Hugo La Rosa By Hugo La Rosa, 20th Feb 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

When love knocks at your door, it's the little things that matter. Otherwise, you'll be setting yourself up to a life of misery and betrayal.

Gabrielle/ Chapter I


By Hugo La Rosa

John was about 23 when he graduated with a degree in Education and a minor in Spanish. His feeble temperament, and shy attitude was due in part to his asthma which had been bothering him for more than he could recall. In fact, his earliest memories were linked to his parents taking care of him, providing special diets and remedies that worked more as a palliative than a real cure.

He liked to play children's games as every child does. But even until the time that he left home to go and study at the University of X, his parents took care of his therapies and saw that the late, capricious winter weather of the City of Q would not cause havoc in his lungs and demeanor. Especially in winter, John, as a teenager, used to spend some of the late hours of the night seeking comfort in reading, or in listening the sport news and the music of Abba and the Bee Gees. He liked them so much that he had the wall next to his bed with pictures of the groups, and above all the pictures of his Agnetha, Abba's lead singer.

"Oh my..., John, I want you to clear this mess as soon as possible," his mother used to say. "If you are not going to read those magazines anymore, give them away of throw them. There is no use having them if you keep cutting them up like that."

"But mom... I did my homework already."

"Yes, my dear, but it's going to be time for you to go to bed. Doctor Kotsakys had said that you must have plenty of rest, as much as possible. You are not to be up late; it's almost 9 PM. Besides it's time to take your medicines."

As long as his parent could remember John is said to have liked the faces of beautiful women, and that was his consolation. While his adolescent friends went on dates and had the time of their lives going to dances, John stayed home, preoccupied with the slight deformity that had been taking place on his sternum. It was recurrent in John's thinking since one of his friends had said, in jest, that his chest protruded as that of the caged yellow bird his parents had bought for him. Naturally, everyone laughed, and John himself did it too. It hurt him much than he could admit to himself.So the pain sunk, deep, in his heart.

Nevertheless, he tried, above all, to keep his good humor. Besides, John was afraid on being taken as a prude, and that's why he delighted in showing them the latest on his idol, the Abba girl. He had all their albums. And he told Dilthey, his best friend, that sometimes he even felt jealous of Agnetha's husband; and John even felt kind of pleased when The Enquirer gave the news that Agnetha was divorcing the man.

John was a devout churchgoer, and rare as it might sound, he liked church. He was given to have moments of reverie thinking persistently in a theological subject the minister had spoken about recently. He kept a diary of the best theological ideas he could gather from talks, books and the Scriptures. His notebook had pasted--as it was expected--, on the inside of the front cover, a rosy picture of Agnetha. Her mother didn't say anything to him for he thought that his son was going through a phase which was natural in the teen years.

Naturally, John's parents had their own private reasons for letting their son's "weird" inclination to a platonic love with an artist. And one of them was honest and simple pity. His father worked as a software engineer for an important computer company. His mother so much complained about getting bored, and about not using her skills as a Women's Taylor, that his father Carl Wycliff, decided to open for her a business, a boutique.

It was on one of those visits to the his mom's boutique, nearest Central Park, on a transversal street to Fifth Avenue, that John saw Gabrielle for the first time. Even though the store was small, it was neat and cozy, according to some clients. Gabrielle, was talking to one of the employees, while her mother was inside the shopping window case, trying to fix a couple of new dresses on a mannequin.

John went unnoticed for a little while. Standing next to a couple of customers, as if waiting for a turn, he stood there, as if in awe. On the left glass counter, Gabrielle was pointing to a particular dress, and the girl was getting a pole to bring it down for her. For a moment he thought he saw Agnetha, the Abba singer, so much alike she was to her. But immediately, when Gabrielle looked in his direction, he nodded his head with a smile, as a way of getting acquainted. Then she saw Gabrielle against the light of one of the big window cases. She looked like Agnetha, indeed, but her face was a little more on the brunette side. It was obvious to him that she had dyed her hair; it was such a beautiful kind of very clear brown, that he stared at her for a few seconds than necessary. She was not as tall as Agnetha looked on her musical videos, but somehow the reality of it all made Gabrielle more appealing to him.

