Stay With Me Awhile (repeat)

By Gina Williams

February 15, 2016

Stay With Me Awhile (repeat)

In honor of Valentine's Day, please enjoy this selection from the Beautiful Things archives....

When Pete at last called Helen to request a visit, she said yes with both reluctance and anticipation.

They hadn't seen one another since her diagnosis. Pete was her last boyfriend and because she was terminal, would always be the final man in her life, the only remaining thread of sexuality, desire.

She seemed angry he'd waited so long to call. "I know he's just afraid of… know, it being difficult," she said. "But hell, I am too."

I worried as well. The thievish disease robbed her a little more each day of a kind, old Hollywood glamour she'd always projected. By now, Helen was gaunt and jaundiced, the cancer in her pancreas raging unchecked. I worried that Pete might be revolted, too shocked to be kind.

On the day of his visit, I did Helen's makeup, spritzed Chanel No. 5 onto her wrists, and held the mirror while she frosted her lips with Rouge Noir from a gold case.

Pete came to the door with a mixed bouquet looking frightened. He shuffled inside and we exchanged awkward pleasantries before I closed the door to the sick room, leaving my great aunt and her former lover to say goodbye.

I felt sick, waiting for it to be over.

After Pete left, Helen took my hand, pulled me close.

"He kissed me," she beamed, her face, lit up and blooming petals into her cheeks as if she’d received an infusion of fresh, healthy blood.

"He kissed me on the lips."


Originally posted August 10, 2015

Photo "wild 6" provided by Lianne Nichols, via creative commons license.

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