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LAce Posted Monday, March 14th, 2005
The Business Of Love
Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz

Lisa told Preston about her promotion and he was happy for her — sincerely happy. He didn't even flinch when she added that it involved an out-of-state move;he simply lifted his wine glass and toasted her success.

Lisa weakly smiled, lifted her glass and clinked the crystal against his.

"Well-deserved, no doubt," he said. He took a sip of wine and then put the glass down. "So when's the big move?"

Lisa scanned his face, those gorgeous brown eyes.

Before she could tell him, he said he knew of a good moving company.

"But you need to make reservations in advance; they book up quickly," he added.

"Hmmm," was all Lisa could muster.

"Have you told your parents?"

Lisa shook her head. "Just you."

"Well, you'll have to share the news," he said, "Call them tonight and then later we'll get down to the business of celebrating."

**

Untangling herself from Preston's sleeping body, Lisa slid off the mattress. She slipped her robe on and curled up in the chair beside her bed, lit a cigarette and stared at the mound beneath the covers.

Balancing her elbow on her leg, her chin in her palm, Lisa let the previous hour run through her mind.

"Damn you," she whispered. It had been so good — too good -how could she leave him behind?

But she couldn't ask him to go. Wouldn't make herself a choice he might not choose.

The problem, Lisa decided, was that he respected her resume. Admired her business savvy too much that he often forgot she was a woman when the three-piece suit came off.

Once he wouldn't assemble a bookshelf for her because "if you can close a quarter-million dollar deal on your cell phone in mid-afternoon traffic, you can screw some bolts into plywood."

And it wasn't that she couldn't; she had just wanted him to do it for her. Still she had assembled the case because he'd left her no other choice, and then he was even more proud of her.

"I love a woman who can take care of herself," he'd said, and she'd wanted to scream.

She hadn't because she didn't want to argue — again. They had discussed the subject over and over and it had always come back to: he was most attracted to her independence.

It let him off the hook, Lisa thought, snubbing the cigarette out. He could come and go as he pleased though he offered her the same option.

"Damn," she muttered, rising. Didn't the word 'partnership' mean anything?

She didn't want to, but she climbed back into bed beside him.

**

Lisa made lists and hung them on the living room wall. Things to do. One month before her move. Two weeks. One week.

One evening, over for dinner, Preston eyed the lists. "I love your organizational skills. You know exactly what you're doing and where you're heading."

Lisa had glanced up from setting the table. She wanted to ask what they were doing and where they were heading, but instead she said, "White wine or red?"


**

"Aren't you even going to ask me to stay?" she whimpered one night in bed, though she hadn't meant to.

Preston's body stiffened. His attention was on the ceiling. "And what if I did?" he asked her. "And you passed up a great opportunity? What if we didn'tstay together? How could I live with that; how could you?"

But what if you're the greatest opportunity I've ever had, she thought. What if?


**

The final week. The apartment was nearly empty. Lisa worked, ate and slept on the floor.

She hadn't seen Preston in days. She acted "as if."

As if she didn't care.

As if it didn't matter.

As if she didn't cry most every night.

**

"I won't be pushed into something I'm not sure about," he told her.

"Risk is inherent; it's all a gamble," she replied. "And I'm not pushing; I'm just laying my cards on the table."

"Fine, but let me decide how I want to play my hand."


**

Her plane ticket, keys and purse sat by the door, waiting. Lisa checked her watch as she came up the hall, then stood in her empty living room, stared at the phone. It was to be disconnected sometime today.

"Damn it," she muttered as she walked over to the window. She glanced down to the street, watched a couple walking to a car. They stood on the passenger's side.

"She's not a baby," Lisa said from her side of the window. "She can open her own door." She kicked at the floor molding.

What the hell was she waiting for?

Lisa snatched up her keys, the plane ticket and threw the purse strap over her shoulder. She forced her hand to turn the door handle, pull the door open and then shut it behind her. Lock it.

The phone began to ring. Her heart pounded and her fingers held tight to the key in the lock. A simple twist — she could do that.

But she didn't. She pulled the key out and turned. Let her feet take her down the hall towards the elevator.

In the distance, the phone continued to ring, but Lisa didn't stop.

It was what had made her so successful — that one important skill that she'd learned in business school: being able to walk away from the table when it was simply too late to make any kind of a deal.



Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Anna McDougall on Monday, March 14th, 2005 at 7:58 PM
Wonderful work! I felt so proud of her at the end.

Posted by Nexus Full [ starvinggods@gmail.com ] on Monday, March 14th, 2005 at 8:34 PM
This story resonates deeply with me. There have been so many times in my life where I felt like Lisa, wondering how I can be the only one in the relationship who recognizes it as an opportunity of a lifetime, full of passion and fulfillment rather than just another aesthetic business deal. It takes a lot to walk away from those dreams, even when you realize they are just that. Thank you.

Posted by Cecilia Miller on Tuesday, March 15th, 2005 at 10:48 AM
This is really superb writing. It's the kind of writing that leaves me wishing for more of it to read. Congratulations!

Posted by Myfanwy Collins on Tuesday, March 15th, 2005 at 11:51 AM
Wonderful, Gwendolyn. Tense and powerful. The ending is perfect.

Posted by Katrina Denza on Tuesday, March 15th, 2005 at 3:40 PM
Great story, Gwen.

Posted by Ashley Minihan on Saturday, March 19th, 2005 at 11:02 AM
Nice. . . especially the ending, very strong.

Posted by sherry dehn [ psalm918@aol.com ] on Sunday, March 20th, 2005 at 1:16 PM
Never look back. The what if's are decisions in the road you chose not to take for whatever reasons. Go on forward making pathways you don't regret with excellent results for your best possible life. Love someone who will love you back.

Posted by Mitzi McMahon on Monday, April 4th, 2005 at 10:55 AM
Excellent read.

Posted by Usha Sethumadavan [ ushasethumadhavan@yahoo.com ] on Friday, April 22nd, 2005 at 4:12 AM
Amazing to see how more women have the same and been thro' the same. But, do we realise that he was probably a complete no no for people like Lisa. She wud be happier with someone more secure about himself, who wanted something and wud go after it. What we see here and see around us is that deadweights like this done really want women like Lisa. They like the experience and prefer to have it short. They want it like a filler. But they dont want it, want it. Women like Lisa, who will not be parasites and do not expect others to carry any load for them, are not their type. And the irony is that the lisas get rejected by theses guys because they are too good for them. Anyways, sounds like many relationships I have seen around me, with my friends. Is is that there arent too many strong men who can appeal to intelligect women or are the wome insecure that they cant go for solid men, and not wimps like this? I am hoping I am not commenting on a real incident or hurting anyones feelings. I really wish this is just a story. The intent is not to put anyone down. If this woman exists, hats off to her, for being so real yet sensible. wish tons of happiness for her.



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