-- What a nice surprise, John. I'll be with you in a minute son.

Gabrielle used the moment to turn her head towards her dress which the clerk had placed on the glass counter for her to look at it.

Stella, John's mother, went straight to a small room at the back of the store.

John followed her mother, not knowing what to do or say. There was a white, spacious room inside, a kitchen, with a sink and a stove, opposite the refrigerator. Her mother had placed a microwave oven on a counter.

--Who is that woman, mom? She looks familiar to me--, said John scarcely containing his agitation.

--I don't know, son. She's been to the shop a couple of times. She is new in the neighborhood, I guess...

When he got out the back room, Gabrielle had left the store. John asked the girl employee about the copy of her receipt. And there it was. Her name was Gabrielle Kimball.

Gabrielle/ Chapter II

Chapter II

One day, in church, John saw Gabrielle sitting a few rows from where he was. His first impression was of getting up and approach her. The minister was in the middle of the sermon and he thought it wouldn't be appropriate to do so. She was alone, and she seemed to be praying; it was time for the distribution of the sacrament. He decided to wait. He felt uneasy spying on her every movement, like a lion ready to pounce. At that moment, she turned around as if he had touched her on the shoulder; and she saw him. His heart was racing uncontrollably, for her eyes had remained, holding his stare for a few seconds, enough time to know that she had remembered him from that day in his mother's boutique.

After church services that Sunday, as the minister was thanking the congregation, John went through the attendees that hurried to greet each other, kissing and shaking hands, thing that had never bothered John until now. Apologizing for not saying hello to a couple of friends, he continued navigating amidst the groups of people. For a short while he lost sight of her. He went out through the main door, and oh how wonderful! There she was, her slender figure was about to turn the block. It was a sunny day.

John was almost running. His first hello was pure trepidation, and luckily he did not breake too much of a sweat; but his mouth was completely dried. However he manage to continue with a slight stammering in his words:

"Do you mind if I make you company?"

"No, not at all."

They walked in silence for a short distance.

"I saw you at my mother's boutique; you might not remember me...but I thought... I saw you in church and I felt it was appropriate to say hello."

"Hello then...," she smiled. John saw how perfect she was, her teeth were perfect, her voice, her hand movements were all perfect. She was dressed in a marvelous, embroidered white blouse, and a rather conservative, soft green pastel skirt.

"This is the first time I see you in church," he said.

"Yes, my family just moved from Florida a few weeks ago, not far from church."

The conversation was trivial, and John thought it was not proper to go deeper in their first meeting. Suddenly, when they reached the avenue, she raised her hand and stopped a taxi. Once inside, Gabrielle smiled nodding her head gracefully.

"I see you next Sunday," she said.

When he lost sight of the taxi and he was away from the delicate sound of her voice, John breathed profoundly.

He had been so agitated he didn't notice he was beginning to have a bout of asthma. He searched his pockets and he got hold of his inhaler. John didn't feel the usual misery of his illness, for he was in love.

Gabrielle/Chapter III

Chapter III

Gabrielle slid the curtains of the bedroom, opened the blinds half way and let the morning light come in, as she had done countless times since she married. She always woke up first in the house. Her husband, Hector didn't go to work as early as her, and all he did was pull the blanket on top of his head. Monday was the day in which he prepared his classes for the rest of the week. He taught at X College, the same one where he had met Gabrielle, one of his students at the time in her last year of undergraduate school. Hector had always been a serious, almost taciturn Psychology Professor. Gabrielle, as beautiful as she was, never thought that Hector would fall in love with her, being that she was 24, and he was already a man in his late thirties. As it was expected, her female classroom friends envied her. They were engaged the month following her graduation which she made public at the house of her parents in C.... Their relationship had been kept secret, because of the strict rules and statutes College policy. Everything had gone well with her. She didn't think that age would be a problem, and even though she was not as much in love with Hector as he was with her to begin with, there was some romance involved. It's been already 9 years of marriage, 9 years in which Gabrielle --whose parents thought their relationship was most convenient--, had felt the same. Nevertheless, every now and then the thought had occurred to her if there was something else besides the willed intention in making her marriage work.

