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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: November 29, 2020      Views: 78
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Chapter 22 of the book Learning to Swim
Chapter 22
"In Over My Head" by Raffaelina Lowcock

Anna is confronting a dilemma. The problem with her marriage that she is determined to fix and her strong feelings for Nicholas.

In August I did my stint at the Canadian National Exhibition as a Portrait Artist.
Surprisingly, Nicholas showed up and wanted his portrait done.  I said I would prefer not to do friends.  He asked me if I wanted to have lunch with him at the Food Building and I accepted.  This was the beginning of our friendly meetings.

In September, I resumed my Correspondence Course, studying Medieval History and English Composition.  I enrolled at Jarvis Collegiate in a night course of 
English Literature. 

Les said, “I’m okay with you going to school, and the Correspondence Course, but frankly I think it’s unnecessary.”

Unfortunately, a lot of my friends thought it unnecessary as well.  They had graduated from high school, so they didn’t know how it felt knowing how much I didn’t know.

Les's mother said, “It’s childish!” 

I needed to do it because I felt inadequate in my knowledge of many things and this helped me feel more confident, that I was headed in the right direction.  I ignored everyone.  I knew what I needed to do.

Before my English Literature class, I attended a Novena at St. Patrick’s Church every Wednesday at 5 p.m.  A Novena is a commitment of nine weeks, praying for something specific.  I was praying for a normal marriage.   

The friends that had married after Les and me, were already pregnant or had given birth.  I grew so tired of the usual question from friends or my family.  “Still not pregnant?”

Nothing in that department had changed.  And now I had a distinct feeling that Les was indifferent.

On some occasions, I met Nicholas for a coffee or a coke, in a local restaurant, before going to my class.

He was such an interesting person, and we had some meaningful conversations.  He was sharing some of what he was learning along the lines of literature and psychiatry with me.  We both liked jazz and discussed some of the music and musicians.  We both loved poetry and talked about T.S. Eliot and e.e. cummings poems, at length.  As I had told him at our first meeting, I felt so at ease with him.  I felt that rapport.

Little by little, we were getting acquainted and these meetings were how we developed our friendship.  He kept me apprised of his girlfriend Noonie, as well as the different girls he was meeting at the various Frat parties.

He would excitedly say, She’s just so interesting or lovely, about some girl he’d just met, and then I wouldn’t hear any more about her. 

He was a true Casanova.  I soon realized I was fortunate to have been married when I met him because I could see the earmarks of a broken heart!  As it happened, I had tamped down any emotional feeling for him as our friendship grew because I could see that anything along the lines of desire was hopeless, and my aim was friendship. 

I belonged to the New Jazz Society, and so did he.  I had seen him at a few concerts, from afar, as well. 

When the New Jazz Society had an “Open House” one Saturday I asked Les if he’d like to go.  He said,  "Yes."   I thought it would be good if I could introduce Nicholas to Les and he could share in the friendship!

It never happened!  The venue was on Jarvis Street and Les immediately didn’t like that.  Jarvis Street is the Red-Light District in Toronto.  When we got there early, he was quite hesitant to enter and decided,  "No, Anna we're not going."  So that was that.

In the first week of September Nicholas called me at the office.  

That weekend Les and some fellow workers were asked to go to his Uncle Ernie’s cottage to help take the dock in and close it for the winter.

When Nicholas said, “How about visiting my new apartment?”

I said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to come there.”

“Why?  My roommate will be here.  You will be safe, he laughed.”

“Okay, under those circumstances, it should be fine.”

We arranged a time for that weekend.

His roommate, George, was pleasant and after the introduction, he left.  Now we were alone.  This was a little disconcerting.  I looked around the apartment.  It was a typical student's lair.  Books piled on a desk, a chair, a table. A few sweaters draped on the sofa, and backs of chairs.  It looked comfortable.

Nicholas put a forty-five record of Sarah Vaughan on the record player.  The song was Sarah Vaughan's emotionally charged, “Prelude to a Kiss."  He asked me to dance; before I knew it, he was kissing me.  Oh, I just melted into his arms.  I wanted it to last, but I reluctantly pushed him away and said, “Please Nicholas, no.”

He kept holding me and said, “It’s very hard to be platonic, you know that.”

“It’s been working so far.” 

He looked down at me and grinned and shook his head from side to side.  “Yes, but what about the silence.”

I said, “I don’t know what you mean.”

He said “We talk, but what about what you’re not saying?  For all I know, you are a nun.  Obviously, you’re not happy or you wouldn’t need a friend like me.  Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?  Please tell me; who am I going to tell?” 

I was taken by surprise and so I didn’t reply immediately.  I thought about our initial meeting when I had said I needed him to trust me.  He had, so far.  I now felt that I could trust him.

Very haltingly I told him the truth; the whole truth about all the stops and starts, the honeymoon, the hernia, the tonsils, and all the other things that had affected our marriage. I said, “Nicholas, I’m in limbo.”  

He looked at me in disbelief and said “How could he let this happen? This is unbelievable.  Is he normal?” 

“Yes, he is normal, no doubt about that.  It just seems that everything that happened after our marriage, was making our love life difficult.  All the various  things and our inexperience.”

He took my hand with his left hand and sat beside me and put his right arm around me and hugged me to him. 

He said, “I’m speechless. You really must be a nun to put up with this.  You say you’re sure he’s okay?  He’s not, you know__."

I was all choked up, but I didn’t want to cry so I pulled it together.  I said, “Yes, I am sure he’s okay.” 

I looked at him and said “It’s been helpful knowing you and having a diversion.  I am so thankful to have someone like you that I can trust.  I can trust you, right?”

He answered “Absolutely!”

“Do you think these things happen accidentally?  Maybe I have a guardian angel nudging me here and there.”

He said “It was strange, the way we met.  Maybe I’m supposed to help you.”  


“I could provide the experience,” he said

“Oh no, you don’t!  I’m married to Les, and he’ll be the first, and only, no doubt about that.”

“You can’t blame me for trying.”

He got up and turned the record over and then Sarah Vaughan’s voice boomed,

 “I don’t know why but I’m feeling so sad, I long to try something I’ve never had.”  

Now, I thought, I’d better go.

I asked where the washroom was and went in and threw water on my face, I was so warm.  When I returned, I said, “I think I’d better get going, it’s a long way home.”  

He said, “I was hoping you could stay longer.” 
“Nicholas, I’m not a nun and I’m definitely not a saint.  I’m sorry to leave, believe me I must.” 

I knew I wouldn’t last much longer, especially now that he knew.  Was it a mistake to tell him; I really couldn’t say, but it felt right.

He took my hands in his and his beautiful eyes scanned my face.  He then said “I’ve got a lot to think about.  I hope you’re successful soon.  Now I’m going to be thinking about you a lot more.”

I said “Nice. Bye” and stood on my toes and pulled him down a bit so I could kiss him on the cheek.  “Thanks for understanding.”

In the taxi, on my way home I mused, Thank God he is a true gentleman.

To be continued…



The book continues with Plying the Waves. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Anna warily realizes how deep her attachment to Nicholas, is becoming and attempts to diffuse it.
Pays one point and 2 member cents. Artwork by Susan F. M. T. at

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