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“HOW ABOUT A hug?” he says.

“Okay,” she replies. It comes out as a sigh. She’s mad at him. She doesn’t want to, but that engaging quirk of his lip takes some of the steam out of her. She relaxes a little. They come together. The hug is silent, warm, and tingly and costs them nothing. It brings a smile to both peoples lips.

“We should do this more often,” she says.

“It does have a leavening effect on our relationship, doesn’t it?”

“Yes. I forgot what I was mad at you about.”

“Must have been awful,” he says, still holding on.

It comes to her. She’s never far from the moment, not ever. She operates on a different level from him and he idly wonders as the next statement spills from her mouth, if living in the moment one hundred percent wouldn’t be better than coming to it as he does, kind of sidelong, detached, transported into it rather than being there.

He’s not going to change. She’s not going to change. The thought is absurd in the circumstance, and yet it does not surprise him. It’s who he is.

She says, “You’re a beast, you know.”

“Moi?” his mispronounced French is his signature. The tone of voice softens the word. Maybe they can talk this new thing out with more light and less heat. His indiscretion couldn’t be monolithic, after all.

“Yes, but I’ll save it until the next time.”

“That sounds a bit more like you.” He can’t help it. He should not have uttered the words but they came out. Like the voice of doom, it goads her.

“Just what do you mean by that?” Item: feelings can change in a heartbeat.

She can get so…er…find a good term…moody sometimes, he thinks. Two steps back, but he responds adroitly. “It is my dear, one of the things I love about you.”

“And what is that?” She moves away from his embrace and stands still in the kitchen, but the impression of her words is all hands on hips. Her hackles are right back up again.

Dig out; dig deeper? He gives it a shot.

“The straightforward honesty you project in all things. I had a wife who stabbed me in the heart, but I never saw it coming. She was devious and dishonest. You are not. It may hurt to hear what you have to say, but at least you are up front. Thank you for that.”

This from one imperfect soul to another, he thinks but does not say.

He has alluded to her first husband obliquely. This is part of a strategy that has worked in the past and he knows she will recognize it. She’s not perfect and she accepts that on a personal level, but to admit it in a confrontational situation wouldn’t be her.

They are both running true to form. Their knowledge of each other and how they parry is classic. They have had many years together and know one another as much as two people can. Although the outcome is not preordained, they are giving it their best shots, and they know their fail-safe points.

All that he said came from his heart. He hoped she would accept it as being honest and forthright.

She ponders a few moments, her face impassive, and then says, “Okay, husband. Look, I have shopping and we’re going out later to a movie. We’d better seal this with another hug, don’t you think?

Gets right to it! We embrace. He relaxes. She is healed and he is no longer raw.

She goes her way. He goes his. A potential rift is sealed. He gets to thinking it over and decides that appreciation is oft-times better molded into a scene than spoken. It’s a healthier way. Words are cheap. Actions speak louder than any professed uttering. They have the same meaning as the spoken word, but are more permanent.

A good result is unbeatable. He thinks that we all stand on the head of a pin and balance is the only force that keeps us from the abyss. He likes that thought.

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