Romance Fiction posted July 12, 2020

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Give me Twenty

A Marriage Story

by lancellot

“Give me twenty.” Jason leaned forward in his chair; his eyes glued to Mary.

Mary frowned, as she focused on her husband of five years. She stared intently at him as if trying to see through his thick skull at the devious thoughts she knew percolated in his brain.

Unable to read his mind she did the next best thing. She turned to Reverend Williams. “What’s he talking about? Twenty what? Twenty more years, ‘cause the good Lord may take me long before that.”

Reverend Arnold Williams, Mary’s favorite preacher and lifelong confidant calmly looked at the now thirty-four-year-old woman and said, “I haven’t the faintest idea.” He turned his grey bushy brows to Jason Todd, a man he had occasionally seen over five years; Jason, often skipped Sunday church, especially during football season, basketball season, baseball season, and well, most seasons.

Jason held up a hand, to ward off the good Reverend’s relay of his wife’s question. “Mary, you spend three, sometimes four days, a week helping the church.” He quickly raised a finger to stop the defense he knew was hanging on his wife’s lips. “I’m not complaining. You do good work for your congregation and community. Most days I am damn, pardon me, Reverend, I’m mighty proud of you. You spend several hours a week with family, friends, and you work out at least an hour a day. You are a very attractive woman, and there is no shame in admitting that, I think even Reverend Williams will agree that God made women beautiful, at least in part, to please their husbands.” He looked at the old preacher. “Am I good in saying that?”

“Jason, God made Eve from a rib of Adam, not just to be a companion in work, but also to…” The Reverend noticed Jason’s dead eyes. “Yes, um, yes you are correct, my son.”

Jason turned his gaze upon Mary. “I want twenty minutes a day with my beautiful wife just for me.”

The room was silent as the clock on the wall ticked away the seconds and the alternating fan (Rev. Williams did not have air conditioning in his office.) swept the three in a somewhat cooling breeze.

Mary folded her hands in the lap of her blue floral summer dress. She gazed at her husband. “It’s not like I’m not home every day, you have…”

Jason raised his hand again. “Coming here for marriage counseling with Reverend Williams was your idea. I agreed with one condition. That you grant me one request and you swore on your Bible you would honor it. This is my request. I want twenty minutes with my wife when I ask. No church, no family, no Bible, no arguing, no compromising and debates.”

Mary pressed her lips together. “We have real issues, Jason. Having me as your sex slave for twenty minutes a day won’t solve them. It will only make them worse. I am a godly woman. I told you time and again. I am not a whore or a stripper or…”

Jason slammed his hand into the table, but did not jump from his chair.

Mary, Rev. Williams, and the fan all jumped in surprise.

“Now, Mr. Todd there’s no need for…” Rev. Williams began.

Jason glared at the sixty-eight-year-old preacher, causing the older and much smaller man to hold his tongue. At thirty-five Jason was extremely fit. Since leaving the army at thirty for civilian and married life, after Mary became pregnant, Jason had maintained his fitness regimen. The bedroom meant for their child, but went unused for years, was eventually transformed into Jason’s gym. He spent more time in there than he wanted, and the results were not lost on Rev. Williams.

Rev. Williams pulled out a cloth and wiped the sweat from his brow, and said a silent prayer.

Mary rolled her eyes.

Jason took a deep breath. “Mary, believe it or not, right now sex with you is the last thing I want.  No, I’m not saying I don’t love you. I’ve loved you since the day we met, and I loved you even more when we married.” He raised his finger and paused. “And I know, despite what I say, you believe I only married you because you were pregnant, but that wasn’t true then and it’s not true now. I am sorry, terribly sorry we lost the baby. I…”

“I don’t want to talk about that,” yelled Mary rising from her seat. “What we did in sin caused…”

“It was not a sin!” Jason roared and jumped to his feet.

Husband and wife glared at each other with such anger and fury that what little relief the poor fan once created was lost in the rising heat they emitted.

