ITS HAPPENED BEFORE, Coincidence or serendipity, he has arrived at his car at the same time as me, parked side by side, has waved or smiled.
Aware of me. Today he turns unexpectedly, walks over. Stands there, lean limbed, relaxed, yet holding something back, some strong emotion, feeling, not smiling. “What is it, what do you have against me?” He says….a sharp intake of breath….fingers drumming on the roof of my car.
Seated inside, window down, looking up at him, I am unprepared and vulnerable, utterly guileless. He has noticed me often lower my eyes, look away.
“What do I have against you?” …..”Nothing…. I have nothing at all againlst you, and that is a great sorrow to me.” I am neither witty, clever or flirtatious, just straightforward, and he’s so surprised he has no response….just stands back from the car, straightens up, smiles and walks away.
A soft knock on the door late at night….she pads out half asleep, lets him in….sees in the shadowy light, his face wet with tears. “Don’t ask” he says, “just hold me,” and leading him by the hand she brings him to her sleep warmed bed, pulls him close. His voice whispering, so near, she feels rather than hears him
…..incoherent with anger, pain, he takes her violently, plunges into her, again and again….moaning with his need, his grief ….head thrown back, neck arched in extremity until he loses himself and still she holds him, until he falls down exhausted, breathing hard, sobbing and shuddering, his full weight upon her.
Stroking his head, the length of his back, he clings to her still, as his breathing eases, as his crying ceases.
“My niece killed herself….my beautiful little niece,”…. he rolls onto his side, facing her. “She was only thirteen.”
“Tell me” she murmurs, “Tell me everything.”
A family in crisis, separated by closed doors and technology….her siblings playing computer games, father watching porn, his sister in her bedroom on her Phone.
“She didn’t mean to kill herself”, he’s sure of it…..just a cry for help, a warning that went wrong.
“Will you come with me? They have her for one more day, before the funeral…..to be with her, to wash and dress the body….will you come ?”
“But, what about?” she starts to say, but he shakes his head emphatically, turns away, shrugs his shoulders…..then looks back at her, comes close….eyes naked now, hiding nothing…..just pure grief and need. “No, not her…..she wouldn’t know what to do….it’s you I want with me. I want you!!!”
As if I know what to do, she thinks……but even in the fleeting thought, she DOES know, she can be there, go through this, with him.
Scarred from sun damage and surgery….scarred in fact all over her body.
Down the left side….shoulder, arm, hip….long healed, deep scar tissue from that car accident so long ago, the facial scarring there for all to see, skin cancer and surgery leaving her perfectly symmetrical face, forever changed.
Years of inner suffering because of it….her damaged, fucked up face.
She works on it with soft pencils, an Artist correcting a portrait out of sync.
Draws on it, inwardly scolding her mirror image….
“Foolish old woman, why bother with all this”; yet her sense of balance wins over every time. “Why not bother?” This scarring has caused so….much….suffering!!! And so, to go forth into a harsh and critical world , she arms herself with her Artistic skills….for confidence, maybe even power.
War paint, they call it, and maybe she does indeed go to war each day, battling loss of youth, loss of face, loss of self esteem. It is no small thing, she knows, to face the world alone. And so, she “puts on her best face” and walks out the door….and still, despite everything, “Will she see him today?” And again “Foolish old woman”, and yet that pulse beats, deep in her belly and she is helpless to change a thing.
“He is so young, no more than mid 30’s”, and so, against the constant pull towards him, she tries to avoid him.
CHEMISTRY…..what a strange mystery it is, that out of the hundreds of men who live, breathe and go about the business of their day, doing the myriad things that they do….ONE alone has this affect, this magnetic pull, even as she fights against it, picks the feelings apart intellectually, turns, avoids….suddenly she is confronted with him unexpectedly in the alley. Intellect forgotten in a breath….there he is!!!
THERE HE IS…..he smiles, he speaks….she responds, heart hammering, legs suddenly weak, she is alive, alight, back, caught up in the dream….. all she can see in her mind’s eye, for the rest of the day, is his slanted blue eyes, his lean, strong body….and still in her inner ear, the sound of his voice. Chemistry, this inexplicable thing. Tone, the expression , the sound of his voice as compelling, as his physical being. If he spoke, sounded different….no matter how he looked….there would be no chemistry. There would be nothing.
