

You knew he was nothing like Julius and never would be. And for that reason, you realized, perhaps you could try to love him.

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