It’s time for the first prompt given to me by you! Who’s excited with me? 😀
In case you missed it: A couple of weeks ago I asked you for your favourite prompts, or something improvised. While the post is a couple of weeks old now you can still submit your prompts, so go ahead if you’ve got something!
This week’s prompt comes from the amazing author and blogger KJ Chapman, who shared a prompt from her Prompt Me book. A free sample 😉
As always, if the prompt speaks to you feel free to borrow it! I’d love to see your interpretation, so please let me know if you do so I can be nosy ^-^
What would you do if scientists discovered the origin of love and offered a cure for it?
“Don’t do it, Jacks.”
I nearly shake my head and cover my ears in a childish attempt to not hear my Mum’s pleading. I know it’s mean, but she’s too old-fashioned to understand how far our medical advances have come. What does she know about this? Of course she’d say no.
Katie took the love potion, and she’s fine.
“Don’t tell me what-” I catch myself just in time before I’d sound like a whiny teenager. I’m thirty-five years old, for God’s sake, I don’t need to give her any more ammunition.
“Please, Jacks. You don’t mean it.”
Her use of my old nickname, short for Jackson, after her grandfather, makes me hesitate. Something I’ve buried deep inside me screams at me to listen to her, but the pain hurts too desperately.
“I do mean it. What do you know? You’ve always loved Dad. You’ve never been in my situation.”
Mum places her cold hand on my warm arm. We always had our intense body heat in common – people used to make fun of how we were burning up from the inside, how our passion and compassion was just that strong. Now her hand has lost the heat, and it drives home how old she really is.
Dad died two years ago, and I haven’t seen her cry since the funeral. Maybe she lost more than tears when he left.
“Come here,” she says, and pulls me into her arms. She cradles me like I’m five years old again. I want to resist, tell her I’m too old for it, but I know she wouldn’t listen. It’s harder to just admit to myself that it feels nice to be held. To be comforted. “Did I ever tell you about Murphey?”
I pause. Mum has told me about so many of her old friends, some of which go back to her school days, but I don’t remember that name. I shake my head, and enjoy how it feels when my head nestles into her shoulder.
“No, I don’t think so.”
Against my head I can feel her nod. “I met Murphy when I was eighteen. Oh, Jacks, how he smiled at me that day! I’ve never forgotten that smile. The one that instantly made me feel loved.”
I pull away to look into her eyes. I need to know if she’s kidding.
She chuckles. “I married your father when I was twenty-one, Jacks, but he wasn’t the first man I loved. You didn’t think I was that prim and proper, did you?”
Again I want to cover my ears and shake my head. My Mum’s romantic experiences aren’t something I want to think about, no matter how old and presumably grown-up I get. Instead, I stare at her.
Again, she laughs. “I loved your Dad, and I still do, but before him I loved Murphey. I still love him, too.”
There is so much sadness in her voice that it hurts me. How has this never come up?
Her smile falters. “My parents. Your grandparents were good people, but they never understood love the way I did. I’ve never quite forgiven them.”
When she doesn’t say anything and her eyes glaze over with memories, I nudge her. “They didn’t like him?”
I remember the first time I brought Michael home. Mum and Dad adored him from the moment we came through the door, but the cold glare my grandparents accosted him with is still with me. Unlike Michael.
Mum shakes her head. The amount of pain in the movement breaks something inside me, and tears at my already existing pain.
“No. They didn’t. Murphey wasn’t rich, like us. His parents had very little money, you see. What little they did have his father gambled away, and his mother smoked like a chimney!” That wistful smile is back, but only for a second. “They were the sweetest people. They had problems, but who doesn’t? They never tried to hide it, and they accepted me into the family. Not many poor people did back then. They looked at us like we were from another planet.”
I nod. Nothing much has changed there. “So did they forbid you from seeing him?”
“At first. We found ways, of course. My parents were furious when they caught him sneaking into my room. I had been introduced to your father by then. It wasn’t proper for me to see other boys.”
“What did they do?”
“They offered Murphey a job abroad, in one of their factories there. They said his Dad could work there, too, and his mother could get the medical help she needed. Her lung wasn’t doing so well.” Mum looks away, and I don’t try to face her. “They knew they couldn’t turn it down, but of course Murphy did. Told me he’d rather be poor if it meant he could be with me. He looked for a job for a while, but eventually he had to accept that no one would hire him. My Dad’s influence. Murphey was clever.”
I’ve never heard about this side to my grandparents before. I was told that Mum’s marriage had been love at first sight, and that my parents had been a match made in heaven. I didn’t realise how much of that was lies.
“They took the job. His father urged him to take it, told him his mother needed the treatment. It was hard physical labour, but Murphey was strong. Eventually he gave in, and accepted.”
“Why didn’t he come back once he had money saved up?”
My Mum smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “I was a married woman by then, Jacks, and pregnant with Katie. He knew there was nothing left for him here.” Her expression grew dark. “His mother, Edith, died two months after they moved. I haven’t heard from him since.”
“I’m sorry.” I didn’t want to be rude and change the subject, but I had to know. “What does this have to do with me taking the Love Potion? You of all people should know how much it hurts!”
“Because, Jacks, I grew to love your father. While our relationship wasn’t love at first sight as you’ve been told, I did love Katie and you from the moment I knew I was pregnant. You’ve made my life such a joy.”
I frown. “Michael and I didn’t have that option, Mum. We’re both men, remember?”
“Oh I know, silly! But you could adopt. You still can. And you never know who you might meet tomorrow.”
It isn’t good enough. “But it never stops hurting, does it?” The pained glitter of tears in her eyes is proof enough for me.
Mum takes my hand into hers. “No, Jacks. It never does. But one day it won’t be the only thing you feel. There’s still room for joy and happiness in your soul. And pleasure.” She actually winks at me. “Oh, come on now, like I don’t know what you chaps get up to! I was young once, too, you know.”
“He left me, Mum. For a woman.” How am I supposed to just get over that? I can’t even fight for him.
“I know, Jacks. I’m not saying it’ll be easy. If you take the Love Potion, you’ll never feel what you felt for Michael again. Do you remember that time you brought him home to introduce him to us? Your first kiss? Your first-“
“Mum!” But she had a point. All those moments were great memories. If I paid for the Love Potion, I’d never make more. Katie took it, and it erased more from her than her love for men. Her passion is gone, too. She isn’t the same Katie I grew up with.
“Don’t do it, Jacks. Please.”
I nod, more to myself than to her. I have a tough decision ahead of me.
“Why don’t you try to find Murphey now?” Mum isn’t that old, and Dad’s gone. I hate the idea of her never falling in love again.
She doesn’t look at me when she speaks. “I did, last year. He died ten years after he accepted the job.”
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