This story is based on real people and true events in my life. There is a strong fantasy component which I trust will be obvious to the reader, to whom I leave the task of sorting what's fact from what's fiction.
There is very little explicit sex in this story. It's a story of love found and lost, and found again in a different time.
And for the record: Back To the Future played no role in formulating this story, though it will appear so in a couple of places. The elements were in place long before the movie was made.
It's my thirtieth anniversary.
I'm sitting here, typing, trying to find a way to relate what this anniversary is all about. My wife is upstairs sleeping, snoring that charming little singsong snore she produces when we've just made love. I can't be sure whether it's her third or fourth orgasm that turns on the snore button.
Gretchen has been my wife for eighteen years. And it's my thirtieth anniversary.
Life has been just grand for us. She's a very attractive woman, in a plain way, who has devoted herself to me completely -- more than I deserve -- and who has given me four fine children. She even initiates lovemaking, like tonight; she came up behind me tonight and whispered, "I got this little itch. Can Mr Magic Tongue come out and play?"
As good as my life is, and as much as I love Gretchen, she's not the love of my life. I lost her twice: once twenty-two years ago, and once thirty years before that.
It's my thirtieth anniversary, you see.
Let me back up to a time when I was fourteen. I was a high-school freshman -- my birthday came late, and so I was always a tad older than most of my classmates -- and I was coasting through on my native intelligence. I made decent grades, good enough to get into most state-supported universities; but I was not really motivated.
Fortune dealt me a blow, one I did not see coming. Right after my sophomore year, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn't one of those you'll-be-dead-in-six-months cancers. Even back then, the state of the art was good enough to save her; but it was expensive. My folks had insurance, but the needed treatments drained their savings.
So, no college for me.
I was glad my mom was okay, don't get me wrong. It just meant I was going to have to work for a living, at least for a while.
Fortune then smiled on me in another unexpected way.
Two days after high school graduation, I got a call from an Air Force recruiter. With no prospects for college, at least in the short term, I reluctantly signed up. I had my parents blessing; my dad said good things came from national service.
He was right. After basic training, I was assigned to DLI, the Defense Language Institute. My all-A-plusses-all-the-time in French during high school made me a hot language prospect.
So they taught me Russian.
I was actually very good at it. I went through Basic and Intermediate at the top of my class, then spent time in duty stations that "forced" me (darn the luck!) to practice this new skill.
After the Air Force, I attended a university which offered a Russian Language major. I cruised through it. I had never enjoyed school more.
Along the way I met Jessie, a pretty young woman who practically raped me on our third date. She may not have been a nymphomaniac, but the differential diagnosis would have been a bitch. We fucked, screwed, made love and anything else you can call it, then married as soon as I graduated.
A baby girl followed in under a year. I got a job translating Russian technical specs for an engineering firm. I was apparently living the American dream.
Then it all went to shit. Jessie announced one evening she was having an affair, she was leaving me, and my daughter was not my daughter. This was well before the Maury Show came on the air; I had no way to fight except to hire expensive lawyers, which I could not afford, and anyway she moved out of state as soon as I was served with divorce papers.
A year later I was 28, divorced, and miserable.
I soldiered on for a few years. What else could I do?
As always happens, life has a way of taking one's mind off one's worries; and so it was with me. I rose through the ranks in my job as a translator and editor. I stayed away from personal relationships for the most part, though there were a few brief interludes.
Then, when I was 31, some friends conspired to introduce me to Becky.
Becky was my age, and as I learned later, never married. I was very hesitant to press hard, considering my past experiences. Nevertheless, by six weeks we were kissing passionately, struggling to keep our hands in the proper places.
Then one night, it just ... happened.
We were sitting on my couch, and our desires erupted. Our clothes evaporated, and somehow we floated up in the air and landed on my bed (well, not really). We touched and kissed and sucked and...
and then I was inside her, erupting, and her orgasm was a soft squeal in my ear, a musical sound I wanted to hear again and again.
She had intimated, without ever saying as much, that she was not a virgin. Her head was on my shoulder; she was relaxed, as was I, and I gently tweaked her left nipple with my right thumb and forefinger. She lifted her face to mine and we kissed.
"So," I said softly, "was it good for you?"
She giggled and slapped me gently on the chest.
For some reason I pressed on. "So was I better than your first lover?" I asked, expecting a positive reply.
She stiffened. "I don't want to talk about that," she said flatly.
I let it drop. Touched a nerve, I suppose.
Time went by; within three weeks we had moved in together, and a year later we were wed in a small ceremony. Her parents had passed, as had my mother, due to a recurrence of her cancer; my father had dropped off my radar.
