Each Friday on WrittenVoicesBlog.com, we will be featuring guest authors. Our theme for this month is “A Taste of Romance.” Today, Marilynn Griffith, author of Mom’s the Word and Rhythms of Grace, joins us. Marilynn also provided the story in audio for your listening pleasure.
A Love to Believe
by Marilynn Griffith
I don’t believe in love.
Never did. Never will. Henry tells me different, says there was a time when somebody loved me, when I was a baby and somebody sang to me. Them’s his own memories, his mama’s songs, but I let him make ‘em mine. He needs to. I don’t know why.
He says it’s because he loves me.
I don’t believe in love, but I believe in Henry. So when he says things like that, I close my eyes real tight and try to believe in him, in this love he keeps trying to give me. Sometimes I wish I had some too, just a little, to give back to him, but when I try and think about love, it’s like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. All make believe. I would say it’s like God too, but I won’t say that because that’s the only think that will make Henry mad—bad-talking God. He says I just ain’t had a chance to see the God he knows, but I figure whichever One I seen ain’t ever helped me, so I don’t have much use for Him.
I would say that except that He sent me Henry. Today, when he took me to lunch like every Tuesday, Henry said the same words, “Lord, let Tammy know that You love her just like I do but more.” Usually he says amen then, knowing that it’s hard on me all that praying and love talk. But today, he kept going. “Let her know that You made me just for her and gave me enough love for both of us.”
There was a rose on the table between us, red and long this time. He gets them in all colors, cut fresh from somewhere he won’t tell me about. Says he has permission though, that the lady knows true love when she sees it. Until today, I’d never seen it, not with the roses, the restaurants, the music… Not until I thought about God growing Henry like a beautiful rose, lips full and brown, heart wide open. Growing him up and plucking him from the hands of some “suitable” girl as his mama calls her and dropping him into my lap.
Just then, when he pulled loose his big, gentle hands from praying, hands that ain’t never hurt me, never hit me, never pushed in places they didn’t belong—just then, as he brushed that rose across my lips, I believed in love, in Henry, even in God. Just then, I held his laughter, golden and fading between my hands, knowing I’d pull it out later in my dreams. I held it in my heart like all the other times, but let it travel down my arms, into my elbows, all the way to my fingertips…
I didn’t think. I just reached for his face, with both my hands. I didn’t even pause to turn them so the burns wouldn’t show. He leaned in close, like he’d been expecting it. The rose crumpled in my hands. I didn’t mean to, but the kiss was so good, so soft, so true, so different from all the other kisses. This one was given. The others were taken. I guess that was the difference.
That and the love.
After we’d kissed so long my lips went numb, I eased back into my chair. I went slow, afraid that Henry would be angry with me for stopping. I didn’t want to stop, but I had to. He tasted of chocolate and peppermints, the gifts he’d brought this time, the gifts I so often refused. He tasted too good, too beautiful, too romantic. I wanted to go home and draw the curtains. This was too much for one day.
I got up and started for the door.
Like always, Henry let me go. This time though, he cleared his throat, but his love was big enough to keep him in the chair. I’d known that the first time I saw him, looking right at me while so many others stared or looked away. I’d gotten used to that a long time ago, people not seeing me. Until I met Henry. Now though, my heart couldn’t take him looking at me like that, talking about weddings and roses. Forever was too big for me to hold, but I’d held his face, kissed his fingers.
“I thought you didn’t believe in love, Miss Lady,” he called to me in a voice that was loud without being rude. Careless and beautiful like the rest of him.
“I don’t, Mr. Man. Not really. I just wanted me a taste of that candy after all.”
“Changed your mind, huh?”
“Maybe.” He had me. No way out of it. His smile as I looked back said as much. He’d never give up now. Or I at least I hoped not.
He got up slow, but I didn’t turn around. Didn’t need to. I had every inch of him memorized, even the parts I might never see. I rested against the door and listened to his chair scrape back, heard the rustle of pages that meant he was thumbing through his Bible for a verse to send me off with.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you.”
For once, I don’t flinch when he says it. He didn’t need to say the chapter or verse. Like all the others, it comes from the Song of Songs, the story of a king and his bride. At first, I thought he was trying to be funny, but he wasn’t.
I don’t know why or how, but Henry Stuart Thompson loves me. And though I don’t believe in it, I think I love him too.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Henry. Goodbye.” The bell rang over my head as I pushed the door open.
“No.” I mean it, but if he doesn’t come, I wonder what might happen to me. I’ve given him some power over me, something I haven’t done since—
“I’ll be there.”
I pray that he will.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marilynn Griffith is the author of eight novels, mother to seven children, wife to a deacon and proof of God’s enduring mercy. She has served as national Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers and has served on faculty at several national writers conferences. When she’s not writing about friendship, family and faith, Marilynn blogs and speaks to women and writers.
One of her novels, If the Shoe Fits, served as a prop in Tyler Perry’s box office hit Why Did I Get Married? (The mistress has a book in her hand at the beginning of the scene where Jill Scott is forced off the plane. One blink and you’ll miss it, but we’re hyped about it anyway!)
She most recently took part in the Soul Expressions Book Tour with Angela Benson, Victoria Christopher Murray, Kimberla Lawson Roby and 11 other authors throughout Indiana and Illinois.
Though she lives in Florida now, Marilynn’s muse often wanders the Midwest (especially her native Ohio) wearing a warm jacket and carrying a long stick, eavesdropping on the conversations of imaginary people. To book Marilynn for media interviews, speaking engagements, or book club call-ins stop by http://www.marilynngriffith.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter or the SistahFaith Network.