We slip into his truck and he cups my face in his hand and gives me a smooch, then a peck on the tip of my nose. I ruin the sweetness by asking if they teach that move in stud school. He laughs, sighing as he fires up his rig. Mutters that I am hard work.
I slip my hand in my purse and pull out a CD. Surprised, he glances over at me, “You made me a mixed tape? Is it for when I am driving around or is this my getting laid is a sure thing music?” I flirt feeling free and giddy..assure him I am always his sure thing. We banter back and forth as he squeezes my knee. My heart heavy but my soul light for once.
Inside as I set the basket of dinner on the table, he puts away dessert and reaches for wine. Our trade he gets dinner and I get wine and sex on the counter. The lust is hazy around us as he sort of stalks me and the wine opener at the same time. He corners me against the corner and palms my bottom as he leans down to kiss me. He is so tall I tippy toe try to slide my arms onto his shoulders. He pulls me up and sets me on the counter moving my skirt so he against me. He gives me the smile that turns him from good looking to please fuck me silly and never stop hot. (They teach this in the navy)
I disappear into the passion, wanting to stop time, wanting to just feel him and nothing else. But from the corner of my eye, I spy the tiny crevice near the living room where I hid shaking and sweating last night as he slept. I start from the memory and he pulls away asking whats wrong. I take a deep breath and try to speak and to my absolute horror my eyes fill. Hey hey hey now, he soothes. He asks if I am getting scared , do I want to put my running shoes on…. I grab onto him like he is going to vanish and just hug him. Tears leaking out , trapped fear making my nose pink. He moves away, inquiring if he can fridge dinner . I am very aware of how hard he works and the fact that a sequoia takes a lot of feeding and watering. I protest and he hushes me.
I clamber off of the counter, ashamed at my communication skills. I am struck dumb and silent. I want to just die before another man thinks I am broken. He asks me for the CD…He pours pinot noir into two glasses. He looks at me so gently as he wipes the smudged mascara at my eye. Puts the CD in his mouth hands me wine and knicks the bottle. He pulls me by my lil finger that is hooked into his to the living room. I perch on the arm of his Sequoia size sofa as he inserts the Cd and dims the lights. He looks at me as he sits. pats his lap and calls me sweetie pie. I stand stupid in front of him as the music starts. He pushes my skirt up and settles me straddling on his lap, hands making a pattern on my tights covered legs.
He begins. I sip wine. He asks gently did I call Eric last night when I got out of his bed. Is that what this is about? Compassion, shame, fear race to be first. I stop his next questions with a kiss and the grip at my hip spurs me on.. No I explain I called my ex Mac. That shocks him and I see coolness creep in. I told him that I had a nightmare, That I dont get them often but when I do , they linger. Again, a tight lipped mouth, eyebrows raised… “SO u call ur ex?”
I move to get up, and he puts his wine glass down and holds me hard.
“Yea, No. I asked a question, can I have an answer?”
No please or negotiation.
The music keeps time with my breathing.
“So those scars you kissed, my fear of my body, my love of a certain kind of pain and dominance all comes out of events that transpired in my life. Maybe the worst one was four years ago tomorrow.”
And he breathes. He breathes and loosens his grip. “Tell me. I only know a bit, tell me what you feel comfortable with, so I can understand.” he says softly.
“It was just a really bad time that was sort of like a precursor for all the bad that came after.” I say trying to surreptitiously gulp wine.
With me in his lap still, he leans forward and grabs his cell. Punches in a number and tells someone that an issue has come up and could they take the lead on their project tomorrow, he will be in early afternoon. Back and forth, back and forth… then he tosses his phone onto the sofa. I just think to myself that I need to work on my gaping fish face……
” Start at the beginning.” he looks me in the eyes with a no bullshit yet kind expression…..
It was Thanksgiving in Haiti and all I wanted was to be with my son. …I told him about the turkey sandwich,the long walks and tears. The rocks and heat, the people who made up my lie and die team.The intense stress of my job. How I had picked up the wrong safety vest and walked too far. I told him about the bleeding Haitian man. I told him about my failures. I glossed and dove into details of the violence. How I wanted to kill the man that was trying to kill me because it felt like my whole life had been this same struggle. I told him about the smell, the shouting of french back and forth. I told him when I broke the bastards jaw with my boot, and he took the knife to me, how I knew I would die then.The rape, the cold chill. I explained packing my wounds, lying almost naked and feeling life slowly creep away. How I had to use a rock and my tattered clothing to keep from bleeding out. I had trouble staying conscious, so I began to recite, again,the poem Invictus. Over and over. I felt the blood come up my throat and I knew what that meant. I started to revisit and reorder my life. I wept silently and motionless, thinking I would never see my son again. I told him I prayed then hated myself. I told him I begged then went quiet. Towards the end how I saw memories and my sense of smell was acute. I remembered Paris and my first love. How I finally succumbed with a hill in aux provence in my mind. That I could smell the lavender fields below. That I was sunburnt and calm. I told him I knew it was goodbye.
