(A different narrative - part of the Retirement Plan)
I married very late. Growing up, I was fairly shy with girls and somehow nobody really took my fancy for longer than a while. I didn't really know what I was looking for, and after a while I gave up trying.
It'd be inaccurate to say I fell in love with her the first time we met. But yes the glance did linger. I had gone to give a lecture at the university she was teaching in. We had exchanged mails when she invited me - and I had accepted. The lecture didn't go very well, I was distracted. For some reason, I kept wanting to look on my side where she was sitting - more out of curiosity, to tell the truth. And yes, I did notice that she didn't have a ring.
We went out for dinner that night - I was nervous and earnest. But the conversation was easy and she smiled a lot. A week later, I kissed her. At 40, I fell in love for the first time.
For 20 years, I kissed her lips and smiled at everyone. Those were the best years of my life. Most of all, what stay with me are the Sunday afternoons. The afternoon sun would keep the room bright and warm, and I would sit in my armchair reading. She would always sit across to me, correcting her papers. From time to time, we would look up at each other and smile. That's the memory I want to die with.
She wanted to live with me. As the clock ticked and she clung on to me, I came to realise what she couldn't do, and what I had to do to her. Did I flinch? Not perceptibly, but I would have gladly destroyed half the world than push the needle into her.