Saturday, December 1, 2007
“I’ll love you forever.” Mark promised. “You are my one true love.” Emma smiled, thrilled with his love. In his eyes she could see reflected the truth of his heart. Her vision was clear. Emma had never, ever been loved like this. Extravagantly, overwhelmingly, he bought her chocolates because she loved them. Books so she would share the stories with him. He laughed with her, gave his heart to her freely, willingly.
Mark was younger and she would often worry about their future. Would he look at her one day and see her as old? Would he find her undesirable when she was sixty and he was only 50? Emma watched him closely and when he asked her one afternoon if she would like to take a nap she became angry. He thinks I’m old already she thought. He tried to explain that he had only wanted to hold her but she wouldn't believe him, her vision becoming clouded by the fear in her heart.
“You are my heart, my space, my everything.” He declared. She was overjoyed that he would love her so. They spent hours together, whispering and laughing. He would pull her close, wanting to feel her body against him. He would kiss her and call her his beauty. He reveled in just being with her.
Mark was very handsome and when she looked in the mirror she saw all her flaws. Emma couldn’t understand why he would want her. She was certain he would want someone taller, thinner, and more beautiful. Emma was short, a little plump with a wrinkle here and there. She would watch him when they went out and anytime he looked at another woman her fear would grow.
“I will never leave you. I will always love you.” He whispered to her heart. But her heart did not hear and she became more certain than ever that he was planning his escape.
One lonely afternoon in the midst of despair and depression she left him not wanting to be left herself. Mark could not understand when she said that she knew he didn’t want her. He protested over and over but her fear had convinced her of the untruth. Emma wouldn’t discuss it with him and so he quietly withdrew hoping that she would change her mind, wanting her to be happy.
She was not happy. She was bitter and alone and in the end spent days upon days in misery in her room reading her favorite author. Jane Austen’s characters became her only friends. She missed him but was certain he had by now found another and was most certainly happy.
Time went by, long days and lonely nights for them both. In the end Mark moved on looking for happiness and a full life. Emma found a job in a little bookshop two towns over. She would spend her days there and her nights she spent alone with the cat in a little studio apartment overlooking the park she and Mark used to go to.
It was 10 years later when it happened. Emma was behind the counter and heard the bell jingle. Twin boys, about 7 years old came in first and headed to the children’s section where there was a Thomas the train set on display just begging to be played with. A young woman walked in and Mark with her. The woman followed the boys but he went off in another direction.
Emma watched him as he walked through the store. He hadn't changed much at all. She wondered if he would recognize her but she didn't say anything. She pretended to be busy putting out new books and headed towards the aisle he was on. She noted that he had pulled out a beautifully leather bound book. Curiously, he didn’t open it but simply ran his fingers over the cover. With a wistful half smile he turned the book on its side. Slowly almost lovingly he ran his thumb up the spine.
“Darling, we really need to get the boys some lunch,” The woman called from a couple of aisles over.
“Of course I’ll be right there.” Mark called back. He placed the book back on the shelf. She watched as he brought his finger to his lips and then touched the book one last time.
“Is there something I can help you with?” Emma asked.
“Oh no, thanks,” He said barely looking in her direction. “I was just leaving”
She watched him as walked out of the store with the woman and the children. Even before the bell stopped jingling she walked to where he stood. She began to cry as she pulled down the beautiful, leather bound volume of Emma by Jane Austin.