Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam (Ch. 6)

We now look in on the older sister, Abigail, and her new found love, Albert, and see how they are progressing.
Abigail was looking daggers at Albert as he staggered in the door balancing a load of books. “Do you know what day this is?” she asked aggressively.
He seemed completely caught off guard. He placed the books on the dining room table while he searched his memory for some guilt reference. Nothing. “Do you mean what day of the week?” He quickly withdrew that thought when he saw the expression on her beautiful face harden even more. Her blue eyes flashed dangerous sparks.
“No I don’t mean what day of the week. I am not an imbecile. Today is the anniversary of when we first slept together. I think of that as our wedding day. Ha, ha,” she added without much mirth. “Not only do you not remember but you come home late, the dinner is spoilt and you’re so tired and beaten that you won’t stay awake to even talk about it!”
“Oh Abby. I’m so sorry. I just haven’t been thinking straight this last little while.”
“Last little while? Do you know the last time we had a serious talk?” He didn’t dare answer. “Do you know the last time we made love?” He kept his mouth shut. “Well, let me tell you something Mr. Albert Harrister, I’ve had it. You are so taken up with another woman that…”
“Hold on there, Abby. She’s just a girl.”
“Miriam is a fully developed young woman. Just look at her. Don’t tell me that you are so taken up with her mental accomplishments that you haven’t noticed her flowering womanhood!”
“But she’s only a third of my age! I’ve never had any sexual attraction to her. Never!”
“Sometimes I wonder if you have any sexual attraction to me. We haven’t made love since Eve committed the first sin. You haven’t even been romancing me. I cook your meals and keep house for you. We never go out. You’ve never taken me out on a date, even to the movies. You work late because you are a conscientious teacher. Then you come home and pour over books, new courses that Miriam is taking about which you know very little, so that you will be in a position to help her. Did it not occur to you that she is now in a position where she can help herself or at least know where to find it?
“The result is that we don’t have any life together. I agreed to come and live with you because I thought you loved me. I certainly loved you. But you have no time or energy to love me. Well, this is goodbye Mr. Harrister. You’ve taught me that I should be a little more careful about the men I hook up with. So now I think I’ll go out on the hunt.” She turned and exited like the queen she was.
Albert was devastated. He sat as if in a sodden pool. What on earth was he going to do? He truly did love Abby. He truly had been taking her for granted. He deserved every charge she leveled at him. Guilty, guilty, guilty. He groveled in his self loathing.
At this low point Miriam came jauntily into the house and regarded the destroyed man in some amazement. She put her hand on his shoulder, “What gives?” she asked softly.
“Abby has walked out on me,” he said simply.
“I’m not surprised,” responded Miriam matter-of-factly. “I don’t know how she has stood you as long as she did. You’re about as romantic as a bottle of ketchup! So I guess, like, you’re going to have to smarten up. First and most important question: Are you still in love with her?”
“Oh, Miriam, you have no idea of how much. I don’t think I can get on without her.”
“OK Bert. Right off the bat you’ve got the wrong approach. Right now, it doesn’t matter a damn what your needs are. Like, she obviously thinks she can get on without you—thank you very much. That’s what you have to address. You know I thought you were a pretty smart man. You’ve been giving me a lot of very smart help. But here you’re not only stupid but you’re helpless!”
He looked at her appealingly. “So what do I do?”
She was silent for a long time. He sat on the sofa—a dead cat.
“So you start from scratch. She fell into your arms the first time because of a social explosion when I brought my dad into the game. But you’ve never really wooed her. Have you asked her to marry you?”
“Well, not it so many words. But it was always understood.”
She hit her head with the palm of her hand. “Like, how can you be so stupid? When was the last time you told her you loved her?”
“Well, I’m not very demonstrative but it was…”
She interrupted him. “… always understood. Oh Bert, you are a totally hopeless case. What am I going to do with you?” It didn’t escape his notice that their roles had done a somersault. Up until now he had been Miriam’s mentor and teacher. Now he was the abject (and stupid) pupil.
She idly picked up one of the books that he had dropped on the dining room table. She examined the title, then picked up another and examined that. “Good heavens! These are all textbooks that I am studying. Why have you got these?”
“Well I just wanted to be ahead of you so I could help you.”
“You mean as well as teaching a full time schedule to your school pupils, you were also taking university courses. Like the same ones that I am taking?”
“I guess you could put it that way,” he admitted.