“I have a few free days, I’d like to see you….want to see you. Meet me by the lake, late afternoon. Will you come?”
“Yes”, simple as that.
She will go, and with palms outstretched, take what is offered.
Let this be clear, perfect, understanding….this, is what there is.
Driving down the road, her inner dialogue begins, and seeing it, hearing it clearly, speaks firmly.
I will NOT compare myself to a young girl who looks as tho she has just changed out of school uniform. I am absolutely NOT going there, or I will turn the car, head straight back home and shut the door on him, on all of it.”
But the door stands open and she will go, let herself accept what is.
Arriving, leaving her car parked by the tiny cabin, she walks towards the lake….. its still surface shimmering.
Sits down absorbing the peace.
Dragonflies hover in the late afternoon sun. A fish leaps then disappears leaving circles expanding. Masses of tiny birds swoop and dive over a stand of rushes, their voices a high excited peeping as they hunt clouds of insects, hatching.
And then his hand is on her shoulder, a sudden heavy warmth….he must have walked in from the road, she heard no car.
He turns her to him, and quietly against her mouth, “Sorry, I am sorry,” kisses her, softly, then an arm around her shoulders, they sit in silence….adjusting themselves once more, one to the other, their breathing easing, slowing, as the light begins to fade, as shadows from the blue green trees throw patterns on the lake. Light and shade upon the water.
She wakes, deep in the night, still held in his arms. Moonlight streams through the open door, a holy benediction. Reaches up, touching his face, the graceful sweep of eyelids, his thick closed lashes lending him a childlike innocence, bathed in light and shadow. Breathes deep the strong male smell of him, mixed with the sharp tang of their sex. He comes quickly awake , so close he can see the gold green colours of her iris, the pupils hugely dilated, and pulling her to him falls and falls deep into their colours as he enters her again, as she takes him deep, her hands cupping his buttocks, as they rock each other, slowly, still gazing one into the other, mouths tasting this shared blessing, rocking to a rhythm entirely their own…..bringing each other home until once more they fall asleep.
Morning comes, bright clear and icy cold. Clothing themselves quickly, they go out to gather kindling, arms of chopped firewood, neatly stacked and sheltered from the weather. Soft rain begins to fall, wetting their hair, their shoulders as they hurry inside, drop the wood by the stove, turn smiling, wiping droplets off each other’s faces. An unspoken agreement to speak only of themselves, each other. If he wishes to tell her about the girl, she will listen, but for now, cocooned in this early morning joyfulness, there is no one in the room but them.
And sitting at the table with thick brown toast, marmalade, fruit and good strong coffee, they speak of simple things, sharing good plain food and conversation, constantly touching. She feels her pulse slow once more, as they reach that point of peacefulness. And the rain quickens, falls heavy on the small tin roofed cabin, a drumming heartbeat as he stands up, pulls her to him……”come back to bed”, he says.
The flames glow in the wood fire stove, and rekindled once more in them.
A thousand years of pain, of loneliness, of living, fall away…..she is once more a child, a girl, a young woman…..rebirthed in this narrow bed, her hands cradling his head , gazing into infinity.
And then reality hits her like a punch in the guts; arriving back at her car, taking off her coat she turns to speak to an enormous out of breath man, being tugged along by a pair of eager dogs….”Staffies,” she cries out to them and reaching down to their sleek, joyful, wriggling bodies, she suddenly feels him. Like an inner sonar wave, before she sees him, she feels him. Fleet of foot, he slips by and slides right in to the car parked beside her, his young girlfriend driving. They pull out and drive away, leaving her flush faced, guts churning. And the demons dance and cry, waving their fists triumphantly in the air, “we told you, we said so, didn’t we???
“And any way she had said to him, I don’t care. It’s too late, It was always too late”
The grinding truth descends, she DOES care. She feels empty and hollow as an abandoned shell, and struggling….trying to get some much needed air, trying to breathe.
And her own, softer, compassionate voice, “darling, you knew, you always knew it would be like this, you did know, didn’t you?”
