In Fear of the L-Word

By Christian Verotik

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece is several years old by now and was developed in Verotik’s writing group. He’s kept it to himself, but felt ready to reveal it. I hope you like it as much as we do. — Charlie)

They live in a glass house, with a floor made up of stones, but they need not fear. It works well for the woman, for she does not like to be the one to throw objects of reality, and she does not fear him, for he knows better than to throw his stones in their house made of glass. So, together they live, trapped in a life inside a glass house. It isn’t so bad for her, as she knows that she need never fear, for the reason stated earlier. He is the one who must forever walk on eggshells, for she can react in her own way, but he is never allowed to act in his way. It’s not all pleasantry for her though, for you see, she absolutely abhors him. He once loved her, but he’s no longer sure of that word, mostly because all the stones must forever lay on the ground, never to be touched by his hands. This is the life they live, inside their glass house, all because they live in fear of the L-word.

It started innocently enough. She was recovering from a bad marriage, he recovering from a bad case of alcoholism. Both were in need of companionship and a shoulder to lean on. They met mostly by chance, one fine Spring day, and they both seemed almost happy for a time. This was before they ever thought about the abysmal L-word. Together, they built up a fine house for themselves, a beautiful looking house made of fine glass, with pretty-colored stones to make up the floor. They quickly moved into their new home, never thinking about the repercussions of what would happen should they ever happen upon the L-word.

For months on end, they lived together in happiness. Mostly because they could look out their many windows to see the world outside, but they need never fear that world outside ever again. Both of them wanted to lock themselves away from the outside world, and they seemed to have done that task together. Then, the nagging started. Then, the abuse started. She wanted to control his every thought and action. He wanted to pound his fists against the walls and throw his stones, but he could not. She grew angry any time he did not follow her instructions or live his life around her. Her anger came out by ignoring him, by avoiding him. It was the worst anger in the world for a man who reacted by throwing stones. He wanted nothing more than to pick up the stones along the floor and begin to fling them this way and that, but he had to always remain calm, for he knew better than to ever break the precious glass. This is the way they lived for many months on end, and they were no longer happy in the least.

Finally, one day, she had had enough and decided to leave. It being her right to decide to do this and not his because he lived with the all-consuming need to throw just one stone, but this he could never do. So, he always stayed, and now, she decided to go. She opened one glass window and prepared to step out, when she stopped and sniffed the outside breeze blowing in, it froze her. “It… It smells of something…” she gasped, “Yes… it is… it is the smell of L.” She slowly let herself back into the house. She glared at the man who she had learned to abhor, but still she closed the window and sat down on the couch.

When finally she talked to the man again, she explained that she had never before thought about the world outside of their glass house, that it was full of the L-word. The man began to tremble a bit, “Not the L-word! I had never even stopped to consider the L-word! How did the world become so infected with L since our time in this house?” It was the end of the discussion, and from that moment onward, they learned to hate each other more and more.

He would yell and yell at the top of his lungs, but she locked herself away where the noise could not reach her, and since the stones were out of the question, he was left with no choice in the matter, except to suffer. She came to grow angrier and angrier more often with the man, not even stopping to try to understand the little things or tiny mistakes which he did; her anger at him was now all-consuming. This was the life they led. Many times they wanted to get out of this lifestyle, but every time they thought about it, the realization came about what was out there, they thought about L.

He came to fear L so much, that he made the decision in his mind to never leave her, no matter how painful it became, a life of helplessness was better than a life of L. She was not so sure in her mind. She couldn’t stand the thought of one more night in the glass house or one more day spent with him, and believed that nothing could be worse. Nothing, that is, until she reached her head through an open window and smelled the L-word on the breeze. Every time, that smell. She recoiled in fear and set firm in her mind that she could last a little longer with him. She kept fooling herself into believing that one day the L-word would not permeate the outside world so heavily, and she could finally leave her sickening life behind. He had no such false pretenses left in his mind, he knew that the L would never go away again, and sometimes he wondered what would be worse, for her to leave or to face this tortuous life one more day? He never fooled himself for long, he could never face L, and deep down he hoped she would never leave, because this life could never be as bad as L. Besides, this wouldn’t be such a bad life at all, if only he could throw just one stone…

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