Short Story: To the Woman Who Could’ve Been the Future Mrs. Owen E. Stevens

Hey, readers!

I know this blog here has been bereft of material for the past couple of months, particularly August and especially when it comes to non-poetic works of mine (i.e., articles, short stories, and product release announcements), and I would like to take the time to personally apologize for that. However, I promise you all that once I finally—finally—finish editing my latest novel, UWWX: The Underground Women’s Wrestling Xperiment, I will get right back to work with such material, particularly the articles in my “In Relation to My Work” segment. For the time being, though, I have managed to come across an old work of mine in my collection of original short stories that I feel is appropriate for this blog, and not just because it is similar in tone to a number of works I have published here recently (e.g., Vow of the Imperfect, The Meaning of Love, and  Visions of Love). Granted, that’s part of the reason, but moreover, this particular story was an experiment in storytelling for me in that it taught me how to take a familiar format (i.e., a love letter) and put a twist on it for the sake of narrating that which was on my protagonist’s mind and to illustrate the events that have gone on in his life up to the point where he is writing his letter. Without a doubt, too, this piece is perhaps one of my favorite short stories out of all that I’ve worked on for reasons that I hope each of you will be able to see upon reading. Therefore, without further ado, here is To the Woman Who Could’ve Been the Future Mrs. Owen E. Stevens. Please enjoy!

*****

To the Woman Who Could’ve Been the Future Mrs. Owen E. Stevens
by Dustin M. Weber
March 1, 2007

March 1, 2007

To the woman who could’ve been the future Mrs. Owen E. Stevens:

Hey, it’s me–you know, the guy who could’ve been your husband, had the passage of time flowed more favorably for us, or at least me. Personally, I’m not certain how life has treated you up to this point–perhaps extremely well, perhaps very poorly–but I’ll admit right now that I sure could’ve used your love and affection to help me get through this pathetic first stage of my adulthood and would have gladly returned the favor, lest I have been the one to initiate our romantic connection. Trouble is, though, I doubt that I would’ve been very good at being a reasonable caretaker for you under my present circumstances, seeing as I’m still trying to financially restabilize myself after the biggest kick to the groin I’ve ever taken. Personally, if things had gone the way I wholeheartedly believe they should have, I’d have never been in this mess to begin with. Truth be told, I’d have been far more successful in that reality than in this one, with far more money rolling into my bank account than spilling out as well as a much better career–not to mention job history, while we’re on the subject–than what I have now or have had in the past. Not only that, but I’d have moved out of my parents’ house long ago and started living my own life without having them baby-sit me. Additionally, if I were a better man all the way around, I’d have been far more mature, responsible, and otherwise amiable than the spiteful, antisocial freak of nature I’ve all but degenerated into. That won’t necessarily stop me from improving myself for future events in my life, of course, but I still believe that if I had paid closer attention to how I was growing up and what I was metamorphosing into as the result of my childhood and adolescent choices, I’d have actually done something with my life that even I would’ve been proud of. Hopefully, things’ll change for the better soon, but it’s an unreasonably tough situation all the same, although I can assure you now that I’m not giving up just yet–especially since I can’t afford to.

Okay, that’s enough whining from me about my present financial and professional situation. Now the time has come for me to discuss something completely different: my desire to make it through this life successfully so as to earn your admiration in the next. I know it may sound as quite an abstract notion and as such a little too bizarre to be discussing with friends in everyday conversation, but since this letter is more about me coming clean about my feelings for you than just a casual hello, I’ll explain what I mean. You see, I’ve been thinking about you off and on for a matter of years since college, and most recently, I’ve had this longing feeling in my heart for you–the same kind of longing that I’d had since I first started teaching at that ungrateful community college that I’d now much sooner forget I was ever employed by. Granted, between my release from my contract with that school and these past few weeks, romance and marriage were the furthest things from my mind, as I was wrapped up in all the drama concerning my need for reemployment and my desire to prove myself as a self-reliant and sophisticated man rather than a needy, bratty mamma’s boy in a man-suit. Even so, my longing for a lasting relationship has never fully left me, and even though I may very well remain a bachelor until my final days in this world, I find it hard to believe that I’ll ever truly be happy without a woman by my side. I hope you can find it in you to forgive me for coming off so theatrically, but with all due veracity, I cannot emphasize enough my realization of just how important a long, lasting, loving relationship has become for me, even as a figment of my own imagination.

