EXCERT FROM A WORKING PIECE ABOUT LONELINESS
Identical twins Marion and Rose led completely different lives, physical features being their only likeness.
Rose had found love early, married Richard Fairfield, and settled down to a nice domestic life in the suburbs of Connecticut.
She had been a doting mother to Henry, his younger brother Brian and his two sisters, Elizabeth and Ashley.
Rose and Richard had been involved but not domineering parents. They offered guidance, not interference. As a result, their children had grown up and found their way, confidently pursing their careers and lifestyles of choice.
In other words, Rose was not the smothering, meddlesome sort like her sister.
Marion had spent most of her life encompassed by jealousy of her twin. She too had wanted to marry, have children and be surrounded by a loving family. But, as Fate would have it, Marion did not achieve her desires. This outcome was due in part to bad luck. It was also a result of Marion’s prickly disposition…simply put, her officious nature put people off.
Marion had lived with her parents, in the same house on Highland Ave for 40 years. She cared for them in a duteous, respectful way as each year of her youth trickled by. When they passed, Marion remained, like a dusty chandelier or crown molding; a permanent fixture set in the very bones of the house.
She lived by herself, tended her gardens, went to church and filled the rest of her time bossing around anyone within her reach. Everyone thought that this was exactly what Marion wanted. No one suspected her infinite loneliness, as that was guarded by her solid wall of odious mannerisms.
There had been someone, once, a long time ago. His name was Charlie. They had met in cooking class when he had accidently banged shut the oven door and deflated her perfectly rising chocolate soufflé. Marion, of course, had been furious, but there was something kind and gentle in Charlie’s manner that had disarmed her.
Suddenly, they were chatting away amiably. Numbers were exchanged, dinner plans made and Marion had found herself hoping that maybe she would finally have a chance at a little romance. At 57, Marion was still a virgin.
After three dates, Marion went to the mall and picked out a raspberry colored satin negligée that showed off her ample cleavage. Unlike other less confident women of her size, Marion was not ashamed of her plump figure. She thought her curves to be absolutely sumptuous and was eager for Charlie to see her in this racy ensemble.
When the evening of their next date arrived, Marion had cooked a superb smoked ham shoulder with roasted vegetables and chocolate soufflé for dessert; a little reminder of their first encounter. She lit candles, put on soft music and made sure the raspberry nightgown hung ready in her closet…just in case.
Charlie had been due to arrive at 6:00pm. Marion had peeked out the curtains, watching for the headlights on his shiny black Buick to bounce into view.
At 6:20pm she thought he might be running late. At 6:45pm she started to worry. At 7:00pm, Marion phoned his house but there was no answer. She waited at the dining room table until 9:00pm, watching the candles melt down to stubs in their polished brass holders.
Charlie never showed that night, or ever again. Marion had tried for a whole week to get in touch but he never returned her calls. She even drove by his house and rang the bell but his car was not in the driveway and no one ever answered his door. She assumed he simply lost interest or maybe he was married. The raspberry negligee was eventually folded and tucked away in her dresser drawer.
Loneliness can be like a disease; starting out small but quickly infecting the vast realms of your being. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have or how busy your schedule is; there is a cavern-like hollowness to your house when you return at days end and the only thing to greet you is a lamp, switched on by an automatic timer. Clean cotton sheets spread untouched over a wide empty side of the bed that has never had an occupant.
All of Marion’s hopes and dreams were in that drawer with the raspberry colored lingerie; her hopes for a chance at companionship, excitement, romance.
Sometimes she pulled out the satin garment and put it on, feeling the sensual material against her curves, looking at herself in the mirror by the soft glow of her bedside lamp. It made her feel exhilarated and sexy. It made her feel wanted.
Over the months and years, Marion had gone back to the store in the mall, pretending that Charlie had come back and she was buying something special for their reunion. Her secret drawer did not only contain the raspberry nightgown but lavender panties, sherbet colored teddies and black push up bras that had more rhinestones than Nashville. Sometimes, fantasy is all a woman has to fill the void.