FICTION SERIAL (part twenty four): The Sad History of One Man’s Marriage

Julia James remembers her husband Colonel Dixon James as a young man during the war.

“Do you think you can save me, you stupid little fool?” Julia asked and emptied her glass.

Katherine tried to go, but Julia pulled her back.

“You and your husband sicken me, but you already know that. You’re like my parents—meant to be. Dixon was a good man when I met him. My parents loved him. He wanted to be a teacher of all things after the war, but I had my heart set on marrying a military man so he stayed in. My father,” Julia cried, “he was a lovely man, but he used to let me drink with him sometimes on the sly. It was our secret, but when he stopped drinking, well, I never could. I never wanted to. I ran off with a boy from the 2nd New Jersey—a bounty jumper—he was the bees knees,” Julia said bitterly. “I would marry him and show my parents how well I could do on my own. Such a stupid cliche story. Dixon was away being brave and all of that. We were engaged, but I went with the other boy.

“After, my mother took me to a midwife, and she scraped and flushed me out so hard. I’d never be able to feel anything but pain. Dixon loved me and didn’t even realize that half of the time I was drunk. The midwife said the pain would go, but it didn’t. Dixon assumed I must be shy those first few nights of our marriage, and he sort of liked that. But one night when I had gotten us tight—he wasn’t much for drink back then—he looked at me. I showed him what that midwife had done and at first he didn’t know what to think—he had saved himself for marriage! But then I just told him in my drunken misery—just laid it out plain…that I had been poked by another soldier and there could be no children, no pleasure between us.”

“You shouldn’t be telling me this, Julia,” Katherine said, shaken.

“But you listen. I don’t like you, but you really listen,” Julia explained as she poured another drink and ran her fingers over the rim of the glass. “Have you ever taken a drink, Katherine Weldon?”

“Yes.”

“Why can you control it, and I can’t? I used to try to stop, and Dixon would allow himself to hope. We avoided people. Dixon gave up his staff job, but I would always slip and in time I dragged Dixon with me. I know the colonel would have stopped long ago if it wasn’t for me, but for some reason, somehow he still loves me in a way. Or maybe I’ve become his habit along with all the other habits I’ve led him to,” Julia said, holding her face shakily. “I told him he looked old and called him a drunk and a failure one too many times, and he hit me with everything in him and ran off. All while my father lay dying.”

***Watch for the fully re-edited version of my novel THE HOUSE ON TENAFLY ROAD to be released soon! In the meantime enjoy some tasty bits:

PART ONE HERE

PART TWO HERE

PART THREE HERE

PART FOUR HERE

PART FIVE HERE

PART SIX HERE

PART SEVEN HERE

PART EIGHT HERE

PART NINE HERE

PART TEN HERE

PART ELEVEN HERE

PART TWELVE HERE

PART THIRTEEN HERE

PART FOURTEEN HERE

PART FIFTEEN HERE

PART SIXTEEN HERE

PART SEVENTEEN HERE

PART EIGHTEEN HERE

PART NINETEEN HERE

PART TWENTY HERE

PART TWENTY ONE HERE

PART TWENTY TWO HERE

PART TWENTY THREE HERE

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