A Flaw so Beautiful
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Chronical 1 – Ashton
“It’s our first Valentine’s Day.” My hands dug into the back of the couch while I watched Suzanne nod, her hand flipped a page in her notebook so she could continue to write.
“What if he doesn’t like his gift?”
“I know what the gift is, and I think he’ll love it.”
“But what if he doesn’t.”
Giving up on trying to keep up with writing, she set the notebook down on her new cherry oak coffee table that sat between her chair and the couch I’m still madly in love with. I really wanted to buy one, but I’m not that great spending money on myself.
“What if it’s not good enough?”
“Is something else bothering you, Ashton?”
My head dropped and I closed my eyes. She always knew when it was something else. It’s always something else when it comes to me.
“Valentine’s Day is supposed to be romantic. Special. I just don’t think I’m ready to make it that special.”
“What do you mean by special?”
“Sex,” I whispered, feeling the leather couch in between my fingers.
“We’re back to this again.” Her tone was flat, something she does when she’s getting ready to remind me of something I need to be reminded of.
You would think after dating a man for roughly seven months, that I’d be ready for the next stage in our relationship, but I wasn’t. I told him when we started hanging out that I couldn’t have sex, and I still feel that way. Even after all the kindness Lincoln had shown me during our relationship. He opens doors for me, pulls my chair out when we have date night on the rooftop. Well, we haven’t been able to do that since it’s the middle of winter, but he does it when we have meals together. He makes me feel beautiful without having to say it
Lincoln’s soft voice filled the room, and I slowly slid my head up. He was sitting in the middle of the couch, smiling at me when he reached out for my hand. He held it while I walked around the couch and sat next to him. I couldn’t look into his beautiful disappointed blue eyes, so I leaned my head on his shoulder.
“This hasn’t been a topic for a while,” Suzanne said to the two of us.
“It hasn’t,” Lincoln answered, tightening his arm around me. “She thinks there is some rule that says people have sex on Valentine’s Day.”
“Because they do.”
“Some do, some don’t,” Suzanne started. “We’ve already discussed this. When you’re ready, and you’ll know when you are, you and Lincoln will have sex.”
“Everyone thinks I’ll be ready.” I sat up and looked at Lincoln, I took a breath before lowering my voice. “I’m just reminding you that I won’t.”
He looked confused, then asked, “You were with Nat yesterday, right?”
I nodded. She came over for lunch and modeled some new outfits she bought for Nick. They were going to have sex for sure on Valentine’s Day. They always have sex. I swear that’s all they do.
“Did she tell you what she got Nick?”
“She showed me.”
He twisted, and his warm hands went to my cheeks. “We aren’t them.”
“You can’t compare us to them.”
“But they’re normal.” My eyes were starting to burn. I didn’t understand how Lincoln still put up with me.
He kissed my forehead. “We’re normal.” He kissed my lips. “We are totally normal.” He kissed my lips again. “We’ll live our life the way we want to. Me and you, sweetheart.” He kissed me again, and this time a tear escaped my closed eyes. “We do what we want, when we want to. It’s our business, no one else’s.”
I nodded and threw my hands around his neck.
“I’m sorry,” I said into his ear. “I’m trying so hard.”
“Don’t be sorry for who you are Ashton, because I love you just the way you are. Don’t change.”
I love this man.
He was patient and kind.
He put up with all my anxiety and weird habits.
He holds me when I’m sleeping and when I’m awake. He holds me up, makes me stronger, and brightens my day with his beautiful smile and soul.
He’s never let me go.
I pulled back, he wiped my tears, and I smiled. “I love you too.”
Ashton was chewing on her nails while I opened my gift. She left her hair down; Nat came over and curled it, and it gave her a boost of confidence, like always. Most days, she shined bright and was full of life, as much as she’d let it. She had more good days than bad, and she was slowly letting me in, giving me more details about her past, and I wasn’t even sure if she knew she was doing it.
I knew it wasn’t the gift she was worried about when I saw it staring back at me through the plastic.
“That’s the one you wanted, right?” she asked, finally sitting down next to me. “I saw the magazine and heard you talking about it to Natalie. I got her one also.”
“This is the one.”
