Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts:  Georgianna, I heard you, love out loud, she did okay, bombs against bamboo, this is what it sounds like when a dove cries, jiminy cricket, we haven’t done this in a long time, she strolled into the shop, removed her jacket, what does your family think, smells, sensible advice, relax

When I awoke, the house smelled of cinnamon and vanilla.  Rob was smiling sheepishly in the doorway, bringing me a small tray of pastries and tea.  “Wow,” I said, stretching and pulling myself into a sitting position.  “We haven’t done this in a long time.”

“Wait’ll you taste these cinnamon rolls,” he said eagerly.  “I put in a little something extra—”

“Hmm,” I murmured, faking encouragement, suspecting he’d slipped bourbon into the batter since he’d been downing a glass himself.  He looked at me.  “Whaddaya think?”

“Hmmm.”  I continued to chew.

“Okay, I’ll tell you.”  He plopped down beside me, impatient.  “It’s orange zest.”

“Oh, yeah, I taste it!  It’s nice.”  He put up his feet and arranged himself beside me and we ate in silence for a minute or two.

“I heard you last night,” I whispered tentatively.  “Who were you talking to?”

“Nobody,” he said automatically.  I raised an eyebrow.  “When?” he asked.

“Right after I went to bed.”

“You dreamed it,” he said, feigning a smirk.  He got up, heading to the bathroom to shave.  He left the door open and I could see him in the mirror.  There were circles under his eyes.  I’m sure he hadn’t slept.

I left the pastry half eaten and got up to pull on my jeans.  I’m sure he’d been up talking to Georgianna all night.  I knew what his voice sounds like when he speaks to her.  It’s pulled tight and deep like a cello surrendering to the frantic rhythm of a Bach concerto, full of anxiety and desire, a paradoxical combination.  

They were together when I first met him, nearly a decade ago.  I couldn’t help but notice them as they came into the campus party.  I’d known her in high school, and I’d heard she’d done okay for herself, but I didn’t know she had snagged herself such a good-looking boyfriend.  They were a couple in synch, a love-out-loud pair, they seemed to read each other’s minds, finishing each other’s sentences, mirroring each other’s movements.  He was so attentive, making sure her glass was never empty, that her plate was always full.  He even leaned over to help her remove her jacket and I watched enthralled, wondering if this would annoy the hell out of me or if it was exactly what I was craving—a mate who would not only meet my needs but anticipate them.  It seemed a dream come true.

I didn’t seek him out when I heard he was available.  It wasn’t like that.  But he was like a mournful dove crying and I was moved.  I wanted to help, but I didn’t approach him at parties or other gatherings.  I relaxed, I let him come to me.

One day he strolled into the shop where I worked and I melted.  My family and friends told me to be cautious, and it was sensible advice.  I ignored it.

Now she is a constant presence here in our marriage.  Georgianna, like a cricket rubbing her legs together seductively, chirping away.  I look for her, I can’t find her, but Rob does, she is always in Rob’s ear.  She’s like a ticking bomb hidden in a thick stand of bamboo.  No matter how many times Rob greets me with cinnamon rolls, I know his heart is divided.  

For Christ’s sake, Georgianna, I can’t compete with you anymore.  Please, I’m begging you, please leave my marriage alone.  It’s time for you to go.  Don’t you realize?  You’re dead, Georgianna.  Lie down.  You’re dead.

Photo by Brennan Wolf on Unsplash

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