We never had children -- something in her could not conceive -- and we bonded closer every year out of love and need.
God, I loved that woman, more than any man had ever loved any woman, as I thought.
If I thought I was living the American Dream before, this was the real deal. I even took up golf (which I had never regarded as a sport) and tennis (too lazy to put out that much effort). We had a fine circle of friends.
I thought nothing could spoil my happiness.
When I was 44 things began to change. I guess it was a version of a midlife crisis, and it took several weeks to coalesce; but when it did, I was consumed.
I wanted to know about who came before me.
I tried to ask her, in several clumsy ways. Either she did not get it, or she shut me out. Nothing would get her to open up.
Finally one evening I was particularly peevish. I had been picking fights for several evenings, but this one evening I was really a prick. (I relate this not to justify my actions, nor to elicit sympathy; I'm merely facing what I did.)
Finally she said, "Dammit, what the hell is wrong with you?"
She never swore. I had hit the right nerve, but it left me feeling too guilty. For reasons I don't understand, I simply sat in my easy chair and wept.
She seemed genuinely horrified. She knelt at my side and said, "Baby, please, I love you, what's wrong?"
I composed myself as best I could, and said, "I'm obsessed."
"With what?" she asked, looking concerned.
"You won't discuss it with me," I replied, and again dissolved into tears.
She was silent for a moment, and then said, "You're curious about my first lover, aren't you?"
She rose and sat in her chair. She sat silently, looking at me, and at length, reached over, took my hand, and said, "Let's go to the bedroom, and I'll tell you about it."
I was snubbing the whole way, but I let her lead me into the bedroom. She carefully undressed me, and then herself, and guided us both onto the bed.
She stroked my hair a few times. "I was twenty-three," she said.
I looked at her. She held my gaze, and said, "I held onto my virginity until I was twenty-three years old. Quite a feat, when we were young, eh?" She smiled, and I laughed nervously.
"I was in college," she said. "The local community college. There was this guy named Gordon, I had known him since grade school, and I had the biggest crush on him. Anyway, he had been in the Army or something, and he saw me one day when he was home and asked me to go out."
She paused. "I went out with him. We dated a few times, and he started telling me he had always loved me, and wanted me, and next thing you know I'm not a virgin anymore."
There was a moment of silence. "So, was it good?" I asked.
She was silent for a moment, as a tear leaked out of her eye and landed on her breast. "I can't recall," she said. "I do not remember the first time I had sex." She looked at me. "Ain't that a bitch?" she said.
We both chuckled mirthlessly, and then fell silent.
"I do remember the last time," she said shakily, after a moment. "It was October, there was some big football game going on, and his family were all glued to the TV. He got me up to his bedroom and made lov ... no, he fucked me. There was no love. He fucked me." Her final words were full of heat.
"After we got done," she said, "He was all like, Hey, it's me, but I can't see you anymore, there's someone else, I have to be fair..." She wept for a moment, and said, "He wanted a piece of ass as a going away present! That's ALL I WAS TO THAT ASSHOLE!"
She was weeping unreservedly now.
I held her. I said, rather weakly, "I'd never treat you that way."
She turned her face to me. "Why do you think I fell into bed with you when I did?" she rasped? "You loved me, you were a gentleman, and I needed you. I loved you. I LOVE you! Don't you get how much you mean to me?" Tears were falling openly.
I kissed her without reservation. We made love quietly, desperately.
After, she turned her back to spoon up against me. She took my right hand and pressed it into her right breast, right where I loved it.
She was silent for a moment. "That bastard gave me the clap," she said. "Ate my insides. I couldn't give you children no matter what."
I kissed the back of her neck. "You're my lover and friend," I said. "Fuck everything else."
She leaned back to kiss me, and we fell asleep.
My last thought was, God, what I would give to have known her years before.
Then sleep took me away.
I awakened the next morning to the smell of...
... bacon frying? What the hell? I had not smelled that for years, not since my mother cooked it for me. I never ate anything heavy for breakfast, usually grapefruit and some extracted apple juice.
I got out of bed and stumbled into the living room. It was my parents' home, all right. My dad was sitting there reading the morning paper, just as he always did.
When he spotted me, he said, "Hey, bud, I was just coming to wake you up."
I looked at him blankly, and asked, "What's going on?"
He regarded me warily and said, "Nothing's going on. What's going on?"
I was silent for a moment. "I'm confused."
He frowned. My mother walked into the room and said, "Did you have a nightmare?"
"Maybe..." I started, and then, "Maybe that's it. Yeah, definitely ... had to be."
