Benjamin Drevlow

Posted on December 11, 2017


One Last Love Story

She didn’t mean for it to happen. It just happened. The way she explains it. The way these things always get explained.

Does she love him?

No, she says. She’s crying while she says it, which isn’t playing fair. She still loves me, she says.

Is she attracted to him?

He’s in a band after all. The lead singer. Six-three and wiry. Wiry the way tall band guys always are. As in: skinnier than me. The fifty pounds I’ve put on over the course of our marriage.

Are you attracted to him? I ask again more slowly.

She pauses. No, she says at first. But then that no runs a little long and turns into a little. Which is at least partially true, but also more tactful than a full yes, obviously, which is closer to reality otherwise we wouldn’t be in this predicament.

I almost feel bad for walking her into this corner. But then she starts in asking me if that’s what I want to hear? That she’s attracted to him. That there are things about him that she’s fantasized about?

Things I imagine like him not being me, for one. Him being in that band, that gravelly voice of his, that hairy chest he’s always showing off. This big pirate’y beard I never knew I was competing with. The way he likes to twist his hairy, wiry body this way and that when he’s singing and playing and everybody’s singing and swaying along with him.

The way even a half-decent band like his can always play Jesus to a crowd like that. The way the rest of us can innocently enough forget about everything and let ourselves fall in love with spirituality for a night.

Do I want to hear about his big hard dick? she asks. The way his beard tickled her and his tongue sent big orgasmic shivers through her whole body?

She’s laying it on thick for me now, though I don’t doubt her details. I’ve seen those fingers play his instrument more times than I care to remember. Besides all the shows we’ve seen, he used to come over and try to teach bar chords to me and my stubby fingers.

Is that what you want to hear? she asks again.

Obviously I’m caught up thinking about the disparity between our fingers. The way she always used to tell me she thought they were cute, my stubby fingers, my little hands.

And what about me? she asks.

What about you? I ask.

Would you even be worried if this hadn’t happened?

We’ve been together ten years, married five, haven’t had sex or even fooled around in maybe six months.

Do you even know how long it’s been since you’ve touched me like that? she asks.

Like what? I ask, though I know perfectly well what she’s asking.

Six months ago, it’d been her birthday, and we’d gone up to city for a show. Gotten a hotel, the whole deal. My treat. The surprise sex I’d tried to convince her to go for before dinner, before drinks, before the show. But she’d insisted on waiting til after. And in retrospect, I understand now. It’d been his band we’d been seeing. Supporting, she’d taken to calling it.

My birthday present to her, supporting her former student’s band up in the big city. We’ll make a night of it, I’d told her. The surprise sex I’d been planning, the icing on the cake so to speak.

That night it’d taken near twenty minutes of her trying her damnedest to arouse me until I’d given up and gone down on her.

Was she imagining him the whole time? Or only when she’d laid back and moaned? I have a beard myself, though not near as cool as her former student’s.

Do you even still love me? she asks. It’s what she’s been getting at this whole time whether she’d admit it or not. The question being one of guilt and justification and perhaps her decision to leave me for good.

I don’t think you get to ask me that, I say. Not after this anyway.

She says it’s maybe the only question left to answer.

Had I never fantasized about a student of my own? I’m asking myself. How pathetic that would be considering how far I’ve let myself go, how little I had to offer before I’d even started.

Does she still love me?

Of course, she says. I already told you.

And how many times have I told you? I ask. I do not say: And look where that’s gotten me.

She tells me those don’t count. All those quaint little I-love-you’s at night and in the morning and before and after long trips. All the cards for birthdays and holidays. They’re nice and all, but…

But… suddenly all that matters is whether I love her tonight, in a carnal sense, the night after she’s cheated on me with her former writing student-turned-low-rent-heartthrob.

Was this the first time? Or just the first time she’s willing to admit? How long has it been going on in her head? In his head? How many times had she turned him down before she gave in? I don’t ask her any of these questions.

And now she’s giving me ultimatums. She’s giving me ultimatums.

Or else what? I say. You’re gonna leave me for your student?

Or else none of this matters, she says.

Ten years, I say, and now you’re going to throw it all away for some punk you taught poetry to.

She tells me to quit it. It’s not about him. It was never about him. She doesn’t love him. She thought she loved me.

She thought…?

So you’re just testing me, is what this is? Testing our love? Playing games, eh?

No, she says. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, she says. But it did. And now whether I deserve it or not I’m asking you if you love me.

You don’t think I love you?

I used to, she says. But now, tonight, suddenly I don’t know.

Look at my shaking hands, I say. Does it look like I don’t care about you?

Caring isn’t the same as loving, she says.

Fine, I say, I love you dearly. Are you happy?

No, she says and gets up to kiss me on the forehead. No, I’m not.

Where are you going? I say.

Nowhere, she says. She doesn’t say his house, though where else would she be going?

I said it, I say. I said, I love you. And now you’re leaving?

Maybe just for tonight, she tells me.

To his house?

She says she doesn’t know. Yesterday, the day before, she thought she knew everything. But now, she says she’s ruined everything and she doesn’t blame me, but she doesn’t think she can undo it. There’s a coldness in me that she understands, but… but… She’s stumbling for the right words while gathering her purse, her phone, her keys.

But I told you, I say. I love you. I need you.

I know, she says. I know what you think you need, but I don’t know anymore and I don’t think you do either.

I don’t care, I say. I’m following her out the door. I’m holding the door open as she heads for her car. I don’t care about what happened with your student, I say.

You didn’t mean to, I tell her. It’s my fault, I say. I shout it. I’m crying now, sniffling in between shouts. It’s all my fault. Please come back.

She says nothing finally. She looks at me through the fogged-up window in her car. She nods her head, the tears trickling down. I know, she mouths and touches her nose to the glass. I love you, too. Then she slides the shifter into reverse.


Benjamin Drevlow is the author of the book Bend With the Knees and Other Love Advice from My Father. He has published short fiction and nonfiction at Passages North, Fiction Southeast, Split Lip, among other magazines. You can find these and other stories linked at


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