I close my eyes and I see you in July. You're wearing that dress you like so much. The white sundress that falls from your shoulders to your waist, where you always belt it. Then it falls again from your hips to your calves. I always loved to see you in that dress. In the summer, with the sun catching the highlights of your chestnut hair and your skin all golden, and the tiny freckles across the bridge of your nose. And that dress in the warm July sunshine, your figure just visible through the material.
We've just finished a picnic. We've always just finished a picnic. And you want to go pick wildflowers in the meadow. You always want to go pick wildflowers in the meadow. And you want to decorate my head with a crown of daisies. And I laugh and say no. And then I laugh and say yes.
Then you look at me with that look in your eyes. The look that says there'll never be anyone else but me, that there never was anyone else but me. Other lovers, certainly. But never anyone who touched your soul like I can. I know that look. And I know that I have the same look in my eyes.
But we talk, instead. About building a house near here. Just on the other side of that copse of trees perhaps. But not in this meadow. This meadow is just for picnics and gathering wildflowers. I'll quit my job teaching the classics to spoiled rich kids who only like Macbeth for the wrong reasons. I'll become a writer full time, and you'll take that job teaching art at the summer camp and run a little gallery the rest of the year.
We say that every summer. And every fall, I go back to school and you go back to the office and we put our true lives on hold for another ten months. Our true life is here, in this meadow, having picnics and picking wildflowers.
You stand and pull me up and for a while we dance. I'll hum Gershwin and you'll hum Glen Miller, and we dance. Then your dress begins to slip from your shoulders, and I help it. You're embarrassed at first and giggle into my shoulder. Making love outside always does that to you at first, because of your Baptist upbringing, but it's one of the reasons, one of the many reasons I love you so much.
I tell you that. I tell you I love you, that I will always love you, until our bodies are so much cosmic dust and our souls reside in some other plane for eternity. You call me silly and slip your dress the rest of the way off.
We continue to dance, you beautiful and naked and me still fully clothed. This has always warmed me. Like you are placing complete trust in me, and I am protecting you. It's probably because I have never been comfortable with my own nakedness, of the vulnerability I feel myself. But I prefer the first reason, and you indulge me. We hold each other tightly and dance our way through the Thirties and Forties.
I lift my hands to unbutton my shirt.
My hands. Two useless stumps now. My eyes are opened and I see the truth. Fingers that do not work the way I want them to, that no longer fly over the keyboard to record my words as fast as they spill from my brain. Damn you, Walter Kyle. Damn your drunken soul for taking my hands from me.
You take my hands away and unbutton my shirt for me, allowing me to caress your warm flesh. I can feel your muscles beneath your skin. Swimmer's muscles, long and powerful, and yet you look so frail from a distance. My shirt falls to the grass and you caress my bare chest, sending tingles all through my body. I am pale all over, a contrast to your glowing skin, tanned from long hours in the sun painting or reading romance novels. I spend all day indoors, promising to come out as soon as I finish this paragraph, or maybe this page, or maybe this chapter. I never do, except on picnic days, but you forgive me.
We hold each other and caress and kiss and we dance, to Sinatra now, though neither of us can do him justice. Your voice is husky, made for passioned whispers in my ear, not for the rising and falling scales of beautiful music. I love your voice. I say so and you laugh and blush. You say you wish you could say the same for me. I laugh with you and our embrace tightens, our caresses and kisses become more impassioned. We fall to our knees.
My hands fall to my knees. My pencil has fallen and I cannot peck on the keyboard. I can't reach the pencil on the floor a foot and a half below me. I try. I try but I cannot. I try typing without the pencil, but without something to grasp, my fingers shake uncontrollably. Ashamed, I call for your help. You come in from the kitchen, tomato sauce on your apron, and pick up the pencil for me, along with the other half-dozen I have dropped. I thank you, my words garbled and slow. But you let me get them out before you say, "You're welcome." I love you for that, but I don't tell you, because I know you have to get back to he kitchen. Instead, I type it, slowly, with many corrected mistakes, then print it out. Seven minutes for five words on a stark white sheet of paper -- "I love you for listening." I am satisfied.
Again I tell you I love you, and you say the same. We are both naked now, lying among the forgotten wildflowers in the warm summer grass. I say that I hope a birdwatcher doesn't wander by. You laugh and say you don't care. We lay side by side, staring into each other's eyes, letting the tension build.
Dinner was delicious as usual. I made a mess, as usual. You cleaned me up, then the kitchen. You make small talk, about how Doctor Swenson and the therapists all say I am doing much better. I grunt in response. I know you are talking to make me feel better, and so that you can hear more than the labored tapping of my keyboard. But I enjoy hearing your voice. My grunts are only my way of saying, "Please go on."
.... There is more of this story ...