The History of Love

I am lady in waiting to the goddess of Carlton University’s history department.

Today, Daphne, the goddess herself, was invited to go to the new mall with Brendan. Because she hates being alone with him, I have to go with. I don’t mind because Brendan, being the Apollo of CU’s history department, has his own manservant and fool, Andy. Andy and I get along because we both understand what it is like to be attendants to campus royalty.

So it is a beautiful spring day. I have cut Psych 102 to be a part of this trip, and Andy has skipped a required meeting with his advisor. I sit in the backseat of Apollo’s BMW with Daphne, because Daphne can not bear to be in the front seat with him. What if he looked at her! Gasp! Her reputation would be mud.

Andy sits in the front seat with his window rolled down. It blows his sandy hair straight back from his forehead and whips Daphne’s hair around like a shih-tzu in a tornado. She looks pissed as she and Apollo argue about the best way to get to the new mall.

“The new cut through would be faster,” she says. She makes a big show of patting down her wind-blown hair; the gesture is lost on Andy, who can’t see her in his mirror.

“It might be, but I’m driving, so we’re going to try using my brain instead,” Apollo replies.

“I would drive if you ever climbed off your chauvinistic marble pedestal. Instead we must take your chariot and it’s going to take us fifteen minutes longer to get there.”

Apollo adjusts the rearview mirror so that it reflects Daphne’s face. “Fifteen minutes longer to look at you, then.”

Andy and I text each other. I see his head duck as he looks at his phone, and my phone rumbles silently in my hand.

me: wow i love our kids. we should have more of them.

him: we will. i forgot to mention im pregnant


I see his head turn ever so slightly as he listens for my reaction. I cannot laugh, or Daphne will emote on me, so I tap out another text.

me: i just peed myself

him: me too. i think it gets better after the 1st trimester

Apollo swears as he gets cut off by a blue minivan. Daphne gives the minivan driver the finger.

“We should get married, Becca,” Apollo said (I should have mentioned that that is Daphne’s real name). He sails into the left lane and gets into the turn lane for the mall.

“Could I drive your car if we did?” Daphne asks this already knowing the answer. Apollo’s lips press together in a sad line. He loves Daphne, but he loves his BMW more.

Furious texting from Andy.

him: emma emma emma we should joy ride in this tonite

me: dont make promises u don’t intend to keep

Daphne makes a noise of awe as we pull into the mall parking lot. It’s packed. This is the second mall to be erected near the campus, but this one is The Largest Mall in Maryland with Open Air Public Areas! It also has a Pottery Barn. So of course everyone has come to see it. Brendan finds a parking spot at the far end of the lot, which is where he normally parks anyway, to protect his car’s delicate paint. Andy’s head ducks again as Brendan displays his superior reversing skills. Brendan’s neck cranes and he sets his jaw like a turtle as he verifies that the BMW is equidistant from the two vehicles on either side.

him: i know where he puts his keys

me: i have an evening class

him: dairy queen is open late

me: you’re on

“I’m wearing heels,” Daphne tells Apollo.

“I’ll carry you,” he says.

“If you touch me, I’ll . . .” Daphne is not witty, so she leaves the threat open-ended.

Andy gets in one last text to finish it off:

him: …make emma slap you.

We climb out into the hot spring day and adjust ourselves for the trip according to our personalities. Daphne smoothes her tiny khaki skirt and fluffs the hair at her nape to better volumize her curls. She hands me her purse. I drop my cellphone into her purse and stomp my feet to get the feeling back into them — they’ve fallen asleep since I was sitting on them in the car. Apollo inhales deeply, making his nostrils flare, as if the scent of new asphalt inspires him, and then caresses his BMW key as he remotely locks the doors. Andy slides his cell phone into the back pocket of beat up jeans and picks some lint off Apollo’s collar.

“Let’s roll,” Apollo says. We are already walking. He tries to put his hand on Daphne’s back and she shies away like a spooked deer, putting me in between her and him. He frowns prettily. She pouts sadly. He knows this is against the rules.

“What shall we see first?” I ask, because they are so busy not talking to each other I fear that we will end up in Sports Authority.

