The Ink Well Prompt #26: Rollercoaster

I leave, a little belatedly, this narrative exercise resulting from @theinkwell's call.

Thank you in advance for your kind reading.



What I am about to tell you is a zigzagging love story. A love that, despite the winding roads it has travelled, still endures in the quiet maturity of a couple.

The two met from very different family worlds. She, an optimist, came from a very sheltered home, where the important thing was an idea of happiness, based on confidence and the achievement of personal goals.

He, a pragmatist, came from a family beset by economic difficulties and a social environment marked by urgency, mistrust and survival.

As fate would have it, they collided in the aisle of a supermarket, where their collision caused a display of plastic containers to fall. As they rearranged the display, they exchanged names and phone numbers. Both left the shop with a smile that took a long time to fade and then reappeared whenever one remembered the other. They were both 25 years old.

Thereafter they experienced the euphoria of passion, which elevated them to a place they had never quite been before, an intense sense of pleasure that was accentuated by the success of a business venture of their own, in which both perfectly matched their expertise and aspirations.

The persistent pursuit of financial success robbed them of the strength of their erotic love. It was then that they realised they were more partners than lovers.

The absence of romance struck a chord in her spirit and, on the fifteenth anniversary of their meeting in the supermarket, she sat beside him, took his hand and sought his gaze.

"I have a feeling we'll be celebrating like two little brothers this year," she said, in a tone more informative than complaining.

He resented the irony, but had nothing to say about it. They exchanged gifts. When she, head down, opened her present, a tear rolled down and wet the ribbon.

It was long months of buried grief, of searing anguish that alternately took the form of various fears. Then the fears turned to rage, until the rage began to take the form of hatred. The former partners became bitter opponents.

In his eyes, the confident, cheerful, bright and beautiful girl was turning into an intimidating, dry, overbearing and ugly person. He began to fantasise about carefree, frivolous young women.

And she began to look at him as a big mistake in the course of her life. She began to detail his coarse manners, his brusqueness in responding, the difference in his personal tastes, his lack of gentility. She began, for her part, to pay attention to the glances of other men who comforted her thoughts of being unattractive, of having aged prematurely.

One grey day, like so many others, she had to go shopping at the supermarket. Tension and stress played a trick on her: she locked the car and left the keys inside. Reluctantly, despite herself, she called him to ask him to bring her copies of the car keys. He arrived shortly; they both had a social engagement with a company supplier.

She suggested buying something and they both went in to make the purchase. Anyone who saw them would think they were looking at a solid couple.

She was restless, lately all she could think about was getting home as soon as possible and retiring to be alone. In the rush of her walk she didn't notice that she was passing too close to a display of tomato cans. She hit the display with her purse and the metallic sound filled the supermarket.

Employees ran, customers turned and commented. She was astonished, searched for her husband's gaze and met it head on. Her astonishment gave way to nostalgia that appeared in his eyes in the form of a crystalline, watery effect.

He looked astonished, his face gradually lit up as if something extraordinary was happening. It had been a long time since he had seen her cry. He walked over to her and put his arm around her shoulder.

"Are we going to fix this mess?"

She heard herself asking the question and didn't know what she herself was referring to, whether it was the mess caused or the chaos they both lived in.

He simply tightened the embrace. He grabbed the nearest bottle of wine, paid at the checkout counter and they walked out in an embrace.

That night they talked at length. It had been many years since they had looked at each other face to face. They managed to stop the free fall and walked up the hill together. They agreed to meet at a café outside the house to settle their mutual grievances.

The following years in their lives were a journey of gentle curves. They made a promise to help each other highlight their differences.

He, more understanding, learned to admire, without competing, her quiet intelligence, to understand her need for protection and to accept her visionary ideas with confidence.

She, less sensitive, learned to appreciate the practical content of his reactions, to respect his tastes, to claim delicacy for herself, to detect his fear hidden in his aggressive reactions. She learned to calm him down, to instil confidence in him.

Certainly an emotional gap opened up between them, they understood that they were different. She used the space for the enjoyment of particular tastes postponed by life together, he did exactly the same.

The self-realisation of each spouse gradually dissolved the mutual grievances to give way to the confident waiting of the ups and downs of destiny, in the maturity of their lives.

Thank you for the kindness of your readings.



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