A World Without Love

The skies are blue and the grass is green, but there is no frolicking in the grass or any birds in V-formation in the sky. People smile and laugh for a moment at a time, and then their happiness quickly disappears. There is not much hope in this world—everyone walks the streets mundanely, moving on with their lives like soldiers, nearly expressionless, and never expecting anything miraculous or spectacular to happen.

Los Angeles is not the perfect little place for a family to grow up. Fathers and mothers seem to always be out and about, without their children. Molly’s father, especially, seems to leave town multiple times a week. Never with his only daughter and with his wife at work, Molly, at a young age, became accustomed to spending many nights alone. She walks home from a nearby high school, expecting to find herself with nothing to do and no one to see in a home that is far too big for one. Mother finally arrives home just in time to make dinner, often late. But she never disappoints Molly because she always brings home some sort of free gift from her job as a merchandiser. Father, on the other hand, never arrives in time for dinner, claiming his flight was late or although unlikely, truthfully telling that he took a later flight. He also never arrives home without an awful temper. Mother ignores it while Molly fights it, trying to get a word out of him about her fabulous grades that had come in the mail the previous day. Only making him more agitated, father erupts and blurts out distasteful comments about Molly’s hair and clothing. This is not unusual; rather, it was very likely to happen every night her father was at home.

***

Paris is the most romantic city in the world. Lustful couples wander the streets holding hands and wishing the moment would never end. Walking along the Seine, Sylvie and Nate gaze into each other’s eyes, both thinking about their future, together. But secretly they both have doubts. Together? Will this last—this unreal, bewitching relationship between the two? The fabulous moment along the river, clutching hands, ends when they see long-term emptiness in each other’s eyes. And there, after those five somewhat wonderful nights in Paris, Sylvie and Nate realize that there is no hope for a future between them. Times when Sylvie couldn’t stop smiling were only seconds—easily forgotten. Times when Nate ran through the streets chasing Sylvie, like a child, only lasted a few minutes. Now, the couple could barely remember the times they were happy. How had their lust died out so quickly? It just happened, just like it had every time before, with another man, a different woman. Nothing could sustain their relationship any longer, so they were forced to end it. Of course, it wasn’t the preferred route, but what are they to do when they have nowhere to go? Nate already admitted, in a charming way, that he liked her, and Sylvie had swiftly mimicked his words. But after 6 months of that, Sylvie and Nate became restless and now realize that there is nowhere to go from here. They are stuck in a world of like.

***


Winnetka, a fairly small northern suburb of Chicago, is the location of a household amidst distress. Bobby and Anna chase each other around and around the couch, each hoping to snag the shirt or hand of the other. Yesterday, Bobby had stolen Anna’s pooh bear. Today, it was her diary. Tomorrow will probably be a charm ripped off the charm bracelet that mother will bring home today. It is never a peaceful day at their house; never does a day pass without at least a few brawls happening between the two young children. Bobby doesn’t seem to think twice about respecting Anna’s very special belongings. Anna doesn’t understand why her older brother cannot be nice. Even when she offers Bobby half of her turkey sandwich or loans him her toys, he still ignores his sister’s caring acts and snatches the things from her. Upset and puzzled, Anna gives up on being nice to her brother Bobby, knowing that he will never return her acts of kindness.

***

New York, where Molly’s father had been for the past three days, suddenly seemed very far from Los Angeles. When Molly returned home from school that Tuesday, she went about the house as she normally did, grabbing a snack from the fridge and then doing her work. And when the clock read fifteen minutes after dinnertime, mother was still not home. She opened the heavy front door, checking to see if her car would pull into the driveway. No. She picked up the phone checking for messages. Yes. There was a message from her boss wondering where her mother was because she never showed up for work. Molly screamed her mother’s name, only to hear it echo throughout the house. No response. She ran up to her mother’s bedroom only to find her lying motionless. Was she even breathing? Molly delicately stepped across the room and laid her hand on her mother’s. Shockingly cold. Slowly, she retraced her steps downstairs back to the phone, where she called her father.

“What!” he answered sharply, “I’m about to begin a meeting.”

More frightened than ever, Molly hesitantly replied, “Mother’s dead.” She was nervous to call him, but for the first time, she felt as if she needed him. She wanted him.

And he was speechless, short of breath. His simple words were, “Call the police. Please, Molly. I’m coming home right away.” It was the first time Molly had heard him speak in such a soft, calming voice. She was happy, for once, that he was coming home.

Los Angeles, that night, was dark and somber. The police and investigators had determined that mother had died in her sleep, due to an unexpected heart attack. With at least twenty official persons in their home, Molly felt alone, stranded without her mother. And now there was only one person to turn to: her father. She wanted to be next to him, thinking that he, by her side, would make her feel safe. Weeping, Molly walked over to him, and grabbed his hand, gently. What was she doing? She wanted to hold his hand, which she had never thought of doing before. She wanted him to hold her close, tell her everything would be ok, and that they would always have each other. Why did she want this? She was feeling emotions she had never felt before. She didn’t know what she was feeling. Nevertheless, she gripped his hand tighter and wept, lost in the unbelievable moment.

Then she felt her father squeeze her hand and bring her close. He put his other arm around her and held his daughter. He stood there hugging her, ignoring all the distracting flashing lights, people and noises within the house. And he told her, “I love you.”





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