First off, I’d like to discuss how my desire to espouse you has become a distraction for me in the waking world, regardless of how pleasant a distraction it may be at times. To begin with, whenever I’m working on something at my computer–especially if it’s the one book that’ll [hopefully] lure me out of the dumps and into the reality that I’ve always wanted to live, I often find my mind going blank as if I don’t even know what I’m staring at, much less how to further move the plot of my story along. As it does, I more likely than not envision you within my mind undertaking increasingly intimate roles within my life. At first, you are an acquaintance of mine– a girl whom I’d but newly met outside the gymnasium at whatever college I’d have gone to after having stepped up against a line of guys who’d just hurled a line or two of sexually insulting dialogue at you. Later on, you become a close friend of mine who would help me cope with a particularly nasty breakup I had lately endured with my previous girlfriend, whom I had discovered to have had cheated on me with someone who apparently was more apt to fulfill her personal appetence despite my always having treated her like the gentleman my parents had raised me to become. As my thoughts send me plunging deeper and deeper into this sadly fictitious “affaire d’amour” between us, you take on even more serious provinces–namely, those of steady, fiancée, wife, and last but not least, the mother of our daughter Leslie Alexandra–and with each function formalize yourself as a crucial part of my adult life as we both take on an ever-growing list of responsibilities towards our family as a whole as well as to one another. Such is the life I’d secretly longer to live for more years than I can possibly begin to count–the same kind of life that any decent man could ever hope to live with the subject of his affections.

The problem here, however, is that I strongly doubt in my ever having the competence to fulfill such tasks for the woman to whom I’d devote my life, as my many flaws more frequently than not have demonstrated unto me just how far from perfect I really am. I’ll readily admit that my own perfectionism is by and far my greatest fault of them all, oftentimes degenerating into an absolute obsession with being perfect specimen of humanity, period. I know this is a highly unreasonable attitude for me to express, but back in the “good old days” when I was growing up, I could have had attained anything I’d wanted if only I’d tried hard enough. This was mainly due to my having nearly every possible gift a kid could hope to have: intelligence, personality, kindness, and even a touch of athletic potential–the lattermost of which I hadn’t brought out until the summer of 1996 when I tried out for the football team during my freshman year in high school, but that’s not necessarily the point. Rather, my point here is that since I’ve moved on from that period in my life–or at the very least tried to–I’ve let quite a few opportunities slip out of my grasp, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve no one to blame but myself for the unhappiness I now feel as the result of such carelessness. Thankfully, the Powers That Be have given me the opportunity to regain at least a percentage of that which I’ve lost, but I strongly suspect that I’ll never feel as complete as I could have, had I only used my gifts and talents when I first had the chance. Oh, well…maybe in the next life…

