Tuesday 11 December 2018

A Story Inspired by a Song by Anna Belfrage

guess the song
clue.. sobbing noisily
Anna says: “When I listen to this song, I mostly hear the despair, the pain that so often accompanies love. It’s not easy to have your entire existence depending on another person…” 

He never said it. She waited and waited, she told him often enough, but he didn’t reciprocate. Nope. And while at first she could convince herself it didn’t matter—not really—over time insecurity crept in. He was so self-contained. Did he need her? Love her? Of course he did, she told herself. He showed her all the time, she added, squashing that little voice inside of her that whispered that maybe he didn’t love her. Not like she loved him. At times, she wondered if he even noticed her. It seemed to her that as the weeks became months, became years, he regarded her more as a convenience than as the love of his life.
   But she persevered. She held him at night, set plates of hot food in front of him when he came in from yet another day’s hard work. She kept their little home neat and scrubbed, she made sure his clothes were clean, the sheets were changed. Not the life she had imagined. Not at all. 
   Sometimes, she’d steal some moments for herself and stand in the scant shade offered by their home and pretend. Some moments of gliding gracefully over the ground, arms held high over her head as she twirled and danced. Once, she had dreamed. Of fame, of limelight, of a new life out west. And then she’d fallen in love. She sighed, halting mid step through one of her dance routines. What was the point?

He never said it. He knew that she hoped that he would, but to set words on the feelings that so often clogged his throat—especially when he’d see her dancing in the shade, a creature of so much light and grace—no, he just couldn’t. Besides, there were other ways of showing her, right? He loved her at night, he handed over his pay check to her every other Friday. And when she gave him a son, he was struck so mute by emotions he went out and cut off one of her precious white roses, hoping she would understand what he tried to convey with the flower.

   Life went on. He wished he could give her—and the boy—more. He worked harder and harder, but failure dogged him and instead of steak and fries they ate a hell of a lot of beans. He wanted to give her the world but ended up handing her a shovelful of dirty earth. It made him feel less of a man. He no longer loved her quite as frequently, convinced as he was that she was disappointed in him, that in secret she wished she had found another man. 

   One day, she’d had enough. She was sick and tired of living on the periphery of his life, of him not trusting her enough to share his fears, his frustration, with her. And he still hadn’t told her that he loved her, needed her, wanted her. These days, she no longer knew if he did. At night, he rolled over on his side and presented her with his back. During the days, he was mostly gone and come the weekends he’d escape into home repairs. They never spoke—not properly. At times, she caught him looking at her, and she knew for a fact that he’d sneak out to watch her dance. These days, she mostly stole moments at night, when the baby was asleep and he slouched on the couch, watching yet another TV show featuring kick-ass investigators. 

   So one morning, she stood up and blocked his way to the door. “I’m leaving you.” 
   “Leaving me?”
   For a moment, she saw something akin to desperation on his face. He recovered. “Hoping to find something better than this?” he asked sarcastically, making a sweeping gesture. 
   “Maybe.” She gnawed her lip. “I just can’t…”
   He nodded, stepped round her and disappeared outside. She leaned against the door and struggled hard not to cry. He obviously didn’t love her, she thought, as she heard his truck drive off.
   She packed. A slow folding of her few garments, of her son’s few tees and jeans. The boy was playing outside, crouched in the sun as he dragged his toy truck back and forth. He didn’t say much either, but when she picked him up he smiled and pressed his downy cheek to hers. Her man used to do that too, except in that case it was him picking her up and she pressing her cheek to his bristling one. She wiped at an escaped tear. 

   The bag was packed. She turned off the lights, checked the taps. She propped up her note on the kitchen table. Everything was as neat as always. She ran her hand over the scarred countertop. Yet another tear plopped down on the dark wood. She had tried, she thought, God knows she had tried to love him. She bit her lip. Tried? She did love him. But to love and love and not know if you were loved back, it was like watering a plant only to discover what came out of the ground wasn’t a rose but a prickly cactus.
   One last time of turning the key in the lock. She slipped it under the terracotta pot that held her huge agave. He’d know to look there. And then she held out her hand to her son. Without a word, he hurried over to her, small sticky fingers clinging to hers. They walked down the dusty lane towards the road and the distant bus stop. 
   The road wavered in the heat. There came the bus, and she looked the other way, hoping, hoping that she’d see his truck come barrelling towards her. But it didn’t. She helped her son up, paid her fare. The bus doors closed. She sat in her seat and held her breath to stop herself from crying. 
    A roar, a honking horn and his battered truck screeched to a stop, blocking the bus. He banged on the door, leapt up the steps.
   “Don’t go!” he yelled. “Damn it, don’t go! Don’t leave me, sweetheart. Don’t…” He inhaled, looking at her with such despair she didn’t quite know what to do. “I’ll do anything,” he went on. “I’ll take extra shifts, I’ll…”
   She held up her hand. “Not here,” she said, and she could see hope flare in his eyes when she apologised to the driver and disembarked. They stood silent as the bus drove off. She released her son to play along the verge. 
   “I mean it,” he said. “I can’t…” he scrubbed a hand through his hair. Too long: he needed a haircut, and his jeans were too worn, the cuffs on his shirt frayed. “Without you, I can’t cope,” he admitted in a low voice. 
   “Cope?” She shook her head slowly. “Is that all I am to you? A support function?” 
   “What?” He blinked. 
   “You tell me you can’t cope and that’s supposed to be enough? Well, guess what, it isn’t.” Angrily, she wiped at her eyes. “Not once have you told me that you love me,” she added in a more controlled voice. 
   “Oh, for crying out loud!” He fell to his knees before her. “Of course I love you! You’re the single most important thing in my life. But sometimes I wish we’d never met, that you’d been fortunate enough to find someone else to pin your hopes on, someone who could have helped you realise those dreams of yours. Me, I just ground them underfoot.” He ducked his head, staring intently at the gravel. “You’re way too good for me, Susannah.”
   The sun beat down. A rush of wind caused the dust to rise in swirls around the penitent shape of her man. Slowly, she sank down to kneel before him. A hand under his chin and he lifted his face to meet her gaze. “You love me?”
   “Endlessly. Forever. I thought you knew that.”
  “I do now,” she said, getting to her feet. She smiled at their son. “Want some ice cream? I think there’s some left in the freezer.” The boy grinned and ran off up the lane. She held out her hand to her man. “Coming?” 
   “Yes ma’am.” 

