by Norm Nason
© 2005 Norm Nason. All rights reserved. No portion of this story may be reproduced in any form without prior approval from the author.
My marriage, having occurred when I was quite young, was consummated for the most unholy of reasons. Still, had I not possessed the God-given gifts of charity and responsibility, I would have never given the woman a second thought, let alone a second opportunity. She was a most rotund and unattractive female; her clumsy, fractious manner surpassed only by her stubby pale limbs and meaty defiance. But I digress. It was while under the fog of a drunken stupor that I first met her acquaintance; an evening easily forgotten for I have, indeed, never remembered it.
The morning which followed, however, found me nestled snugly between the finest of satin sheets, and the warm heavy limbs of this as yet unknown woman. I could neither see her face nor recall it, yet I felt amused by the fact that we were each entirely--that is to say unquestionably--naked. I knew not where I was, nor what had transpired (although I had my suspicions). Therefore, in the hope of acquiring an explanation I peered expectantly from beneath the sheets of my snug cocoon, only to have revealed to me the uncommon richness of an enchanting bedchamber.
I was struck by the immense splendor of the surrounding décor. Imported tapestry garnished the enormous walls, while luscious lime rugs seemed to grow like moss from the very floor. Flowing from the open windows were silk drapes, the fabric from which clouds are surely made. Brass and copper trinkets--wind chimes--hung suspended from the gilded ceiling and sang in the cool morning breeze. Lit by the sun, their golden forms threw glittering reflections onto quiet corners, and across the faces of marble busts of Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart. Mesmerized, I perceived that I lay amongst a great deal of wealth, and my heart pounded with pride. I had most certainly, the night before, acted in accordance with my true nature. I had been charming, no doubt. Appropriately debonair. It was the only possible explanation for my gaining admittance into so luxurious an estate. Sweet murmurs aroused my attention, and I elevated the sheet with extreme delicacy, hoping to catch the glimpse of awakening in the eyes of my mysterious partner.
What a shock jolted me then! I stared in disbelief at the pale, plump, placid female--thrown off not so much for the reason that she existed, as by the fact that I existed beside her. In the brief and rather frantic discussion that ensued, I was informed that I had indeed behaved as an intoxicated man might in the presence of a willing woman--to the extreme pleasure of my unworthy hostess. I had, so it seemed, “fallen God-sent” to her door, and had disclosed several intimacies, relating, in a most “earnest and sincere tone” that I loved her, and wished her to be the mother of my child. Apparently the woman became so charmed by the earnestness of my urgings that she resolved to have us begin then and there. Hence, my present predicament.
At my protests she mentioned her profuse love; at my pleadings she mentioned her profuse wealth. I left that day determined never to return. But as it came to pass, when she happened upon me some months later--bearing disconcerting news of her expanding belly and sorrow over my desertion (not to mention a promise of prosecution should I not comply)--I made the fatal decision that we should hastily marry.
Priscilla was the name of my newly acquired spouse, and if the ground upon which our marriage was sanctioned proved unsteady, that upon which we thereafter lived was miserably fluid. During the six months which followed we found few moments of comfort. She was a woman possessing strange sentiments, the source of which never became clear to me. The female was convinced, for one, of the silly notion that I had married her solely for her money, and though I will admit to some reservations regarding our union, I would not go so far as to say that economic gain had anything to do with it. It was during this period that my wife became intent upon acquiring a knowledge of human anatomy--the diameter of the throat, and the breaking point of the nose, for instance. Needless to say, this was a painful period in my life, though being a virtuous man I never once returned such hostility, but remained heartily devoted and subservient to the woman who held in her womb my child.
The babe was born of cesarean section in the early morning hours of a cool day in mid-March, a labor so lengthy and brutal as to rupture the very membranes of one’s patience. My wife, bless her soul, suffered horribly--though I am quite certain she forfeited her life on the most elevated of moral planes, knowing she had been sacrificed for a child infinitely more cherished and malleable--in the eyes of God, of course--than herself. Having made arrangements for the woman’s disposal, I returned to my only recently acquired estate in a mood which resembled, admittedly, tempered euphoria. The infant in my arms (a blessed, sweet girl) cooed and gurgled in a manner which was utterly delightful to behold. My spirit soared; I had my child.
