On a warm, humid, Midwest, summer night a little breeze stirred just enough air to allow the elderly couple to spend the final hours of the day on the veranda. They shuffled out, sinking into opposite ends of the chaise. It was so hot this summer. The heat slowed them, melted their rations of energy. No words passed between them; none were needed. The woman surveyed the sunset, marking day's end. Alone in her thoughts, she thought to herself, "The sun is setting on our days, too." She accepted it; their life had been a full one. Sixty years together, children, grandchildren, a successful business passed on to their sons.
"Life is so short," she mused, "but we made the most of it."
Her introspection was broken by a low rhythmic sound contrasting with the crickets' chirping a few yards away in the grass. She knew, without looking, that it was George sleeping. She looked anyway and gazed upon him.
"Poor George," she sighed, "he was always so fit and strong. Look at him now."
Recent years had taken their toll on him. The prostate cancer had been the worst of it. She couldn't know, but sensed, that his days were numbered in the scores, not hundreds. Then, her turn couldn't be far off.
"Oh, stop!" She chided herself. Self-pity had never been their refuge. "When one takes a partner for life, there is a beginning, middle, and an end."
She wiped a trickle of perspiration from her brow, reminded of the warmth of the season. She resumed her thoughts, traveling back in time to another hot summer night. A calendar would mark it a past tense memory of long ago. In her mind's eye, she was in the present. It was a story that she pulled often from the secret shelves of her memory. It always stirred her.
It was 1946 in a small city in Iowa. Helen and George had just been married that afternoon. The wedding had been long-postponed. They planned to wed in June 1942 after their graduation. A romance had blossomed in their senior year at the University. He would graduate in Civil Engineering; she in Library Science. He would probably work for the State Highway Department, she in the local schools. They would have a family and be happy.
Everyone who knew them considered Helen and George a good match. Both were children of farmers, used to hard work and hard times. They had been teenagers in the dustbowl—not much chance for fun. Their parents saw to it that their hard life did not embitter them. They looked forward to better times, with their training at the University punching their tickets.
George was a lanky young man, reserved and steady. His math skills and hard work made him excel in his courses. He might have appeared bookish, but his lean frame betrayed a wiry musculature that surprised many. He never smoked, only took an occasional drink with friends. In every way, he was a straight arrow. George was a quiet young man but whenever he did speak, he meant each well considered word. Those who didn't know him thought he was gruff. His close circle knew better.
Helen grew up on a farm in the same county as the one that George's family owned. Even as a girl, she pitched in with the farm chores. She developed a strong frame in her growing years, but one would never know it. It lay beneath a trim figure and a feminine smoothness. She stood about five-six; topped by wavy honey blonde hair she kept shoulder-length. Many college boys' neck craned to ogle her cute behind as she passed by them, but whatever they might have seen was created in their imaginations.
Helen did not tease, nor flaunt. Her femininity needed none of the weak reinforcement that flirting could bring her. Teasing was good only good for prompting action, and she desired none from those that ogled her. If ever a time came when provocation was in order, she would tease well-enough at her choosing. She kept her figure neatly covered in the practical a-line skirts that she usually wore that were popular in that day. Helen's chosen field of Library Science belied her personality. She was precocious and friendly, filled with energy. But, she did not suffer fools easily. She had a pretty face. Her smile was infectious; everyone liked her. She was like George in one respect; she was the female equivalent of the straight arrow. That was the norm in the days before the war.
When Helen and George met, they soon knew they had found their future mate. Her vivaciousness balanced his quiet demeanor. She helped him to put aside his shyness. Helen craved George's steadiness, reliability and the respect and trust that he earned from others. She was always proud to be with him. She found that he was kind and gentle. It was easy for George to be kind to Helen, he loved her.
A phone call on December 8 thrust a new, unwelcome chapter into their storybook. His Navy ROTC unit was to report in a week's time for duty in San Diego. He would complete his engineering degree there, then duty in the Pacific in the Seabees.
"Let's just elope now, while we have the chance," Helen pleaded. She loved him, and her body ached for him. They had delayed the act of consummation until after the wedding. They had not actually gone much further than passion-filled kissing. In the 1940's the shame of unmarried pregnancy, single-sex dorms with vigilant house mothers, the difficulty of finding a private place—sex before marriage was just not common in Midwest America in 1941. On December 6, they contemplated only six short months to wait to hold one another. They were a conventional couple and waiting the right thing to do. The following day, their expectations turned upside-down.
