What is Love

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This is a story for the I Wanna Know What Love Is Anthology.

A huge thank you to Randi, for her amazing editorial work. As always, I sent her a twisted pile of words, and she turned it into something readable.

Also, a thank you for the opportunity to be involved. It is always a pleasure to join in…


I stared out the window; god she was gorgeous. I had never seen anything like it. Even in track pants and a sweaty T-shirt, she looked spectacular.

Her perky little breasts bounced unhindered beneath the sweat stained cotton of her shirt.

Her arse cheeks jiggled in the tight confines of her track pants.

Her long shimmering gorgeous ginger hair was tied back in a ponytail. Her rosy cheeks shone, the thin layer of sweat causing her to constantly wipe away the beading droplets.

The lawnmower growled away as she pushed it back and forth across her front lawn.

I watched, spying through the kitchen window. It seemed impossible that any living creature could be this beautiful. Her figure was something any model would die for, god, I would. She moved with grace; even pushing a lawnmower, she looked elegant. How the hell is that even possible?

Having only moved into the neighbourhood recently. I was yet to meet my neighbours. I waved to a few as I cycled off to work, but that was it. I had yet to even speak to this delectable manifestation of womanhood.

I had seen her many times as I stared out my kitchen window. Every time, she bewitched me; there was something about her, so bloody alluring, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

Music had always played a big part in my life. No, I couldn’t play anything, I just loved music. I especially loved songs with great lyrics. Songs that evoked a memory, or distant recollections of an event, or extracted emotions. Something that mattered.

Lyrics, words, poetry, put to music… Beautiful. Even as I thought about it, a fitting one came to mind and I hummed it mindlessly.

“A love song was playing on the radio

It made me kind of sad because it made me think of you

And I wonder how you’re doing but I wish I didn’t care

Because I gave you all I had and got the worst of you”

That’s what I mean: words arranged and added to music to draw out the tremulous emotions.

I moved there, to the other end of the country to get away from my ex. The mere memory hurt, I felt my face twitch. The pain still raw, it was the most painful experience of my life. We had been together for three years, wonderful years. We went everywhere together, shared the same interests, the same love of music, liked the same food. My parents loved her; she had assimilated so deeply into my family.

How could she do it to me, why would she, and to be so callous, so off hand. “Yeah right, it was only physical.”

Only physical, as if that was going to make it better. Are there other ways to fuck somebody? Yeah, I suppose there are. She had fucked me, mentally at least. My life had ended with her admission.

Putting my dirty coffee cup in the dishwasher, I dried my hands, and had another sneaky perv at the gorgeous lawnmower lady before getting changed for my cycle ride.

As I pedalled out onto the street, lawnmower lady looked up, and seeing me, gave me a wave. Wow, what a smile; god she was beautiful. I waved back, trying not to lose control of my bike. I must have looked like a complete idiot, as my foot slipped off the pedal and the bike careened out of control.

“What a ning-nong.” I chastised myself, as I pedalled away as quickly as I could.

My life sucked. Darcy, my ex, had made my life so difficult I decided to take a transfer when it was offered. Now I found myself here in this tiny little town, a thousand miles from home.

It wouldn’t have been so hard except my family didn’t exactly side with Darcy, but suggested the cheating was something we could get over. My mother frightened me when she said, “Honey, she still loves you.”

Love, god what would she know about love? People who love each other don’t have sex with other people…

So here I was, alone in this god forsaken little town. The good thing was, at least I liked my job. The kids at the new school were fun. We got on great, and after only a month, I was starting to feel like I was making a difference.

I was sweaty and yucky myself as I parked my bike outside the supermarket. I only needed a couple of things. I wandered around the aisles, not really paying much attention, maybe I would find something nice for dinner.

The thought of it brought back the pain. Cooking for one was no fun.

As I wandered mindlessly, I heard the sweetest voice I had ever heard in my life. “Hello.”

Roused from my moment of self-pity, I glanced up to see lawnmower lady. “Oh, hi. How are you?”

Her hand lifted off her trolley and reached out to shake mine. “I’m Lily.”

“Hey, Lily, I’m Max.”

“How are you finding little old Thames?”

I shrugged. “It’s Burdur Escort okay, I guess. Haven’t really been here long enough to decide.”

“Do you have a partner? I haven’t seen anybody at the house, other than you.”

