TITLE: These Two Seas
GENRE: Upmarket Women's Fiction
Amelia and Paul have been meeting for dinner once a week for four months, but can’t seem to move past a hot meal and conversation. She’s ready to quit, until a chance question prompts him to reveal a closely-guarded secret. He has just told her that he worked on the German chemical weapons program during World War I.
Paul turned and pulled back the curtain. His reflection wavered against a backdrop of shadowy trees. He touched his head to the glass.
“I was wrong,” he said. “The work I did was not the work of God; it was the work of the devil. I did not deserve forgiveness. I asked for mercy, but God took my wife and child. They paid for my sins. But anymore I cannot go to the church and make the rituals. If there is a God he does not hear my prayers.”
Amelia crossed herself. “Are you saying you don’t believe in God?”
The answer was almost inaudible. “I do not know.”
She let go of the rocking chair, stepped forward, and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
His eyes were dark when he turned around, dark like the shadows under the tree outside, dark like the center of a gas flame. He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. She tasted onions and cinnamon and cherry tobacco on his breath. His beard scratched her face. And when his lips touched hers, a current ran straight to her core. She floated, weightless, outside time and space. The chair, the window, the room ceased to exist. There was only that kiss.
Paul broke away, a look of horror on his face. “ Mój Boże! Es tut mir leid. I must go.”
He was at the hall closet before Amelia could speak. She ran after him, but he yanked out his coat and jerked open the front door. “Forgive me,” he said, from the landing. The door banged shut.