It was a top of the line, black Fitbit tracker. It does everything. “It’s exactly what I wanted.”
“Even though it’s not romantic?” she asked, grabbing it from me. She flipped it over and started reading the information on the back of it like she never saw it before. I knew she was stalling, trying to curb the anxiety that was bubbling up inside of her.
“That’s why I’m opening my present today, the day before V-Day.”
“But still, technically it’s for tomorrow.” She flipped it over again and pushed it towards me.
I grabbed it, set it on the coffee table, and pulled her onto my lap. Her hands went behind my neck, and my hands went to her ass. “You holding on?”
“I said I’d never let go.”
Standing up startled her, but she kept her legs wrapped around my waist as I carried her into the bedroom. “I’ll take care of the romantic stuff tomorrow; tonight, we hangout. We kiss, and maybe you’ll let me slip my hand up your shirt.” I held her while I laid her down on the bed, and she kept her feet wrapped around my waist while I hovered over her.
“I really like it when you slip your hand up my shirt,” she said shyly, still holding onto me.
I brushed my lips against hers, stealing her breath away and made out with her for several hours. The next morning, I surprised her with breakfast in bed at nine. At noon, we ate lunch, that I picked up from a new restaurant down the street. We spent our free time setting up the Fitbit and testing it out. At four I started dinner. Mike brought over the flowers I had delivered for her, and then we spent the rest of the night watching chick flicks and making out in between each movie. Right before we started our last movie, just before Valentine’s Day ended, I pulled a squat square box from under the couch. The shiny red paper gleamed under my fingers, and the white bow brushed against Ashton’s hands as I passed it to her wordlessly. Her eyes grew wide, but I shushed her and motioned for her to open it. With shaking fingers, and an argument begging to tumble from her lips, she opened the box and removed the tissue paper. The black leather binding of the coffee table book reminded me so much of Susan’s couch, and the minute I saw her run her fingers across it, I knew I made the right choice. I watched her open the book and take in each photo and momento I have collected since we met. Each page had a Monday page torn from my one-a-day calendar. Each page held a special photo or momento that signified how much I loved her. Each page had a lyric from our song, written in the most beautiful calligraphy I have ever seen. With tears in her eyes, she shut the book gently and placed it on the table. Wordlessly, she turned to me and kissed me with everything she had, letting her love speak to me without needing one word.
“I love you, Lincoln…” she whispered against my lips, her voice thick with unshed tears.
“I love you, sweetheart. Every day I spend with you, you give a piece of yourself to me. You soothe my soul and bring me peace. I will never let you go. Happy first Valentine’s Day.”
Chronical 2 – Ashton
I broke from our kiss, which was my way of saying we had to stop and he did. He always stopped. He never tried for more.
He never complained.
His hand left my breast and came to rest on my arm as he curled into my side. I felt him, his body, and everything he couldn’t hide from me no matter how much he tried. His eyes closed as he ran his hand gently over my cheek and through my hair.
“Can I ask you something?”
Several seconds passed before his eyes slid open. “Always.” His hand ran through my hair again. “You don’t have to ask.”
“I told you I didn’t want to know, but now I kind of do.”
“What?” he asked, a small smile on his lips.
I feel him every time we make out. I see it in the morning, and I see it when we shower together. He couldn’t hide anything from me; he didn’t even try.
“How do you take care of yourself?”
His hand stopped, his smiled disappeared, and he propped up on an elbow. “Are you asking about my...” He dipped his chin down.
He wouldn’t even say the word because I couldn’t even say the word.
He was respectful.
I wasn’t even close to being normal yet. I felt like a horrible girlfriend even though he didn’t make me feel that way. He never doubted us, or me. He’s so confident and easy going. He was my hero; he gave me the strength and power I needed to get through my days.
“Dick.” I barely breathed out and watched his eyes go wide.
“Dick,” he said aloud. “My dick, or are you calling me a dick?”
I was lame and felt so stupid, but I had to push through and keep going.
“Cock,” I whispered and he smiled and copied me. “Cock.”
“I’m feeling a little more normal now,” I told him as he lay back down, his dick not hard anymore and I continued with the conversation. I felt brave and strong because he made me feel brave and strong. Every day. Every moment of every day, he gave me that. “So, do you masturbate?”