“Now, now,” said Rev. Williams not leaving his seat. He held out open hands to Mary and Jason. “Please, sit, the both of you. There is no need to rehash the past. What is done is done, and dwelling on bygone… decisions, long forgiven through vows of holy matrimony serves no purpose, least not the Lord. Isn’t that right, Sister Todd?”

Mary held her stare down with Jason for a few more seconds before lowering her gaze and sitting down. “Yes, Reverend Williams that is what the Holy Bible says. I apologize for my outburst.”

Jason exhaled but did not sit down and the anger on his face showed no sign of dissipating. His head turned to the door and he stared at the solid wood exit for several seconds before turning his eyes to his wife. “Mary, I meant what I said. I do still love you, but I’ll be honest. I fear it won’t last much longer.”

Mary looked up at her husband. Her lips parted then closed. Her normally hard blue eyes began to water. “Do you… are you asking for a… a divor…”

“Dammit woman!” Jason suddenly dropped to one knee before Mary. He stared into her now tear filled eyes. “I’m asking for twenty minutes of your life. The same life you swore before God to share with me through sickness and in health until death do us part. If you can’t do twenty minutes  then… then I guess we really will be committing one more sin. Is that what you want?”

Mary slowly turned her head away from Jason. “No.”

That night after a near silent dinner, Mary and Jason met in their bedroom.

She slowly and with hesitation opened the buttons on her dress exposing the naked skin beneath. She looked at Jason as he pulled his shirt off, and revealed a stunning display of muscles under tanned skin.

“So,” Mary quietly began, “How… do you want to start tonight’s twenty minutes?”

Jason stepped out his pants and turned to his wife. “Oh, that’s already over.”

Mary blinked and her arms dropped to her side. “What? But, we didn’t… we didn’t do anything.”

Jason stripped off his underwear, and stood naked before his wife. “We had dinner together. We rarely do that anymore, and I enjoyed it.” Jason turned and walked towards the bathroom.

“I see,” said Mary, “can you tell me when it starts from now on?”

 “Okay.” Jason smiled. “I’ll save you some hot water.”

Mary sat on the bed holding her dress closed, as the sound of the shower echoed through the room. She turned and looked at her image in the mirror. “He didn’t want me.”

For the rest of the week Jason requested twenty minutes for breakfast, lunch and dinner together. That Saturday Jason asked, “Spend twenty minutes with me for a walk in the park.”

“Okay, and then we can get some lunch,” Mary replied.

They ended up spending several hours at the park, and Jason was asked and agreed to grant Mary twenty minutes a day requests of her own.

The next four days Jason did not ask for any time but Mary did and they spent hours together watching movies, tending Mary’s garden, and attending short church functions.

One night after they had dinner outside under the stars Jason announced he was going in to take a shower.

“Wait,” said Mary rising from her chair. She stared at her husband, feeling a growing forgotten heat inside. “If… if you’re not going to use your twenty minutes today, why not combine ours, and take a long shower… together?”

Under the warm water some playful fondling, led to kissing, that was followed by stroking, and then some passionate… well let’s just call it long overdue marital bliss in the shower, the bed, and the floor.

Two weeks later one Sunday they went to a Church picnic. They sat together laughing and enjoying the warm day.

Inside the church, not enjoying the picnic, Rev. Williams sat with his fourth couple of the day and thirteenth that week. He was not happy with sudden increase of couples seeking his aid, but rumors had spread, and it was the Lord’s work, so he kept a smile.

“Kimberly, Mike,” Rev. Williams looked at the couple before him. “I suggest that you give each other twenty minutes a day for whatever the other wants to do.” He raised his hand before they could object. “Now, you’ve already promised your lives to each other before God. I think twenty minutes is well within those vows, don’t you?”

"Well, yes," they both answered.

Rev. Williams thought to himself, “Thankfully, plagiarism isn’t one of the Ten Commandments.”

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