The Question About Love

Alan J. Schwarz
7 min readNov 29, 2019

Herman Levinsky was sitting on his chair staring at the blank computer screen. He didn’t know how his life had changed so dramatically. It was like a cyclone had entered his soul, hit his heart and changed course and disappeared like it never existed.

Herman’s story started innocently enough. He had been at a conference of Architects and he was introduced to local Interior Designer. Her name was Skyler Burton and he thought she was the total package.

Skyler had started off in Interior Design and had worked for some prominent builders helping them sell their newly created developments by adding a touch of panache to the homes they built.

She had become the ‘’it’’ Interior designer for her area of Arkansas. After a nasty divorce, Skyler moved to New York and it was there that she really started to make waves. She was able to license her name for a furniture line and soon after all kinds of linens, wallpaper, flooring and even window shades. She was earning serious money but felt incomplete as a person.

When she received a large offer to sell her company to a venture fund she jumped at the chance. She was at the Architect's Conference to discuss a new app that she had helped develop. It would help builders choose different types of material for finishes with competitive pricing built in. The suppliers were from around the world and the price points were being constantly adjusted. The response to the App had been great and Skyler was thinking about taking her product public.

Herman had met her when he was at a seminar on Eco-friendly rechargeable driveways. He had been working on developing a green project development and he thought the driveway addition would have strong appeal to electronic car enthusiasts.

During the seminar Herman had been completely distracted. The perfume Skyler was wearing smelled divine, it had done strange and wonderful things to his libido. After the lecturer finished, Herman found himself sitting beside Skyler when Tea, Coffee, Cakes and assorted pastries were brought out.

She told him all about the dream home she had just purchased on Shelter Island. It was a guilty pleasure as both her kids were at University and it was a relatively large house. She had seen it and fallen in love with it immediately. Herman listened intently and tried to hear what she was saying, because his heart had taken over from his mind.

He was completely intrigued and told her a little bit about his projects. He was working in California with design and industrial engineers to create homes that offered very unique renewable energy features. As an example a sink that took the water from the basin and forced into a purifier where it was then repurposed into toilet water.

Skyler gave Herman her phone number and suggested that maybe they could facetime as she had to leave. He asked her if she wanted his number and her reply was ‘’Of Course, Oldest rule in the book, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.’’ She was heading to a couple of meetings with Venture Capitalists who wanted to inspect her app. She said goodbye, smiled and walked away.

Four nights later at eleven pm, when he was back at his home in Santa Barbara, Herman's phone rang and it was a Facetime call from Skyler. His face lit up when he saw her sitting on a chair wearing a Brooks Brothers dress shirt and nothing else looking at him and smiling. They talked about the conference and about the positive response she had received about her app and then things got personal.

They shared stories and laughs and Skyler went and got herself a nice drink, the conversation lasted for a couple of hours. It was tough to say goodbye.

Over the next few weeks the intensity of the calls increased and so did the more personal discussion. It wasn't long before they admitted to somehow having feelings for each other, which was odd because they had only met at the conference.

It was finally decided that Herman would fly to New York and then on to Shelter Island for the weekend. Everything was arranged and then the unexpected. Herman's Dad, Philip, who he was extremely close with suffered a major heart attack. Philip and Herman's Mom, Jenny lived in Florida.

Herman would be flying directly to Miami and would be staying for a while with them. He wouldn't be able to get to New York and Skyler.

It was Hurricane season in South Florida, and with his Dad in the hospital, Herman had many concerns.

He tried to call Skyler with the news but wasn't able to reach her, so he sent an email. Her response to the email was a call at three in the morning. She blasted him for not living up to his commitment to visit her and for changing plans. She accused him of being ''Full of Fucking Shit'' and told him that she didn't care what he claimed, she knew he was never interested in a long term relationship and she was sorry, she had wasted her time facetiming him and sharing intimate details.

When she hung up, Herman was stunned. He couldn't believe the vitriol. She didn't seem like the same woman. He was facing tremendous issues with his Dad's illness, and she couldn't have cared less about what he was going through. She seemed to have turned from Dr. Jekyl into Ms. Hyde.

Herman arrived in Florida and went to the Jackson Memorial Hospital to find his Father in very rough shape and his Mother having a nervous breakdown. The Cardiologist was not optimistic as there was severe heart damage. At three in the morning, Philip Levinsky had congenital heart failure and passed.

Shiva was held at the Levinsky Condo, and thanks to a local Chabad synagogue there was always a minyan (a quorum of ten men) so Herman could say Kaddish (the Memorial prayer) every morning and night for seven days. He would then go into a thirty day mourning period known as Shloishim. During that time he would say Kaddish every morning and every night.

At the start of Shloishim period he received an unexpected call from Skyler. Since he was in the middle of saying Kaddish, he couldn't take it and she left a message on voicemail. He was pleased she called but on edge. ''I've given it a lot of thought. I am sorry about your Dad, if what you said is true. You can make it up to me by coming to Shelter Island for a few days. We will reconnect and move forward with our lives. I have decided I want to be with you, and if you want to be with me and make things work, you have one more chance.''

Herman was taken aback by a couple of things, what did she mean ''if what you said is true'' and ''you can make it up to me.'' What the hell. What did he have to make up?

It was a tough and difficult decision about how best to proceed. His Mom had been married to his Dad for sixty years and was not coping well. Her future was uncertain in terms of where she would live and the loss of Philip had hit her hard in everyway conceivable. Herman as an only son was not in a position to leave her. Maybe after the month, but for the time being, he would be staying in South Florida.

Herman tried to facetime Skyler to explain things but for some reason she didn't take his call. He left voice mail and finally wrote an email. He outlined the situation and the need for him to stay in Florida for another month.

She sent back a terse response via email. ''You're full of shit, if you wanted to be with me you would. Never contact me again. You have hurt me deeply, I trusted you.''

That was it, there was no further contact. No emails, no phone calls, no anything. Herman's Mom decided to sell the Condo and move to California and live either with or near her son. He had a decent size house and a housekeeper, so she would be able to decide what she wanted to do after she lived with him for a month or two.

As far as Skyler Burton, Herman would google her name every once in a while to see what she was doing. He wanted her to do extremely well. He really, genuinely had fallen in love with her in a short period of time, but it was not meant to be. Circumstances beyond his control had impacted on his life, but he knew he always had to prioritize and family was his priority.

There were times Herman asked himself why he was still a bachelor. He was not young and he wondered how he had never married. It was a mystery and there had to be a reason, but it was honestly beyond his understanding.

At the end of the day, Herman came to a major conclusion, somewhere out there was the right woman and it wasn't Skyler Burton. He needed someone who understood family dynamics and the importance of empathy. It was the only way he could ever have a happy life. He thought those thoughts as he looked one last time at the blank computer screen.



Alan J. Schwarz

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.