January 30, 2014 Comments Off on Madly In Love by Jackie Fisherman
The first time I fell madly in love, I was eight. His name was Corbin, and he was the most graceful, self-possessed creature I’d ever seen — all two and a half inches of him. I’d won him at the school carnival, and when the man handed him to me in that plastic bag, our eyes met (well, my eyes, his bulging left one). The rhythmic puffing of his fish cheeks matched the pulsing in my chest, and it was a connection unlike anything I’d ever imagined. He died three days later.
The next time I fell madly in love, it was the summer before college. Brenna was a lifeguard at the town pool — a sand-bottomed staph swamp that they filled in every June and drained on Labor Day. I spread my towel next to her stand every day to watch her sun herself above me. The only female guard that summer, she’d draw the boys to her station with sheer girlness — a talent that, despite having the requisite parts, I had never mastered. Just like that whistle she twirled, they were wrapped around Brenna’s tanned finger. The day before Labor Day, the alarm sounded — a child had gone missing — and in her haste to be a hero, she stepped on my head. The lifeguards formed a human chain while everyone watched in horror. Brenna was the one to give the all clear. I’m not sure if the child was ever found, but I do know I left for college the next day and never saw Brenna again.
I fell madly in love for a third time when I was thirty-six. My husband had just gotten a job in Berlin, and I had accompanied him across the Atlantic with our twin boys. Her name was Lena, and she was our au pair. I was learning the language, and she was amused by my lack of fluency and malapropisms. We watched German soap operas while the kids were at school. She taught me the songs that she sang to my children to help them learn this strange new tongue. In the evenings, we all would dramatically belt out tunes for my husband about ducks and bunnies and trouble-making monkeys. Lena was plain-looking, stout, and didn’t seem to have a life outside of my family. When she left us, she took my husband with her.
The last time I fell madly in love was after my son’s funeral. His wife and I found a photo album: weddings, first steps, parties, random candids. I found one I’d remembered taking. It was my sons’ sixth birthday — I think — and they were standing on either side of their father. My husband had icing all over his face and most of his clothes. So did the boys. The three of them were facing the camera with their heads thrown back, eyes dancing and grinning. The shot itself was unsteady, as if the person who took it was in on the joke and laughing with them.
© 2013 Jackie Fisherman