tagMatureThere Was Just Something About Mary

There Was Just Something About Mary


This is a Earth Day contest story. Please vote.


Forty years later, Anthony still remembers an Earth Day, rebound love affair he had in 1970 with an older woman.

Mary was older than Anthony by ten years. Not such a long time, especially when growing older and becoming more mature with the experiences that comes with age, but in his case and at his age, especially with his lack of emotional maturity and childlike social irresponsibility, ten years for him was a period that spanned a lifetime of emotional development. Although they had been together for three years, too wrapped up in his own good time to unravel her secrets, he didn't have a clue who she was. No doubt, as transparent as the water he surfed in, she knew, of course, what he was all about and that was okay with her. She wasn't looking for romance, just a lover for sex.

Even though Anthony was 26-years-old when he met her, compared to Mary, he was just an immature child, more interested in the surf, the sand, the sea, and the sun than in love, commitment, relationships, and marriage. Before meeting Mary, when he wasn't in the water surfing, he was having sex on the beach, getting high, and dancing to the music of the day. Back then, the only thing that could get him out of the water was sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

Before meeting Mary, his longest love relationship lasted just a summer, when her parents packed the car to return home to Ohio or Idaho or Kansas or wherever else they came from to vacation on Cape Cod. Looking for love, while on vacation, the women he picked up settled for sex, before returning to school to finish their education, after being schooled by Anthony. Before meeting Mary, the only one he loved was himself. Yet, the aftereffects of a chance meeting that lasted his lifetime changed all of that, when he met Mary.

An idyllic lifestyle, the epitome of a carefree beach bum, he had been living his life this way, since he decided to travel rather than go to college. A draft dodger, had he stayed home, he'd be in Viet Nam right now or in a body bag being shipped home. Rather see him dead than to dishonor them and their country, proud Americans, his parents disowned him, when he ran away from his educational responsibility and his military duty to roam the country, but he didn't care. He was finally free to live his life how he wanted to live it. Wandering the coastal areas of the continental United States, his dream was to one day make a pilgrimage to Hawaii to surf that perfect wave.

"Cool, man. That was so awesome, Dude. Did you see that wave? I hung ten. Cowabunga! Woohoo!"

Able to give Mary what she temporarily needed to comfort her body and soothe her troubled mind, he was incapable of giving her the maturity she required to keep her long-term. He was happy and he thought that she was, too. Only, too wrapped up in his own good time, insensitive to her needs, selfish with his, and oblivious to her underlying grief, he didn't have the life experience enough to read her. Obviously, she didn't have the connection enough with him to share what she was feeling, whenever she was feeling it.

Other than to share in his good time, unable to share her true emotions with him, she perceived him as just a boy and, no doubt, he was just her toy. Tit for tat, what comes around goes around. She used him in the way he's used so many women for sex over the years and cast them aside for the love of riding a good wave. With her emotions deadened to save herself, she had no one helping her to analyze and explain her feelings for her to understand and to cope with what she was going through. Once he finally knew what it was she was experiencing, it was too late.

She kept too many secrets locked away to open her heart to love him. Besides, even if she could get over her emotional trauma and repair her damaged heart, when she awakened from her mental instability, Anthony wouldn't be the one she'd want. Faithful and loyal to Raymond, her dead husband, not in body but in emotion, he was the only man she ever loved.

Anthony was nothing more than a diversion to occupy her from remembering Raymond. Too late then, it wouldn't be until after her death, when reading her journal, that he found the key to unlock her mysteries and open her heart. Before he was even out of high school, she had already lived another life. Before he had matured enough to save her, she was already dead.

Whenever he thought she was happy, she'd start crying. On those days, he knew she was sad, she'd suddenly be laughing. After a while, baffled by her emotions and troubled by her mood swings, not emotionally equipped to understand them and/or to cope with them, he never knew what to expect from her. One day up with her head in the clouds and wanting to go play on the beach and swim in the ocean, the next day she was so far down with her head buried in a sand dune that she couldn't even get out of bed to get dressed.

