Looking back, it could have gone either way. It didn’t work out, which makes it look like fate, or a stupid decision, or both. But at the time, I did have a few things in my favor. I have the boy next door charm that candisarm a girl in seconds. I have a friendly smile and the easy disposition that help me get whatever I wanted.
Except for my mother’s affection. Most days she splayed herself across her bed, a glass of brandy in one hand and a few muscle relaxers and the other. Dad was rarely around, and when he was, he either escaped to the bathroom or his woodworking shed for hours at a time leaving me with her. Her slurred words, tart breath, and glassy eyes. Always calling me to do things for her because Dad was never around. I was like her second husband.
Until I met Vanessa.
She was the exact opposite of my mom: sharp, driven, talented, beautiful. She was going places and we dreamed of a future for ourselves outside of Beavercreek. But just like my mother, she was never really present with me never really. She set her sights on New York and the conservatory that would make her a classical violinist. Her dreams reached Beyond me and what my broken love could provide her.
I interlace my fingers with Minnie’s slender tan ones as we flew down Highway 15 to New Castle County to find an apartment. Her skin Is soft and warm. Her dark hair blows around her face like a halo of soft ringlets, light and effortless, yet alive and feisty all at the same time.
Vanessa is the farthest person from my mind. But my mother’s drunken face flashes before me and almost breaks the spell.
I softly squeeze Minnie’s hand. She looks over at me with her hazel eyes and squeezed back. The corners of her mouth lift as the halo of ringlets dance around her face in agreement.
This is love.
As we race to Newcastle, scenes of our future flash before my eyes. Our first house our first child. Sending a child off to college. Growing old together. Minnie is my present and my future. She can deliver me from the shame that has poisoned me since I was a child. She can purify me from the contamination of disturbed affection, smothering obsession. She will free me at last. I will be pure for her.