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Mr. & Mrs. Universe

by Sarah Ann Watts

When I asked him why he never returned my calls he said, ‘Well, my little love bug, there are only twenty-four hours in the day.’ I suppose I should have realised then that it was never going to work, but I was in love.

I mean, only twenty-four hours in the day. They’re light-years ahead of us. We’re lucky if we get to see twenty-four hours in a decade. We’re all on short time on this dump of a planet and it makes us bad-tempered and irritable. What kind of alien life form is he?

I was tempted to tell him where to go but I’d already got too much invested in this relationship. By agreeing to take part in this intergalactic dating program I’d already given him the best years of my life — twenty-four hours in light-year transit is a hell of a long engagement for anyone and I wasn’t going to back out now.

‘Girl,’ my old mother used to say, ‘with looks like yours you can’t afford to be picky. Tentacles aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and wearing your heart on your sleeve is all very well but some folk get kind of squeamish. Still, they say everybody needs somebody and I’ll say one thing — you’ve got a lovely personality.’

‘There’s more to marriage than twelve bare legs in a bed, you know. Your father used to get very nervous about sex. I had the mother-in-law from hell: she told him all the old wives’ tales. She said one month I’d forget to take the pill and devour him after the mating ritual. All right, I admit you don’t always remember in the heat of passion, you get carried away, but it was only that one time, in the early days of our courtship, he nearly was. You know how men fuss over trivial ailments — you wouldn’t believe how much grief he gave me over a few playful little love bites.’

I noticed she was wiping a tear from her third eye. ‘Your mum’s a sentimental old fool,’ she said when she saw me off at the ferry terminal. ‘You don’t want to stay out here in the Styx forever like I did — get to the centre of things — see the bright lights and the big cities. Twenty-four hours per day — live a little longer!’

She ever wanted only the best for me and I knew she was going to miss me now there were only the two of us left. She was right though — we’re a long-lived species, that’s why the time gap didn’t count — but staying home once you’re past your second century is kind of sad.

And of course Attila was gorgeous. I fell in love with his space cadet charm and stellar good looks immediately. He was rich, lived in a fabulous apartment on Champs Elysium, sent his own ship for me and said we had all the time in the world.

What girl could resist? I was lucky to catch him on the web.

In the beginning it was heavenly, we were four hearts that beat as one, his three keeping perfect harmony with mine — but it wasn’t too long before the cracks began to appear in our marriage. I got over the time lag relatively quickly but it seemed that loving each other as we did, we were nevertheless destined to be forever out of sync.

Sometimes we struggled to stay in the same dimension, in the same day, week or even year. I arrived at the office party a decade too early — he left work in a hurry, eager to be there for our baby’s birth and gate-crashed his sixteenth birthday party.

Turned out we’d gone away for the weekend and you know what teenage parties are like. Finding his unborn son in bed with my twin sister’s daughter was a shock that caused a near fatal misunderstanding and a series of Oedipal complexes that led inevitably to psychiatrists, lawyers and ultimately the divorce courts.

Still, it was fun while it lasted and I’ll always remember the twenty-four hours we spent together. It was a lifetime for me — a blink in the eye for him.

Copyright © 2006 by Sarah Ann Watts

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