The next thing I knew I heard yelling. I felt a blow. Tears and sweat fell on my face. I was confused. I felt hands on me. I couldn’t speak or move. Straps were harnessing me. The felt like iron grips. I told him how maybe how for the rest of my life I will hear Rusty inches from my face Pleading, screaming at me- Bitch you will not die, you cannot die. You fuckin dont die on me. I remember loud booming noises. Being lifted and feeling the jarring of running while flat. LuLu our Dr kept screaming into the radio. I remember I was alarmed by her screaming she never screamed. As soon as we had started we stopped. They say they never knew such fear. I opened my eyes for a few flutters as we waited in the clear for a the chopper that got me. They worked on me. Then it all went black.
I woke in intubation, I heard Rusty’s soft voice sing me the Pretenders, I’ll stand by you. His face was was laying on his arm, tears cracking his voice as he sang on . I panicked, he looked up and blackness returned. Then light from a Dr. and I will spare you the rest. I was in the ICU and I was in really bad shape. Rusty had fought the Drs so hard to stay with me that eventually it was arrest him or leave him, against protocol they let him remain. I told Mike about the lengths Mac went to, to get to me and how my parents didn’t. I told Mike about the fear that I would be disfigured forever. I told Mike about the size of the knife, the man, the aftermath. I survived it all and then watched my life fall to chaos.
The entire time, Mike listened. Still and open like the door to a vault. Strong arms held me and let me say the words. He asked no questions. He wiped the tears that escaped. And then the retelling was done. Music filled the silence as he just shifted me and cradled me in his arms, petting my back. He reached down and kissed the tip of my nose. The he began to tell me how the down and dirty shit that we expect but never see coming is what changes us the most. He recalled a vague sketch from when he was a seal. A dark tale, the point that it was what made him selfish. He didn’t want to waste time doing anything that he didn’t want to do ever again. He said its why he blew at relationships. If he had a day off and wanted to hike the Falls, yet his lady wanted to do something else….. How he didn’t want to give up his friends, his hobbies… He didn’t want to ever be forced against his will again. He illustrated how a life shattering event could affect even the smallest details in life.
Maybe it was just my defense mechanism, but I started laughing a fairly bitter laugh. Asked him what the fuck he was doing with me then… I sort of slid off of his lap and suggested soup and more wine… I was trying to change the tone, all the while my heart was freaking….
He followed. “You really don’t get how different you are do you? Well sweetie pie, you are something pretty damn special.”
He continued…” You sharing that shitty experience with me, well… we share some common ground not every couple can or does. Thank you for trusting me.”
I sort of half flew.. flung myself into him, pulling on his shirt to get him to bend down and kiss me. A jumble of words fell out in between the kisses. Broken .. scarred… starting over… Fear… hurt. anger.. Darkness.
Then you want some magic soup?
I fed the Sequoia, preening at his flowery praise as he inhaled his bowl then another…I drank wine to nervous to eat. He dunked pieces of french bread into the soup and slipped them in my mouth as he made me laugh with stories and mishaps. After he went to take a shower and I tidied up.
He returned in boxers and damp hair smelling like sequoia aftershave and soap. Its funny what that can do to a girl. He gave me the panty melter and asked if I wanted to listen to music or ………”wiggle eyebrows” or maybe just snuggle. Considering I had dressed carefully in my fuck me skirt and Hell yes bra, I pretty much commanded him to have his wicked way with me…He is a very literal man.
Thing about sharing those kind of memories, is you don’t want to dwell on them. They take up enough airtime on the soundtrack of life anyway. So we got rowdy… And in that tussle he did a thing for which I think I will always remember. He read my body like braille in the dim light. Everywhere he felt a scar he kissed again. No matter how he twisted my body, he found them. He kissed old scars and new. Then when his thumb brushed over my girls bits and he felt the scar there he went to kiss it. I tensed and pushed him away. Suddenly I had a Sequoia hand bracelet trapping my wrists as he bent down and did what I have let few ever do. He kissed that scar and then….well… Johnny Cash said it best… “All them women gonna make me, teach ’em what they don’t know how” And HOW.. he taught me! *Fangirls*
I get it ladies.. I so totally now get it…
We stayed up late into the night, trying sex on to see how it fit. All the grief of life came out of me in a completely different way. I got buckwild and silly. I did filthy things with the ice cubes from his water. I got so carried a way I proper accidentally bit his shoulder. I tore his neck tie that he had grabbed to tie me up with from my wiggling..I decided at 3am that I wanted dessert, so me in his Tshirt and he in his boxers devoured cream puffs… then clearly you have to dance off the calories. So I cued the Cd where it had left off. And the most perfect song came on, sort of speaking to the loneliness that grief leaves in u. My back was to him and he sorted started moving our bodies in a sway as if we were at a concert. The slow grind, the neck kisses, your words picture being sung by someone else. A shared pain like fireflies in the dark. A beginning, an end and a middle.
As you could just make out the pink of dawns pretty slender fingertips… I laid my head down. curled so tightly into him. Boobs tucked against his arm. I have always said everyone has a story, that story might define them or have inspired them, even defeated them.. At this point as I write this, I am drinking coffee having survived the night before the day. And it brings it in to perspective as he scrambles eggs. Today is Tuesday. Tonight is cards with Eric, the 24th is one of my most favorite dearest friends birthday. So you bear witness to the lonely road, but accept any comapny and light along the way.