Gabrielle was about to close the bathroom door, when Hector pushed the blanket away from him to ask Gabrielle to please close the blinds again.

-- Did they change your hours again, Gaby?

-- Oh no, I just felt like getting up early. It's such a nice morning.

-- At what time are you leaving for work?

-- I'll be a little late today. I called the store, I told Judy, the Personnel Manager that I had an important appointment.

After a brief silence, Gabrielle added:

-- Do you want me to help you with the wheelchair?

-- No Gaby, thank you. I can do it. -- Hector supported himself on the walker beside the bed, and straightened with difficulty, getting up headed towards his wheelchair next to the window.

Gabrielle closed the bathroom door, took off his robe and pajamas, and got in the the shower. As he felt the warm water on her naked body, he thought of John, the young man she had met during the past week. Both a feeling of empathy towards John, and of self pity, got her a little confused and began to cry, bitterly, as if something had died in her. She didn't want to think, she could not dare to put in words what she was feeling. Here she was, married to Hector, but thinking in a young man, three years younger than her. True, she was comfortable, and better off, but since Hector's automobile accident --where he broke the right hip--, and his long recuperation, he was still unable to walk without his walker. Even though he was not an old man, he sure looked like one. Gabrielle felt sorry for him, and as much as he fought her feelings of despondency, a deep, empty feeling have taken the place of her first years of marriage. Being that the court had ruled in favor of Hector case, the judge had granted almost a couple of million dollars in civil reparations, without considering medical costs and the lawyer's money. Now, because of his lack of mobility, Hector wasn't able to work more than three day at C... College. He was Dean of Language Studies and Literature, and most of his work was done online, through computers at home; twice a week he had classes in person, just to clarify what has been learned online by the students, and to answer any questions they may have. He rarely went out of the house, except to go to the faculty or in special occasions when he felt he's been too much in the house. He spent most of his time reading and putting in order his ideas for the online classes. Besides that, when he wanted to go anyplace, he called Taxi and Limousine services, so a driver would drop him off and pick him up at a certain time from and to the house. Gabrielle very rarely went with him; she felt she didn't have to, under the pretext that Hector was a very auto sufficient man.

Gabrielle/ Chapter IV

Chapter IV

It was Friday, late afternoon and the sun was shining bright. After work, Gabrielle took the train, as she always did, and went to Ms. Wycliff's boutique, John's mother, as she had planned all the past week.

Gabrielle worked at N... Department Stores, as Vice President of Visual Merchandising. She had spent the whole afternoon planning the new props for the new line of women's clothing for the coming Summer, and she thought she needed time off away from it all. Even though she enjoyed her job, of late she had been feeling a little confused and depressed, mostly because of Hector, her husband; since his accident she hadn't been able to dispel all the questions in her mind.

She had been a very religious woman, and as she understood it, she was being tested in her faith. But the more she thought of it, the less she seemed to understand. She wasn't given to philosophies of any kind; on the contrary, Gabrielle had always been a practical woman, and her religiosity came sporadically, by emotional bouts, not because of her own inclinations.

Gabrielle arrived by 6:00 PM, and the boutique would had been closed in a half hour or so. The employees had gone for the day, except for Victoria, who was in charge of all clothing alterations.

John happened to be there, flattening a couple of cardboard boxes that had arrived in the mail during the afternoon.

Mrs.Wycliff saw her coming through the store window and as soon as she came in she said:

-- Gabrielle, what a surprise!

-- Oh, I wasn't able to come earlier. Those meetings get the best out of me; I feel so tired--, she said placing her hand on her chest, the tip of her fingers barely touching her light green, pastel blouse collar.

