A Need For Emma
John Laneri
The moment I stepped inside her house, I knew something was wrong.

"What's going on?”

“I'm packing, ”she says, as she pushes a strand of bleached blond hair from her face.

Confused, I ask, “Where do you plan to go?”

“I don't know. I just know I need to leave this place.”

Looking around, I notice a few boxes. But, mostly I see the usual disarray – clothes, food, trash tossed haphazardly about.

From what I remember, Emma came to the village of Detroit, Illinois several years earlier to care for her ailing parents. After they died, she remained in town and soon resumed doing what she did best.

We met the day I left the interstate and detoured for gas.

“I take it, we won't be spending an afternoon together.”

She ventures a smile then tosses something into a box. “I didn't say that. I always look forward to hooking up with you.”

“Then, why leave? You receive a generous supplement from the state. You even have a regular clientèle paying cash money.”

“I can't stand to live here any longer.”

“Why not?” I ask. “The living is easy. No responsibilities.”

“It's this town. There's nothing here. Almost everything is closed, shuttered... nothing. I should have left years ago.”

Touching her hand, I say softly, “I'll miss you. I always look forward to our time together.”

Her features relax, as her eyes begin to brighten. “I'll miss you too. Of all the men I've known, you're the only one I care about.”

“I never knew....”

She glances at me. “Would you have married me, knowing what I am?”

“Of course,” I reply, saying the words she wants to hear.

She hurries to me. “Take me now. Let me feel your love.”

Carrying her in my arms like a child, I lay her on the bed where we soon come together with an intensity that only she is capable of inspiring.

Sometime later, I roll to the side and ask, “Do you feel better now?”

“You always help me get my head straight,” she says softly. “Will I see you next week?”

“At the usual time,” I reply as I drop money on the nightstand then dress and head for the door.

Before driving away, I pause to contrast her life along the highway versus mine in the suburbs.

Then buckling up, I turn toward home, trying not to think about my own failings – knowing that I should have broken away from Emma years before and concentrated completely on the people I love.

First published: February, 2014
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