And then, despite a gut full of sharp knives, the voice of reason, “better this raging pain, than the numbness you felt before.” She’s not so sure, as knees bent on her bedroom floor, arms folded across her belly, she rocks herself in overwhelming waves of grief. Would she do it again??? Truthfully…..in a heartbeat.
Like the aftermath of a terrible storm, morning comes, all fresh and rainwashed clean, she goes about the simple doings of the day, finds all of herself , without, within …..still there, a complete, functioning female being. Content to be alone. She questions was it all a dream, finds his TShirt, still smelling of him. Finds peace, and some kind of wonder falls upon her. “I am very much alive”, and for now, nothing else matters, not one single thing.
Will she put herself in that kind of danger again, she knew and didn’t know the repercussions of taking such a step….off the cliff top, flying bodiless through space, then falling like a stone into the fire raging below, burning to ashes.
Now standing in her garden, she reaches down to the cool blue ceramic bowl, brimming with last night’s rain, throws cold clear water in her face, shakes herself….shaking all thought of him away.
And running through her mind at the very same time, the words he said, as they lay limbs entwined on the narrow bed.
No idea now, where we are going, I turn and look at him, his face in repose, focusing on the road.
“ I trust you, or I wouldn’t be here”, but it’s important I know where you’re taking me.” He turns, looking deep into me.
“You will be quite safe, I promise you”.
“It’s not that” I say, “but, once we begin, I need to be somewhere where I can scream, I can already feel it rising up in me. I know I’m going to start screaming “
He reaches his left hand across, and places it between my legs, feeling me, already wet, turns a burning gaze, then his wide pirate’s grin.
“ all right, then, I know just the place.”
I take his hand, press his long fingers deep, clench my thighs around him. Are we almost there?
My earlier fear has vanished like mist, now I burn all over, hungry for him….he laughs then, leaning his head back, really laughing.
I think this is going to work, after all.
Still holding him, as he drives slowly, one handed.
LEAVING THE MAIN ROAD he has to take his hand away, smiles at her, licks it, the taste of her on his tongue….salt, sweet, spicy, and turning into a bush track she sees way ahead a small timber shack almost hidden in the trees and the shimmer of water, a lake. They come together, laughing now….all the tension left behind….fumbling at each other’s clothes in their haste, she feels weakness pulling her down, and staggering, halfway between the car and the cabin, they lie among the bush grasses, the dried gum leaves and she takes him, guides him in……tears come at the gorgeous solid feel of him deep inside her. Undulating like snakes, her hands in his hair, his mouth everywhere, him moaning deep in his throat as she feels the scream, hears it distantly as the blood roars in her ears…..and a tiny far away thought. There was, after all, nothing to fear. Her body remembers instinctively.
This outburst brings me sudden joy and unexpected laughter, that this gorgeous young woman considers me a threat….and responding
“I know you have something going on with him, yet I doubt he’s yours, or anybody’s….but, if he offers himself to me, then for that moment in time, he’s mine…….he is mine; not because I am taking him from you, but because he is giving himself to me….and that is a gift I am grateful for….no matter how quickly it passes….or the loss of him when he is gone, but for that time alone with him, he is mine….all mine.”
(this is clearly my lie to myself…it is a visceral thing, the joining of two bodies, not easily parted from)
I gently take her hand off me….she sees clearly in my eyes looking back at her, the truth of it, lowers her lovely thick lashes, trying to hide what is already seen….triumph fading to acknowledgement.
Quietly, I say “He gives himself to me, because he saw that I was starving….an act of love, yes, love of a kind….and generosity.”
She loves the afterglow….that lull, when two bodies cease the great struggle towards the “Little Death”, when the pulse quietens. Loves to explore the unfamiliar territory of his face….to go beyond his eyes, touch his still wet lips with delicate fingertips…..trace the strong planes of cheek bones, the thick dark stubbled hair around his mouth and chin, and then all along the lithe, lean, length of him….every inch. To saturate herself in the strong male scent of him….intoxicating.
Lover, traveller….seeking, finding, the lovely unknown terrain of him…..and then returning to the pull of his gaze, his strong beautiful face, and finally at rest….looking back at him, into him. Those clear blue eyes, the soul of him.