Marlene

Marlene lived a life of longing and loneliness. She was enamored with love and spent her days studying the fine art of courtship as intently as she studied history scholarship. Every day she awoke before the sun with a stoic determination that was rivaled only by the previous day’s display. She coiffed her hair carefully, parting it at the side to add just the right amount of coyness to the finger wave that rested just above her jawline. Her eyebrows were penciled in meticulously, forever resting in a graceful arch awaiting the right time to morph into the appropriate reaction. Her lips were a chameleon draped in hues of red and orange; languorous coquettes that strove to ensnarl their victim in a trap of soft curves and sharp edges. Her hips were also a cherished apprentice. They eagerly mimicked every sway and rhythm known to hypnotize the male gaze and loins.

Marlene was by no means beautiful; but there was no denying that she was sweet and caring with just the right amount of eccentricity to be interesting. Unfortunately, this was not enough to entrap an errant lover. As a debutante she ignored her disquietude for she knew that even the modest blooms of every season were plucked and showcased after the pompous blooms had withered away.

Seasons came and went as she waited her turn. Patiently. Devoutly. She witnessed the wedding of her first love, and experienced the disappointment of learning that her second love was a veritable dandy. By the time her sixth love made his appearance she was sure that her time had come. She returned to the schoolroom to master his favorite pastimes: photography, travel, sports, and beautiful women. She adopted his preferred patina and feigned enjoyment of his favorite whiskey. She was ready for undying love. He was not. Marlene watched as he paraded on his arm woman after woman, some for longer periods of time than others, but all with the same undoubted finality of temporariness.

Three years she waited in limbo until the day he announced that he was ready to settle. The fortunate woman, unquestionable owner of his rogue heart, was a mystery to all but Marlene. She shimmied and charmed, batted her eyelashes and fan, and effortlessly inserted compliments and verses into every conversation. His ego swelled and her heart held its breath. Her dreams took flight, levitating her spirit with an ease that had lain dormant for years. Soon she’d wear the lace veil that had graced her grandmother’s crown, and rule with equanimity the confines of his domain.

Marlene waited another year with more patience than before, comfortable in the knowledge that she’d have a lifetime to savor her prize. By the time the fifth year made its appearance without the accompaniment of his professed love, her unfaltering confidence began to waver. His eyes still roamed incessantly and although they frequently fell on her, they never lingered long enough to notice her.

She continued her wait until the seventh year when he awoke one morning and decided that the sensual brunette tangled in his sheets would bear his name and children. They married two months later. Marlene attended their wedding. She showered them with rice and well wishes, and even gave a speech.

At the end of the ceremony she mourned her loss with a soulful sigh that carried nearly a decade of misplaced hope. She wondered what sign she had missed and resolved to be more attentive the next time her true love came to claim her. She pulled a weathered tome from the shelf and nestled herself in her couch. There is always a tomorrow made possible by a today, she hummed.

———
“Marlene” by Azul Serena

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