"You know that I love you, but it wouldn't be right," he replied. "Who knows what will happen to me? A widow with a baby would have a tough life".
George was always the wise one, the planner. Helen sadly agreed. George had steadied them, but he took comfort in her impulsive suggestion because it reassured him that she would wait for his return. He went to San Diego with his unit. Helen finished her degree and returned home. She got a job at the Public Library; she waited.
Through those long war years Helen longed for George. She waited for his letters, faded and out of date, little holes carved into them by military censors. Each day that the Western Union man did not deliver that dreaded telegram brought her a sigh of relief. She knew that they were right to wait, but the aching in her heart and body wouldn't fade. She never doubted that George would be as faithful as she, and so he was. The end of the war did not bring the end to George's military service. Finally, he was mustered out in June 1946.
For Helen, those final months of waiting were some of the loneliest. Other soldiers and sailors were returning home. It added a nasty sting to their separation. It was unfair. George had been one of the first to go off to war, but his skills were needed in reconstruction. She was grateful that he was out of danger. Her woman's body kept reminding her that she was now twenty-six years old and longed for that ultimate physical connection.
She dreamt of him holding her, shameless and naked. He would enter her, taking his pleasure inside her, emptying his essence deep within. At first, her sexual thoughts shamed her, but she came to revel in them, taking solace in her imagined satiation. Her mind's eye pictured his lean body, his square and resolute jaw line set on wide shoulders. She hoped that she would find the desire in him that she felt throbbing deep within herself.
As Helen's friends married, they whispered their sexual secrets in their coffee groups. They spoke of passion and pain. They recounted the breaking of their inner bodies to please their men, the later pleasures. All this inflamed Helen. She struggled to stop listening to them, but she could not. She didn't know how much of the stories were factual, or embellishments. She kept her silence. She only determined to experience it for herself when George returned.
Despite the carnage George witnessed, he remained kind, decent, and a little self-conscious. He earned two purple hearts. He never told Helen; he didn't want to worry her. His experiences had changed him. Still tall and lean, he added muscle to his frame. Any softness that he might have taken with him to the Pacific had long been worn away by jungle deprivations. Command experience added maturity beyond his years. He started the war as an Ensign, finished as Lt. Commander. His years of building landing strips on Pacific Islands had endowed him with confidence and abilities that a classroom could never teach.
Again a civilian, he craved a relaxation of the hardness and discipline that were necessary in his wartime service, but the ability to fully release would never quite come to him. Still, when he thought of his beloved Helen, he melted like butter in a skillet. She was so good; she had been so patient, so pure. He molded his image of her to a model of perfection, and it buoyed him through his years at war. True, he had placed her on a pedestal. It was a vision that suited him.
So, on a hot June night in 1946, two young people trod the stairs at the Downtown Hotel in a small Iowa city, to the Honeymoon Suite. He could afford it with his mustering-out pay. The wedding had been hastily arranged—a big affair seemed so anticlimactic after the long war separation and the endless stream of returnees who had preceded George. Helen wore a simple mid-calf white dress with a veil. There was no time to buy a gown. He wore his dress Navy Whites. He had no civilian clothes that would fit him. Helen recruited her brother as Best Man. George had been overseas for a long time and only arrived home the day before. Not many of his friends would ever return from the war. The reception was a dinner in the hotel dining room with their parents, best man and maid of honor.
There was no bellman. They each carried their own suitcase up the two flights of stairs. George unlocked the door and they entered the suite. They set down their luggage and he closed the door. Since the time that their wedding dinner had ended until this moment, no word had passed between them. They embraced, shared a kiss. It was gentle and loving, at first. Then more demanding, searching for the other's passion. Helen cautiously pushed her tongue from between her lips and into his. It startled him. He had not anticipated her initiative, but finally decided that he liked it. She felt him recoil slightly, but when he did not release his embrace, she relaxed further in his arms, kissing him again.
Finally, they stopped, and he said, "We've waited a long time". It was a statement of the obvious. Yet, true to his manner, George's words were measured and full of meaning. It was an acknowledgment of their mutual ordeal. It was necessary to say it. His referral to it in the past tense signaled a turning of the page.