She hated the summer and he loved the summer. Despite their seasonal differences, somehow, they collided at a time, when she needed him the most and when he was looking for something he never knew he was searching to find. She needed comfort and he sought love.

Unfortunately, a struggle to connect, unless they were naked and sweating in bed, his immaturity separated them more than their chronological age. Impossible to bridge the vast differences between them with only laughter and good times, even though his heart was wide open to accept her for who she was, she had nothing left for her to love him. Just as he was elated and happy, she was defeated and sad.

Already a widow, when he met her, they lived off her husband's military pension and life insurance settlement. Just as he was younger than her by ten years, her husband was older than her by ten years. Had Anthony been a student of psychology and of human behavior, instead of a man of the sand, the surf, the sun, and the sea, he may have found it curious how twenty years spanned her two lovers, men who were totally different and lived lifetimes apart. He a draft dodger, her husband was a decorated, career soldier. Yet, it was more than ribbons and medals that differentiated the two men. Had he had the insight to understand, he may have read a clue, why she needed a man ten years older before and a man ten years younger now.

Riding high off the back of a wave, he was a surfer dude and a beach bum wanting a good time. With his mind closed to those around him and his eyes always cast to the sea, while looking to the horizon for that advancing white crest and that perilous sea adventure, he lived for today. Not living life for the future, he lived for the now. In the way that she was stuck living in the past with a broken heart and not even thinking about tomorrow, she lived in the moment, too. For two people, so different in philosophy and ideology, they were a perfect match for a moment in time and a period that lasted three, somewhat, happy and sexually satisfying years. With both waiting for different things and anticipating opposite outcomes, he constantly wanted and watched for the perfect wave and she waited, while wanting to die.

Her deceased husband was a Special Forces soldier, an officer, who was accustomed to giving orders and taking them. Burdened by commitment, filled with responsibility, and dogged with determined duty, he was weighed down with an impossible task. Just as he was doomed by his destiny, she was, too.

"Wake up, Anthony! It's Earth Day," she said stretching, smiling, and waking up energized with the dawn of the new day.

When she wasn't sad, she excited him with the joy she had for life, a resigned happiness that hid her sadness and disguised her depression. Had he known her before to experience the real pleasure she had for life, as a happily married woman and as a wife wanting and waiting to have children, she never would have looked at him twice. Coming together at the right time and in the right place, not only did he never meet anyone like her but also he never imagined that someone like her existed or would ever want to be with someone like him.

A casualty of love, misreading her in the way she used him, probably not caring, even if he suspected, he was blinded by her beauty. Not seeing the suffering sadness that surrounded her being and followed her, as if a dark shadow, he saw otherwise. As if she were a fallen angel, who lost her way, a black cloud darkened her aura and hung her head heavy. Instead, able to fool him, he saw that she was so full of happiness with the zest she had for life that it was contagious. A frilly facade she pulled over her depression to make it through her day, as if wearing a sexy party gown over her widow's, black dress, she excited him in the way no other woman had.

"Earth Day?"

He loved her so much that she could have said it was Star Day, Moon Day, or Heaven day, instead of Earth Day, it wouldn't have mattered what day she said it was to him. Even three years later, it was whatever day she said it was and that was okay with him to be so controlled by her emotions, so long as she was there with him in his life and he was there with her in her bed. Lost in her eyes, warmed by her smile, excited with her body, and comforted by her soul, her words didn't register with him, just the false aura and the forced spirit that she displayed did.

He was happy just to be with her. His life was hers to do whatever she wanted to do and whenever she wanted to do it. After being with her for a while, not remembering if it was Monday or Tuesday, with one happy day bleeding in the next, so long as he was there with her, even when she was down in a deep funk, he didn't care.

