Nights of Amateur Faith

They met at Park Manor. It was a Tuesday in 1968 and the air was heavy with that suffocating feeling of a summer that would never end. They ran into each other in the elevator, complete strangers pushed together by the bustle of people who thought they were too important to slow down.

That sleepy, sticky Tuesday, back when they were still young enough to make fearless decisions, blind decisions, decisions based entirely on amateur faith. Things were simple that night, it was before they ever dated, before they were married, before their daughter was kidnapped and never found again.

Tonight, the eve of their 46th wedding anniversary, they were checking back into the hotel, for the 46th time, just like they had done every year before. It was the only tradition they hadn’t abandoned, even though it had been about 20 years since they had really been in love.

When they met, Roger worked on the hotel’s maintenance staff. Maggie’s father owned the whole damn building, and a few others around town. She and her family lived in the penthouse. The night of their first date, Roger watched her come down the enormous staircase, leaned back against a smooth marble column in the lobby, and thought, “Damn, this girl could be a brat; I bet she doesn’t even put out.”

It took Maggie about six full minutes to travel the length of the staircase in her pink, sparkly, high heeled sandals.  Despite the strange events that had lead him to this date and his initial concerns of how to get out of it if it was as awful as he predicted, Roger couldn’t take his eyes off her.  The combination of her bubblegum pink halter dress and those crazy shoes made her look like a flamingo, or a showgirl, and he was pretty sure that people with hair that red weren’t supposed to wear bright pink clothes.

So he stared at her out of curiosity, with his round blue eyes, noticing that there was something addictive about her confidence, something striking about the fact that she was either unaware that she looked like a flamingo, or she just couldn’t possibly care less.

The date started with milkshakes and ended with a few hours in his car, half talking and, surprisingly, half kissing.  He drove her back to the hotel, unsure of what do about her. She was nothing like the “nice girl” from church that his mother kept trying to fix him up with, and he didn’t know what role she could possibly play in the bright future his family was always insisting he had in front of him.

Maggie pursued him tirelessly for the next couple of weeks. She couldn’t stop thinking about his electric blue eyes. He had never met anyone with hair that red. Her hair, his eyes, Maggie and Roger were like fire and ice.

Weeks went by. She hunted him more fervently; he collapsed and gave in, not just a little bit, but powerfully.  They started dating.  He did well enough at the hotel to get promoted.  She took private, tutored lessons in the penthouse during the day, mostly for painting but also for mathematics and reading and other things she considered mundanely necessary.  He saved money, never drank, and wrote songs about her.  He sang them off key in his car when they were naked and consumed with each other.  She fell more deeply in love with him.  Her father retired and took her away for a year, to France, to study art and accents and buttery croissants.  They missed each other violently.  He wrote her everyday and she wrote back; mad, passionate letters filled with declarations and promises. One night after she returned from France they shared secrets. He told her that he was desperately afraid of heights. She told him that she didn’t eat green foods. They got married and were an inseparable couple.

Her father passed away. She sold some of her paintings. He got promoted again and became influential around the city. She got pregnant. He wrote a song about it and planned to name their baby Jack, in her father’s memory. Their excitement about being parents was tangible. She had a miscarriage. They spent a few days going back and forth from the doctor’s office, making sure everything was okay, that they could still have another baby. Their relationship grew stronger.  She made new friends and went to art galleries on Saturday mornings.  She cooked for him every night, rich soup and decadent bread, thick roasts of meat and delicate pastries.  He rubbed her back before bed.  They read to each other when they couldn’t sleep.  She got pregnant again.  They held their breath.  She gave birth in May in the middle of the night to a healthy baby girl named Sarah. Their obsession and love for Sarah surpassed either of their expectations.  She breastfed, he changed diapers. Sarah grew more gorgeous every year. By her seventh birthday she was spunky, endlessly energetic, and virtually fearless. For some reason, everything that came out of her full lips sounded like a question.

“I’m Sarah?  I’m going to be a ballerina when I grow up?  Sometimes my mom lets me eat ice cream in the living room?”

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~ by nicole antoinette on October 22, 2009.

14 Responses to “Nights of Amateur Faith”

  1. NO! I want to know what happens! Write more!

    I love it, honey!

  2. LOVE THIS. MORE THAN I LOVE JOSH LYMAN.

    You are pure genius and I want to know the rest of the story.

  3. It’s the details.

    Or the Nicoleness.

    Something.

    I absolutely love it.

    (Holy crap you people have raised the bar for me for tomorrow.)

  4. I did not realize that this site existed. Holy shit, how did I NOT KNOW THAT?!! This is fantastic Nic!!

  5. I agree with everyone else.. I want more!

  6. This was SO great, Nicole!

  7. Love the images! Great piece of writing.

  8. You can’t just leave it with ice cream in the living room. What happened to Sarah?! *pout* I want more :)

  9. this is all sorts of wonderful. im really pulled in and I WANT MORE!

  10. One part heart-warming and real, one part chilling.

  11. I like this SO much!

  12. i want to know what happens!! damnit!!

    you rock.

  13. I’m gonna be honest, I’m not pleased that they fall out of love… but I am hooked and determined to find out how they get there.

  14. Whoa.
    Very nice.

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