©February 23, 1998 (revised August 9, 1998)
by Bongo Bear and J.C. Wilder
I did not know enough about her, this woman for whom sleep was an unwelcome state. So much was still a mystery and she wouldn’t talk about her horrible dreams, only telling me in a sober tone that they are always with her. I wondered what kind of darkness haunted her each night, sapping her energy for living.
She delayed sleep by keeping me on the phone. We stayed up all night and I struggled to keep up my end on the conversation. It was almost sunrise. I had been her shield once again, keeping the nightmares at bay.
"Please, stay with me a little longer," she asked while I hovered in the twilight of consciousness. "I want to meet you. I want us to be together."
The demanding statements shocked me and I was suddenly wide-awake. I had to make a decision. She wanted me in her bed so desperately. She was convincing. What did I want? Why did I want her? She appealed to my curiosity and sense of adventure. She knew I had never been with a woman before. Perhaps that was her motivation; she wanted to be my first.
"…Are you serious? I don't do one night stands."
She did not care. It had been too long for her to care anymore. After dancing around and teasing each other for months, I did not seem to care either. I wanted to know her. I wanted to see her face and touch her with more than my words.
I flew out to meet her. I printed out a color copy of the photograph she sent though the Internet. I carried it secreted in the palm of my hand as I scanned the crowd standing at the end of the gateway. Then I saw her face, half hidden behind the pillar. She spotted me and waved. Her face looked similar to her grainy photo, but different somehow: more animated, more depth to the sparkle in her eyes. Now she was real.
We drove to a hotel in the heart of her city. I was nervous. Memories of my thrills and discomforts on first dates as a teenager were nothing compared to this fascination. We were experienced adults, but this was something new. I knew this beautiful person beside me, and yet I did not know her. Anticipating what the night would bring caused an unnamed excitement to course through my veins. We arrived at the hotel and when I stepped out of her car I felt lightheaded for a few seconds, my heart racing uncharacteristically under my normally cool demeanor.
She stood erect while she stared straight ahead, watching the numbers grow as we went higher. I slouched in the opposite corner. What was she thinking? My outward expression was impassive while I secretly observed her in the mirrored wall of the lift. The bronzed mirror reflected her image with a golden glow. The overhead lights brought out the silvery red highlights in her long, dark blonde hair. She casually tossed the tousled mass of light and dark strands over her shoulder.
The lift moved up quickly, creating a slight flutter in my stomach. Or was it something else? The doors finally opened. I hoisted my bag onto my shoulder and started out the door, but I stopped suddenly to let her out first. She smiled and brushed past me. For a moment, she was a little too close.
Then I wandered down the hall, glancing at the envelope containing my key card and the door numbers. She was satisfied to let me lead the way. The plush carpet in the hallway muffled our footfalls and I wondered if the walls were thick enough to muffle the sounds of intimacy.
The door swung open easily. I immediately turned, opened the closet and tossed in my bag. She took off her coat and handed it to me. I fumbled with the jacket. It slipped off the hanger and lay in heap on the floor. I left it there. She followed suit with her bag, which was much smaller than mine and she had obviously packed carefully and planned well. I was new at this.
The closet door was mirrored. When I closed it, I saw her image behind my own. She was leaning against the wall. Waiting. Her posture was casual. Was she used to this? Her mouth was relaxed, but not smiling. Her hazel eyes were large and very round. I glanced at my own reflection. A slightly startled look passed over my face. Then a small Mona Lisa smile crept up and planted itself on my lips. I turned to look at her directly. I was tired of stealing glimpses of her. I had enough of that nonsense. We were finally alone.
It was late evening and the darkening room attested to it. I watched her turn on a lamp by the bed. Without saying a word I walked across the room, turned off the light and drew open the curtains. I saw the traffic scurrying below. The lights from the other buildings around the city provided a soft glow that became our night light.
She sat on the bed and tossed her shoes in the corner. I sat next to her and carefully unlaced mine and placed them at the foot of the bed. I sat down again, not quite so near. I stared down at my hands, ungainly and large, unsure of what to do next.
She knew I was nervous. She reached out and placed her hand on my arm. She moved behind me and sat up on her knees. Shifting her hands across my shoulders, she kneaded the tense, sore muscles she found there. I felt the warmth of her hands sink in through the cloth of my shirt. She reached around the front and unbuttoned just enough for her to spread my collar open and let her hands touch me directly. She skillfully found each knot and relaxed them all. Slowly, gratefully, I melted into the firm but gentle rolling against my neck and shoulders. I let my head loll forward and closed my eyes. Her touch was hypnotic. She brushed my hair aside and kissed the back of my neck lightly. Her lips were soft and so very welcome that I inhaled deeply, shivering with responsiveness that I could not have controlled even if I had wanted to.
She pulled me backward onto her lap. She had me lying completely on the bed. She removed my glasses and placed them on the night stand. I stared up into her eyes. They were so dark and deep. They drew me in, a willing captive. Like a golden veil, her hair draped around her face and the longest strands tickled my nose. I reached up and pulled her face close to mine. When our lips touched for the briefest of moments, I was both freed and enslaved.
She leaned back to snatch a pillow from the bed and pushed one under my head. Then she laid down beside me and nestled her head onto my shoulder. My arm held her tightly against my side. Her warmth spread over and around me as she pressed in closely, intertwining a leg with mine. I stared outward, mesmerized by the halos of light through the window, made fuzzy without my glasses.
After a time, I looked down at her dimly illuminated face. My
fingers lightly traced her lips and cheek. I was content. Her
eyes were closed. Her breathing was even and deep. She slept
peacefully for the first time since I had known her. This wonderful
woman, who was now more mysterious then ever, snored softly into the night.
I am her shield once more.
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