Written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer Black
For her husband, C. A. Black on 19 August, 2013
A love story starts with people in love, and thus begins this tale. A man named Edward fell desperately for a beautiful, energetic, and exciting woman, Debra, one who’s promised adventures were more than he alone could imagine. She drove a Harley Davidson and wore tight leather and lace outfits. When hosting get-togethers, Debra cooked creative, elaborate dinner combinations, but otherwise she expected to be taken to restaurants for most evening meals. She charmed his friends, though his family was privately wary of her.
The couple married in an extravagant ceremony witnessed by over four hundred guests, including the mayor of their town. The bride wore a fabulous white mermaid gown with a pearl headband veil, the groom classic white tie. While they honeymooned in the Caribbean for a month, Debra explained at both the beginning and the end of the time that they had made a mistake. Edward assumed that cold feet were causing Debra’s concern and proclamations. As time passed, however, she became increasingly unhappy, asking for more from life and her partner.
She took risks, beginning with white water rafting and skydiving. He tried to keep up, but his nature was not as adventurous. However, he would happily fund her excursions, some of them far from home, in an attempt to divert her able mind and ample energy, but nothing seemed to fill the growing void inside of her. Edward would cheer Debra’s many successes.
Debra began a quest for spiritual self-fulfillment in new age beliefs, borrowing from many religions to craft one of her own liking. A group of followers came monthly for “circles” where Debra would impart the wisdom that she gathered. Edward was not exactly welcome at these gatherings, but he was expected to provide the catered foods required to make them enjoyable.
He secretly sold the semi-automatic hand gun that she insisted that she wanted months earlier when he came home from work to find her sitting in their marble foyer at the foot of the sweeping staircase, crying and cradling the weapon, explaining that she could think of no reason to go on with life, that there was nothing left for her to experience. He used the money to buy her a lovely violet silk and organza ballroom gown, her latest craze an obsession with dance. He purchased a black silk tuxedo and took lessons with her until she became bored with the enterprise.
Debra did not notice the absence of the gloc for over a month. When she realized its absence, she rounded on Edward, pointing an angry, manicured finger to the brass and crystal chandelier that hung from the cathedral ceiling in their foyer. “I don’t need a gun to end myself,” she explained, enthusiastically indicating the chandelier. “That will support my weight. I checked.” He begged her to come with him to counselling, but she refused, explaining that he did not understand that she was an evolved entity, that he was not. Obviously no one could understand her anguish, Debra moaned, least of all Edward.
Debra found some measure of comfort in a computer chat room, spending every night typing spiritual messages to a cyberspace family who loved and appreciated her. Edward tried to reason with his wife, begging her to seek some sleep, but she explained that the group was from the West Coast and thus operating in a different time zone. “You won’t take this from me,” she stated, and she was correct. Edward only desired his wife’s happiness and safety. He mourned their lack of closeness, but in the approaching five years of their marriage, he grew to know that mostly he watched from the sidelines as Debra sought fulfillment, and he was contented when she found contentment.
One day, Edward came home from work to find a mostly empty house and a hastily written note on three pages of college lined paper left in the center of the foyer under the brass chandelier. She stated therein that she did not want counselling. She did not want marriage, especially. She did not want him. He held her back and would have to be cut out of her life. She would contact him when she knew what the next step would be, she said. “I want something more from my life,” she concluded, signing only her first name without further closing.
Edward sat on the cold, grey-veined marble floor of the entryway and re-read the angled black gel-pen handwriting several times over the next hour before he came to grips with its import. Then, with sad resolve, he dialed his friend, attorney James Chronic. Debra wanted this. He would give her yet another of her wishes.
Ironically, Debra was angered by this, screaming that he had no right to seek legal advice. She wanted to define the arrangements, but Edward and Mr. Chronic made a generous settlement that included alimony for two years and half of the proceeds from the sale of their estate. Debra was quieted for a time, until the money ran out, and then she came back to see if Edward was interested in a continued acquaintanceship with her.
He was not. In fact, Edward decided as soon as he was no longer financially and emotionally encumbered by the divorce, he would seek a new love, a mature and honorable relationship with a good woman. He was uncertain how to go about meeting such a person, and on New Year’s Eve, while watching late night television, he saw an advertisement for an online Christian dating service with a free month’s trial. After fervent prayers and a firm resolution, he signed up and created a profile.
There were a couple of responses, but Edward was camera shy and did not include a profile photograph. One evening when the trial was about to expire, Edward received a cute letter from a woman named Jenna. Jenna wrote that she and her family visited his hometown of Latrobe every year for the Steeler training camp hosted at St. Vincent College. Jenna also had no profile photograph with which to identify herself. Edward smiled and responded, “So, you are some of the people responsible for congesting the traffic around here so badly!”
“You of course you mean that we are to be congratulated for improving your local economy by our tourism,” she responded. He smiled as he typed his reply in the morning before he went to work, which she answered that evening. The pair shared information and witty banter in this way, each becoming secretly excited by the private exchanges.
Jenna was warm, intelligent, and cautious, yet open and sensible. She was a widow and although her family did not exactly approve, she longed for some male friendship. So their correspondence went for a couple of weeks until he spontaneously suggested that they talk on the telephone. She did not send a response that evening, which was troubling to him greatly. He did not sleep well, worrying that he overstepped and would lose the prized communication.
The next morning, however, relieved his anxiety. The computer screen contained only a telephone number and the words, “after 9 tonight.” Proverbial butterflies filled his stomach as he anticipated the evening’s conversation. His hand shook a little when he dialed, but her nervous, “hello” put him strangely at ease. They talked well into the night, both reluctant to end the conversation. They agreed to talk again the next night, and the one thereafter.
Jenna later admitted that she feared that there would not be much to talk about, but she found him as clever a conversationalist as he was a correspondent. After some weeks of nightly telephone contact, Edward asked if Jenna would please meet him for a lunch date. Silence eventually led to a quiet, “yes.”
“How will I know you?” Edward asked, and Jenna said that she would wear yellow and meet him in the waiting area of the local Applebees.
Edward wondered about Jenna’s appearance, since she was sketchy about defining details, but with as sweet as she seemed through his various contact, he was greatly looking forward to meeting her. His pleasure was great when he looked into her wide, green eyes and observed her blushes when he complimented her. She twirled her long, auburn hair when nervous, and with his every glance, she became a bit clumsy, which Edward found endearing.
It was easy to fall in love with Jenna, and she in her turn easily fell for Edward. The couple felt that they each were emerging from a cocoon of their past, a self-protective insulation spun diligently around hearts afraid to hurt again. However, when they met each other, it was as though the warmth of spring beckoned, thinning the chrysalises. It was with eagerness that their hearts emerged to dance together like butterflies floating through an amber sky.