"Yes," she murmured, and then kissed him again.
Stepping slightly apart, they looked about the room. On the left was a patio, its door open, with a pleasant breeze wafting in to break the stillness of the hot summer air. Through the open door, they could see the city lights below. An ice bucket stood sweating alongside two matching patio chairs and a small metal table.
"They brought the champagne that I ordered," he said.
A few yards on the right sat the double bed, already turned down by the maid. George glanced at it, their final destination on this night. It beckoned him, provocative, its white folded down sheets against the dark colored blankets, grinning like big teeth. He looked away, wondering why he had done so. A nervous chill coursed through him. It was their beginning. Finality of their ordeal was the price of commencement. Part of him wanted to cling to their sweet endurance. It had been painful, but shared. It brought constancy and assurance along with agony. It had been such a sweet pain. It had become part of themselves; the tie that bound them together. How to begin, without breaking the bond?
He knew that the page must turn. Must it, however, be riffled over as though in a cheap magazine? His instincts drove him to gently lift the corner, slowly turning the page over, gradually revealing the new text. He groped for time to straighten his thoughts as he searched for the answer.
He found refuge in the chilling champagne. Pointing to it, he asked, "Would you like to drink some?"
"Yes... well... later maybe", she replied. He sensed a polite "no".
"Well, what, then?"
Helen thought fast. She was eager to make love, but anxious to preserve her role as the quarry.
Her lips feigned a pout. "I don't know, " she coyly replied. "Didn't you become a Commander in the Navy?"
"Yes", he said, puzzling over the meaning.
She leaned into him, pressing him with her body. Her soft lips brushing his earlobe, "then command me," she whispered.
Her answer raised the hair on the back of George's neck. Her passion pleased him, but his loss of control triggered alarms. It was premature. They must pause and savor. Searching for a graceful recovery he caressed her cheek, and then kissed gently. Her pulse quickened. Finally, she believed that the moment had arrived.
As he finished his kiss she prepared to kiss back, but he broke away and said, "I command you to change into something more comfortable"
She contained an exhale of frustration. "Always the engineer," she thought. "He's got a blueprint for everything"
Still, it was progress. The ship would dock at the appointed 'destination', headwinds were slowing the tack. She took solace in the meted out advance and reached for her small suitcase.
"Good idea," she said, recovering. "You have some champagne while I freshen up." With that, she disappeared with her suitcase into the bathroom and locked the door.
George watched her close the door. He was relieved that the process had slowed a bit. He wanted her, sure enough. He was just afraid to rush things. This would be their one and only wedding night, he reasoned. No part of it would be glossed over or unappreciated.
After all, he also was a virgin, just as Helen. He hoped that he could do his man's duty. Would she expect too much from him? Would he disappoint her? Would he hurt her in breaking her maidenhead? Would she understand the importance of this night to him? As he thought of these things he was barely aware that he had begun to remove his dress-white uniform. He hung it in the closet and removed the rest of his clothes. He jumped into a pair of pajama pants from his suitcase and put them on, tying the drawstring at the waist. He thought about his robe, but it was too hot. He would forgo the pajama tops, too.
The coldness of the tiled floor on the patio felt good on his bare feet. His manhood was hardening. He was determined to stave off the urgency that nature had visited upon him so soon. He poured himself a glass of champagne and quickly downed it. He poured another and started drinking it more slowly. The bracing alcohol felt good. When Helen emerged things would go faster, he told himself. A quick toast of champagne then let nature take its course. He was grown man—up to the challenge. Helen needed him. He would come through for her.
"What was she doing in there, anyway?" His mood suddenly became insistent.
In the bathroom Helen found the long ivory gown that she had bought and saved for her honeymoon. She removed her clothes and reached for the negligee, but stopped. Standing nude in front of the mirror she inspected her form, shaped firm and slender by years of hard work on her family farm. The firmness was underneath; the outside covered in a feminine softness.
Her eyes drifted lower. Her breasts lay naturally on her chest. They were round, average in size, fitting her medium frame. The tips were crowned with small nipples that now were hardening and enlarging with her excitement. She glanced lower. Her belly and navel narrowed and formed a path to the center of her. A soft triangle of honey-colored down broke the skin's creamy smoothness. It was only a little darker than her wavy tresses. It pointed to her womanhood, now glistening with the moisture that betrayed her eagerness.