"Are you feeling all right?" asked my dad.
I didn't answer for a moment. "I think so," I said at length. "Just a nightmare."
He seemed mollified, and my mother had returned to cooking, so I retreated to the bathroom, where I threw up.
My dad heard it, and came to the bathroom door. "Son, are you sick?"
"I was for a second, there ... I think I'm okay now," I answered, cleaning out the vile taste from my mouth.
I emerged from the bathroom to my parents looking very grim. My mother said, "It could be the flu." She held a hand to my forehead. "Doesn't feel warm..."
My dad had a light-bulb moment. He said, "I'll bet it's nerves about the first day of high school."
Oh, shit. I had awakened on the first day of my freshman year.
"Maybe he should stay home," my mother said.
Suddenly a million thoughts and possibilities ran through my head. "No," I said hastily, "It's okay. I'll be fine. It must have been nerves that gave me the nightmare, too. I just need to plunge on in."
My parents were now truly suspicious. I had never shown that kind of interest in school; but since there was nothing illegal, immoral or fattening about it, they let it drop.
To say my approach to school was different is a great understatement. I whizzed through Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II in the first semester alone. I convinced Ms DuPree, my French teacher, that I had already studied French in grade school, and asked if I could take the French I final for credit-by-exam. She was astonished when I aced it.
I rooted around in the library one day, found a book I seemed to remember -- Winnie the Pooh in Russian -- and found I could read it. Yes! My great skill was intact.
I talked to the coaching staff about golf -- I remembered having friends on the golf team in high school -- and sure enough I qualified. Tennis would have interfered, so a choice had to be made, and I settled on golf.
My first trip through high school I was regarded an underachiever who was pretty good with French and decent in the sciences. This time, I was a right oddity; I was at the top of my class, good in every subject, lettered in golf all four years, and I could speak Russian on top of everything else.
By a twist of a point here and there, I missed being named Valedictorian and had to settle for Salutatorian. No matter; I had scholarship offers out the ass. Of course, I chose the one that would place me in proximity to Becky.
I won't belabor the next few years. Suffice to say, I had to tweak circumstances to allow me to meet Becky, but meet her I did.
I deliberately followed the same courtship path as I had the first time I met her. (I was determined to be a gentleman, especially in light of what she had told me.) She responded exactly as I hoped; she was in love with me, at a point before Gordon ripped off her innocence.
One evening after dinner, just sitting around the table, I brought up the subject of the future.
"So, where are we headed?" I asked.
She blushed and shrugged. "I dunno. I'm sorta waiting on you."
I smiled. "We've been seeing each other for ... what, three months?" She nodded. "So," I continued, "maybe it's a tad early to commit ourselves fully to one another in a formal engagement. Personally, I'm not seeing anyone else, and don't really want to. How about you?"
"I don't date, except for you,"she replied.
"So why don't we leave it like this: We'll grant one another exclusivity, and revisit the question in, say, three months?"
"Grant one another exclusivity?" she mocked. "How utterly formal!" she laughed, putting on airs.
I laughed, too. "Sounded better than saying, 'going steady.'"
"No it didn't," she replied, and we enjoyed a nice laugh together. After a moment, she looked me straight in the eye, and said, "I accept." We leaned in together for a kiss.
I did not see her for the next week, and then all hell broke loose.
I left her messages which she did not answer; I drove by her apartment and no one was home. To say I was worried only hints at the depth of my emotion.
Finally, one evening there was a light knocking on the door. I opened it, and there stood Becky, looking dreadful. She came in without being asked, and announced, "We have to talk."
"No shit," I muttered.
Once we were seated on the couch, she said, "Please let me say what I have to say. Don't interrupt." I said nothing, and she continued, "Remember when we agreed to exclusivity, whatever you called it?"
"The next day, I ran into this guy named Gordon. You never met him. We went to school together, and I always had the biggest crush on him. He just got out of the Coast Guard, and moved back to town.
"He told me he had always had a crush on me. Me!" She paused to stifle a little sob. "He wanted to see me that evening. One thing led to another, and I ... I let him take my virginity." She sobbed a few deep sobs. I felt like an icy fist was clamping my heart.
"He said he wanted to be with me forever. I know I promised you, but ... I've wanted him for so long, and I just can't let the opportunity pass me by." She wiped her eyes. "Can you understand that?"
I stood, feeling like a zombie. I walked to the door, opened it, and said, "Get out." She sobbed again, but complied. As she walked out the door, I said, "Becky? I wish you well. I hope he doesn't break your heart."
She made as if to hug me, but I held up my hands. She turned and walked away.
Seems you can't cheat fate.