Excerpt from "I'm afraid to fly..."

Published in May 2010 by Legend Press as part of their 10 Journeys collection.
Before things go too far, add the red wine and mixed herbs. Stir
well. Continue simmering.

“Why don't you want to marry me?”

   We'd been living together for two years now. The subject of
children hadn't been discussed again but I think we both knew
that it hadn't gone away. So, unconsciously waiting for that par-
ticular shoe to drop as I was, the ex really caught me by surprise
with the marriage question.
   It had been a lovely day; a sort of Hollywood movie. The sort
of day the young, loved-up couple enjoy just before one of them
is diagnosed with cancer or runs over their favourite cat or
   Breakfast in bed, sex, a walk into town, pub lunch, cinema in
the afternoon and chilli for dinner; why did she want to go and
spoil it? Busy looking the other way, I'd walked right out into
the traffic and been blindsided while washing up.
    Unlike the question of children, we had actually talked about
marriage properly (and soberly) and I'd thought that we were in
complete agreement. Marriage was fine for those who want it,
but in the modern civilised world it was hardly necessary as a
means to demonstrating commitment. There was no real social
pressure any more. It was even faintly hypocritical to get mar-
ried if you didn't have a religion; which neither of us did. As I
said earlier, two liberals in love. Or so I thought.
    Well, she was right, I didn't want to marry her. But I also
thought she didn't want to marry me. Had she changed her
mind? Had she been lying all along? Or if not lying, perhaps
just going along with me, humouring me, hoping that sooner or
later I'd see my error and drop to one knee? Ridiculous. Or was
    I hadn't responded quickly enough to forestall the obvious
follow-up question:
    “Don't you love me?”
    Christ! Not even “Don't you love me anymore?” This was
serious, the past was suddenly, momentarily irrelevant. The
only thing that mattered was did I love her now; did I want to
marry her now. The danger was clear. Having spent two-plus
years fitting her in, there was going to be a big hole if she left
    I blurted and stammered out reassurances and protestations
of devotion. Of course I loved her. (Good.) Of course I wanted
to spend the rest of my life with her. (Even better.) I hadn't sug-
gested marriage because I thought that she didn't believe in it.
(Only partly true, but the right thing to say under the circum-
stances.) She knew that I wanted children with her, surely that
showed how committed I was? (Watch it, thin ice.) In fact, if
she'd agree to have my children, I'd marry her tomorrow.
   It was the Chilean merlot all over again: I was trying to
blackmail her into carrying my child. In fact, it was worse than
that because I wanted children, plural. I didn't care what hap-
pened to her; she was just a breeding pod to me. I wouldn't love
her after she'd been pregnant and given birth which means I
obviously didn't love her now because of what I was asking; it
was scientifically proven that men had affairs after their wives
became mothers. Why didn't I just go and have an affair now
and be done with it? Tune in next week, folks, for more of the
same; this programme could run and run. I had to do something.

Now sprinkle in a heaped teaspoon of brown sugar. Stir well.

Continue simmering.

The ceremony was in the spring. It rained.

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To see the complete recipe, click here.