Love is a many splendored -- thing?
by Lainie Lee
I pushed a stay wisp of hair out of my face with a wrist to avoid removing my makeup with my soapy glove. Mom had put my long hair into a ponytail but some of it seemed to have escaped. She and I were doing the dishes after the lunch edition of Thanksgiving while Dad and Jim and my older brothers, Neal and Greg, watched television in the front room. Football I supposed, not that I cared but it sounded like football.
Tommi and Robin, the wives of Neal and Greg, watched the kids in the backyard -- Tommi has three and Robin two, none of them older than eight. They'd get their turn at doing dishes tonight while Mom and Aunt Beth watched the kids.
Jim and I would be leaving to drive back to Palos Verdes in a few hours. Well, Jim would drive back just as he'd driven up to Ventura; I've never had a driver's license. We had to leave in time to get to his parents' Thanksgiving Dinner by six but the holiday traffic on the 405 should be pretty good.
I washed while Mom dried and put things away -- she knew where she wanted things to go and I didn't. I wore plastic gloves to protect my inch-long acrylic nails but it had been some while since I'd done dishes; I felt a bit awkward so I took some extra care.
"Robin," Mom said.
I smiled at her. "What?"
"Don't your feet hurt, sugar?" Mom's soft Louisiana accent made it, "sugah."
I glanced down at my feet. "Not really, I wear heels all the time. I'm used to it." Actually, the five-inch sandals I had on seemed very comfortable, at least they weren't stilettos. I laughed. "If I don't wear shoes with some heel, I get a crick in my neck looking up at Jim."
Mom grinned. "He's a giant." She pronounced it, "jahnt." She glanced toward the door to the living room. "Whatever possessed you to marry a man more'n a foot taller than you?"
"Luck?" I suggested.
She laughed and shook her head. "I wonder that y'all haven't had kids 'cause things don't fit right. I mean...." She trailed off, looking confused.
My turn to laugh, Mom's capacity for denial sometimes amazes me. "Believe me, things fit fine." I didn't want to tell her we'd decided not to adopt kids because of Jim's age, he'd be sixty before any kids we got as babies could start school. Adoption would be the only way we got one but we didn't really want kids anyway.
Besides, Jim had three kids by his first marriage, the oldest at eighteen only five years younger than me -- we'd be seeing them tonight at the Murcer house. With luck, Monica would have already left them for their holiday with their grandparents. Sam, Joanie and Melissa liked me well enough. I wasn't their mom and I didn't pretend to be. They called me Robin and they called their father Daddy Jim or just Dad.
Ever since an incident with a glass of raspberry sherbert, I'd tried to avoid the necessity of being in the same room with Monica or her new husband so I had no idea how the kids addressed them. I suppose I could have cared less, but I wasn't sure how.
I heard Jim making getting-ready-to-leave-noises and looked toward the wide door to the living room. I turned my head to look, my long diamond pendant earrings brushing my bare shoulders. There he stood, his back mostly to the kitchen as he watched "one more play" at the insistence of my dad and brothers. He's not literally two foot taller than me, more like fifteen inches. He comes from a tall family, one of his uncles was a college all-star basketball player almost twenty years ago. My family is more normal height, I'm not sure why I'm short; mom says it may be that I was a preemie and "pyunsy" all my growing up.
Whatever the reason, I'm small and Jim is extra-large and I like it that way. He glanced at me just as I looked at him and I caught his wink. A flash of heat went through me. Yes, after almost six years of being together he still affects me that way. I giggled, on purpose; Jim likes my giggle.
Something must have happened on the screen, though, because Jim wandered back out toward the football. I sighed, a little disappointed.
"I can finish this, sugah," Mom offered. "Go drag him away from the teevee if you really want to get going."
"Oh, no!" I said. "I couldn't do that, Jim will come tell me when he's ready to go." I smiled at her but she wasn't having any of that.
"And you do whatever he wants, don't you?" she said.
I didn't answer. If it wasn't obvious, then Mom was just in denial again. We were down to the pots and pans and I dunked a corn muffin tin under the suds and scrubbed it out.
"Just like dropping out of high school to run away with him when he left his wife. Just like getting that boob job he wanted. Bitty thing like you with double-d tits! Everybody knows they ain't real! Besides the other -- thing!"
I smiled at her, heaping coals on her head, like in the Bible. Besides, they're double-g, for ginormous!
"And the way you dress! Heels, and long hair, and them plastic tits practically hanging out! Skirts so short, they hardly count as a wide belt -- and you've got that corset thing on again, haven't you?"
I nodded, still smiling. Jim has me wear my corsets almost all the time now. I can't remember for sure the last time I was without one for more than a half hour or so. It's not so much for making my waist slender anymore, I'm down to nineteen inches, but Jim likes the posture I can maintain while wearing my stays. Since the trip to Brazil and my implants back there, I'm all butt and boobs and blonde hair. Jim and I both like it that way.
Mom snorted. She doesn't understand that I adore the way Jim treats me. I belong to him, I'm his precious darling and I most definitely like it that way. I tried to make peace with Mom, though, for the sake of Thanksgiving.
I felt him come into the room before I heard him. It's almost like gravity. I left the heaviest pans in the suds, they needed to soak anyway and I could hardly lift them. I started turning toward him, smiling.
"I'm ready to go, babydoll," Jim rumbled.
I held up my hands and he plucked my rubber gloves off, discarding them on the counter. I turned a bit so he could pull the scrunchie Mom loaned me out of my hair. Giggling, I shook my platinum hair down to where it curled around my Brazilian butt. Jim laughed.
I put my arms up and Jim picked me up to settle me on his arm where I could lean over his shoulder and lick his ear. "We're going to go, Mama Gottenow," he said. This time, I could feel his voice rumbling in his chest.
"You treat that girl like some kind of toy!" Mom protested.
Jim laughed. "Yup, my favorite plaything." He looked at me. "You don't mind do you, dollie?"
I shook my head, letting my earrings tinkle in my ears.
"We got to get on the road to make it to my folks place, time to go," said Jim.
I waved bye to Mom and then to the life I'd left behind me. Good riddance. I belonged to Jim now and that's the way I wanted it.
But Mom was wrong about --the other thing-- I never had bothered to get that operation.
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