I know what you’re probably thinking right now: “Owen, nobody’s perfect; nobody’s a saint. Why expect yourself to be what you can’t?” That’s a good question, and my answer to it is simple: Because I demand the best of people, especially myself. Call it narcissism if you will, but for so many years, I’ve been under the impression that I was meant to be better than many of the people with whom I’ve interacted over the course of my present lifetime. Unfortunately, since growing up, I sincerely feel I’ve lost touch with many of those talents over the years–both my actual and my potential ones–and as such am all too aware of all the other flaws I have aside from my aforementioned preference for self-perfection. If I had to choose one of these additional problems of mine to be the most significant obstacle in my quest to reclaim myself, that one flaw would be my ever-growing intolerance for the world around me. Honestly, I can only begin to tell you just how easy it can be for anyone to find something to become impatient with, take argument against, or even become hostile over in this world. It makes no difference which decade or era one finds oneself living in, either, for even during the best of times, there’s always something worthy of complaint in the mainstream society: poverty, disease, diminished resources, environmental decimation, corporate greed, senseless violence, broken families, sexual exploitation, rampant deceit, moral degeneration, and the flagrant obliviousness of the general public. Believe me, if I hear one more word about a certain date and the specific event connected to it that the media keeps compulsively promoting and shoving down my throat for the mere sake of glorifying said event to the point of overwhelming infamy and making money off the obsession that they have inseminated the masses with, it’ll be too soon. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here in a less vague sense of the topic, although I can never emphasize enough the corruption that befalls upon a population when only one side of the story is presented for such citizenry to see while the other side remains completely ignored by all but a few intelligent and perceptive yet oft-ignored individuals.

Sorry about that tirade of mine, darling. I know I should pay closer attention to the moments when I get carried away with an idea, but let’s face it: Such is the extent of my imperfection. Please don’t think for a minute that I actually enjoy droning on my own weaknesses as a human being, though, because doing so is more of a means of inadvertent torture than anything else. To be quite frank with you, I’d much sooner be happy with myself and with life in general than wallowing in self-loathing and self-pity for hours, days, and even weeks on end. Trouble is, though, that for the past fourteen years of my life, wallowing is all I’ve known, and despite my being completely disenchanted by it all and my efforts to feel something else other than down, my bad mood has yet to be elevated after all this time. Indeed, there’s just that much garbage going on in the world–especially here in the good old U.S. of A., where the term “common sense” has been degraded into a complete oxymoron and basic intelligence and decency have all but dissolved into vestiges of what they once were. Seriously, whom can I trust when the just have been long censored by the clueless and the self-righteous and the people whom I’d expect to speak with wisdom and discernment are blithering, egotistical morons who value frivolous and redundant mindlessness over refined sensibility? Where do I turn to when all of the noble and enlightened souls have either passed on into the afterlife or faded into anonymity if they hadn’t already retrograded into the same lot of vacuous, vainglorious fool as the rest of society? How else can I protect myself from all the soapbox preachers, teary-eyed whiners, and grandiose-stricken braggarts who think they’re such heaven-blessed heroes other than crawling into a hole and praying for such blowhards to simply up and vanish when those three types are the only variations of people I ever hear from–never anyone whose mindset is even remotely similar to my own? For crying out loud, people, grow up and leave me alone with your inauthentic, closed-minded, self-serving poppycock!

Sigh…there I go again. Why do I even bother? I should know by now that I’m not marriage material–never have been, never will be. What’s the point, then? Why am I even wasting both my time and yours with words you’ll more likely than not disregard as pure drivel from a man you probably have never met before and perhaps hope you’ll never have the misfortune of meeting in the future? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure, although I strongly believe that my main reason for writing you this letter is to get things off my chest and say unto you how I wish things were different–not only for me, of course, even though I’ve talked so much about myself so far, but also for you…for us. Like I’ve said before, I’ve no real idea about your experiences in this lifetime, but I hope that you’re doing far better than I am and are as joyous and prosperous as you could ever hope to be and that good fortune smiles upon you daily, even when things are at their worst for you. After all, even though I’ve more or less devolved into a bitter, contemptuous, spiteful creep whose primary hobby is feeling sorry for myself for being so down on my luck, I still haven’t turned into the completely despicable creature I often feel like, and though you may find it hard to believe, I actually care about you. I might go as far as to say that I love you, but that would be coming on too strong–even though I do wish I had it in me to grow up, get over myself, clean up my act, and actually show you some affection every now and then. No, no, I really mean it; it would do me some good to hold your hand every once in a while or perchance give you a hug or a kiss for the simple reason of feeling like it. It wouldn’t kill me in the least, either, to run my fingers through your hair, whisper sweet nothings in your ear, or hold you tightly in the evening when the night sky covers the land and Madame Luna watches over those in her charge. I would especially enjoy doing everything in my power to see you through your greatest grievances and to help you cope with the evils of this tainted world–you know, just to be there whenever you need someone to comfort you. Just to care for someone other than myself for once would do wonders for this blackened heart of mine–that is, of course, if I can only bring myself to overlook all of the idiots and jackasses on this planet and concentrate on those who deserve my attention. Then again, I’m sure that’s why so many people try to become involved in romantic relationships in the first place: to place themselves in another person’s shoes and accustom themselves to that other’s needs and aspirations in an effort to teach themselves to think about other people in general as opposed to only themselves.

