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Albuquerque (Inspired by Arlinda)
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EXCERPT: On a warm wintry morning in southern Nevada, south of a legendary sinful city whose body heat and lights drown the night, the glow of the sun just below the eastern horizon bean to drive the shadows from the lonely gray desert.

A solitary figure, as stiff and motionless as an ancient cactus, faced the growing purifying sunlight with closed eyes.

The man was of average height, a little on the pudgy side, and his short, once jet-black hair was now heavily streaked with gray. His pock marked brown face, weathered by pitiless time and endless harsh trials of life, was deeply lined.

He remembered a chilly Colorado spring morning one year before when vague, undefined shadows overwhelmed the flickering spark of love that he allowed for the first time in decades.

“I’m a married woman,” the small woman with shoulder length auburn hair reminded him as they stood outside on a third story patio, though she left her husband in Indiana years before to live in the Southwest, where he met her. She later moved to Colorado when offered a job, where they met again. “I can’t have a relationship with anyone. I can’t be a lover until I’m divorced.”

He collapsed with agonized, burning tears, unable to believe that her warm caring light was to be eclipsed in the aftermath of his anger at her misplaced words that she tried to, but couldn’t, explain days before…

“There’s someone else,” she started to say, after he called to ask her, when an inner voice whispered suspicions to him.

“I should have known,” he whispered harshly as he trembled in shock and leaned against his desk. He thought of the roses he had given her, the times they went to dinner, the countless times they held hands, and their constant hugs. He thought of the early mornings when they talked quietly by telephone. Yet she would never kiss him, though she always let him circle her face with his loving kisses. “What a fool I’ve been, what a fool I’ve been.”

“No, no, it’s not like that,” she protested, but he hung up.

Over a period of months they had grown closer than either one expected, especially him. He couldn’t believe a cultured and educated woman like her could be attracted to him…

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