Delicate Cycle (Story by R.C. Peris)

There was always talk of it. Finding love. Exercising to find love. The right shade of lip gloss to find love. The love of your life. Forever and ever. The perfect one. Your soul mate. I didn’t give much thought to love as a child. A boy in class brought me a giant Valentine. I was embarrassed. The kids teased me. I dumped the card in the trash before I walked into my house.

At fourteen, I got weird feelings in my body. Love could be physical. The love of your life could be a body bliss. Men came and went over the years. I thought I loved some of them but after they left I didn’t feel love for anybody at all.

Connor slipped into my life when I wasn’t looking. Our first was at an Italian restaurant. The waitress had disappeared and I needed water. Connor went to the counter and got me a full glass of water. We went to the pier after. It was offseason. He draped his jacket around me.

Connor was always there. He never argued with me. He never said anything hurtful. We moved in together. For fifteen years he was there. Getting me water and taking time to wash my bras in the delicate cycle. I never thought of him as the love of my life.

I got cancer. It was discovered late. I wasn’t expected to live for very long. One day the priest walked in. I wasn’t religious. Someone sent the priest. Connor left to get me ice for my water. My eyes were rheumy. Rubbed raw from crying. I told the priest I never found the love of my life.

“What about the man who went to get you ice?” asked the priest.

“Connor…”

“Humans are strange. Often times, we don’t realize we are blessed. We don’t notice when we are living in a state of grace.”

Connor came back in the room. He poured ice into my glass. He unpacked a small bag. Two bras, neatly folded.

“All washed in the delicate cycle,” he said.

I cried and I imagined a glow around me. Perhaps it was grace.

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