You know, I’ve heard time and again that love conquers all–that love is so powerful a force that it can dispel any and all negative emotions that one may find oneself enduring. Even hatred, its antithesis, only barely stands a chance against its influence simply because of hatred’s purely destructive nature and love’s capacity to heal many a tortured spirit, regardless of the multitude, extensiveness, or basic severity of the wounds the subject has had to endure. Personally, I wouldn’t know, as I’ve never had a single girlfriend in my entire life, and by no means have any of my closest friends–which were few and far between, I can’t help but say–never showed me what I would consider to be “love,” as whatever respect and dignity they treated me with was a little too casual to satisfy the definition of such a label. Personally, I grew up thinking love meant more than just palling around or hanging out with someone or greeting said individual in the hallway with an affable, “Hey, how are ya?” every time I passed him or her. To me, love meant opening up one’s heart and sharing one’s deepest feelings and desires with little to no sense of shame or guilt–to share a special bond with a single, solitary human being that one couldn’t possibly share with anyone else, even if one were unscrupulous or otherwise crazy/foolish enough to try. As such, I’ve always considered lovers to engage in activities together that they never could bring themselves to do on their own or with persons whom they simply regarded as their friends–things like taking walks along deserted beaches or through empty parks just before dusk, dedicating love songs to one another over the radio, and treating each other to candle-lit dinners for two. All of these activities merely seem too intimate for ordinary friends to do with each other and are thus far more suitable for couples whose halves want to spend quality time together nurturing the sacred bond that has been growing between them for weeks into months into years on end. Such is the kind of thing I’d always wanted to experience somehow for myself, should it have been in the cards for me. At least then I would’ve come to the realization that hey, guess what–I’m not as evil as I once thought I was.

Well, I haven’t had good enough luck to experience that in the waking world, but I have in my imagination. You see, whenever I think about us as a couple–even though we never have been in this reality, as you and I both know–I always think of us as two people who thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, regardless of where we are or what we’re doing. Even a basic trip to the mall turns into a romantic getaway for the two of us, what with the way we stroll hand-in- hand from one shop to the next buying different things until we decided to take a break so that I can treat you to lunch at the restaurant of your choice. On the other hand, nothing beats a night of fine dancing, whether that occurrence takes place at a classy ballroom (a dying breed of an all-American institution, if there ever was one), a swinging 1940s-style nightclub, or even at home to the tunes playing on the radio or my CD player. Admittedly, I’ve never enjoyed the luxury of a slow dance with a girl, but I must say that I’ve thought about the notion quite frequently, so far to the point where I’ve used my CD burner to make three albums that consist entirely of love songs for couples to slow dance to. Since I’ve been so preoccupied with my studies and my job search, however, I don’t really do much with those albums other than listen to them, though I’ve often enough done just that whenever I’ve felt my sense of longing for love swell up from deep inside me. If you ask me, I’d think it’s be quite a nice change of pace for me to be sharing such a sweet, heartfelt moment with my future bride–you know, just the two of us gazing into each other’s eyes and swaying to the music, her hand on my shoulder and mine around her waist, lest I take the occasional opportunity to twirl her around and “dip” her just as all those dashing gents did with their dates in all those great romance movies from the mid-twentieth century. Who knows? We might even enjoy the pleasure of a deep, passionate kiss, thereby furthering the cementation of our “affaire de coeur.” I have to tell you, just thinking about such a moment melts the ice that has otherwise completely frozen this jaded heart of mine.