“Nope, just me. What about you, are you married?”

She frowned, her face taking on a sad expression. “Divorced actually, just me and my daughter Annie.”

“Sorry to hear that, been divorced long?”

“A year.”

“That must be hard; where’s your daughter?”

“She’s with my mother. I needed some time alone, so I could get through all the jobs around the house. Annie can be a bit much when I’m trying to catch up on jobs. Mum loves having her, and Annie loves going over there. She gets spoiled rotten.”

Being nosy, I asked, “What about your husband, does he live nearby?”

“No, the cheating bastard ran off with the tramp he was sleeping with. Good bloody riddance, I say.” There was more than a hint of bitterness in her quavering voice.

Her words weren’t matching her demeanour. It apparently hurt more than she was letting on, not that I was in any position to judge. A few people barged past, and Lily said, “I better get moving, I think we’re creating a road block.”

She wheeled away her trolley, calling out, “See you around, Max.”

I sniggered to myself, ‘I already see you around.’

How did she manage to look so damn fine? She wasn’t wearing anything special, just a loose creamy blouse over yoga pants. Okay, the yoga pants showed off her incredible legs, but as I looked down at myself, I looked so drab. I had to kick myself; jealousy wasn’t a good look on anybody, and I expected better of myself.

My shopping took way longer than I planned. Every aisle I went down, there was Lily, always with that sweet smile, a smile that could launch a thousand spaceships.

I was almost home when the loud tooting of a car horn just about caused me to crash. Lily gave me a wave as she drove by, her big smiley face, totally ignorant of the fact she almost caused the end of my life.

I put away my groceries and ran a nice hot bath. I loved nothing more than a long soak in a hot tub of scented piping hot water after a ride.

I had barely slid into the bath when the bing-bong of the front door bell rang out.

Wrapped in my big fluffy robe, I prised open the door to peek out. “Yes?”

“Hey, Max, I just wondered if you wanted to come over for dinner tonight? Annie and I decided we would have a barbecue.”

“Um, yeah, okay. What should I bring?”

“Whatever you got that can go on a barbecue, oh, and whatever you like to drink.”

I slipped back into my sudsy water, the soft melodic sounds of Etta James, her soulful voice reverberated around as the suds came up to my chin.


Just as I was about to knock on the door, it swung open and this cute little girl said. “Hello, Miss Jones.”

I giggled a little. “Hello to you, Annie, I didn’t realise we were neighbours.”

She gave me a big smile as she held the door open. “Mum’s out the back trying to get the thingy going.”

“Thanks sweetie.”

She showed me where the fridge was, and I dropped everything on the bench. I could already hear the cursing. “Hello,” I called loudly as I poked my head out through the sliding door.

“Oh, hi, Max, come on out. I’m just trying to get this bloody thing to go.”

“Not playing the game?”

“No, I think it’s stuffed.”

“Can I help?”

“Yeah, if you know anything about these things.”

“Is the gas on?”

She laughed sarcastically. “Yes, the gas is on. You sound just like my ex. He thought I was an idiot, as well.”

Taken aback by her curtness. I muttered. “Sorry, it was just a suggestion.”

She stood up, and turned towards me. Her face softened, and her beautific smile returned. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be a bitch.”

I leaned down and lifted the gas bottle. “It’s empty.”

With a look that said “Damn I’m an idiot,” she sighed defeatedly. “Sorry, I didn’t even check. It’s been so long since we used the damn thing.”

“How do you feel about spaghetti?” she said almost apologetically.

“I have a gas bottle at home, I can just go and get that.”

Before I could say anything, she pulled me into a big hug. “You’re a life saver, Max. Annie was so looking forward to it.”

Lily and Annie were at the bench inside when I returned. “I’ll hook it up if you like.”

The flames glowed red by the time Lily and Annie walked out carrying trays of food. “You’re a whiz at that.” Lily remarked enviously.

“Yeah, come from a big family of grilled food lovers.”

“Wine?” she asked, placing a couple of glasses on the table beside the grill.

“Yes, that’d be great.”

“Annie’s in my class at school,” I said, as she reached over and passed me my glass.

“Yes, she just told me. Is she polite at school?”

“She’s a charmer, very lovely. Clever, as well; she’s very intuitive.”

“Yes, we have become Burdur Escort Bayan much closer since Jeff left.”

