by Anne Goodwin
After the party, when she saw their toothbrushes kissing in an old mug on his bathroom shelf, she felt all shook up. The bristles of her pink toothbrush enmeshed with the chewed hairs of his blue one was too much too soon.
But he was as gentle as a teddy bear. “I can’t help falling in love with you,” he said, caressing the back of her neck.
“Don’t,” she said. His touch stung her skin like nettles and, try as she might, she couldn’t surrender to him.
“That’s all right,” he said, rolling over onto his side. “I’m stuck on you, but I can wait.”
It wasn’t all right for her. After that one night together she took her toothbrush home.
“Don’t be cruel,” he said.
“Don’t push me,” she said. “I’m not ready for another relationship.”
Nevertheless, she agreed to go out with him to dinner. He gulped his champagne and said, “It’s now or never.”
“It’s not so easy,” she said.
He drank too much and called her a hardheaded woman, insensitive to his burning love. She called him a hound dog, pursuing her with no respect for her sensitivities. “What about mine?” he said. “I don’t have a wooden heart.” Still, she got a taxi home alone.
He left her a message saying he was going away on tour for a while. He said he’d keep in touch. He didn’t.
Once he was gone she realised how much she wanted him. “He’s always on my mind,” she told her friends. She’d imagine she heard the doorbell and he’d be standing on the threshold in his blue-suede shoes. “If I can dream,” she said, but she feared she might be going mad.
Two weeks went by with no news. She discovered how suspicious minds worry away at the gaps. Now her fantasies were of bumping into him with his latest flame: “I just can’t help believin’ he’s found another woman.”
“Come out with us,” said her friends. “Forget about the Guitar Man.” But she couldn’t.
The doorbell rang. Another disappointment: just her next-door neighbour with a stack of envelopes. “All this mail came when I was away. I was about to post it back marked return to sender when I saw it was for you. I hope there’s nothing urgent.”
A dozen love letters from him, signed off with a big hunk o’ love. And the phone number of his hotel in Las Vegas.
“I’ve missed you,” she sobbed.
“Are you lonesome tonight?” The tenderness of his voice had her yearning to melt in his arms.
“I can’t stop loving you,” she said. “Why couldn’t I tell you before? There’s never been a fool such as I.”
“I’m heading back on the next flight,” he said. “And then I’m going to ask you to wear my ring around your neck. Always.”
Anne Goodwin‘s short fiction has been published online and in print.