She was sat by herself on the beach. It wasn’t a place most people would find suitable for loneliness, but not Anna. She drew some comfort from the presence of others even if she didn’t have their company. For a socially awkward introvert, this was more than enough dose of human contact. She opened a bottle of wine and poured herself a glass, then she reached for her bag to retrieve her pen and book of poems. She began to scribble
That was when he appeared. Leo was the type of man she had only imagined existed in her fantasies or in some super advanced science lab where they worked on creating genetically perfect futuristic humans. Nevertheless, she greeted him with the kind of nonchalance that suggested she barely noticed his intrusion. He smiled at her pretend cool. He wasn’t exactly vain, but he was all too aware of his physical attributes. On so many occasions women had pointed them out to him and even when he tried to act modestly it did nothing to ease their excitement.
‘You’re here alone? Are you like the stereotypical depressed writer?’ he asked.
‘I actually don’t like people very much. I like being by myself. You don’t have to be depressed to enjoy your own company.’ She said.
‘I’m sorry. I was just trying to make conversation. You would think at my age I’d be a lot better at this.’
‘Apology accepted.’ She flashed him a courteous smile and went back to her writing.
‘What are you writing about?’
Before she could decide if to lie about the subject of her latest poem he had a peek at her first line.
‘Love…a shout into a void.’ he quoted.
‘That’s really rude.’ She covered her scanty page.
‘Relax, you are on the beach you know.’ He sat right next to her. Deep down she did not mind his company at all, in fact, she was inviting it. But she had started on this mean streak. She had to see it through, at least until he broke it.
‘I’m sure you can learn a thing or two about love from me. My older brother is a writer. Sometimes he has discussions with me just to find inspiration. I promise I am not as shallow as you might think.’
Leo was used to people associating his good looks with a shallow personality. It didn’t help matters that he was well groomed either. He could only imagine the frustration of so many good looking women. The idea of a sexy and intelligent woman was an oxymoron to so many men.
‘Okay, Smarty Pants. What do you know about love?’
‘I know that love is not a feeling, it’s a decision. A choice we enter and have to keep deciding if we want to stay with or not.’
She was taken by surprise by how far from the generic idea his explanation was. Maybe he actually did have something for her to consider.
‘Sure poets and playwrights can paint us pictures to pull our heart strings, but the stage of love they explain is just infatuation. There is even a word for it. It’s called Limerance. But I’m sure you knew that. Studies actually show a rise in oxytocin production in this stage. Crazy stuff.’ He said.
‘Yes, I’ve heard the word. But I’m not sure I know what oxytocin is. I hated biology class.’ She said.
‘At least you know it’s a biology thing. It’s also called the “cuddle hormone”. Women especially secrete it when cuddled. And also, a whole lot when pregnant. They say it helps create that mother and child bond. It’s also why a guy should never cuddle a girl after sex if he has no plans to call her again.’
‘I’ll keep that in mind. So you think the whole dreamy phase of love that most people appear to be addicted to and believe to represent what love should feel like is just a hormonal high?’
‘I couldn’t put it better if I tried.’ he said.
‘So what becomes of love when the veil of hormones is lifted?’ she asked.
‘You know this phase can run from as little as three months to as long as three years. But when that Jones comes down, we actually face the reality of our partner. All those traits and differences we naturally dislike but easily overlooked actually come up to be dealt with.’ He said, then eyed her bottle of wine.
‘How rude of me. Do you want a glass? I mean,
I only brought one glass, but I assure you I brushed my teeth this morning.’
They both laughed and he took a swig of what she was drinking.
‘This is delicious. I’m taking the bottle with me.’ He said. She poured them a refill.
‘In the long run, a lot of people think love can be measured by how much we are willing to give or some kind of emotion we feel. I think it is best measured by how much you can actually stand parts of the other person that make you want to kill them. When we make a choice to accept a person despite their perceived negatives, we make a choice to love them.’ He took another swig.
‘How interesting. I hope you have nowhere to be because this conversation is far from over.’ She said.
‘I don’t even think my friends would notice I’m gone.’