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This is not love

I would be your lover in the dusk, when the stars begin to shine in a sky still blue, and the same light sparkles in your eyes. I would be the man you return to when the music fades and the dancing ends, and squire you home through the soft darkness, and be your lover through the still hours of the night. I would be at your side and watch you wake, and kiss away the creases that sleep has impressed upon your brow.

And this, none of this, is love. Have I not sworn it a thousand times? For love is too dangerous for you, and for your kind: even this mere shadow of love is not allowed me. I may be your lover only by daylight, or by the false dusk of a curtained room, and may give you only what he cannot, and give it only between two and four, when a lady who lunches may slip from view, and her absence not be noted. And I will wait from four till two for you, and sleep alone, and this, too, is not love.

Love is that thing you promised lightly, after the fashion of your kind, and learnt the weight of too late to shirk the load. I have seen the service that you pay that love – but have no fear. I have never broken our compact, nor trespassed on the places that you tread with him. Not since that vow was made have I seen you unawares, but many times before that day, many times, for the caution that I have slaved to your service was in my nature always, and I was many months deciding. I watched that stiff dance between the three of you, as you paid court to his wallet, and he paid court to you, and allowed it to persuade me that you were just my kind, though I hardly knew how true the thought.

So it goes and so it went, and all my plans fell just as they had been ordained. How readily you fell, how smoothly we progressed to the final act, the usual scene. And at that moment, what? I hardly know.

Why did I arrange no photographs, putting off, day by day, the payment of my labours? Why am I content to keep you on a string that binds us both? Have I found at last a woman to value higher than rubies, to prize beyond gold? Hardly. For have we not agreed, you and I, a thousand times, that there is no greater treasure than hard cash in hand?

Yet if I give you something that he cannot, you in your turn give something a dozen others could not replace, and so I wait for you, and take what you discard, and in the long night write you letters that you will never read. For you would look askance, I know, if I told you that we are as much of a kind as a man and a woman may be. The world that made us let me make my first sale open eyed, knowing what I sold and that I might sell it time and again, but it allows you only one such sale, you and your kind, and does not call it a sale until after the contract is signed.

And so I wait for you, and dream of being your lover in the soft night and under the open sky – but I do not dream of love, for love is too dangerous for you and I, and for our kind.

Written for the Mid Week Blues Buster … follow the link for more tales inspired by Alejandro Escovedo’s “This Bed Is Getting Crowded”.

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