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Authors: Victoria Rexroth

A Wonderful Life

BOOK: A Wonderful Life
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About
A Wonderful Life

 

              The book is a compilation of short stories produced by Victoria Rexroth. The collection runs about 106 pages in book form and consists of 34,000 words.

 

Also by
Victoria Rexroth
A WONDERFUL LIFE
-TITLE PAGE

 

The character and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Text copyright © Victoria Rexroth

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express permission of the copyright holder.

COMMITMENT

 

I think you should know that I don't often bring men home with me. So, I guess that makes you pretty special.

Are you comfortable?  Would you like something else to drink? Oh, I'm doing that again, aren't I? My last boyfriend used to say I was too much for him, that I could never switch to a lower gear.

He was probably right.

But I guess the most important thing you should know is that commitment means everything to me. And that's what makes you so special to me.

 

I could tell the date was going well. He was sitting there so coyly, taking in everything I said to him. He was taking his time with me, which really made me respect him, that much more. He didn't seem like the other guys in the past.

 

So, you like what I've done with the place? Thank you. Your opinion really means a lot to me.

You know? I did those wall panelings myself. You see? I don't sleep very well at night when there are other sounds, so I put up those panels so it would keep the place quiet at night. With those up, I don't hear a single sound from outside, and it's just so peaceful at nights. Sometimes, I'll sit for hours and listen to nothing, and it's such a departure from the outside world where there's always so much noise, people and distractions. There's none of that here. Here, all that exists is me, and sometimes it's so comfortable to know that.

That sound? Oh, it's probably the house settling. It does that, you know. That's the problem with old houses; they settle and make more noise. But it's a small price to pay for the pleasure of solitude. And there's certainly a lot of that around here.

 

He seemed a bit nervous around me, which is really funny because it's usually me who is nervous around men. I could tell he didn't want to make any mistakes, and I sometimes make it so easy for mistakes to happen. I guess that's what keeps a lot of guys from asking me out; they realize it's too easy to fail me, and they know that once that happens, their chances of dating me drop to zero.

I don't mean to be that way; I just have high standards, and I don't want to waste my time. I can't see the problem with that.

 

But I thought I told you everything about me? What more is there to tell? Oh, I was wondering when you were going to get around to that.

No, I haven't dated very much before you. As a matter of fact, I wasn't even sure about going out with you until you practically begged me for a date...I know, you didn't beg me, but you did have to ask me a number of times before I said yes.

Yes, I dated before, but they were always guys who didn't work out, who couldn't last. There was this one guy, the first guy I was dating, who hurt me really bad, and I don't think I ever forgave him. Is that so wrong? Does that make me a bad person because I couldn't forgive him for just dropping me for some other woman when he promised to love me for the rest of his life?

 

I debated with myself as to whether or not I should tell him. This was an important point of our relationship and bringing up past boyfriends was taboo. I didn't want to ruin what was becoming a very special moment between us.

But he already told me he loves me, and I think he's a keeper.

 

My first boyfriend’s name was Brad. He was that "most likely to succeed" type of guy who knows exactly how important he is to the rest of the world. I was only eighteen. I’d never dated before. I was going to finish
school and then worry about dating guys. But no, Brad came along and had to change all of that.

He told me I was beautiful. No one ever told me that before. He told me I was special. I didn't even know what he meant by that. He said I was the most special woman in the world, and... And I fell for it.

He told me he would love me forever, even swore an oath to me that he would never leave me. You see, I was making a great sacrifice for him, giving my heart over to him, so I wasn't about to just do this without having something in return from him.

But it meant nothing to him in the end. He found some other woman who could give him what he was looking for and dropped me almost as fast as he picked me up. This man, who pledged his very being to me, dropped me like I was no more important than a used car he had grown tired of.

I never forgave Brad for what he did to me. I know that doesn't sound like the words of a nice girl, but I really hated him for leading me on like that.

In a way, he changed me. He made me into someone who didn't trust men anymore, and that's what made it so hard for me to finally decide to go out with you for the first time. And then, I had to know you were sincere before I could invite you to my house. No offense against you, but I didn't want the same thing to happen again.

So what happened? Well, I ran into Brad a couple of times after that, and he always gave me the short shuffle. But then one night, when he was drunk and had just been dumped himself, he came back to my house, to
this
house, and decided that he wanted me back in his life, almost as if he had forgiven me for letting him go. Well, like I said, I never forgave him, so he didn't get what he wanted.