“Borders,” Andy suggests. It’s a safe suggestion. Though he and I have cut class to be here and Apollo and Daphne spend much of their time as denizens of the history department, we cannot change what we are: book geeks. But I know what will happen when we get there. Apollo will try to follow Daphne, so she will pull me into the modern history section and use me as a human shield until Apollo loses interest and goes back to the Russian history section on the other side of the shelf, taking Andy with him. I am not a modern history person. It smacks of Political Science, which is not a real major.

“I want to go to Hallmark,” I say. “And Things Remembered. And other boring old lady stores.”

“Why?” Apollo’s perennial look of confusion is replaced with true bewilderment. He holds the door open for all of us.

“I need to get something to mark the occasion.” I pat Andy’s stomach as I pass by him. I remember that the others are not in on the pregnancy joke just as I realize that Andy’s stomach is flat and hard under my hand. I was about to smile, and I saw that he was too, but instead we exchange a look that feels like it lasts a minute.

“What occasion? Lunch?” Daphne looks pissed at me. I am not supposed to have conversations that she was not a part of. Then she looks pissed at Apollo, who let his shoulder touch her shoulder. “I don’t get it. Emma, you should leave the funny to Apollo.”

Andy and I bust out laughing, as Apollo hasn’t been funny since the day his BMW got a scratch and he made his voice three octaves higher than usual. Apollo, however, looks flattered and grants Daphne one of his most shining, god-like smiles. Daphne looks startled, as if she hadn’t realized how awesome he could be when he smiled.

She lets him walk beside her all the way to Hallmark, and he keeps glancing over at her without trying to touch her. That leaves Andy and me to walk behind them, just us instead of lady in waiting and manservant for once. In the store, Daphne and Apollo head down the wrapping paper aisle while Andy and I walk to the stuffed animals.

I hold up an elephant to Andy; its eyes are slightly crossed. “Hi, I’m anatomically incorrect,” I say, moving the elephant’s head in time with my words.

Andy pushes some animals aside until he finds one that he likes. It’s a horse with a green mane and tail. “And I’m more practical for most third century B.C. land wars.”

“Are you going on about the Alps again?” I ask him with my elephant.

“I can’t stop thinking about it,” Andy’s horse replies. “It was a significant fubar.”

“I still get more views at the zoo.”

Just then, Andy’s head jerks up to look over the display, and I follow suit. Apollo has an arm braced on either side of Daphne, carefully inserted between gift bags hanging on the wall, and amazingly, it looks like he might kiss her.

Suddenly, Daphne bursts out, “I changed major.”

Apollo leans back. “What?”

“This morning,” she says. “I put in the paperwork. I got assigned a new advisor.”

“So?”

“Poly sci,” Daphne gasps out, her voice desperate. She crosses her arms tightly over her chest. “I’m becoming a political science major.”

Apollo lowers his hands from either side of her and steps back. He is looking at her with an expression of utter loss and betrayal. I am reeling a bit myself. A poly sci major? It seems so drastic. But Apollo really had left her no other choice.

“I will stop saying bad things about political science,” Apollo says, formally. “I may even take some modern Russian classes.”

But things have changed, and we all know it. She’s not even the same species anymore.

We leave the store, Apollo and Daphne several feet away from each other.

I reach down and take Andy’s hand.

83 thoughts on “The History of Love

  1. Once again making characters with a wave of your wand! Also, I see what you did there.

  2. I know. You see EVERYTHING. I sort of like Andy and Emma. I might steal them for something else.

  3. I want to see more of them too! Love the bit with the talking animals – in fact, loved it all πŸ™‚

  4. He loves Daphne, but he loves his BMW more.

    That line cracked me up! Isn’t that the truth about men and their shiny new toys!

    Lesley

  5. LOL

    Love this! I totally think you should use Andy and Emma . . . in fact, I’m dying to read more about them. Did they end up taking Apollo’s car as planned? What happened? Do they ever kiss? Do they still hang out with Apollo and Daphne?

    Curse you for making me care! πŸ˜‰

  6. I felt so so clever, reading this, but I am certain there was a *bunch* I didn’t see. Perhaps because I was a PoliSci major. πŸ™‚

  7. LOL, I love this! I would so love to see more of Andy and Emma. I loved the text messages. They were awesome!

  8. It smacks of Political Science, which is not a real major.

    I am a certified history geek (papered and everything!), so this made me laugh out loud. Between the text conversations and the stuffed animals, I am totally willing to follow Andy and Emma around, just to eavesdrop.