“Must be hard on her.”

She nodded. “Yeah, she tries to be brave, but we have shed a lot of tears together.”

As we sipped our wine, she asked, “So what brings you to Thames?”

“Work. I was offered a transfer because they were struggling to get a replacement here. They offered me more money, and I jumped at it.”

“So, it’s like a promotion then?”

“No, not really, just more money, but I had to promise to stay two years.”

She giggled cynically. “Typical, the only way they could get anybody decent was blackmail and money.”

With the food cooked, we settled down to eat. Annie asked all sorts of questions, more than the education board when they interviewed me for the job.

Lily laughed as Annie turned the screws. “Why aren’t you married?”

Lily saw my grimace, and said, “Don’t be so nosy, Missy. That is none of your business.”

I gave her a thank you wink.

We played a few games after dinner, and Annie dragged me into her bedroom to show me all her toys. At bedtime, I was conscripted into the storyteller’s role. I lay on the bed beside her and we read together, until her breathing evened out, and she was fast asleep.

Lily had finished the clean up, and she directed me over to the sofa. “Would you like some desert? I have some chocolate and banana cake, and ice cream?”

“Wow, sounds fattening.”

“Very.” She giggled as she sat beside me. We ate our deserts, the sweet delight easing the tension.

We talked about where I was from, where Lily worked. Mostly though, I supplied an ear for her to vent in. She had all this hostility, bubbling away. Maybe a stranger is easier to get all this shit out on. I just listened, and then when the tears started rolling, I let her use my shoulder to cry on. My arm draped comfortingly over her shoulder. “Let it all out.” I sighed.

After she recovered, she apologised. “I’m sorry, Max. My friends have all been a bit distant since the divorce. A lot thought I overreacted, and should have just let it go.”

“No way, you did the right thing, Lily. If he couldn’t keep it in his pants, what chance was there?”

“Yes, you’re right,” she said as she wiped away the last tear. “He acted like a dick, he showed Annie and I no respect. I’m not sorry he’s gone. I mean, I miss having him around, but how can you love somebody who does that to you?”

“I don’t know. Some people can. We’re all different, Lily. I wonder about it myself.”

We drank our wine, talked about nothing as people getting to know each other do: family, hobbies, interests. Mostly though, we talked about her breakup. She just needed somebody to listen, and with the little buzz the wine gave me, I was happy just to listen. Being close to her, feeling her aura suck me in, I didn’t really care, I just luxuriated in being invited into her world.

It was late when I stumbled home across the road.

Monday morning, I was getting the day’s lessons organised and wiping down the blackboard when Annie walked in. “Good morning, Miss Lincoln.”

With a big smile, I replied, “Hey there, Annie, how are you today?”

It didn’t take her long to tell all the other kids how we were neighbours and I read her a story. She seemed brighter today. On previous days, before I realised we were neighbours, she had a disconnected air about her. She drifted in and out of the class, never focused, always easily distracted.

It’s common with six-year-olds; they are still discovering the world, every day brings something new. Birds, or butterfly’s outside the classroom window. Today though, she was focused and alert, happy to be be part of discussions, volunteering information. She obviously took comfort knowing me.

I think it also gave her a feeling of superiority. She was friends with the teacher.

It was late when I got home, and I was relaxing, taking stock of my day when there was a knock on the door.

Surprised, I opened the door wide. “Hey, Annie, what are you doing here?”

“I brought you some cookies Mum baked.”

She held out her hands and there was a plate of cookies. Kneeling down, I took one, and had a big bite. “Hmm, yum. Chocolate chip, and sprinkles on the icing. My favourite. How did you know?”

She giggled, not knowing what to say. I waved her inside. “Would you like one as well? I could get a glass of milk, or orange juice?”

“Yes please.”

We sat at the table as she munched through her second cookie. She was a difficult kid to get to open up. She was a little introverted, maybe feeling the effects of her parents breaking up. Having listened to Lily talk about it, there was clearly a lot of fighting. Annie may have heard or seen a lot of things kids shouldn’t have to see.

As we chatted and I tried to treat her more like a friend than a kid, she opened up a little, told me about her friends at school, who was nice, who Escort Burdur was naughty. Stuff I already knew, but I listened.

She had to go, and I was busy getting my dinner when Lily wandered in. “Thanks for the cookies,” I said.