© Anna Belfrage

Song: For crying out loud, you know I love you – Meatloaf/J Steinman

About Anna
A Discovering Diamonds reviewer and author

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with three absorbing interests: history and writing. 
Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. (Medieval knight was also high on Anna’s list of potential professions. Yet another disappointment…)  

read our reviews

Find out more about Anna by visiting her website, www.annabelfrage.com 
Or her Amazon page, http://Author.to/ABG 

Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics but no copyright in names, titles or ideas
images via Pixabay accreditation not required

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The Full List of Authors

1st        Philip K. Allan     
 2nd      J J Toner         
 3rd       Catherine Kullman    
 4th       Helen Hollick              
 5th       Richard Tearle    
 6th       Barbara Gaskell Denvil
 7th       Nicky Galliers
 8th       Angela Macrae Shanks          
 9th       Katherine Pym  
10th      J G Harlond    
11th       Anna Belfrage
12th      Richard Dee
13th      Inge H. Borg
14th      Annie Whitehead
15th      Louise Adam
16th      Charlene Newcomb
17th      Alison Morton                         
18th      Kathryn Gauci
19th      Helen Hollick 
20th     M.J. Logue
21st       Helen Hollick 
22nd     Cryssa Bazos               
23rd      Jennifer Wilson                       
24th      Elizabeth St John  writing as Julia Darke                         
26th      Helen Hollick
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  1. Very clever, very interesting and very enjoyable. Perfectly fits the song. Love it.

    1. Thank you. I have a thing about silent men with deep wells of emotion contained within...

  2. For a minute I thought I was going to have to get the tissues out!Then I was happy I could put them away. There's a moral to this story. Anna. Well done.

  3. Don't take people for granted - that's the moral. I think. Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. A masterful match of story to song - thank goodness we didn't need the tissues.

    1. Well, I had them out when he just drove off in the morning...

  5. Wow! Ditto re the tissues!!! So emotional, so real in dialogue! Jim Steinman is the best lyricist/songwriter ever and Meatloaf the best person to sing them - combine the two of them with your story and, like I said: Wow, just Wow!!!

    1. Agree re Jim Steinman. And this song...It has me breaking out in goosebumps.

  6. Brilliant as usual!. You really dig down into the emotion of this strong, silent and sensitive man. And I think many, many men are like this. All we need, though, is to know we are loved. Terrific match with the song. More like this, please.

    1. Thank you. And yes ma'am. I'll try to do some more like this :)

  7. This hits close to home... Well done!

  8. Men, eh? I've never gone for the silent types, but one doesn't choose where you love. Great writing as ever, Anna, thank you!

    1. My own hubby is not exactly the silent type either. Except when something is really weighing on his mind... Glad you liked it.

  9. Must stop reading these first thing in the morning; so often eyes are getting puffy! While words are important, the effusive lover's easy proclamations are often shallow. Great writing, Anna.

  10. Phew. I thought she'd left it a day too late. Fab story Anna, and of course, nothing like classic Meat Loaf for breakfast!

    1. No, Meatloaf is something else. I know his songs by heart even if my first serious boyfriend broke up with me by playing "two out of three " over and over again until the penny dropped...

  11. Angela MacRae Shanks11 December 2018 at 16:08

    Brilliant Anna! So gritty and raw. I love that line, "he rolled over on his side and presented her with his back." I've been there and it's not fun. So emotionally real. Very well done!

  12. Well done. I used the tissues. A lovely read (sniff).

  13. Of course you did! There's as big a romantic in you as there is in me :)

  14. All the stories I received are fabulous (naturally, all the authors are fabulous writers!) but boy did I get through the tissues when reading some of them for the first time!

  15. A proper, real love story. How many couples must relate this. Thanks for introducing Meatloaf as well. I've never bothered with Meatloaf because I didn't like the name (don't care for meatloaf, either, which may have something to do with it.) Great story, Anna & good music.


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