  9. Maggie,

    What I love about your writing is that it feels so effortless. When I read it, I feel as though it took you no time to get into the head of these characters and that you almost become your characters. Like Grace, Sam, Beck ♥, Shelby ♥ and Paul, I feel like you really know these characters well. I wonder if Emma and Andy will show up again somewhere else.

    – Rachel

  10. “shih-tzu in a tornado”

    As someone who lives in Oklahoma and whose Mom has a Shih-Tzu, this made me die with mirth. I am dead now. From the mirth.

    Utterly charming story!

  11. I’m all for more Andy & Emma, they’re texting convo had me literally laughing out loud.

  12. I love how all three of you have such disparate takes on this prompt. This one made me LOL (especially the male pregnancy, which reminded me of all the mpreg stories I avoided like the plague in “fandom”). Thanks for letting me pick a prompt πŸ˜€

  13. I started out expecting a more historical story since the prompt is historical. But instead, I was delighted by this! It was a fun and witty read. I loved the way you brought Greek terminology, such as chariot and pedastal into the story seamlessly.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  14. The texting-from-inside-the-same-vehicle thing was really great — on top of that, I liked the way the modern setting worked with the myth.

  15. Thanks! I got the idea yesterday while I was texting my husband in the car right in front of me.

  16. Hahah! I hate texting for anything useful, but for catchy one liners, in real life and fiction, it’s the best.

  17. Daphne is not witty … lol. I felt a little weird typing that lol. Am I too old!? Yipes!

  18. Anyone may lol so long as you really are laughing out loud. I am against loling on false pretenses.

  19. Texting is the best medium for one liners.
    …which probably means I’m addicted to one liners, if I’m averaging 50+ texts a day. But really, how can I survive without telling everyone I misread a tabloid headline about Robert Pattinson’s “messy love life” as referring to his hair?

  20. That was really fun! As a book geek and a history person (but sooo not a modern history person), I really appreciated it.
    I was a little confused, though, because for Carlton University I read Carleton College, and I couldn’t figure out why they would drive all the way to Maryland to go to the mall!

  21. I liked this. I felt like Andy and Emma could star in their own romance. funny and charming.

  22. I love it when you text message. I could read pages of it that hilarity, it’s like a sitcom!

    Also, I have to say I LOL at a lot of your stuff, but the history department and Political Science bit was particularly hilarious. I was a history major in college and I now work in a Political Science department.

    Loved it!

  23. LOL — I didn’t even realize that there was a Carleton College! And gooo history geeks!

  24. No! You joined the enemy! Or, as my favorite history prof used to say, “oh, that’s history lite.”

    πŸ˜€

  25. Nice. Can’t help but notice not much sympathy for either Apollo or Daphne on your part. Heh.

  26. Wankers, both of them. They could’ve texted and worked it out llke normal people . . .

  27. I know I’ll love this when I have time to read it tomorrow. I’m commenting now, cause I want in on that contest! Real thoughts tomorrow.

  28. Bwa-hahahha! I had to read the Poly-Sci thing aloud to others.

    I hope Andy has a lovely pregnancy. I really liked them. Sometimes hanging out with your roommate’s boyfriend and his roommate is not at all this fun, but every once in awhile, you get an Andy and Emma thing going. Yay!

  29. Oh, yes, friends of friends can be traumatizing. But sometimes it is cooler than your actual friend. πŸ˜‰

  30. You know that I love you, right? The burnt offerings*, I believe, are in the post…

    (*ask Tessa)

  31. I like it! I liked the texts the most, they remind me of the sort of texts one of my friends always sends me πŸ™‚

  32. I really liked it! I like the idea- the characters being university students in today-time (cause that’s totally a word) and the voice of the characters, both Emma and Andy were extremely realistic.
    I heart!!!
    πŸ˜€

  33. by burnt offerings, I may mean mix CD’s. I’m still uncertain really, but they should tick most boxes…

  34. Ohhh, the POST! I thought, in the post? The story? But you do not mean post/comment/thread, you mean post/guys in uniforms/carrying boxes.

    COOL!

  35. I loved the effortless chemistry between Andy and Emma, and the anti-chemistry between Apollo and Daphne.

    Sometimes love is about finding someone who gets your in-jokes.

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