a young woman wants love in a relationship
| "Can't you love me?" Mary whispered to Frank.
"I'll stay with you," Frank whispered back.
The young couple held on to each other and tried to be inconspicuous. A few feet away Mike took Joe around the nearly unlivable house. A street light cast a bluish glow outside. There were large places where the plaster had fallen off the walls. Bare ribs of wood showed.
"You say it doesn't have water?" Joe asked Mike.
"It has water - just not hot water," Mike answered.
The owner of the house had offered to let Joe and Mike stay there for twenty-five dollars a month. It beat staying at the Salvation Army.
Frank and Mary drew back into the pitch dark room. Frank's hands moved over Mary's plump form.
"Can't you love me?" Mary asked again.
"I won't run out on you," Frank said.
Mary started to cry. Frank held her close, saying nothing.
As the group left Frank walked beside Joe.
"Mary is getting so emotional," Frank mumbled to Joe.
"Is that good or bad?" Joe asked.
"I don't know," Frank answered.
"I'm going to an AA meeting. Want to come?" Joe queried.
"I can't. I'm working the graveyard shift," Frank answered.
The four young adults got into Joe's Chrysler. Mike was in front, and Mary and Frank were in back. After Joe dropped Frank and Joe off Mary sat in the front seat with Joe. As the car pulled away bluish street light fell onto Mary's face. Shadows danced across her profile. To Joe, she looked a little innocent and a little ghostly. She wanted Frank, and she wanted Frank to want her. There was a fierce determination to be loved in Mary. Joe planned to drop Mary off at her apartment and then go to an AA meeting. As they drove Mary started to cry quietly.
"Are you okay?" Joe asked sympathetically.
"No." Mary said through her nose. "Frank is going to leave me."
"Why do you think that?"
"He doesn't love me."
"I'm sure he does, in his own way. A guy like Frank is so closed, emotionally. He can't handle strong emotions."
"He's going to leave me. I know he is."
"Just give him time."
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The next morning Mary put on her running shoes. She stepped onto her bathroom scales, hoping they didn't go over one-hundred-fifty pounds. One-forty was petite; one-fifty was chunky. She closed her eyes as she got on. She looked down, and hooray! - the scale said one-hundred-forty-two pounds! Mary gave a thumbs up sigh as she stepped off the scales. She wondered what she'd look like after she had her baby. She didn't have morning sickness, so she couldn't detect any signs of being pregnant. But her body would change.
Mary took a few quick steps off her front porch. The crisp morning air braced her skin. She would run five miles, past the bank, past the used car lot, then out to the Meridian by-pass. Frank's face occupied her mind. The morning air was exhilarating. Mary wanted to be the kind of girl Frank wanted. Her body was pumping. Cool air cleaned her lungs. The grass in the park felt good beneath her feet.
Then Mary's breathing became harder and her back ached. Mary knew that to make significant changes in her body she had to get out of her comfort zone. She had pushed through pain before. Mary left the park, and her feet pounded the rough surface of twenty-second street. Mary suddenly stopped. A purple martin sailed over her head. She didn't have to do this. Like everything living, she deserved to be loved.
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The next day Joe talked to John in the Gospel Rescue Mission.
"The place is a mess. It has water, but not hot water. It does have electricity, so we can put in heaters in the winter," Joe told John.
"How much does he want for it?" John asked.
"Twenty-five a month," Joe responded.
"That's the only part I like. I think I'll stay here."
The conversation ebbed, leaving a vacume between the two young men. Joe decided to fill it with something that had been preying on his mind.
"This is off the subject, but there is this guy I met at an AA meeting. He's about my age, and he has gotten his girlfriend pregnant. He wants to stay with her and do the right thing, but he makes barely more than minimum wage," Joe mentioned.
"I know the type. He wants to be honorable and do the right thing, but he will soon find out that life can offer him so much more if he abandons his principles. He'll be able to drink as much as he wants. He will probably father seven children with six different women before he is thirty," John boasted.
"Does that bother you?" Joe asked.
"Not at all. Guys like you and me are not in the job of judging people. If he wants to father a bunch of kids, let him," John reacted.
"What about the girl?" Joe asked.
"She should have taken the pill. You have to understand, Joe, life isn't decent. Life isn't fair. Life is made of slime," John preached.
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The next day Joe picked up Mary and Frank to go to an AA meeting. Mary was different than she was the day before. She was angry. If Frank was aware of her anger he didn't show it. He sat impassively next to Mary.
"Mary thinks I am going to run out on her," Frank said.
"He can't say he loves me," Mary reacted.
"I'm not good at that kind of thing," Frank answered.
"I want to hear you say you love me."
"Mary, in my family men didn't express emotion."
"I don't want to hear that. Say you love me," Mary said with force.
"I said I'll stay with you. Doesn't that mean I love you?" Frank responded.
"I love you, Mary. I'd follow you to the ends of the earth," Frank told her.
"That's better. Now get used to it, because you are going to say that a lot if you want to be with me."