THE STORY YOU TELL

I sit across the table and stare at you. You lift your glass and laugh at something I say. I wonder if you know the fierce pride I take in seeing the tell tale glint of your left hand in the sun. I want to shout from the rooftops ‘She is mine, all mine!’
Overwhelmed, I take your right hand and drop a gentle kiss in your palm. You smile shyly and lower your lashes. That amuses me. One would have thought you’d be used to it by now.

I see you in the morning, when you sadly scrutinize yourself. You don’t believe me when I say you’re beautiful. Where I see loveliness, you see a scarred tummy, breasts no longer firm, and grey hair.
You do not see the hands that held me when I was down, soothed my pain, stroked me to explosion. The crescent shaped scar on your thumb tells a tale of well pressed shirts; starched agbadas. Your stomach shows the ravages of swelling with my child, over and over again. I am awed at the story of pain it tells, borne out of love for me.
Your hair is grey at the temples and you are more beautiful than you were at sixteen. I am in love with your arms; so fragile looking, yet strong enough to raise three kids with me. Your breasts are flat, yes but I touch them with reverence. The thought of our children suckling brings me to my knees.

I ask about your day and your eyes light up as you launch into a recital. I nod occasionally, totally focused on eyes that have swum in tears when I acted like a jerk, eyes that darken dangerously in bed, eyes that have never stopped saying ‘I love you’ for over twenty years. You ask me a question, and touch your tongue to your upper lip reflexively. Your lips make me think of honey and all things sweet. They have scolded, teased, cajoled, and disciplined.

A blast of hair whips your red scarf away and you scramble after it, your hair a flying halo. I could drown in your hair. Each greying strand is more precious to me than gold. I ask you again, if you know how precious you are to me; how I would not trade you for a dozen virgins. You shake your head and laugh.

As you get in the car, I see a flash of red painted toes then your skirt flows over to cover it from view. Your feet are small, priceless jewels. Delicate feet that have worn a path in the living room carpet soothing cranky babies, trodden miles for me, and been stamped vigorously in annoyance.

The drive home is pleasant. I delight in drawing you out, waiting for the next outrageous thing you’ll say. I could listen to you forever. Now, I am writing this to you in my study at home. I hope you’ll finally believe me but if you don’t, it’ll be my pleasure to spend my remaining years proving your worth to you while watching the story of your body unfold.

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