Small Cuts (3)-Oliver

Find part one here, and part two here.

I had gone too far. I saw the look of pity in Elaine’s eyes and I knew. She knew. To this point, she had probably thought it was harmless flirting. But the truth was, I was in love with my best friend’s wife. And now with a few softly spoken words, I’d let her see the depth of my feelings for her. Maybe I could get out of this. I was a bullshit artist, after all. As a salesman, I dealt in bullshit every day of my life. I grinned.

“You know I can’t stand not to be the center of attention, Lainey,” I said, with a wink.

She let out the breath she had been holding. “Oh, Oliver,” she said, giving my hand a playful smack. “Go on. What were you saying?”

I picked up the story from where I’d left off. Elaine’s husband James, had reached across the table to squeeze my wife’s hand and it hadn’t gone unnoticed by either myself or Elaine. But I was past giving a shit what Gen did.

Cold hearted, self centered bitch. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking getting myself tangled up with the ice queen, but here I was. In the beginning I was smitten. She was everything I admired– smart, beautiful, artistic, cultured, and socially conscious. We’d met at one of the gala functions my company sponsored for its clients. Genevieve had been pressed into attending to win additional funding for the liberal think tank she worked for. As the top salesman for financial products, it was a given that I would attend.

When Genevieve entered the room, all eyes turned. She was tall, a natural blonde, with blue eyes the color of arctic ice. When I introduced myself, she was polite but didn’t smile. That should’ve been my first clue. Nevertheless, I pursued her with the same dogged determination I would have used on a million dollar investor.

When I finally won her over, I had felt like I’d won the lottery. I had a beautiful wife with an important job. She was a brilliant conversationalist with opinions on all the current issues. We’d stay up late debating politics, social issues, philosophy. She, of course, being better informed on all those topics always won the argument. But at the time I had enjoyed the banter.

We’d been married for three years when I raised the subject of children. She had off-handedly remarked while we were dating that she didn’t want any children. I didn’t take her seriously. And, I had thought, if she was serious, she would change her mind. So on our third anniversary, when we had come home from our favorite restaurant, I had taken her to bed, made love to her and afterwards, as she lay in my arms, said maybe it was time we thought about having a baby. She looked at me like I had just asked her to cut off a limb.

“A baby?” she asked with a snort. “You’re funny, Ollie.”

I had pulled her close and kissed her. “No. I mean it. I want us to have a baby.”

She pushed away, holding me at a distance. “You’re serious.”

I nodded.

She slid from beneath the sheets and grabbed for her robe. “Oliver, I told you long ago I didn’t want to have children. Nothing’s changed.”

“Why?” I had asked, propping myself up on one arm.

“Oliver, do you know what I deal with every day when I go to work?” It was a rhetorical question. I wasn’t meant to respond. “Suffering.” She began pacing. “Suffering, poverty, disease, famine, the effects of war on ravaged populations. I read reports of men raping and killing young women in the name of their cause. I see the same young women who have been raped being put to death because they ‘dishonored’ their families. I see pre-pubescent girls having their genitals mutilated in the name of religious tradition. I see young boys being sent to fight in militias before they even reach their tenth birthdays. I see the disobedient being beheaded. I see the faithful strapping suicide bombs to their bodies and walking into crowded marketplaces. That’s the world you want to bring another child into?”

“Gen,” I said softly. “Children are the future. Our future.”

“Not my future.” She turned her back on me.

“Can we at least think about it? It doesn’t have to be now. We have plenty of time. Maybe in a few years….”

She was shaking her head. “Absolutely not. I will never, ever change my mind, Oliver.”

I dropped the subject. I hadn’t meant to ruin our evening, but I had. “Gen, come back to bed.”

An entire year passed before I tried again. We had visited her family for the holidays. Her brother had sired two children, her sister had borne three more and her parents hinted with hopeful expectation, that their youngest child would soon follow suit. Gen had joked with them light-heartedly and laughed it off. With just that tiny sliver of encouragement, I foolishly raised the subject in the car on the way home. It had once again led to an argument, with Gen giving all the same reasons she had before. Suffering. Violence. Poverty. War. Disease. Every word was another small cut in my heart. I loved kids. I wanted to be a father. I never imagined that I wouldn’t have that chance.

It became a wedge between us. A wedge so divisive that even images of happy families on television or in the movies would have Gen stiffen and brace for an argument. Not talking about having a family devolved into not talking at all. Gen lost weight as if to emphasize her already boyish figure. It was like she was saying, “See, Ollie? I’m not made for making babies.” And I began to suspect the real reason she didn’t want a baby was vanity. God forbid, she added a little flesh to those bones.

And that’s when James introduced us to Elaine.

I looked across the table at her now. She was everything Genevieve was not. Her dark eyes shone with warmth and humor. She smiled wide and often. She was animated, outgoing, and effortlessly sexy. Luscious. Curvy. I couldn’t help but touch her. I’d even kissed her once, when the four of us were saying goodnight after another dinner together. It had been dark so I was sure James hadn’t seen. I tried to make it appear playful but I had needed to taste her sweet lips. She hadn’t seemed to mind. Or at least she hadn’t objected. Not having her was an agony.

“Ollie?” Elaine said, breaking my reverie. “Now who’s ignoring who?” She smiled and her adorable dimples appeared. “You’re a million miles away.”

I took her hand and played with the ring on her finger. “Maybe you should join me.”

31 thoughts on “Small Cuts (3)-Oliver

  1. A fantastic story, Meg. The characters are flawed and interesting. Always a pleasure to read. 🙂 In Genevieve’s defense, she did make it clear from the beginning that she didn’t want children. Regardless of her reasons, I think every woman has the right to make that choice. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I look forward to reading what she has to say. She’s an interesting character. To me, she seems as flawed as the rest of us. You transition flawlessly from character to character, imho. Your writing appears effortless and flows so well. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The story seemed rather plausible to me and I enjoyed it. I must admit, I found Oliver an extremely irritating character–which made the story interesting to read! Marrying someone who doesn’t want children in the belief that you can change his or her mind at some point is the kind of thing people do, but it’s such a recipe for disaster. Anyone who doesn’t want children really shouldn’t have them. It’s not good for them and it’s a disaster for the children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bun. I’ve been trying to write these characters showing one thing on the surface and and the truth within their inner dialog. Interesting that you didn’t have any sympathy for Oliver. Men friends in my real life identified with him in this situation even though there is still Gen’s side of the story to explore. Thank you again for your kind words and for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The difference of perspective is interesting. It may be because I’ve actually been in a similar situation. Decades ago now, I was in a relationship with someone for four years. It gradually became clear that she didn’t want children whereas I did. We didn’t fight over it, of course. Nobody was right or wrong. We just felt differently about the matter. In the end there was nothing for it but to go our separate ways.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for that insight, Bun. I’ve seen situations where one person really didn’t think the other was serious about the issue. “Everyone has children” so why wouldn’t you want to? That kind of thing. And it led to serious problems when it became obvious the partner was sincere.

        Liked by 1 person

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