I Was 34; He was 20

Carol Burt
10 min readSep 22, 2019

Photo by Josh Felise

We got married.

I never meant to get involved with him in the first place, and I never dreamed I’d marry him. I would have laughed at the idea. I did laugh at the idea. Until I didn’t.

At 33, I was getting a divorce. I had two children, a demanding job, and bills I had to figure out how to pay without my estranged husband’s income. The last thing on my mind was romance and the last person I would have imagined as a lover was a then 19-year-old boy.

Will* was just a kid who had become a fishing and hunting buddy to my ex. I never paid much attention to him.

Somehow, it seemed after my husband and I separated that I’d won custody of young Will. I was mildly annoyed that he kept showing up. I couldn’t get rid of him. But he made himself useful to a stretched-too-thin single mother; and soon enough I developed both an increasingly friendliness toward him and a dependence on his help. He mowed my yard, watched my kids if I had to go out unexpectedly, ran errands for me, and even sometimes cooked for us.

He was vocal about how he’d hated what my ex had done to cause the divorce. He consoled me, listened to me, and proved to be a good and reliable friend despite our age difference. On one or two occasions I sensed that Will was developing a crush on me, and I reminded him I was too old for him and said he ought to go chase women his own age.

But eventually he told me in a long, sweet, and sincere letter how he’d secretly been in love with me since we’d first met. He wrote that he had settled for becoming my friend after I’d warned him that’s all we could be.

Banished

Well, damn. I knew I’d let it go too far and now he would be hurt.

He was 19 years-old, for crying out loud, and closer in age to my 9-year old daughter than to me! I was already getting teased a bit about “cradle-robbing” by some of my friends and I was embarrassed by it. I knew rumors were starting. Gently as I possibly could, I ran him off.

But he would not stay banished. He simply would not give up. And I resisted his flirting and my own growing temptation for as long as I could.

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Carol Burt

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.