He busted out laughing, pulled me into his arms and kissed me hard. “Yes, I take care of myself.”
Immediately, flashes of him ‘taking care of himself’ took over my mind. I could see it, see him . . . hear him. My face grew hot as my heart rate accelerated. “When?”
“When do I masturbate?” he asked then kissed me again.
“I want to know.” Did I want to know? Would I always wonder when he was ‘taking care of himself’ now that I knew he did? Why did that intrigue me? Why did I need to know the how, when, where, and why of this? And I had to be honest . . . I wanted to be his why, every single time.
He rolled on top of me and put his mouth to my ear. “I did this morning.”
I felt a shiver run down my spine at his confession. “In the shower?” I asked. His soft lips were on my ear before they moved in a slow line, placing gentle kisses from my ear lobe to the crook of my neck. “Yes.”
“At your place?” I asked, because he left early this morning before our nine a.m. alarm. I could see it, see him. I arched my neck to accept more of his kisses while the image of him played out in my mind.
“Yes, after I took Nat to the airport, I came home and showered at my place.” He kissed my neck again, trailing his lips down to my collar bone.
“I don’t masturbate,” I blurted out.
“You make me feel all of kinds of things, but I can’t bring myself to do that yet.”
“It’s fine, Ashton, whenever you’re ready.”
“What if I’m never ready?”
“We’re not talking about this again.” He rolled off me but kept me in his arms. “Someday you’ll be ready, and I’ll be here. I’ll always be here.”
“You really think someday I’ll have sex with you?”
“I have all the faith in the world that someday we’ll make love. Someday we’ll get married and have kids. Someday, my sweet Ashton, all of your dreams will come true.”
His words always brought tears to my eyes.
This man had completely changed my life and someday, I think that just maybe, all of my dreams will come true.
Chronicle 3 – Ashton
“This is going to be fun!” Natalie’s voice sang throughout my living room, echoing down the hall with that familiar saying of hers. Lincoln’s sister hadn’t changed over the past year, and honestly, it’s worse. Now that she was married to Nick, she was happier than ever.
She glowed, bright and beautiful, like always.
I looked at the mirror, the new one Lincoln bought a few months ago because he had run out of room on the other one. He told me something last year and it was the only thing written on it so far.
You came out of the darkness, bold and beautiful. Stronger than ever. Braver than most.
I smiled as his words sunk in and just like all the other times, I felt beautiful and brave. I went back into the living room and found Natalie ready to go, holding my sunglasses and her matching ones already on her face.
“You ready?” she asked.
I nodded, feeling the butterflies fluttery around in my stomach.
“You don’t look ready, Ashton.”
“Pretend those butterflies are because of Lincoln.”
“And not the fact you’re taking me with you.”
“Well, it’s not working.”
She wiggled the glasses at me, I put them on, grabbed my keys, and locked the deadbolts behind me. I faced the hallway as Natalie slipped her hand into mine. She didn’t care if people thought we were together because we always held hands and I paid no attention because I was more focused on not having a panic attack. Usually with her help, and being so close to her, I didn’t do all too bad. Suzanne said I might have them the rest of my life but that they’ll get better, and I have seen a small difference this past year.
“Don’t pout,” she said as we walked out the front of the building and headed toward her doctor’s office. She still doesn’t drive that well, and I still prefer to walk everywhere.
Mustering up my willpower, my strength was all that I could focus on while we walked, and Natalie talked. Sometimes I could follow along and other times, I gave up. The girl talked a lot and when she really got on a roll, she’d start to ramble and get off subject. It was hard to keep up with her.
“Well?” she asked.
Clear example of me not paying attention. It was pointless to lie.
“I’m concentrating, Nat.”
“You’re with me, silly. It’ll be okay.”
“Can I ask why I’m going and not Nick?”
“He went last time and recorded it. Listens to it all day long, like on a loop.”
“I’m not doing that.”
“I know.” We stopped at a light and waited for it to change so we could cross the street. “Trust me, as soon as you hear it, you won’t be able to unhear it, and it’ll be stuck with you forever. Like, forever and ever, Ashton. It’s amazing.”
