Paradise Lost

 

I was reading Frank O’Connor’s, The Lonely Voice, trying to learn about the art of short story writing, when I arrived at the chapter entitled The Price of Freedom. O’Connor is exploring the work of A. E. Coppard. In the midst of his exploration of A Wild Goose Chase, in which a man (Martin Beamish) who has a desire to, and the money to separate from his wife decides to take the plunge. He pays the amount required to support her, and then happily begins his new life of freedom. However his time alone is wasted as he never had any definite plan other than to get away from her. So he decides to take her back.

Unfortunately she is not waiting with open arms. In his absence she has taken off to the Riviera to study. While there she apparently meets someone else but she agrees to return to her husband. He doesn’t really believe the ‘other man’ story anyway, believing instead that she simply invented her lover. However he does find her more alluring. According to O’Connor, “Athalie’s  mystery is the essence of her beauty. Lost, she becomes alluring again, rediscovered she becomes a bore.”

When hubby came up to bed I put the book down.

“Darling,” I said, “I think we should separate.”

He looked at me startled. “What in God’s name are you reading or writing now.”

“Nothing much,” I lied. “I was just thinking.”

“So where would we live?” He asked beginning to get interested.

“You could stay here and I’ll go somewhere and become a writer.” Unlike Martin Beamish I had a plan. “Do you think we could afford it?”

I was really hoping to see devastation on his face. The idea of losing me would be too tragic for him to bear. He’d immediately be overcome with my new mysterious persona which would simply make me more alluring.

He sat down on the edge of the bed his head in his hands and when finally he looked up at me I could see the desolation I was expecting cloud his face. I was beginning to regret my suggestion. He seemed shattered,

“God Et,” he said, “we could never afford that.”

And then in an instant his face lit up. “But I can go talk to the bank manager first thing in the morning.”

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