 

Okay. So there. It's out in the open. I told him about Brad. Now, I guess it's important to see where we go from here. If he freaks, he leaves. If it means nothing to him, he'll stay.

 

I'm glad you decided to stay. I know you're not Brad. You don't have to assure me of anything. You already told me how much you love me. Otherwise, I would never have invited you over to my house. I'm not that kind of girl. You know that.

Were there any others? Well, there have been a couple of guys after Brad, and surprisingly, they have all been a little bit like him. I don't know what it is, but I keep running into this type of guy who leads me on, makes me believe he's sincere, and then he dumps me. That's how it was with Richard, the last guy I dated.

I'm not falling for that type again now, am I?

I didn't think so. You seem different from the other guys. That's why I like you so much.

That sound again? No, I agree. It doesn't sound like the house settling. Maybe it's my dog. Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you that I have a dog. You know? I don't think I've fed him today. Give me a second. Make yourself another drink, and I'll be right back up.

 

I walked down the stairs to the basement and then opened the door. I walked in, turned on the light and then closed the door behind me. I tried to maintain my cool because I knew how important the man was upstairs, and I didn't want him to hear there might be a problem down here, at least not yet.

Richard stared back at me and mumbled something through the gag, but I wasn't hearing it this time.

“Sorry, Richard,” I said, “but you brought this on yourself. You can pull on your chains all you want, but it's not going to do you any good. Now, don't you dare screw up this date for me by making noise like you have been doing already.”

“It's not going to happen, Richard. Your pleas and mutters for sympathy are not going to get you out of this. You promised yourself to me for the rest of your life. You're no different than the other men who did the same and then protested when I held them to their word. Some advice, Richard, the last guy lived a whole month before
passing on and he didn't resist once. At the rate you're going, you'll be lucky to make it the rest of the week.

“There will be no dinner for you tonight. You have to learn your lesson somehow. And Richard, my advice to you is that you remain as quiet as a mouse for the remainder of my date; you don't want to add onto the punishment of what you will receive for making noise in the first place.”

“Now, Richard, stay quiet. You've screwed up my life enough as it is already. At least you could give me the courtesy of letting me regain some happiness in my life after you went back on your promise to love me forever. I don't think I'm asking too much.  Do you?”

 

I went back upstairs and continued my date.

 

Yes, everything's taken care of. He didn't appear hungry, so I'm sure he'll be quiet now.

So, we were talking about commitment, weren't we? As I was saying, commitment is very important to me. And I'm glad it's as important to you as well.

 

The End

 

PRISONER

 

“You know?” said the man.  “I’ve always wanted to tell you this.”  He took a sluggish, deep breath and then let it out.  “I think I’m in love with you.”

She just stared back at him, her face showing no emotion.  “You’re in love with me?  But you hardly even know me.”

“Are you kidding me?  I know everything about you.  I know that you take the eight o’clock train to work every morning, get a cup of coffee at the Java place down the street, and you come home promptly at five-ten every evening.  Believe me, I know everything about you.”

The whites of her eyes could be seen as the distance between her eyelids became more and more spacious.  “You’ve been following me?”

He smiled.  The sides of his mouth were clownish, yet honest.  “Of course I have.  I told you I’m in love with you.  There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for you.  You’re that special to me.”

Her eyes darted back and forth to all sides of the room until she turned back to him.  “Then perhaps you could let me go.”

He shook his head no.  “I’m sorry.  That’s the one thing I can’t do for you.”

There was fear on her face, but at the same time, she took a great deal of time choosing each word she spoke.  It was hard to tell when she was scared and when she was angry or if she was both.  “You have to understand that you can’t keep me here.  I don’t belong to you.”

His face was a non-stop smile, the cordial manner of a manservant offering all of the amenities at his disposal.  “Of course you don’t belong to me.  But I love you; don’t you see that?”

She shook her head.  “I hear you say that, but that doesn’t mean anything.  I don’t mean to be rude or mean, but I don’t love you.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure you’re a nice guy in your own strange way, but I don’t even know you well enough to imagine that I could ever be in love with you.”

“That’s why you’re here.  Once you get to know me, you’ll see we were meant to be together.  You’ll come to love me; I’m sure of it.”

She was adamant this time.  “I don’t know a kinder way of saying this, but I can’t stay here.  I ‘m not going to fall in love with you just because you keep me locked away here.”

