The usual disclaimers apply.


Sixty years ago today, I asked her to be my wife. And she said no.

The pain never really lessened – not when I married myself, not when my 'wife' bore me children. Not when I see her most every day. And especially not, when I see her with her family, which is seldom enough but happens. With her husband, whom she still loves after all this time. Their feelings, so palpable when you look at them, no, when you're in the same room with them. And her children – oh her children.

I do know it's unfair but I have always wanted my children to be like hers. She has two girls, one boy. I have a boy and a girl.

Mine is the stereotypical family, a 'wife' who stays at home, who manages the elves, the house, provides the 'comfort' of domesticity. An older boy, two years later a girl.

My children and my wife love me. I think. She always has cooked meals when I bother to show up at home. Which, I must confess, doesn't happen too often. Hasn't ever happened too often.

Not since we got married.

And we only got married because of the pregnancy. Because I had to desperately get over her. Because she had said no.

No. And she had smiled and told me that she was sorry. That a fling was a fling but that she was in love with someone else.

At first, I was angry and wanted to kill this other man. Then, I met him. And he was awfully nice. The perfect man for her. Sweet, considerate, a laugher, a wonderful sense of humour. He made her laugh, much more than I ever could. And their love, then as it does now, radiated off them.

That was when it started to hurt. At first, a pulling sensation in my chest. A mild, throbbing ache in my head. I have not lost that pain in all the years. That's what I mean when I say that the pain never really lessened. It simply did not. The pulling sensation was always there, even when I entered wedlock, even when I became a father.

On the contrary, it increased when I was present at her wedding, when she looked so lovely in that white dress, when she beamed, when she said yes. Yes to him, no to me. It increased when I heard that she was with child. And gave birth. And again, and again.

Yes to him, no to me.

When the pain was worst, after her wedding party, after she had been smiles all day, after the two of them radiating love like it was warmth and they were a fire.

I saw my future wife on her wedding. A distant cousin of her husband. And it was a mere fling. I thought.

Three weeks later, she came to see my at work and told me she was pregnant. Turned it she had a miscarriage but by then, we had already gotten married. Hastily, too hastily.

She, of course, like nobody else, did not know about my love for her. And in my mind, my 'wife' was always the other woman. Not her, even though she was not mine. Had never been mine. Except in those short moments when she writhed under me and screamed my name in pleasure. 37 times in total. I have never forgotten. 37 times that she was mine and I was hers.

Only she said it was a mere fling.

But a mere fling was what I had with my future 'wife'. Only that turned into a passionless, boring union. At least on my part. She, my 'wife' that is, certainly did not think so. Presumably, because she thinks that I love my work more than I love her, because she thinks that it's not another woman I am craving, picturing in my mind when I have tried to sleep with her. I gave that up decades ago. After our daughter was born.

My 'wife's' image, and I dislike her. I dislike my own daughter and I dislike my own son. I have absolutely no connection to them. They live their lives, with their mother, probably, I live mine. Far away from them.

It is unfair, I know. But they are no substitute for what I could have had with her. And her children, they are perfect. So much like her. So much like her delightful husband. They have achieved great things but then again, they are quite a fair few years older than my own. Because after she had lost that first child, she did not get pregnant again.

I was famous, infamous, even back then, I think and I did get letters, proposals by owl occasionally. Yet, I never cared about a single woman before I met her. And before I started that fling. Only, it never only was a fling for me. It was for her. She could say yes to this but no to more.

It hurts until today.

Today, when she sits there, aged but lovelier than ever, her hair up, her fingers nimbly playing with a bit of the morning paper, her lips turned slightly upwards in a little smile. She never laughs out loud any more, except when she is with her husband. He still makes her laugh. I can't.

I can only make her smile like this – a little mysteriously, quietly but oh so lovely.

She even looks at me and her smile grows a bit. I doubt she knows that I still love her. Love her more than on the day that I proposed. I will love her until I die. And probably even beyond that. Until all eternity.

She loves her husband. And her children. And not me. It changed me, I suspect. It made me work harder because I had to forget about her, it made me achieve greater things because I had to forget the memories. It made me into the successful wizard I am today, because I wanted to prove that I could live without her.

Sixty years ago today, I asked her to be my wife. And she said no.


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