This story contains sexually explicit scenes.
“Don’t touch that!”
I grabbed my hand back and swallowed my fear. My father had never talked like that to me before. The room was full of books. Why was this one in a drawer? Curiosity was stronger than fear then, so I had to ask, “Why?”
“Because I said so!”
Even curiosity understood the finality of those words. I was ten then. Now I’m thirty, and my father is gone.
But my hand still quavered, and my heart still pounded as I opened his desk. I reached for the forbidden book with my mother’s words echoing, “Take any books you want, dear.”
It wasn’t a secret diary, as I’d imagined at ten, or “Delta of Venus,” as I’d imagined much later. It was Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” A first edition. And scribbled on the inside cover:
To love and win is the best thing
To love and lose is the next best thing.
I glanced around to see if my mother was watching before slipping the book into my pile, under a copy of Grisham’s latest.
Later, with misty eyes, I helped pack my father’s clothes. And curiosity found its feet again.
“Mom, why didn’t Aunt Alex ever get married?”
Copyright © 2002 by Desdmona.