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I Love You, Squijums


Mario V. Farina

Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina

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Mario V. Farina


My name is Thomas Winston. I'm a stupid man. My wife's name is Alma. She's a beautiful woman! But, more than that, she's a very fine lady!

I'm 34, my wife's age is 29. We've been married nine years. At first, I was a loving husband, but then, I suppose I fell into the trap a lot of other stupid men, do, and that is becoming complacent about their wives. I'm not using other stupid men as an excuse. Just because others do dumb things doesn't give me the go-ahead to do the same. I began ignoring Alma. It wasn't because she was unimportant, it's that other things seemed to be more important than her!

I'm a manager at a large supermarket chain, and work very hard for them because I'm ambitious. I've heard that, in order to get ahead when you are employed, you need to do more than what is expected. I took that axiom to heart. When I landed the job some years ago, I began bringing work home. Sometimes, right after dinner I would go into the den and take business actions that were not required by the company. I felt, that by doing this, I would make a name for myself, and when promotion times arrived, I would be at the top of the list. Maybe what I was doing was a good idea, and maybe it wasn't. All I know, is that when promotions were handed out, I didn't get many of them. The fact is that I had done the extra work at the expense of paying less attention to my wife. I didn't think she would mind very much because she would see that I was trying hard to be a good provider. Gradually, she began to accept that, apparently, she had fallen to second place so far as her importance to me was concerned.

One day, recently, she and I were in the bedroom. I spotted Alma looking at a piece of paper. "Whatcha looking at," I asked. "Oh, nothin', she responded. Just a menu from the Olive Garden. My friend, Gertrude, invited me to lunch this noontime, and she thought I might find something I'd like from the menu. We haven't seen each other for several months, and I think we'll enjoy having lunch together."

"Great," I said. "Do have a good time!"

I have no explanation, that makes sense, concerning what happened next. Everything around me seemed to dissolve. Gradually, a scene began to develop, and I found myself in it. It was in the dining room of the local Olive Garden. I was sitting in a booth waiting for the server. While waiting, I could hear voices from the booth in front of me. They were Alma's voice, and a man's.

"Tom and I used to come here often," she was saying. "I don't remember when we were here last. I didn't know whether I should have accepted your invitation or not. But I thought, I'd say yes just to bring back old memories. Please don't think this means anything special to you. You're an old friend, and you're visiting for the day, and that's the end of the story."

"I understand that," the man said. "I have to admit that I had a crush on you when we were working together at Alphonse's. I was unhappy when you became engaged to Tom and quit your job. I was hoping that you and I would get to know each other better, but I guess that was never meant to be. Nevertheless, I'm enjoying our visit today, and accept what you're saying about this being the end of the story. For me, I will remember it as a pleasant experience arranged by my fairy godmother."

"It's very sweet, the way you said that," Alma said smiling. "You've made my day. I don't hear sweet nothings like that very much anymore."

"You're very lovely person, Alma," the man said. "You deserve to hear those kinds of praises every day. Believe me, if we were together, you would."

"I do wish . . ., " Alma began, and then everything began getting wavy. The restaurant dissolved, and I found myself back in the bedroom with my wife.

"You and I haven't been to the Olive Garden in quite a while," I said.

"We haven't done a lot of things in a long time," Alma responded. "Remember when Friday's where date nights with us? We used to go dancing, or to the movies. After that we might take a walk."

"Yes, we used to walk in Graham Park very often. I liked that!"

"That was then," she said, "when our love was new. Now it seems, it will happen never again."

I was about to respond that I wanted it to be again, when, once more, the vista gradually changed. I found myself in Graham Park. I was walking slowly behind a couple who were holding hands. I recognized Alma instantly, but the man she was with, wasn't me. He was taller, slimmer, in better shape, perhaps a good deal younger.

"I love walking with you," the man was saying. It was the same voice that I had heard in the restaurant. "Oh, if only wishes could come true," he continued. "The wish I'm wishing now would be the most important wish I would ever have in my entire life."

