Rebirth: Chapter ii - The Stranger by Roy Neyman

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He realized that his moments of pleasure occurred almost exclusively in her presence these days. Sign after sign in his life told him he wasn't where he was supposed to be. Marcy was a true and wholesome haven within which he sheltered. He knew with utmost confidence that, like so many other men wrapped in the cliché of their late forties, he wasn't sure how he'd gotten to this point and damn well didn't know how to do much more than just drift beyond it.

Yes, Marcy was right. At the same time, she was smart enough not to dissect the topic much more deeply than her initial inquiry. She knew this was something Anderson had to work out for himself. The solution would, she hoped, include her as well.

Why was it that most of the women Anderson knew seemed to be so confident of their niche in life? Somehow, as they began to break free, however slightly or recently, from the domestic bonds of motherhood and wifedom, women were enjoying both the liberty of remolding their expectations of the world and reshaping the world's expectations of them. It occurred to Anderson that somewhere in their escape from home to work place, the other half of humanity was forging an opportunity to define themselves without boundaries. Their very transformation held within it the chance to broaden their role beyond any possible stereotype. Why did he feel so stuck?

Anderson reeled his far ranging thoughts back in. "I haven't been much fun lately, have I sweetie? I'm sorry." He shifted towards her, slipping his fingers along the nape of her neck and upwards into her deep brown hair, feeling its liquid satin flowing across his hand. He drew her down to him so that their lips could linger together a moment in a light, warm, rose bud kiss.

He didn't need to elaborate for her since he'd often related his workplace anecdotes for her inspection. Instead he swept away the drizzle of his professional unhappiness with a line of conversation that blossomed out of his waking thoughts.

"I just had the strangest feeling. It was as if," he had to stretch for the image, "...as if I'd only just arrived in this life. Oh, I know who I am and where I am, where I've been and all that, but now it's somehow like I'm, ...what? Not a spectator. More like a referee. I'm not in the game, but I'm not just watching either. I have some vested interest, but more in how the game is played than in its outcome."

"You're not going schizoid on me now, are you dear?" Marcy teased. "I can't afford to put you into a home at such an early age, so I guess I'll just have to move out."

Anderson ignored the jibe. "How many people go through life wondering just what in the heck their purpose is? I think about that all the time. You do, too!"

"Yeah," she answered more seriously. "I've even been thinking about going back to work."

"That's not what I mean," he said. As strange as it seemed, her early retirement was not turning out to be so much more satisfying than her very successful, but stress-laden career. "It's not just a matter of filling time, or making money, or even feeling wanted.

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