The acquisition of profuse wealth in such a short period of time became, not surprisingly, advantageous. I showered little Gloriana with mountains of gifts: things which rang and things which sparkled; fluffy stuffed tigers, eyes wide and rosy; warm woolen booties with bells on their toes. Sparing her nothing, giving her all: toys and trinkets and touches caressing. With smiles she repaid me a thousand times. With giggles and laughter! A splendid sight, those puny, platinum lips; those tiny hands gripping, tipping my nose. She was everything I had wished for, all I would ever need.
The crib in which she slept lie within the very bedchamber of her conception. When nights turned cold or unbearably silent--sparking thoughts of fear in her mind--I’d nestle the child close to me, within my own bed. Wishing to console, to spare her any evil, I would kiss her little hands and stroke her face until her fears flickered out like vanquished flames, replace by blessed sleep. This practice, at first a novelty, became habitual. The crib, left unused, was soon abandoned.
Time succumbed favorably to the beating of my heart, the period of Gloriana’s growth being the most joyous I had before, or have since known. Her developing maturity could be viewed only as miraculous, for each day of each month of each successive year brought with it a virgin glimmer, a henceforth opened insight into her precious, budding beauty. Her limbs became lengthy, her lips full and lush. Dark eyes graced her face with the spark of ghastly intelligence. Refined in manner, humble, her figure grew stunning; her character, divine. I viewed her miraculous transformation in a state of perpetual apprehension; her loveliness becoming a commodity beyond reproach.
Quite surprisingly, then, there came an evening--not so very long ago--at which time Gloriana refused to adorn my bed with her pretty presence; wishing to have, she stated, a shard of privacy. I became offended not so much by the proclamation itself, as from the stern, sullen manner in which it was delivered. Holding her shoulders in an affectionate grip as was my custom (now nearly the height of my own), I questioned the young lady, asking whether I had not been a loving father, kind and considerate, thinking always of her comfort and welfare before my own. She lowered her long lashes, and a subtle fluster swept her high cheeks. No words, however, were offered in reply.
Soon after her nightly reinstatement, and much to my dismay, Gloriana fell victim to the most evil of forces. At first there was one, then soon several--until gentlemen callers swarmed our door like tax men, their numbers increasing the more intent I became upon turning them away. In questioning my child as to the nature of these intrusions, she would only smile sweetly, professing her ignorance. At the outset I believed her, having no reason to do otherwise. But as time passed I grew increasingly more suspicious, and later outraged by this behavior, feeling for certain she was deceiving me. When confronted with my accusations, it became her practice to turn away in silence, wrinkles of distain mocking the beauty of her face.
At last I presented Gloriana with a number of poignant and forceful arguments, clearly revealing to her the fact that these men--these remnant Casanovas with whom she was undoubtedly acquainted--resembled nothing short of a pack of hungry wolves. Yet still she protested, finally saying--in a raised tone of voice not unlike that of her dearly departed mother--that these men were not at all devious, but were, to the contrary, quite kind. She stressed this point so far as to actually proclaim that they (and one in particular) knew precisely how to love her…whereas I did not!
I struck her then, as well can be imagined, and since that time she raises her voice no more, but walks the halls of our estate mutely, staring ahead with cool, evasive eyes. But we are otherwise quite happy now, Gloriana and I--though she is no longer allowed from the confines of the house, of course. As for the gentlemen who once plagued our premises, they’ve lost hope over the years, and plague no more.
A few mornings ago I awoke to a pleasant sight: Gloriana staring wide-eyed in bed beside me, head propped upon an elbow. As I wiped sleep from my own, I asked her for what was she waiting. In a vexed whisper she replied that she was waiting for me to die. The young lady is quite spirited, I am afraid. But no matter. In life I have always felt that we must accept both the good and the bad, doing the best we are able with each. It is a fine lesson, and one that Gloriana has yet to learn. I will press on, however, feeling confident that she will one day love me as before. Until that time arrives, I shall remain, as always, content with waiting.