Friday 19 April 2013

'A Recursive Love Affair' by Ted Chiles

A man and a woman walk toward each other on a crowded street. He sees her, and the shape of her hip and the small dip it makes captures him. His shoulders ensnare her; their width and proportion so strong they could carry her anywhere, even down a ladder. But at that moment, as the sun warms them, they see how the love affair will end. Sitting at a table on an early winter night. He surveys the restaurant's clean lines of steel and bleached wood. She inspects the plates of tuna and eel bound to mounds of rice. He swirls his wine and watches the vortex form. She sips her martini, watching the familiar bulge of his jaw. He watches the lines of her cheeks rise with the disappointment of an unknown expectation. She tells him she wants to be friends. He asks why? She can't tell him she doesn't want to bear his children.

He sees their first fight. The one they have after they've lived together long enough that the novelty has waned. He drinks a glass of wine beyond normal, or what she considers normal. And when he breaks the ceramic pot with the Japanese symbol the vendor told them meant timeless connection. The pot they bought on their first weekend living together in this space that had been hers. That's what comes up when she tells him half a bottle of merlot ought to be enough. What did he need to escape from? He stares at her and pours another glass. Asks her if she wants to know, and like some animal, not a deer or a rabbit but something with a disproportionate belief in its toughness, she says, yes.

She sees the first time they make love. How he slows down and lingers over her - takes a sip, holds it on his tongue, letting it unfold, swirls it, explores the legs and lets her breathe. Instead of having to jump and sweat to keep up, she has time to understand, that this moment, when softness turns to urgency and the body focuses without constraint, is why all the attention is warranted.

He sees the first kiss. His lips firm. Hers soft. The thrill of her acceptance and submission mixed with the oddness of her taste, the texture of her hair, rougher than he imagined, stronger than he hoped. Feels how his desire blooms. He wants to please, protect, and grow in her eyes. He sees how all of this folds into a single kiss with her hair lightly entwined in his fingers.

She sees his desire as he comes towards her on the street. He sees her slow. She passes knowing he will stop and turn. He turns knowing she will be looking at him. Both hoping against knowledge and insight that they will ignore it all and move towards each other.


  1. lovely comment upon a couple & their knowing/intuiting how the relationship will go & yet, maybe, they will ignore it all & "move towards each other." ambiguous ending leaves us hoping.

  2. Ted, your photos still look like you, but your wife is a hell of a lot better looking.



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