Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and fourteenth piece in this series. This week’s is a 498-worder by Diane Corriette. This story will be podcasted in episode 36 (with three other stories / with two other stories and some 6-worders) on Sunday 26th January 2014.
The Unspoken Middle
She slipped her arms around his waist and kissed his neck. Through her, flowed a torrent of emotions for this man she called hubby. Most days those emotions included love and desire, but recently they were more intense and often negative. Inferiority, anxiety and a feeling of him becoming emotionally unavailable to her, plagued her thoughts at night, making her defensive and on her guard during the day.
He looked up, smiled, and then went back to putting on his tie. He hated her touching his middle. She always wanted to put her arms around him and it made him uneasy. He was certain that her need to surround his stomach was her way of telling him he had become fat and out of shape. He was conscious of the fact that his middle had grown thicker over the last few years. Despite putting in extra hours at the gym, he continued to expand.
‘Penny for them,’ she smiled. He looked at her beautiful face staring at him in the mirror. His wife; the woman he’d loved for over 23 years. His life had meaning because of her, that much he was sure about, but he could never find a way to make her understand that fact so it made sense to her.
‘Not much to share,’ was all he said as he removed her hands from around his waist. ‘Leave me be to get ready for work, Judy.’ His voice was harsher than he meant it to be, but her constant need to touch his middle annoyed him.
‘I love you,’ he said, hoping to make up for his harshness. ‘I have always loved you.’
She smiled at him and left the room. He was conscious of her inability to express how she felt. He didn’t doubt she loved him but he still felt a desperate need to hear her express it.
Judy made her way down the stairs and into the kitchen, fighting to see through the stream of hot fresh tears flowing down her face. After what to her was another harsh exchange of words, she was even more convinced he no longer loved her. His inability to touch her, or let her touch him, provided further evidence of his fading affections.
Sure he was good with words, but words were empty and cheap, in her opinion, and love needed to be expressed through physical touch. What she needed, as proof of his love, was for him to hold her and say nothing; to touch her and be intimate without the need for words.
They ate breakfast in silence. Eventually, he stood at the door ready to leave for work and said ‘I love you… Enjoy your day… See you later.’
She sat, with her body hunched over her magazine, wondering if he could see that what she needed from him right now were not his words but his arms around her. She looked up and nodded her head in response. He turned and left.
I asked Diane what prompted this piece and she said…
When words are left unspoken a relationship can fall apart even if what you feel for each other is mad passionate love and desire. That is the inspiration behind this story. I bought, and half read, a book called the 5 love languages, which explains how we express our love in different ways. In this relationship is someone who uses words to express his love and he can’t understand why his wife doesn’t do the same. His wife expresses her love through physical touch and believes if someone loves her they will let her know that, not through their words, but by holding/touching her and allowing her to express her love through touch also.
Thank you, Diane. It was really touching and so true. Misunderstandings, I’m sure, play a part in most break-ups.
Although she has been writing for years and currently writes and sells non-fiction eBooks on self-confidence she has only recently (November 2012) decided to start writing fiction (her hidden passion for many years) and published “The Last Hut and 29 other flash fiction stories” in October 2013.
Diane lives in Bedfordshire, England, with her youngest son – two of her three children have now left home – and her cat Mollie.
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