This is chapter 3 of a continuing story called The Woods and the Way
“The problem with romantics is that they’re all heart and no head. That’s not to say they’re stupid, mind you: it just means they don’t think… rationally. They don’t think reasonably. The second something tugs at their heartstrings they’re off, and no reason or rhyme can deter them. At least until something else strikes their fancy, and then they’re gone. One moment they’re at your doorstep with flowers professing their love, the next they’re chasing after the new skirt in town like a lovesick puppy.”
The girl looked to their front door on her left and tried to picture her father standing there with a bouquet in hand, only a few years older than she was now. The image made her smile, but it was a sad smile. She and her mother were sitting out on their porch swing, watching the Sunday afternoon float lazily by. An ice cream truck had passed through the neighbourhood a few minutes before, and chocolate fudge ripple dripped down the cones as they talked, staining their hands.
“It’s not their fault, of course,” her mother continued. “I don’t blame your father for leaving me any more than, say… any more than I can blame oxygen for reacting with iron and rusting these chains.” She ran her long, delicate fingers down the old chains of the swing, looking at them with undisguised nostalgia. “It was in his nature, darling. He was wired a certain way, and we can only do so much to fight our nature. If anything I blame myself for not seeing it sooner, and for loving him back in the first place.”
“But you did? Love him, I mean. And he loved you back?”
“Well of course, sweetie. We loved one another very much. The trouble wasn’t that he didn’t love, it was that he loved too much. That amount of love needs constant attention, or it will find something -or someone- else to satiate it. But between my PhD and work at the lab I just couldn’t give your father the attention he needed. To his credit he never once cheated on me. Even after he’d fallen for her he came to me first, and explained everything. He wasn’t a sleaze, he was a romantic. Honour and chivalry were, in his mind, the most important things in life and love. I think we both knew the time had come: he was just the one who pointed it out.”
“Do you miss him?” Her mother was silent for a moment as she looked out onto the street, her misty eyes trailing an old Chrysler LeBaron as it squeaked and groaned past their house.
“Only when I think about him,” she said, smiling sadly.