Saturday, 18 June 2022

'One Hundred Percent' by Matt Barrett

On a two-night detour in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Randall Brown said he’d never loved anyone completely. He sat outside his motel room, beside a woman watching city lights across the street. She asked, What do you mean by completely? The woman had hard leather skin and passed him a bottle of Knob Creek she’d found in the back of her truck. I mean, not one hundred percent, he said, and she nodded. Then neither have I. Randall thought of his wife and kids, his brother, his mother. Maybe at times he loved his mother completely. But too often he wanted to change something about her, to tell her to quit bothering him or stop worrying about every little thing he did. As a child, he loved some moments a hundred percent. He loved his feet in the muddy waters of the creek. He loved when his brother chased him in the field beside their home. He even loved when his wife, sitting beside him on the couch, let him fall asleep. Those quiet nights she decided not to wake him. But people, he told the woman, I always want to change them. She smiled and put the bottle down and even then, as he observed this leathery woman he probably shouldn’t have brought back to his motel, he felt at peace for saying these things. It seemed clear to him—that anyone who claimed to love someone till death do us part was really just looking for moments to share. Yes, Randall believed in loving people. But it didn’t make sense to love them always, not when they had something to change. And when the woman stood, to sit in the back of her pickup truck and search the corners of his face, he thought, This is what I mean.

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