"And, might I be so bold as to ask what that dream would be," Alma asked?

"That the walk we are taking now, would be the walk we would be taking, to the tune of the Bridal March, as we walked out of the church that I attend!"

"There you go again with the sweet words," Alma said. "You know this was never meant to be, and, definitely, will never be, despite how hard you dream." Alma's voice was very soft. I think I heard a hushed sob at the end.

"I know that," the man replied. "But you can't blame a guy for dreaming."

As had happened before, the park shimmered, then evaporated, and I was in the bedroom with Alma again.

"Maybe, we can plan on a pleasant stroll through the park one day soon, Alma," I said.

"There have been a lot of maybe's in our life, Tom," she said. "Maybe we'd take a romantic trip to Niagara Falls; maybe when we were in better financial condition, we could buy a house in a nicer part of the city; maybe we could plan on having a baby. There have been a great many maybe's, but not many, will be's or were be's."

"Possibly . . ., " I began, but didn't have a chance to finish. Everything changed again.

I found myself in an elegant living room. It wasn't ours. There were luxurious sofas, stylish end tables, fancy curtains, everything high-class. Ensconced in a loveseat were a man and a woman. The woman was Alma, the man was the same individual as in the last two scenes. The people in the couple were gazing fondly at each other and holding hands.

I was standing to the side in front of them, clearly visible, but they did not appear to see me.

"Alma, did you have a nickname before you met Tom," the man asked?

"Tom asked me the same question you have just asked me, dear friend," Alma murmured barely louder than a whisper. "I answered no, but that he could invent one for me if he wanted. Tom thought for a while, then said, 'I'd like to call you Squijums. I've just made up the name,' he said. 'that name probably doesn't exist, but it will be my special name for you.'"

"Did he often address you by that name," the man asked?

"For a few months it was every day. Then is slackened off. It was only once in a while. He has not called me Squijums in several years."

"How does that make you feel?"

"I'm sad about it."

"Do you want someone to call you by that name again?"

"No, that was something that belonged to only Tom and me. It wouldn't sound right coming from someone else. Oh, how often I have yearned to hear him say that name again! I'm afraid it will never happen again."

"If you allowed me, I'd call you Squijums," the man said.

"Please don't," Alma said!

"You still love him very deeply, don't you," the man said.

"Yes, I think there is still a chance between us, but my hopes are fading fast." She began to sob silently. The man reached into his pocket and handed her his handkerchief. She wiped her eyes, then sat silent and motionless. The silence continued for several moments. Then the room vanished, and so did the loveseat, also the man and the woman. I found myself standing alone. Gradually the room morphed and became a bedroom again. Alma was staring at me.

"Tom," are you all right?

"Yes," I said. "Why do you ask?"

"You seemed so far away."

"I was somewhere," I admitted, "but I don't know where. Perhaps it was a place called 'what might have been,' or, 'what could have been,' or actually, 'what had been.'"

"Strange names," suggested Alma. "Where did they come from?"

"I made them up," I said. "They were not pleasant places for me to visit, but I do want to say something to you now, and I want to say it from my heart."

"What do you want to say, dear."

"I love you, Squijums," I uttered softly. "I love you very much!"

"You haven't called me by that name for years," Alma said. "Why did you do that?"

"Because I believe I've come to my senses," I said. "I've been taking you for granted, and want to change. I know that if I don't do that, I'll lose you. And losing you would represent an irrecoverable tragedy for me. Alma, I, very much, want to make some of those may be's that we talked about, come true."

"I'd like that too," she said!

Epilogue. I wrote this story as if it had happened in the recent past. Actually, it took place many years ago. I don't know where the strange images came from. They may have been dreams, from a fertile imagination, or possibly, even from karma. I did change. Alma and I have lived a happy life since then. Today, she and I celebrated our fiftieth anniversary at Olive Garden. There were thirty-three members of the family in attendance.

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