“That was Annie’s idea. She thinks you are wonderful, you know.”

“Nice to know I’m doing something right.”

“No, I wanted to say thanks, Max. Since she met you, there has been a real change in her, she has opened a little. I know her father walking out affected her badly.” She winced, her forehead crinkling with anxiety. “I just wanted to say thanks.”

“No thanks required, I like her. She’s a lovely child.”

“Hey, why don’t you come over later? I have some fudge ice cream, we could catch up?”

I watched as she walked back across the road; god she was stunning. She moved so easily, maybe not gracefully, but her movements flowed, and damn she filled out those jeans. I had to shake my head to clear away the libidinous thoughts. I imagined how she would feel naked, her smooth skin in my hands, how she would taste.

Dinner was accompanied by a phone call from my mother, who just wanted to see how I was getting on, oh, and to tell me Darcy had been around for a visit.

“Mum, cut it out. I don’t care about Darcy. I have a new life.”

“Maxine, my little angel. She loves you; she misses you.”

“Tough, I don’t care. That’s her fault, not mine.”

“But, Honey, you girls were so good together. I know she did a terrible thing, but she is sorry. She knows she made a horrendous mistake. If you just talked to her. She is in pain, Honey. If you could see how this has affected her.”

“Stop it, Mum, I don’t care. If you don’t stop laying all this guilt on me, I’m going to stop taking your calls. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Before she could answer, I slammed the phone down in its cradle. Land lines were so much nicer than mobiles; I got the satisfaction of her hearing me slam the phone down.

Every time I heard her name, the pain rose back up to the surface. I was trying to forget her, and Mum wasn’t helping. I know she had the best intentions. God, a lot of women would kill to have a mother like mine. When I came out, she was shocked, but quickly stood by my side. She was my biggest supporter. Dad was not so happy, but Mum, she stood proudly by my side, and god help anyone who made fun of me or made snide comments. Mum was down their throats in an instant.

I remember the day she met Darcy, who was really my first real love. I had girlfriends, lovers, but Darcy was my first relationship. I loved everything about her, and I couldn’t wait to introduce her to Mum. It was no surprise when they bonded. Darcy was a little fragile over her status; she had only just accepted who she was. Her family, unlike mine, were totally unsupportive and gave her a lot of grief.

They didn’t disown her, but she sure as hell wasn’t welcome at home.

Ah… Darcy, even her name made me tremble, the wounds so fresh and raw. I was angry at myself, as well. I was such a dummy, it happened right in front of me, and I didn’t see it.

The first time Darcy brought her new friend Alyssa home from work to meet me, I was stunned by how out she was. She was a real radical, a feminist. Her look was not what I expected. Darcy had been prattling on about her, and I had pictured somebody entirely different. She was chunky. That might sound unfair, but she was short and very curvy. Yeah, maybe that’s a more polite description. Her hair was cut short, almost a buzz cut, no makeup and she wore very asexual clothing.

She became a fixture around our flat, I wasn’t a real fan; she was too vehement, too extreme in her views, too fanatical. I’m sure she would have loved nothing more than to line up the entire male population of the world and execute them.

I got upset from time to time. I hated that male teachers got paid more than me; I hated that most of the headmasters were all male. It didn’t mean I hated them, just the system. Many of the male teachers sympathised with us. Alyssa, though, couldn’t accept that.

I saw the relationship strengthening between Darcy and Alyssa; I just missed how it slowly became a romantic connection. Alyssa was very pushy, and she made passes at me several times, which made me very uncomfortable. Several times at parties I had to push her away.

She was aggressive to the point I asked Darcy to stop inviting her around, and that created some tension between Darcy and me. The day Darcy sprang it on me, I almost died, first from shock, and then anger.

No, I didn’t want to include Alyssa in our lovemaking, and no I wasn’t interested in a three-way. The very thought of it disgusted me. Darcy was devastated; she completely misread my emotions. I knew that it was all Alyssa’s doing, but when Darcy expressed she had feelings for Alyssa, that was it.

Now, just hearing her name brought back all those emotions, the fight, the yelling and screaming. All I wanted was to forget she even existed. It was five years of my life I was never getting back, and that hurt. I put everything into that relationship. I left nothing behind. I kept no secrets, shared all my deepest fears and emotions with her.

What did I get back… betrayal and dishonesty.

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