I concentrated the rest of the way and was thankful the waiting room was empty when we got there. It didn’t take long before we were in the room and she was laying down on the table with her pants undone.
“Okay, Ashton, come stand next to me so you can experience it all.”
“I’m good right here.”
“You don’t have to look at me, but you’ll want to see the baby.”
This was something I’d never experience myself, so I told myself I was doing this and I walked over and stood next to her.
“You got this, Ashton.”
The doctor came and they chatted for a few minutes before he squeezed the goop on her belly. He turned the machine on and rubbed her belly with a little hand wand thing, and I watched the monitor.
“Okay, let’s find that heartbeat again.”
He moved his hand around her belly while all of us had our eyes on the screen. It was black and white and I couldn’t make anything out, but I could hear swooshing sounds.
“There it is,” the doctor said when a thumping filled the room.
I wasn’t sure about Natalie, but I had goosebumps.
“There’s the head,” the doctor said pointing at the monitor. I heard Natalie sniff, and I looked down at her. Her head was turned toward the monitor and her eyes were filled with tears.
The thumping of his heart, the life of another human being that they made, brought joy and warmth to us.
It was precious.
Thoughts of the baby I never had threatened to take over my thoughts, to harden my heart, to make the pit in my stomach open up and steal all of the butterflies Lincoln created. I shook my head and took a few deep breaths. I had to remind myself to breathe. I looked at Natalie while she watched the monitor, tears leaking from her eyes as she listened to the doctor. I was filled with joy and happiness and it wasn’t even my baby. I was more than happy for her.
I couldn’t imagine what Nick was feeling either. Him listening to the heartbeat all the time, proud of his child already.
I tried not to cry at the thought of Lincoln not having this chance.
Was I taking that away from him?
I don’t see children in my future, our future.
I was told I couldn’t have kids, plus, I didn’t want them.
I can’t be a mother, and I came to that conclusion long ago.
“Wasn’t that amazing!”
Natalie jumped off the table, all smiles. “Well? Wasn’t it amazing.”
I nodded. “Yes. It was special, Natalie. Thank you for making me come with you.”
Ashton ran into the bedroom and stopped right in the middle of the room with a cold stare on her face.
“Do you want kids?”
“What’s going on?” I sat up on the edge of the bed, blinking my eyes a few times, trying to wake up. I had dozed off waiting for her to come back.
“I’ve refused to talk about kids, but now I want to talk about them.”
“Where did she take you?”
“Her doctor’s appointment.”
It’s come up in therapy, but Ashton never wanted to talk about it and I gave that to her because I knew eventually we’d get to the topic.
I guess today was the day.
I had to be honest.
I’m always honest with her.
“Yes, I’d love to have kids.”
“Just great!” She tossed her hands in the air, already defeated. “You might as well get out now, Lincoln.” She turned from me and hugged herself. I knew she was moments away from the darkness. I was able to read her better than she could read herself. I had to power through to reach her before the darkness took her away.
“Ashton, don’t talk like that.”
“I can’t have kids, Lincoln. Too much scar tissue, so you should just leave now before it’s too late.” Her voice sounded so small, like she was impossibly far away from me. I wouldn’t let this drive her away. She’s come so far.
I stood from the bed and went to her. I put my arms around her waist and pulled her to me, her head automatically laid on my chest. “I’m so sorry, Lincoln.”
“Listen to me, Ashton, let my words go in and never come out.” I waited for her to nod, and if I wasn’t waiting for it, I wouldn’t have felt the slightest shift on my chest. “There are many ways to have kids. We can adopt or do foster care for starters. Plus, we can try. Someday we can try, and see what happens.”
She slid her head back, and I placed a gentle kiss on her lips.
“You really love me that much?”
“I’m not going away, Ashton. Never. Nothing you tell me will make me change my mind. We can get through anything.”
“You make me want things I never thought were possible.”
“I love you, Ashton, never doubt me,” I said softly. “Or our relationship. Together, everything is possible. You just have to believe it, take that leap of faith with me.”
“One day you won’t have doubts about anything.”
She smiled. “I already doubt that.”