“No wonder Abby felt left out. You didn’t have enough time left to brush your teeth! OK. First thing tomorrow I’m taking these back to the library. I have professors there who can give me all sorts of tutorial help on my courses. Look, your job is confined to helping me, what shall I call it, socially and spiritually, to cope with university life.”
“Do you know what she called me?” he asked ruefully.
“What did she call you?”
“A pedagogical nerd!”
Miriam laughed, “An apt description. Now,” she continued, “like you’ve got to start wooing Gabby all over again. More to the point, woo her for the first time. You just lucked in on a particular event when my dad entered the scene. This time you’re going to have to work on it—hard.
“I have a darling professor, who’s on the point of retirement. I admire him very much. He’s been married over 50 years —and happily married at that. I’ve met his wife. She’s just great. Then one day I asked him a rather stupid question. Like I asked him to what did he owe his long and successful marriage? He looked at me with his hair all askew and a crooked smile on is face as if going to somewhere else in his memory. ‘Miriam,’ he said, ‘you’ve heard that marriage is a 50/50 proposition. Don’t believe a word of it. It’s 100%/100%.’ So, Albert, like have you been working 100% on your own relationship?”
“Ouch!… I’ve been too busy to work on it at all.”
“So you got what you deserved. Abigail worked her little heart out for you and you sat back and absorbed it all. You’ve got a hell of a lot of repair work to do.”
“I know. But what? How?”
“What do you know about her likes. What really turns her on?”
Albert paused deep in thought. “Well she likes flowers. She’s always working in our little plot in back.”
“So what sort of flowers? What are her favourite kinds?”
Albert looked very apologetic. “I don’t know one flower from another. It’s not my bag.”
“Like have you ever sent her flowers?” Albert shook his head.
“Excellent!! I happen to know she loves orchids but she’s not the type to buy them for herself. Now what else?”
“She’s nuts about nuts. She’ll go through a whole package in an evening.”
“Did you ever buy her a gift box of nuts?”
“It never crossed my mind,” said Albert lamely.
“So what did you give her for her birthday?”
“I don’t know when her birthday is.”
“Well there’s been only one Christmas. What did I give her? I can’t remember. I’m not very good at this kind of thing.”
“No kidding!” said Miriam scathingly. “Like we start from square one. First thing is to apologize. I think a letter would be best. She could read that over several times. So write out a draft.”
“Yes now.” He sat down at the dining room table pulled some paper from his briefcase and a pen from his pocket. A half hour later he gave the draft to Miriam. She read it over twice before commenting.
“Not bad. You’re on the right track. But you don’t share the blame for this problem, you take the blame. And you didn’t mention that your responsibility with me is cut way down. There’s not quite enough about what you are going to do differently from now on. And there’s no request for her to do something once she has received this. Like you need an answer. Is she going to forgive you?” The two of them worked on the letter for another hour.
“Now let’s work out a plan of attack.” Miriam was nothing if not resourceful. “First the orchid, delivered tomorrow with just a short note. Something like ‘I really love you,’ signed… What did she call you when you were making love?”
Albert looked embarrassed. “Her Lion. From ‘Albert and the Lion’ you know.”
“So you sign it ‘Your Lion.’”
“The following day a box of nuts. The most expensive box you can find. Let’s see, like, is there anything else she always wanted or wanted to do but never had time for?
“Well, she was always interested in those luxury cruises, always read the brochures from page one to the end, but either the timing wasn’t right or the finances were short.”
“Whose timing? Whose finances?”
“Well, I guess they were mine. I was the one who couldn’t make it happen.”
“I think you should keep that as a hidden closer—like something that will start you both on a new life. So next, after the box of nuts, the following day, I think, the letter. Finally see whether she will speak to you over the phone. The aim is to get her permission to visit. Let’s try this agenda but before you visit I want to coach you in what you do. I want you to do a lot of listening. OK, I’m going home now so you get with it.”
Even in his reduced state, he couldn’t resist the dig. “Yes, Ms. Howson.”

3 Responses to “Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam (Ch. 6)”

  1. charles kirby says:

    Well…where does it go from here ?

  2. Libby Buchanan says:

    she should have given him a warning ages ago.
    He neede a kick in the pants long before it got to this stage.

  3. Rose says:

    So Lyman, ever thought of the Globe “Facts & Arguments” article that you could submit your work to? It can’t be a fiction story BUT …. food for thought, go bigger with your thoughts.

    Happy Thanksgiving. keep it on!!!

    xo Rosie

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