The folks at Flash Fiction Friday have a challenge up for this week involving a list of ten songs with commonly misheard lyrics. The challenge is to take one of the songs, and write a story based on the title. This is my entry, "Livin' On A Prayer".
Kevin wasn't perfect. He was a little quick to anger, and he was a little slow to follow me if I talked too fast about too many different people. He wasn't the cutest boy I've ever met. His nose needed work, and his skin was kind of splotchy. His family was a disaster. But he worked really hard, and he would sit on the bed and hold me when I was crying, his heavy voice whispering, "Baby, it's ok," even if he didn't understand what I was upset about.
I was far from perfect, too. I could lose 20 pounds. I was no beauty queen. My face still broke out, and when it was that time of the month, I could be a raving lunatic. I was insecure at some times, and vain at others. I could be stubborn, and I spent too much money on makeup and girly things I didn't really need. I dragged him to social functions he hated, and made him watch and care about television shows he hated when he'd rather watch sports.
I sat on the edge of our bed and watched him sleep, his breath whistling slightly through his nostrils. We both worked crazy hours, plus I was still in school, but money was still a constant problem. If he was getting all his hours, and the cafe was busy, we could clear rent easily and even buy a little wine to have with dinner. If business slowed, or if one job or the other cut him back, we scrambled even to eat. I worried about it constantly.
The morning had been a blessing, a stretch of several consecutive hours where we could sleep in the same bed, murmuring endearments, falling asleep in each other's embrace and waking up together. For once, for 12 lovely hours, no one had to be anywhere. I loved Kevin, and he loved me, and I felt more sure of that than I ever had of anything. I accepted him and his faults, and he accepted me and mine. Alone among my circle of friends, I had no doubts about the man who shared my bed.
What happened this morning wasn't anyone's fault. I don't think either of us were entirely awake, and we did what adults do when they are half clothed and in love and alone. It was natural- without really thinking about it, we started it, and then it was done, and we were both asleep again. It was me who bolted awake, maybe 20 minutes later, not exactly ashamed, but aware that what had just occurred, enjoyable as it was, shouldn't have happened. Plan B, I thought immediately, staring at the ceiling, remembering a women's magazine article I had read in a flash.
I'm not stupid. I paid attention in health class, and I knew what happened when you lost control of yourself. Our constant money crunch meant that prevention wasn't always in the budget. So I plotted, and planned, and said no when I wanted to say yes sometimes. We talked about kids, of course- everyone our age did, and a few already had started. But we agreed, not yet. Not until money worry wasn't a constant, panicky nausea in my throat.
I slipped into a pair of his sweatpants and a too large t shirt. I pulled my hair back into a sloppy pony tail, found a pair of shoes and my car keys. I fished his wallet out of his jeans and removed a twenty, then found a matching one in my purse. I inspected myself in the mirror, making tiny tugs and adjustments. I looked horrible, but I couldn't spare the time or the effort to look any better.
I watched him sleep for another second. He worked so hard. I worked, too, but a lot of my work was standing around, talking and thinking. His was lifting and bending and stretching, his muscles doing the work, making him so tired some days he would fall asleep while talking to me. He wasn't handsome, he wasn't smart, but he loved me, and he was mine. I can't, I won't put him, put us, through this. Not now. Maybe someday. But not now.
"It will be OK. Someday," I told myself as I shut the door quietly.