“Messy” by Robert Hilles is a love story that captures the complexities of love: the difficulties, paradoxes, ambiguities, passions, and truths. It aches, struggles, retrieves, and falls back upon itself. It also gets very complicated when two brothers love the same woman, albeit two decades apart. When Moss alerts Archie about the fire, he can’t remember the last time his brother was in his truck.
The novella moves back and forth between 1965 and 1988 through 1990. It begins with the fire in which her half-brother Raymond saves Clara and brings Moss and Archie together to help the woman both of them love. When Clara leaves Moss in 1965, it is because of Raymond. When she falls in love with Archie in 1988, Raymond plays his part here, too. Archie repairs the valve in Raymond’s car and Clara is with him.
Clara is a bookworm. Reading books teaches her about the existential make-up of life. One of her favorites is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, which she gives to Archie. He hasn’t read a book like this in a long time and stays up until three in the morning to finish it. He sees things about love he hasn’t seen or understood before—every relationship has “messy parts but it was these very parts that make love work.” In reading Love in the Time of Cholera, Archie realizes that love is “both the means and the end and could be arrived at, not pursued.”
Moss falls in love with Clara in his early twenties, Archie in his forties. Clara decides on both, but her truth pivots on Raymond. She would never leave him behind.
Read “Messy,” the novella, in its entirety at The Write Launch, November issue.