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Joe And The Woman
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Joe And The Woman
A narrative of a romantic relationship.
[1,245 words]
Elicia Marie Berg
A college student, studying English.
[April 2003]
[email protected]
Joe And The Woman
Elicia Marie Berg

The woman sat in front of her computer, crying. Crying is an inadequate word to describe the tightening of the chest, the buildup of salted water in the eyes, the shortness of breath. One never feels quite so alive as when one is crying. It is a sobering experience.
“The Secret Wedding” from the “Braveheart” soundtrack was playing on her father’s laptop computer. She sat in the dark, her face illuminated by the computer screen, her dark hair piled atop her head. She was talking to multiple persons on AIM. But she only truly gave her attention to one. His screen name was joeladson: simple yet informative. Certainly not creative. She thought it was because he was a straightforward and uncomplicated person. How wrong she would learn that assumption to be.
This person, this joeladson, was complicating her life. How dare he make her question things that she took for granted? How dare he make himself romantically attractive when she had already pledged her life to another? How dare he make her feel alive again? How dare he make her cry?
By being himself.
She wouldn’t talk to him like this again for many months. But in the meantime, she would carry with her the innate knowledge that her life was perhaps not so predetermined as she had previously assumed. During this time, during this separation from the un-met and unknown joeladson, her life would be hard.
Her beloved Grandmother would die unexpectedly in the night. Her lover would begin to treat her with disrespect, and when she left him, he would raze her body and her self confidence. Friends she had trusted with her life would betray her, and people that she had previously thought to be detached and emotionally unstable would become her closest allies. She would begin college.
She would have panic attacks. A panic attack is an inadequate word to describe the tightening of the chest, the buildup of salted water in the eyes, the shortness of breath. One never feels quite so alive as when one is having a panic attack. It is a frightening experience.
But a day would come when all of these difficulties would cease to matter. A day in early October, when the leaves are just beginning to perish upon the trees. When it was the perfect temperature for a walk in the woods with a man that she had never seen before, but knew in her heart. He showed up one day, because he wanted to meet her. She couldn’t believe that someone would drive hundreds of miles just to get a glimpse of her form, to hear her voice, to watch her walk. Joeladson was standing upon her doorstep. Now she called him Joe.
From the moment they laid eyes on each other, the woman’s life was not the same. She found herself finally allied with the kind of person with whom she could discuss the theories of C.S. Lewis. She could talk endlessly of her rose garden, and he would not become bored. He would tell her stories of his family, the kind of family that she wished hers would be like. And stories of his home. The kind of home that the love fairly seeps out of. She would share with this Joe her most treasured secrets, and most embarrassing failures. She would give him his first kiss.
They would fall in love. Love is an inadequate word to describe the tightening of the chest, the buildup of emotion in the heart, the shortness of breath. One never feels quite so alive as when one is in love. It is an uphill battle, but a worthy one if you have the right person fighting beside you.
Over the months, they would explore one another’s pasts. Joe would hear of the woman’s difficult and repressed childhood, of her previously domineering father, of her submissive mother, of her travels overseas, and of her mistakes. She would hear of Joe’s life growing up on a farm, of his earthy mother and his dependable father. She would hear of his little brother, who was gone. She would hear of his beloved cousin, who was like his soul’s twin.
They would also explore each other’s personalities. She would learn of his unexpected and unexplained depressions, of his pessimism, of his warm heart, of his low expectations, of his treasured friendships, and of his dissatisfaction with his field of study. Joe would learn of her lust for life, of her penchant for anything literary, of her inability to stigmatize anything in the sexual realm, of her allegiance to tolerance, her stubbornness, and her faith.
They would explore one another’s bodies. Scared but certain, they would probe the worlds of physical pleasure and satiate each other’s sexual appetites.
They would feel desire. Desire is an inadequate word for the tightening of the chest, the warmth of the body, the shortness of breath. One never feels quite so alive as when one is desirous of someone else. You must trust someone to desire them.
Before they made love for the first time, they were both frightened. When the woman asked Joe how she could make his first time perfect, for memories’ sake, he told her that it was already perfect, since it was with her. When it was over, the woman realized that she, herself, had also really made love for the first time in her life as well. And it was perfect. Because it was with him.
They would continue this level of intimacy, both physical and emotional, for many months to come. Although they would disagree occasionally, they would always manage to resolve their arguments with a spirit of servitude and love. They would be scared sometimes, both of things they could and could not control. They would love one another and hurt one another. As I mentioned before, love is an uphill battle.
As the second semester of her college year drew to a close, the woman looked at the calendar, and realized that they had been together for almost seven months. Joe had already finished his semester, and was at home with his family. Things had changed between them. The woman was frightened, because she feared that the one person in the world that she felt truly knew who she was, was falling out of love with her. He had fallen away from God as well. She knew that the only way to heal their relationship was through their faith, but how could she accomplish this task? How could she show God’s love when she was feeling bitter and neglected? Joe hadn’t spoken to her in two days, and not for lack of trying on her part. Maybe he was depressed and had withdrawn into himself for a few days, as he was wont to do occasionally. Maybe he was extremely busy with work on his family’s farm. Perhaps he was just tired and wanted to get to bed extra early. Whatever the reason, his inattention had hurt the woman. She didn’t know what to do or what to feel. She only knew that she loved him, and hoped that he still loved her as well.
She felt great pain. Pain is really an inadequate word for the tightening of the chest, the uncertainty of the heart, for the shortness of one’s temper. One never feels quite so dead as when one is in pain.
The woman sat in front of her computer, crying. She just wanted to hear his voice.


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© 2003 Elicia Marie Berg
April 2003

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