Fiction

The Heartbreaking, and Warming, Story of Angie and Her Neighbors

The journey that took a couple across decades to stare at their former selves.

Editorial Rights Purchased from Skynesher via iStock Photos

Angie and Tim’s story began through the sheer chance of two people sitting by each other. They sat through predictably-boring freshman orientation. Tim asked her mundane questions he already knew the answer to. He nodded in gratitude as she explained. He whispered a few bad jokes that she graciously laughed at.

From there, Tim found reasons to bump into her at various junctions. He eventually confronted the awe-inspiring terror of asking a woman out and succeeded. There were no games or illusions. Bound by laughter and conversation, their courtship moved forward by mutual feelings and earnest intent. They enjoyed each other's company free from the stress of impression-making and excessive honesty.

Life becomes one hallmarked by maturity

They met when they could, going for walks along winding paths in parks. Quite quickly, they became intimate, savoring each other’s touch at every opportune moment.

They were each other’s firsts and, in this life, each other’s last. Two years in, he asked Angie another question he knew the answer to, “Will you marry me?”

Their wedding was a joy-filled ceremony. They later had children, who they raised into productive young adults. As years went by, they thrived, explored, and occasionally struggled. Theirs was a strong marriage. Tim was a good partner when it counted. He was unquestionably loyal but disagreed when it mattered most. He was industrious, kind, and generous with his time. He was a present father and a studious husband.

Many marriages crumbled around them across four decades. They remained an exception to society’s bleak outlook on enduring love.

After their children left home, Angie and Tim downsized and moved into a complex where they planned to simplify life after years of juggling so many things. Early retirement offered many luxuries they’d waited for: routine, pressure-free time, shared exercise, and various indulgences.

Although Angie and Tim were by most definitions, a great marriage. One thing took a hit: their love life. Angie’s body had diminished. Years, stress, gravity, and childbearing, took their toll. It bothered her but never ruined her life. Angie had received the memo on aging. Angie’s husband endured much of the same. But the dynamic between them soon took on a different contrast.

Reflections of a past gone by

A new and much younger couple moved into the apartment next door. It was a tall, athletic, handsome man, and his girlfriend, who was equitably attractive.

She had long, straight, flowing brown hair and big, round eyes. Her boyfriend had short, curly brown hair, with romanesque, striking facial features. They were an unusually dashing pair.

Angie and Tim learned they shared a bedroom wall with them, as the two wasted no time broadcasting their romantic affairs. Soft purs drifted through the wall, whispering to Angie and Tim. They laid in bed smiling, staring at the ceiling while periodically glancing at each other. The purs ascended and descended, accented by shouts between silences.

Angie grinned in her frustration. She never thought she’d be that person, with that kind of neighbor. As moans pulsed louder, Angie and her husband laughed about it in the darkness. The following week, it happened again. And the next week, again the same.

The initial humor of the predicament devolved into a sad reminder of their past selves. Angie turned her head and looked at her once studly husband. A thick head of hair, sparkling smile, and firm body had greeted her the day they met. He now rested, bald, snoring, with his beer belly hanging to the side, a sign of the shared hit that Lady Time had dealt.

Angie wasn’t looking for a modelesque young man. She was quite content with the man next to her. Nor did she have aspirations to match the moans next door. But she did hope for a glimmer of what was once there.

Meeting the other couple

One month later, Angie bumped into the couple in the complex hallway. The three of them stood, smiling and talking. The pair were both very kind and articulate. The boyfriend was wearing a sleeveless workout shirt and shorts. His girlfriend, in one of those skimpy, trendy, workout outfits, showing off her sprightly curves and softly defined abs, but not overdoing it. Angie didn’t mention anything about the noises. It could wait.

They spoke for a couple of minutes, making small talk and having an overdue conversation. They parted ways.

Angie liked the couple. They were as nice as one could hope for in a neighbor. She hoped to see them again. And boy did she. In the coming months, Angie saw the couple everywhere. They held hands in the park, kissed near the elevator, and hung on each other like monkeys as they came and went from the building. Their young love on full display at every street corner, every doorway, paraded in front of Angie’s happy, comfortable, minimally passionate marriage.

Angie couldn’t help but smile at how taken they were with each other. There was endearing magic to their young love. But the juxtaposition stung as the two sex-kittens howled through the night in pleasure, as her husband snored.

The moans continued. At least once a week, orgasmic sounds pushing through their bedroom walls. Angie learned to just put a pillow over her ear and go to sleep.

She occasionally felt longings for the same, as her husband vegetated in front of the TV, occasionally turning and smiling at her with that same stupid grin she had fallen for decades prior. She couldn’t help but smile back. Angie loved him dearly.

Everything changed in an instant

Months later, Angie realized something. Somewhere along the way, the moans had stopped. The howls had gone away. Then, when she thought further, she realized she hadn’t seen the cute couple in some time. They had stopped walking together, holding hands. She hadn’t seen them kissing in the hallway, by the elevator, by the door.

Angie had seen the girl, but only a few times, and only briefly from a distance. The girl seemed to be keeping a low profile. Angie couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the couple. Had they broken up? A part of Angie even missed the mild jealousy they evoked in her.

Several months later, Angie finally bumped into the girlfriend by the elevator. She looked different. Her face was sunken. Her energy had changed.

As the elevator door closed, Angie struck up a conversation. She began working her way towards the question. Then, Angie smiled and asked, “So how is your boyfriend doing? I have not seen you two in a while.”

The girl suddenly went flat and quiet across her face. She looked down. Then up. And with a pained, forced smile, that masked a deep sadness, she said, “I apologize. I guess I should have told you. He passed away. There was a terrible car accident. A truck lost control on the freeway.”

Angie felt mortified. A feeling of shock rolled her. She immediately began apologizing and offering her condolences. The young, sad, still-beautiful woman reassured Angie that it was okay. She apologized for not saying anything sooner, explaining how difficult everything had been.

And shortly thereafter, they parted ways. Angie walked down the hallway, towards her apartment, lost in thought.

Angie had lived for many years. She had seen many things. But she was again reminded of how cruel life can be, coming and taking things from people, without warning, malice, or mercy. It was an important reminder of how fragile our time on this Earth is.

That day, Angie walked through the doorway to her home.

She closed the door behind her. She turned and saw her husband waiting for her. And she was never more grateful to see that pot-bellied man, and his stupid grin, that she had fallen in love with all those years ago.

Quality over quantity. That guy from Quora. Enjoy? Follow for more. https://seanjkernan.substack.com/ Open to gigs www.seanjkernan.com

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