Unable to understand, if she stayed in bed all day, he'd stay in bed with her, too, while holding her, until the sadness she had left her and until she felt well enough to get up and function. A time before anti-depressant drugs were widely prescribed, she was sad when he met her, but she's seen better days now with him in her life. The depressant drugs she took with the pills she popped and with the alcohol she drank didn't help her mood swings either but exaggerated them, especially when coming down from them. If only he knew how to reach her, they could have been happier longer and maybe he could have saved her from the inevitable. Only, he was ill equipped and unprepared to help anyone but himself and, even then, he struggled to find his own way.

He wondered if she loved him. He couldn't tell. Sometimes he felt that she did, but other times she looked at him with contempt, anger, and hatred. When she looked at him that way, she made him feel that he had invaded her life and was trespassing on her feelings by tugging at her heart that locked away emotions that she couldn't reveal.

Most times, she'd sit on the sofa mindlessly watching television or staring off and not talking to him. On those days he couldn't reach her, on those days she went quiet, he went surfing without her and she went for a walk without him. With actions speaking louder than words, even when she said she loved him, it was just words without any real emotion.

Her eyes that had once been brightened by summer's love, no longer sparkled as if shiny stars. Now blown out by the winds of winter, her eyes had gone dark with death, and sometimes appeared as if they were two black holes that reflected nothing back but sadness. Always he said the words first and she'd echo his sentiment, sometimes with just one word, "Ditto." After a while, the distance she kept from him with the emotional walls she hid herself behind eventually made him question if she was even capable of loving him or anyone. Only, he tried not to dwell on the bad, especially when her mood suddenly turned for the good.

Besides, fearing her answer, afraid to ask and to know what had happened to her, he wondered, while imagining all sorts of scenarios from being raped and abused to being beaten and tortured. Was she always like this, so up and so down? Is there something wrong with her? Is she mentally ill? Or is she just moody and sad?

Not equipped to understand, he even read her Virgo horoscope for clues to her moodiness. Always, he wondered, how can there be anything wrong with someone so beautiful to the eyes and perfect to the touch? Taking the bad times with the good, he feared delving too deeply in her psyche and personal business for fear of scaring her away and ruining whatever he thought it was they had. He'd die if she no longer wanted him.

Even though it hurt him to think it, he suspected she still loved her husband, a dead man. How could he compete with that? He couldn't. After a while, even though it hurt him to believe it, he suspected he was just her boy toy there for her sexual pleasure and erotic adventure, while helping her to heal and enabling her to get through another day and a bad time in her life. It was obvious to him now that she used him more in the end for sex than he ever did in the beginning for money. Serving him right for all the women that he used just for the sake of uncomplicated and uncommitted sex, she used him more than he had ever used any woman before.

He felt a real connection, but did she? He didn't know. Been there and done that, she had already happily lived her life with someone else before him and, obviously too painful, she didn't like talking about her past with him. As if she wore an armor, his words bounced off her as if she was made of rubber, touching her surface but never touching her soul. Even though he looked and tried his best to read her, she stopped him from opening her book at the cover and he was unable to turn another page, but for the only one she showed him.

Her sadness spawned an emptiness in him and, at a time when he should have felt happiness to be in love with her, too often, he felt sadness. Yet, if he was just a hard body to make her feel something other than sadness, then that was okay with him, for now, so long as he could share her bed and make love to her, even if he must pretend that she loved him, too. Never wanting to give up on her, maybe, after a while, she'd fall in love with him in the way that he fell in love with her.

"Yes, today is Earth Day, Anthony. Isn't the world glorious?" She smiled at him. "I feel better today. After being so sad yesterday, I'm so happy today."

She looked out the bedroom window that faced the ocean to watch the sunrise.

"What's Earth Day, Mary?" Thinking about hitting the beach to go surfing, never opening a newspaper or watching the news, he didn't have a clue.

"Besides being the day we met, today is Earth day, silly," she said jumping on the bed to give him a kiss and a tickle. "This is the third anniversary of Earth Day and of our being together."

He loved her, when she was like this, fun and funny, and when he was there to share in her joy for everything and her excitement for everyone. Maybe because he thought she needed him more then, he loved her even more when she was sad and vulnerable, and when he was there to hold her and to help her through the sadness she was suddenly feeling. Only, as a surprise, he had already made reservations at her favorite restaurant.