She paused for a long pause look at herself. She wished to remember these final virgin moments. It would be the last time that her eyes, alone, would know the sight. In the morning, her new husband would know it, too. In her desire, she had never considered this finality. Her virginity had been her preparation. Soon, all would be opened, no pretexts needed. She wondered how she might be changed, and how George would respond after crossing the final barrier.
She halted her musings and slipped the gown over her head. It was a shiny satin material. The thin shoulder straps held up a lace bodice that cradled her firm virgin's breasts. The lace formed in a deep vee that started at the end of the tiny strap just above the top of each breast and ended at a point several inches below them, halfway to her navel. The cleavage revealed was ample, but demure. It was enough to announce and entice, a treat for the eye, while protecting the essence from exposure. The lacey fabric allowed a hint of the brown circle of areolas. The pointed nipples pushed at the fabric, leaving no doubt as to their hiding place.
The long gown slid down her body and hugged her form, punctuating her firm lines, her hips, and well-formed cheeks. It was slit from the floor to mid-thigh on her left side. The slit did not show as she stood. Each step revealed an enticing flash of creamy thigh that would too quickly disappear. It riveted a man's eye to it, creating an expectation of the next step and ensuing flash of forbidden flesh. At least that was Helen's thinking when she bought the gown. She spent many hours selecting it. The search served to provide her with small doses of excitement as she envisioned the first time that she would "be with" George.
Preparation for the night had served to temporarily quench her thirst, but it deepened it in the long run, and driven her aggressive prodding earlier. It was good that George had delayed her ardor a few minutes before, or the prized negligee would have remained forgotten in her suitcase.
"What had she forgotten?" She spied the matching furry high-heeled slippers that a friend had urged on her, insisting that they were sexy. She decided that they were not, and would go without them. She stood in her bare feet and the coldness of the tile floor felt sensual and good. She liked the naturalness of it. She desired no contrivances.
She realized her preparations were at an end. The time had come for her to emerge from the bathroom-refuge to present herself to her new husband and soon-to-be lover. Suddenly, she froze in nervous trepidation. After such a long time in waiting, the planning and dreaming, the prodding of her recalcitrant groom, she was at once trembling and short of breath. She knew that she should bolt out the door to commence that which she so long had yearned for. She could not. She stared at the door handle. It dared her to seize it and run to her desires. How could she refuse the call? She thought frantically for a few moments' reprieve.
"Her hair-- it was a mess." She grabbed her brush and assaulted her wavy tresses. Her breathing quickened more. It aggravated her that her locks fell so quickly into place. She must not rush this! As she continued to brush, she realized her grooming was only a play for time. She felt the inner surge of her racing pulse. Her nipples now engorged to capacity, ached from their stiffness. She raised a hand to relieve them. She stopped herself, saving that pleasant task for him. She clenched her buttocks cheeks, squeezing her thighs together. Her woman's essence bathed her inner self. She had never felt it so moist and slippery. It issued a musky scent. She knew the purpose of this wetness. She set down the hairbrush and exhaled loudly.
"Get a hold of yourself! It's time to go," she said to herself. She dotted a small dab of perfume behind each ear. She thrust out her hand, taking hold of the door handle.
On the patio, George was becoming more and more restless. He thought that he had gained control of events. His play for time only served to banish his quarry behind the locked bathroom door. All possible initiative had now vanished. Only the turning of the handle of the bathroom door, unseen, from the other side, would signal the restart of the evening's events.
He regretted his Pyrrhic victory; he craved action. Her coyness in prolonging the waiting in the bathroom was merciless. He had yet to learn the lesson of the bathroom as the female bastion. He drained the last of the champagne in his glass. He poured himself another, but decided he didn't want it. He stood up to pace, but sat back down, lest Helen suddenly emerge to the betrayal of his anxiety.
He pictured her beyond that bathroom door. She would be disrobing. He pictured her nakedness. He had never seen her without clothes. His mind's eye painted a picture of her. She would be beautiful; he knew it. He would not deserve her. He started to shake. His inner vision of her pure nakedness made him harden under his pajama bottoms. A droplet of slippery liquid emerged from the tip of his penis. He worried that his fantasy might spur a premature response. He must calm himself.