Of course, even with all this talk about love and togetherness, I’ve neglected to discuss possibly the most crucial step in our relationship–namely, our marriage. After all, if love is but a game and we are naught but players in it, then I’d at least like to be one of the players who’d play for keeps–especially if the reward were to be a lifetime of happiness with an adoring wife whom I could take care of. I don’t necessarily mean financially, either, although being a provider in that area would certainly be a great responsibility that I certainly wouldn’t shirk in the least, had I only the means to fulfill such a requirement. Basically, if I were your husband, I’d also enjoy doing many other things to make you proud to be my bride. For instance, I wouldn’t at all mind chipping in with any household chores that needed to be done, seeing as keeping our house in top shape would be just as much my responsibility as it would yours. Similarly, as much as I’ve learned to love the art of cooking, fixing up dinner for the two of us as well as for our daughter would suit me as being the ideal way of telling you both as to just how welcome you’d both be in my life and how proud I’d be to be the man in our family. Speaking of little Leslie Alexandra, I’d most definitely enjoy watching her grow up into just as fine a young woman as her mother and teach her the values of being the same kind of caring, responsible, hard-working adult that you and I were both raised to become. I wouldn’t even be embarrassed to talk about certain “women’s issues” with her, either, even if for no reason other than to help her understand the world around her and a woman’s role in it. After all, I know myself that I’d much sooner treat a woman with dignity and respect if she were to carry herself with poise, maturity, and sophistication in an effort to earn her way into society–even if she had struggle the whole while doing so–as opposed to taking the “easy way up” by sexually objectifying herself for the perverted pleasure of a bunch of boys in man-suits. Why, I’d even go as far as to give you the side of the bed closer to the bathroom so that when you would conceive Leslie, you wouldn’t have to take the long way around me in the middle of the night just to get up to empty your bladder. I know this specific instance is a particularly distasteful one for me to bring up, but when it comes to taking care of the gal to whom I’d be wed, every little bit counts.

Anyway, that’s it. I know this is a very exhausting letter to read, but when it comes to spilling my guts, I really do spill my guts–even if only figuratively and not literally. To me, thoroughness is important–if not downright crucial–when it comes to speaking my mind, and I thank you for having the patience with my mile-a-minute rambling to read me out and find out precisely what I’m talking about. Let it be known, sweetheart, that despite our never having met each other and the multiple flaws I have yet to get over, I love you like the soul mate I believe you would have been meant to be, had fate turned out the way I would have preferred it. As I may have said before, however, the chances of me marrying someone in this lifetime are slim to none, even if I do pull myself out of this rut I’m in and redeem myself for undergoing my own personal moral decline. Who knows, though? I might yet be able to prove myself worthy enough of redemption and effectively earn my right to lead a more successful, productive, and overall worthy life in the next reality, and at last we’ll have the opportunity to meet, fall in love, and exchange vows with one another just as I secretly hope we will at this moment. Not only that, but I’ll also be more competent, mature, responsible, and respectable as a man to be able to take care of you and our daughter by then, and because of that, our love will last a lifetime. Until then, of course, I can only dream, but even so, at least that dream will be one worth fighting for in the reality after this one.

So, until we finally meet, take care of yourself, and may fortune smile upon us soon.

All my love,

Owen

*****

Well, that should do it for today. Hopefully, this read has been an entertaining one for you all. If it has, please don’t hesitate to leave a response to this post. After all, who knows? I just might publish more on this blog along with my poetry and articles. Otherwise, my promise to provide more of what I had been this past summer will indeed continue once I’ve finally put UWWX on the market—possibly even sooner. You never know. It depends on how well I can get my act together in that regard. Until next time, though, thank you for reading, and please visit (if you haven’t already) my author page at Smashwords.com and follow me on twitter (@DustinMWeber). Happy reading!

Regards,

Dustin M. Weber

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