He took a moment to examine her.  She was out of her element, yet still mesmerizing to him nonetheless.  Short cropped, jet black hair and skin a hue of sun-draped crème, she wore a simple T-shirt over gray sweat pants which she wore with an air of admiralty, as if such clothing would never have been part of her collection had it not been forced upon her by the man standing before her.  To him, she was graceful and elegant even though she was subdued and relegated to his simple status by which side of the door he kept her.  But she was still a vision of beauty to him.

“We’ll have time to talk this over later.  Why don’t you settle in and we’ll talk later?”

              “Look, Mister Whatever-your-name-is, this is wrong.  You can’t keep me here!”

His only response was a smile.  Then when he realized this was not enough for her, he added: “We’ll talk this over when you’re a bit more rational. Why don’t you rest and we’ll talk tomorrow?”

 

“Why me?” she said one day when he came to visit her in her chamber.  He stood between her and the door as he always did.

“What do you mean?” he said.

“I mean, why
me
?  There are thousands of women in this city, and you could have chosen any one of them.  Why did you have to pick me out over them?  I’m certainly not prettier than they are, and I’m not smarter than they are.  Why
me
?”

“Because I love you, silly.  What a stupid question?”

 

She was bright and cheery the next morning of her captivity.  “I’ve been looking around this room you’ve been keeping me in, and I notice that there are pictures of me all over the place.”

This cheered him up immediately, and he jumped into the room, slamming the door shut behind him.  “Oh, yeah.  I have a pretty extensive collection.”

She wandered through the room, glancing at the different photos that were hanging on the walls in expensive glass frames.  “Some of these pictures go back quite a few years.”  She stopped at one of the photos and ran her fingers over the glass, remembering the image that was her on a day that had long been forgotten in her memory.  “How long have you been following me?”

He was nothing but a grin.  “As long as I can remember, I guess.  You’ve meant the world to me for a very long time now.”

She stopped at a photo and stared for a long time.  Her fingers went over the image continuously as she spoke in an almost dreamy way.  “This one is of me in junior high school.”  She turned back and stared at him.  “You’re about the same age I am.  Were in school with me?”

His grin turned to an outright smile.  “I sat behind you in Mrs. Ackerman’s class.  I remember once when you borrowed a pencil from me.”  He rushed across to the other side of the room and picked up an item from the top of a small table that was set up as a sort of shrine, with the woman’s picture enshrined in the center of the table.  “I still have that pencil.”

She burst out, shocked.  “You kept a pencil you borrowed from me in the sixth grade?”

He nodded.  “Can’t you see how important you are to me?”

She shook her head back and forth.  “Since the sixth grade?  What did your parents think about this?  Or did you even tell them?”

 

The sixth grade is a hard time for a child, especially a shy one.  When he came home, his mother stared at him from the kitchen, her hands covered with batter for the evening’s dinner.  “Mom,” he said, kissing her on the cheek and then jaunting off towards the living room, “I met the most wonderful girl at school.  I think I’m truly in love.”

“That’s wonderful, honey,” she replied as she followed him into the living room, a batter-filled fork in her hands that dripped onto a towel she grabbed off the rack almost as if by force of habit.  “What’s she like?”

He just stared back, a wide grin on his face.  “Oh, she’s the kindest girl, smart and beautiful.  She sits in front of me in class, and I really think she likes me.”

She wiped the fork with the towel and then said what she knew had to be said.  “Have you spoken to her?”

He shook his head no.  “I’m afraid to.”

 

His father stared at his mother for a long time before draping his coat over a kitchen chair and putting down his pipe.  “I don’t know where the kid comes from, but he most certainly isn’t my kid.”

She glanced around to make sure the son wasn’t able to hear the words of his father.  “Oh, stop it, Robert.  Give him a chance; he’s never been in love before.”

The father sighed.  “When I was his age, if I found someone I thought was interesting, I went and spoke to her.  That’s what I did with you, and we married right after high school.”

“Times are different, Robert.  A boy doesn’t just ask out a girl like they did in our time.”

“Shit, times aren’t different.  Boys are different.  Got all these sensitive “be there for ya” attitudes that have made it impossible for a guy to fit into the dating world.  You know, in a hundred years the whole human race will probably disappear because guys will be too scared to ask out women.”

The mother glanced around one more time before speaking.  “Please, Robert, not in front of him.  He’s sensitive enough as it is.”

“Shit.”

 

The woman stared at him from across the room.  She was cognizant of the fact that the door was between them, but she gave up trying to escape a long time ago.  “Have you ever had a girlfriend?”

He just stared at her.  “Of course not.  You’re the only woman I’ve ever loved.  Why would I search for someone else?”

