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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 35 page 05


Without Loretta being aware, Gherard had advanced further towards her and was pressing his body back and forth into hers. She tried to think of Gherard now, the way he was back when they’d first met, but her memories of him were suddenly muted, like a faded photograph of good times already gone. Thoughts of Flavio, and the memory of his look of passion, still lingered in her head.

When Gherard told her, shortly after they’d met, that he had never been with anyone, that he’d never met anyone he’d wanted to be with, Loretta was a little surprised, but she wasn’t perturbed. He was only twenty-three then, she eighteen, and she’d never been with anyone either. She was vain enough to think his disinterest in passion would be different with her — and it was, for the first few years. Besides, she had already made up her mind, had already decided, that he was the man for her. He was charming, intelligent, handsome, he was adventuresome, and he was a part-time musician. Despite his ambivalence about having children, she thought he would come around after a while, be a good father to her children. And so, in the end, she’d settled. “He’s Mr. Good Enough,” she said to herself at the time.

The day Gherard and Loretta fell in love, it began in the bulk foods section at the Healthy Bug Natural Health Shoppe. He was looking for organic hazelnuts for the crêpes he was planning to make, and she was looking for oatmeal — not the fast cooking kind, but the twenty-minute type, with flax, the hearty kind — and Loretta liked the way Gherard looked her right in the eye and listened so attentively when she was talking to him. She fantasized about writing the songs he was yet to record.

When he tenderly offered her his arm, so she wouldn’t slip on the ice in her high heeled boots as they walked with their grocery bags through the parking lot, she was smitten. She looked over at him shyly and wanted to touch his soft, curly hair, to brush away a few snowflakes that had landed there. In his navy cotton knit sweater, jeans, and tan leather boat shoes, he looked rugged, manly, in that ‘in front of the fire in a log cabin with his black Labrador retriever lying at his feet’ sort of way. His hair was already thinning then, but it made him look masculine and she liked his rimmed glasses, ‘like Henry Miller,’ she’d thought. And there was an intoxicating dash of chauvinism that made it feel as though he would take care of her as a woman.

At first, they were so infatuated that she called him nearly every day, on her lunch hour, and they talked until it was time for her to go back to work. She couldn’t wait to see him at the end of each day.

When they visited Gherard’s parents in Lower Shag Harbour for the weekend, he would play his guitar and sing, and stay up late talking and laughing with his family. Loretta would turn in early, curling up under the blankets in the small twin bed in the guest room, as she waited anxiously for him to crawl in with her.

But things sometimes change faster than a person can understand and, after years of trying unsuccessfully to have a child, it wasn’t long before she would be hoping she’d fall asleep before he came to bed. One night, she noticed how skinny his legs were, and how she couldn’t lie with her head on his shoulder because of his height — one of those terrible moments she’d read about in which “one suddenly sees love with fresh, cold eyes.” When they first fell in love it felt like it would last forever. But if you wait long enough, if enough time passes, Loretta realized now, love can just disappear, go away, dissipate. Ultimately, she thought, love always disappoints, for one cannot hold onto that state, hold onto those feelings, forever. She’d noticed how Gherard was suddenly all gropey and grunty then too — instead of offering tenderness, like he had that day in the Healthy Bug parking lot — it was only through the sexual act that he gave and took comfort. Now he seemed to know no other way. She wanted to feel that desire again, as though it was something she couldn’t reach and might never find again.