Monday, July 28, 2008

Torch Song

I knew when I interviewed him there would be trouble.

When he came to the office before his second interview to drop out of the running, I talked him out of it and hired him.

Though we were the same age, he had just graduated from a small Quaker college in the Midwest.

He began at a traditional university in New England, but he quit school after a year and worked for five.

Now here we were.

He was my intern.

I was his married boss.

By the end of his first week on the job, I was a wreck.

The sight of him, the smell of him, the sound of his voice… I was undone.

I struggled with myself.

I fought against his tide.

I tried to hide what I felt.


We were young, working at a nonprofit organization and broke.

We ate lunch together every day.

He had less money than I did, so I frequently paid for our lunch.

We talked about Yeats and Annie Dillard, about loss and grief, about everything.

One day he was sullen, quiet.

He had just received a rejection letter for a full-time position that he had badly wanted.

He was struggling to figure out what his career path was supposed to be.

Out of nowhere he looked up at me in anger and, with venom in his voice, said,

“You think I’m a slacker with no ambition.”

I sat there slack-jawed, blinking at him in disbelief.

I took a few deep breaths.

“How dare you presume to know what I think,” I finally said.

He looked at his food.

“That is not what I think. I think you are among the best and the brightest. I think you are a rising star, one to watch. I believe in you,” I said.

He looked up at me again.

“Those other words came out of your mouth. If that's what you think of yourself, don’t try to blame it on me.”

Now I looked away.

I felt like all the air had been sucked out of my body.

I wanted to scream, then to cry.

I wanted to take him by the collar and shake him.

“How could you think…?"

"I could never… "

"Have you not noticed the way I look at you, the way I stare at the shape of your hand, the curve of your lips?"

"Can you not feel the force that draws me towards you against my will, my better judgment... can’t you see I’ve lost control of myself, my heart?”

I didn’t say any of that to him.

I finished my lunch, with my heart pounding in the cage of my chest.

It would be awhile before I learned that he felt exactly the same way about me.




41 comments:

Shannon said...

Wow. This is like a Lifetime TV movie!

I met my husband one drunken night at a bar. My torch song is like a white trash country song that included a midget in the story.

Omaha Mama said...

Hey! Shannon and I have the same story - mine is a drunk bar story also.

Yours. Well, yours is beautiful and painful and the way you write it...well, it's...

Beck said...

This is gorgeous and made me catch my breath all at once. My story is long and dragged out and involves HIGH SCHOOL and breaking up for five years and then me leaving my fiance (who I LIVED WITH. Messy!).

Vodka Mom said...

PLEASE give us chapter two...I'm ready.

Mrs. Chicken said...

I can't even imagine the torture this must have been for the two of you. But it seems to me you both got a second chance, the chance to be with your true soulmate. I'm sure it was hard, and that there was a lot of damage in the wake of it, but I'm glad you found one another.

Miz UV said...

I love your story. It's wonderful you were brave enough to do the "wrong" thing, which actually was the right thing. Most people aren't.

Assertagirl said...

Every great love story should feature a burrito.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Shannon and Omaha Mama, oof, I'm right there with you, minus the midget.

I got all tingly reading this---it must have been a ridiculous conflict of feelings you were going through at the time. Glad it had such a happy ending, but at the time, you must've felt like you were headed for a train wreck.

Jenifer said...

Mine is much less interesting...met in university. Your story is gold.

Jen M. said...

Dang - more, please!

NotSoSage said...

Oh...

I'm breathless. If I didn't know how it all worked out, I might cry. I might cry anyway, come to think of it.

Erin said...

This was so absolutely beautifully written! My heart was pounding as I read it. It hits far too close to home.

WILLIAM said...

He could watch you eat a burrito and not be attracted to you....?

Tracy said...

I just swooned a little... :)

Patience said...

Surely with burrito comes Mighty Wind!

Great romance!!

Magpie said...

Breathtaking.

Backpacking Dad said...

Well hell.

Those moments when you find out that someone thinks something completely unexpected of you are soul-tearing.

mingaling said...

mmm... goosebumps!

Redneck Mommy said...

I'm totally living vicariously through you.

Such romance.

Swoon.

moosh in indy. said...

Oooh, this is delicious.

flutter said...

*swoon*

Mel said...

You should be writing a book.

Also... what happened next? You're killing me here. :)

Major Bedhead said...

Oh. Oh, oh, oh. So lovely, Jess. I hope the rest of the story is posted.



Can I ask what small Quaker school in the midwest? My parents quite possibly went to the same school....

Megan said...

Oh this is going to be good. I can't wait to hear more.

lattemommy said...

Ooooh. Scandalous, illicit love affairs with beautiful romantic endings. Give us more, give us more!

ilinap said...

Wow. This is similar to how my husband and I hooked up. I was married. He was not. Now we are married to each other. 8 happy years.

we_be_toys said...

Ah forbidden love! This is such a wonderful story, I never tire of hearing it!

Laura said...

Best story, best post best everything...WOW. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story!

stepping over the junk said...

I GOT CHILLS!!! (they're multiply-in'!)

Rachael said...

Wow, just WOW! Amazingly written... can't wait to hear more!

karrie said...

So naughty! And so perfect! EVen though we know the end, more story please. :-)

Grim Reality Girl said...

Oh my goodness.... no fair with the cliff hanger!!! You can NOT tell such a good story in INSTALLMENTS! Are you trying to kill me?

Mrs. Chicky said...

I have a special place in my heart for office romances. Ahem.

GoteeMan said...

aw, hell... you gotta finish the story now...

I love THRILLERS... so WRITE THE REST...

J/

Anissa@Hope4Peyton said...

Oh I feel the need to get an intern and fall in love again.

Amanda said...

I would expect it to ignite like this with you.

All Adither said...

So is he your husband now? What? I'm in suspense. Write fast. Please.

Moobs said...

gasp

♥♥♥ A- Licious ♥♥♥ said...

oh wow....pass the popcorn please....and pleeeeeeeeze finish the story!

*whew* *sigh*

Bon said...

i have a torch song a little bit like this. i'm glad he heard you, eventually. i think there is such beauty in that which has come hard.

Damselfly said...

Ah, true love!

Hey, you changed your profile picture! Fabulous as always!