"Was she nervous, too?" She hadn't seemed very nervous a few moments before. How could a woman so innocent and inexperienced so deftly ploy the feminine wiles as she had done? Probably, her already-married friends had schooled her. He worried that her knowledge overreached his. Perhaps she was trying to deal with her anxiety through aggressiveness. That would be typical of Helen. He glanced around the room in search of a task to absorb his nervous energy.
"The lights!" They were too bright. He stood and hopped about the room dimming it to a romantic dusk. He had to hurry ahead of her reentrance from her bathroom lair. It wasn't easy to move quickly with his hardened manhood pointing the way through his pajamas. He dodged chairs, beds and footstools, groping for switches. His task completed, he returned to his chair on the patio, but Helen remained in place beyond the bathroom door.
George's anxiousness returned. He convinced himself to remain seated on the patio until Helen decided to emerge and sit alongside him. He made a plan. He would sit calmly there, waiting for her to take her place alongside him. He turned her chair slightly, so as to leave no ambiguity about his wishes. He would casually offer her a glass of champagne. He would not be over-eager. She would be impressed by his savoir-faire. He remembered her insistence that he assume command. He was determined to do so. It was a good plan, but he wondered why his nervousness would not abate. The raging hardness in his groin intruded on his consciousness, maintaining the telltale tent in the front of his pajamas. He became more impatient. "What was she doing in there?"
A loud click-click from the bathroom door froze him. For a second, his heart ceased beating. George cast aside his well-made plan of suavity. He jumped out of his chair and took two quick strides toward the bathroom door and then stopped himself. He stood silently waiting for the door to open. His pulse raced. He felt his breathing quicken. All day and night he had fought to control his ardor. He could do so no longer. George needed a new plan. In the pregnant moments that turn seconds to hours, he made one. He would shed all pretenses. The cloak wrapped around his emotions would be sundered.
Here, at last, was the culmination of his most cherished dream. It had sustained him, his secret companion. It had distracted him during his long trips at sea; nourished him on steamy Pacific islands; comforted him at the sight of dead and wounded comrades. The dream had been Helen. In it, she was sometimes a wife, or mother. Mostly it was Helen as his lover, waiting for him, desiring him, dreaming of him as he dreamt of her. Sometimes he saw her face, eyes glistening with joy at the sight of him safely home. At times he would see her distant form, waving excitedly to him as he returned to her. Once in a while, he pictured her nude, lying on a bed, her arms reaching for him.
The dream spoke to him. "Release me. I must go now; you don't need me. Seize reality as it stands before."
At that instant, the dream left him and George realized that he was no longer alone in life. He wondered how much life would mirror the dream. What unimagined circumstances would color their lives? He cast doubts aside. His life with Helen was meant to be. It was real and good. It was time to start. He had jumped over the barrier between hope and action, dream and reality. In the most important way he was no longer a virgin.
The bathroom door slowly opened. Its light pierced the semi-darkness. The shaft of illumination isolated their space from the universe. Helen, with tiny steps, emerged into the open. The brightness framed her as she stood silently and motionless on display. George beheld the sight.
Her hair, which she left undone, cascaded around her shoulders. Her countenance was serene, and her eyes looked straight into his. They glistened a little bit, perhaps with passion, or maybe emotion.
Her shoulders and arms were bare except for the tiny straps that held up the lace bodice of her gown. Her delicate features were displayed; they were perfect, as if carved in white marble. Below, the lace bodice cradled her breasts as they hung naturally beneath her shoulders. As the line of the bodice plunged to her middle, it revealed the upper portion of them. They were round, but not pushed up. Her slender waist trailed down from the bodice and ended with the flare of her hips. The gown hugged them and outlined their feminine details. It draped from them like a waterfall to the floor. The flowing of it accentuated her virginal slenderness. Her bare feet, just visible under the hem, added a tone of earthiness to the otherwise classic scene. It was a lovely vision.
George's eyes feasted on the sight before him. At first, they devoured the picture in its entirety. They found a young woman, eager for her lover. She had a nubile quality, coupled strangely with a virginal innocence. Then his eyes moved to each perfect part which he savored in its turn. His eyes lingered at the outlines of hardened nipples that announced her excitement. She watched George's eyes engulf them. It did not shame her.