She stood up quickly from her seat on the bed.  “Love doesn’t just appear.  It’s something you have to work at.  You know?  You probably don’t even love me.  You just think you do because you’ve thought that for so long now.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” he replied.  “I know I love you.  I know it because I think it every day I’m alive.  I’d probably think it ever day after I was gone.”

She stared, trying to fathom his words.  “But you can’t keep me here forever.”

“I can as long as I love you.”

“Then we’re both prisoners here.”

 

They were silent for a long time before she spoke.  “Have you ever tried talking to another woman to see if you might find something with her?”

He thought for a moment.  “There was this one woman, but it never went anywhere.”

She seemed interested.  Talk always seemed centered around her.  “Tell me, please.”

“Well, there’s this store where I shop at for food and other items.  She works there as a clerk, and she always smiles at me when I come in.”  He looked away from her for a moment.  “I have a hard time talking to women, as you might have guessed, so it took me a lot of weeks before I was even able to tell her what I wanted to order.  I used to write it all down on little pieces of paper so she could fill the order, and I wouldn’t have to say anything.  For the longest time, she thought I was a mute.  She even told me that the first time I spoke to her.”

 

The clerk stared at him.  “You speak?”

He shook as he spoke.  “Yes, ma’am, I do.”

She smiled. “I thought you were a mute all of this time.”

He looked away, giving the impression he wished he were somewhere, anywhere, else.  Even though she was quite plain in her looks and attributes, she was still far superior to any woman he had ever known, indicating that his womanly experiences were not that vast.  “I need some bread.”

Her smile grew even brighter.  “You have a very nice voice.  You should use it more often.”

 

The woman stared deeply into his eyes as he told her the story about the clerk.  “I think I ran out of the store, and I haven’t been back since.”

“But why?” she said with sorrow in her voice.  “She showed an interest in you.  You might have had something there.”

“I could never have anything with her as long as I knew I was in love with you.”

Any hint of a smile disappeared from her face.  “Then it looks like you’re never going to have anything, period.”

 

He opened the wooden door and stepped into the chamber, leaving the door open for the first time and stepping to a side unlike any time before.  “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said the other day.  I realize that I need to do something for myself, and I can’t do that as long as I’m obsessed with you.”

She just stared back.  “I was wondering how long it was going to take you to figure that out.”

He wasn’t even listening to her.  “I would really like to try it with that woman I told you about, the one who works in the store.”

She stood up, her arms crossed before her.  “There’s only one problem.  You’ve captured me, and it’s not easy to just give me up.”

He shook his head, confused.  “It’s okay.  I think I’m going to let you go.”

She smiled an evil smile quite unlike the graceful smile he had come to love.  “I’m afraid nothing is ever that easy.  You made me a part of your world, and now you’re going to have to live with that for the rest of your life.”

“What do you mean?”

The smile grew more evil, if that was possible.  “I’m not leaving.”

He shook his head, frantically, a touch of anger on his face.  “There’s the door.  It’s open; you can leave at any time.”

“I told you: I’m not leaving.”

He was getting angry this time.  “I don’t need you anymore.  Just leave!”

She walked across the room and stood directly in front of him.  “Who are you to say that you don’t need me anymore?  You’ve been carrying me around since grade school, and all of the sudden you decide that you can just release me like I was never anything to begin with?  I don’t think so.  You’re stuck with me whether or not you want me in your life.  Do you honestly think that woman in the store can give you what I’ve given you for the larger part of your life?  Do you think she’ll even give you the time of day once she realizes how screwed up you really are?  In case you don’t realize it, I’m all you have, and you’d better learn to live with it.”

He took a step back.  “No.  I will not settle for you.  There’s the door. Walk out!”

She walked forward, closing the distance between the two of them.  “Then you’ll have to throw me out because I’m not walking through any doors.”  Her demeanor turned soft and welcoming.  “Do you have the courage to throw me out when you’ve worked so hard to bring me into this place?’

He looked around the room at all of the photographs and the shrines built in her honor.  He grabbed his head and started pulling his hair from its scalp, causing pain as he circled the room with her all around him.  “You don’t belong in here.  You never did.”

Then he could hear her voice in almost a whisper.  “Then you’ll have to throw me out.”

He grabbed his head tightly, trying to gain some semblance of control.  “If I knew how to get you out of here, I would.”

He could hear her laughter over her words.  “Until you figure it out, Sweetie, you’ll have to live with me running your life.  But that’s the way it was meant to be, wasn’t it?”

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