All through last summer and into the fall, he had worked really hard collecting seashells to make necklaces, bracelets, and earrings to sell to the tourists on the beach to buy her Christmas gifts and, whatever was leftover, months later, he'd use that to treat her to a dinner, his special anniversary surprise for her. She supported him and paid for everything else. Surprising her by buying her dinner was the least he could do.

Still mesmerized by her, he said the words, Earth Day, repeating them as if he was in a trance. Hypnotized by her beauty and responding, as if Earth Day was her keywords that she uttered to control him, it didn't matter what she said, whatever she said controlled him. He loved her voice. He loved her soul. He loved her spirit. He loved her heart. He loved her.

He was in love with her and he'd never forget the first time meeting her. Tall, blonde, and beautiful, she was thirty-six-years-old, when they met three years ago, but because of her healthy skin and great genes, in the way that Christie Brinkley still looks today, at 57-years-old, she looked so much younger. Thinking they were the same age, he was barely twenty-six-years-old, but because the sun that tanned his skin wrinkled it, as if worn leather, he looked much older.

Walking down along the beach, hidden from the road by the sand dunes and the tall grasses that softly swayed in the cool, early morning breeze, as if slow dancing to a silent spring melody, they met on a Cape Cod beach at a time when the world unraveled with Viet Nam, Kent State, President Nixon, and the breakup of the Beatles. Looking for something sickening sweet, when experiencing the sour bitterness of life alone, after the death of her beloved husband, she latched onto him, as if he were sticky, salt water taffy and he clung onto her, in the way that seaweed wrapped around his body and clung to his skin. Outwardly, to those who didn't know them, she was his sexy, sugar Mama and he was her hard bodied, stud of a man. That pretense worked for them for a time, taking from one what the other so needed, for him her financial support and for her his sexual comfort, that is, until, almost immediately, Anthony fell in love with her.

In the summer of '69, she received official notification that her husband, Major Raymond C. Anderson, was killed in Viet Nam, even though, unofficially, he was killed in Cambodia. The United States military wasn't supposed to be in Laos and Cambodia and they couldn't acknowledge his presence there. He was there to return those missing men taken from Viet Nam, held prisoner in Cambodia and Laos, and put through unspeakable horrors of torture, pain, and suffering. Nearly ten years before the movie The Deer Hunter, Major Anderson could have attested to the accuracy of that movie had he lived to see it. Accompanied by a staff sergeant, his commanding officer, Colonel Miller, and his best friend, Major Martin, they were the ones who notified her in person of her loss.

After numbing herself with Valium through the funeral and the formal military burial service at the cemetery, the beach is where she came to be alone with her thoughts. She could only go there in the early morning hours, right at sunrise, before the swarm of families returned daily for the adventure and enjoyment of their spring through fall vacation at the Cape. The summer was the worst.

A prisoner to the summer season, as her late husband had been a prisoner of war, officially not even a war, but a conflict, as soon as the swell of the crowd made the beach impossible to walk and for her to be alone with her thoughts, she stayed indoors. Sequestered alone in her cottage, cooking her emotions in a black recipe of funk mixed with negative thoughts and sprinkled with tears in a stew of depression, she was the only one with the cure. When the summer crowd gave way to the cooler weather, the hot sun baked her mind with anger, misery, and lunacy.

"The summer was my favorite season before, but after Ray died, I hate summers at the beach now," was what she wrote in her journal. "I can't imagine how he must have suffered before he died. They won't tell me. They'll never tell me. It's classified they said.

Too crowded with the screams of the people, the noise attacks my head, as if it's his screams and not their screams. I imagine them torturing him to death and I hate it. When I close my eyes, I can feel his pain. The hordes of loud people that decorate my beach with their pollution make me feel so claustrophobic that I want to run down the beach naked screaming and pushing everyone from my path. Instead, now accustomed to going out on those off times, when few are about, still the grieving widow, I keep to myself.

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