FAILURE • by Elina Michaels

“It has never happened to me before in my life!” He turned on a lamp, sat on his side of the bed and dropped his hands in his lap.

“I know, honey, I know. It’s not your fault.” She slipped from under the covers, moved closer to him and enveloped him in a tight embrace.

“I’ve been doing it for the last 40 years, and never before did I fail…” His voice trailed off.

She leaned her head against his shoulder and held him close. “Darling, you are not a failure, you’re simply tired. You need rest.”

“I could do it when I was tired before. Remember the time when I worked two jobs? But every night when I got home…” He began to sob.

“Yes, of course, I remember. You always amazed me. But, you’re under so much stress now.” She rocked him gently stroking his hair.

“Oh, I don’t know. I never thought it could happen to me! Me of all people!”

“But, honey, you’re not a young boy anymore, things happen.”

“You think I am old?” His sobbing continued.

“No, no, I didn’t mean that, but, you know, you are going through lots of changes.” She found a tissue and handed it to him.

“I feel so ashamed.” He blew his nose and rose from the bed.

“Darling, don’t be ashamed. I am sure it happens more often than you think.” She put on a robe and stood near him as if consoling a child. “With a change of scenery and a little rest you’ll be your old self.”

Grasping at straws, he asked, “Do you think therapy will help?” and looked to her for answers like an insecure child who required adult reassurance

“You don’t need therapy! You need a break!” Her voice full of compassion, she massaged his shoulders and back.     “Please, don’t get so wound up. It happened to Rob.”

“How do you know? He never mentioned it to me.” Surprised he stopped sobbing and looked at her inquisitively.

“Yes, it did happen to Rob. I was in their kitchen when Helen brought it up and they joked about it.” She faced him and began unbuttoning his shirt. “Even Mike didn’t escape it. I heard it from both of his ex-wives.”

“Don’t tell me Sydney had it. I won’t believe you.” Astounded he didn’t resist when she removed the shirt from both of his arms.

“But of course! Remember when she went abroad for a year? She was cured within a month. And it never came back.”    

“Unbelievable! This is the first I’ve heard this! How come you never told me?”

“It never came up until now.” She undid his belt, helped his pants off and dropped her robe to the floor. “You don’t talk to a writer about writer’s block until you absolutely have to.” Her nightgown followed her robe.  “Now, let’s find some new material, shall we?”

Born on Sakhalin Island in the Far East of Russia, Elina Michaels grew up in northern Russia beyond the Arctic Circle. She moved to the US in 1980 and now lives in Highland Park with her husband and four daughters.

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