John stopped what he was doing. He had recognized Gabrielle's voice immediately. As he dropped the box he was working on, he stood right there, listening, feeling the modulations of every single word of hers. At first he didn't know if to go out to say hello, or to just continue

with what he was doing. Deep down, in his heart, he was afraid to know the truth, for he suspected it, but was not at all inclined for a refusal, for he feared that Gabrielle might be engaged.

At her age, he thought, with such a beauty, there may always be somebody, a somebody he already envied, and whose destiny he would give anything in the word to exchange with a sacrifice, any sacrifice.

Suddenly, Mrs.Wycliff entered the kitchen, being followed by Gabrielle who, upon seeing him, blushed. John felt inside her incipient feelings towards him, and all he did was smile. After a moment of confusion, he said:

-- Gabrielle..., it's good to see you again.

-- Oh, you two know each other I see...-- Mrs. Wycliff said quizzically.

Gabrielle looked stunning in her black pants and pink blouse. Her beautiful skin radiated and her smile broke the torrents of John's voice. It was then and there that he noticed this time her marriage ring on her left finger. Time stood still, and Gabrielle knew it, for John's gaze had felt the betrayal, as if he had been obligated by some unknown force to feel the vertiginous power of a matrix he didn't know existed until now. Immediately, he went to the back room and had a puff or two from his inhaler.

Years later, even though he would remember Gabrielle, he was able to transform his old --he would want to say outdated-- disappointed feelings for Gabrielle, and sublimate them towards his wife. Yes, he married a nice, decent girl, as he would say, a much different one, in character and physique, even though most of his life he kept the image of a Gabrielle as he thought she was in the beginning, sweet and delicate, and above all the Gabrielle who was simple, clean and above all single, or as he thought she was single. Why did he do that? God knows he’s never forgotten her, even though there had never been what he may call a definite relationship between them.

But lonely as he felt at that moment, in the back room of his mother's boutique John had understood completely how a brief and sudden realization --as a minuscule provision, such as that ring was--, had saved him from the penance of a dutiful slavery. But it was probably because something akin to destiny had mistaken him for somebody else, as he had mistaken Gabrielle for Agnetha, the Abba singer.

Many times she met Gabrielle, in church especially, and around the city, the mall, the park, even the Library, but they both just smiled at each other. Was that all? He’d hoped it was, so far.

John’s death came at 41. He had a heart attack as a result of an asthma crisis. Doctor Kotsakys, who signed the autopsy, revealed to the family that the inhaler had enlarged his heart to the point of breakdown.

His wife, a beautiful woman herself, with whom she had two children, a boy and a girl, was actually the last one to deposit a single rose on his shiny coffin. Everyone heard her when she said, sobbing uncontrollably:

“Rest in peace, my darling. God bless you”.


Adultery, Betrayal, Coping, Death, Feelings, Infatuation, Love, Memory, Mistake, Right, Wrong

Meet the author

author avatar Hugo La Rosa
I am a US citizen living in New York who likes to write short stories and poems. I was born in Peru.

If you comment on one of my pages, I'll do the same on yours.

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author avatar Buzz
20th Feb 2012 (#)

Nice to see you back, Hugo. This is brilliant page. Thank you.

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author avatar Hugo La Rosa
20th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you, Buzz.

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author avatar Funom Makama
20th Feb 2012 (#)

I love this.... I guess you should think of writing a Novel...

I wrote a short script for a swedish friend sometime ago and after reading some of my articles, he suggested I go into script writing or at least, write some scripts to be tranformed into motion pictures. After about 2 years, I finally made my decision and now I have two great stories (Ideas) I am about to start putting into writing. I guess you should do the same.

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author avatar Hugo La Rosa
20th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you Funom Makama. Yes right now I'm doing some research to write my first novel. Your suggestion is very well appreciated, thanks.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
21st Feb 2012 (#)

I enjoyed every word of this - in fact I enjoyed every SYLLABLE. Wonderful work.

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author avatar Hugo La Rosa
21st Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you, Sheila. Your comments are great. Please, let me know how my writing can be

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author avatar Hugo La Rosa
21st Feb 2012 (#)

Sorry my comment was cut by mistake. I meant if you see I could improve, just let me know. Thank you again.

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