Carrie woke in the pearl gray light before dawn. Stretching slightly, she smiled at the delicious tenderness in her body. When she made love with him the night before, she held nothing back. Bending and flexing and stroking, rising and falling she gave him everything. How could she not? He gave her all of himself in return.
Sometimes it seemed like a dream of giddy excitement. She feared the floating feeling of walking above the earth meant that she would soon wake into the world as she had always thought it to be. Carrie lectured herself to keep her expectations realistic. There are no perfect people, you forgive, and understand and keep your hopes reasonable so that you can be content with friends and family who try their best to love you though they don’t understand you. If you secretly long for an ideal, you can’t ever allow yourself to name it because naming shatters your ability to pretend, even to yourself, that you are – content.
The ideal began to force itself out when she saw the ad on the bulletin board at the library. "Creative Writing Circle - the first and third Tuesday of each month - 8 pm." Carrie took the flyer and bought a spiral notebook on her way home.
She was the first of seven to arrive in the conference room. A tall woman with a deep voice entered next and introduced herself as the moderator of the group. "We usually start with a brief presentation on some aspect of writing, then we share things we've written for critique. Have you participated in a critique group before? Either way, there's a learning curve for becoming involved with the group. Just give yourself a chance and I'm sure you'll like it."
When the others arrived Carrie introduced herself and they started the first exercise. Setting the timer for 7 minutes, they were to write as quickly as they could about "writing". She didn't notice him until it was his turn to read the paragraph he'd just finished.
"Writing isn't something I choose to do, it's something that has chosen me. I write because I have to, there is something inside me that wants expression. I need to know it, to claim it, and the only way to find it is to write. I don't know what I'm dreaming until I see it on paper."
She couldn’t remember how much time passed before they began to meet outside the group, but she remembered the first time she’d talked to him alone. They walked through the park, talking and laughing and arguing. She was certain that the ecological balance of the high desert was being systematically destroyed by over-grazing of the huge herd of cattle kept by conglomerate ranches. He found her view naďve and argued the other side, pointing out that the ranchers had the keenest interest of anyone in making certain that water rights were preserved for the broadest possible cross-section, and how they monitored and cared for the prairie grasses that fed their stock. Oh the thrill of speaking with someone who held a strong opinion that was different from her own.She listened carefully, not so much arguing as probing to understand his view and compare it to hers then unaware that she had fallen silent until he stopped and looking at her intently.
“Have I offended you?”
“No! I’m fascinated. I may not be 100% persuaded, but you’ve moved me yards and yards away from the certainty that I’m right.”
He laughed and caught her hand.
More important to their developing friendship was the afternoon that he named the thing that lurked below his surface. After a lifetime of pushing it down and trying to pretend that he could live without it, he began to speak. She heard him in amazement. Her heart began to pound and her hands to shake. The power of the naming of a dream swept through her and brought her own dreams bubbling to her lips. A moment of pure terror captured her as she realized that she stood with her soul naked before him. The pain of a rejection lurked just to the side of the conversation waiting while she was vulnerable for the first time in her life. She could feel it as a clammy creep across her brow and a clenching in her stomach. But at the height of her fear she looked into his eyes and saw nothing but acceptance and joy. She cried then as he held her, and she felt the stroke of his hand on her hair and his own damp face on her neck.
Soon the priority concern of their lives became how, when, how often and where they could meet. Last night when it was time for her to go, he leaned in to kiss her. As soon as his lips touched her own, a fire ignited between them that spun the earth from beneath their feet.
Looking at him now, lying peaceful and relaxed her heart tightened in her breast. She had never imagined that it was possible to feel so much, to be so completely connected to another human being. Her fingers itched to touch him. Laying them on the soft hair that covered his chest she felt his heartbeat. So strong and so real. She stroked her hand across the broad sweep. When she discovered hard pebbles on either side of that heartbeat, she realized that even in his sleep he knew and responded to her touch. Did she dare? Could she take him as he lay sleeping?
With gentle exploration she found his body making itself ready for possession. The perfect counterpoint to her own desire. He moaned and moved his head restlessly. She couldn’t stop. Rising to her knees she first leaned down to taste him. Lapping gently with her tongue and caressing him with her lips. He sprang to hardness beneath her touch. She luxuriated in the contrasts of him. Contrasts that fit with everything she knew about him. His strength freed her to give him everything, knowing that he could receive it and not be discouraged or dismayed by her passion. His softness wrapped her in warmth and cushioned her from any brush with fear or doubt.
She rose above him and brought her knees across his body. Already she was weeping her moisture and he slid easily into the heat of her body. She clenched her muscles around him and brought a groan from her own lips. Holding her breasts, squeezing and rolling the sensitive tips in her hands brought another, involuntary tightening of her body around him. Moving faster now, wilder and freer she slid up along his shaft then fell hard on him, bringing him to the mouth of her womb. Throwing her head back, she abandoned herself to the joy of mating her body with his. Drops of perspiration formed on her brow and shoulders with the intensity of her movement and desire. She strove to reach the point he had shown her the night before.
Strong hands gripped her hips taming her erratic rhythm just a little, adjusting her angle so that he stimulated her just right there – she looked down into deep pools of awareness. Brown eyes had always felt warm and soft, smooth as chocolate, but in his brown eyes she found cinnamon, and the bite of a chili. With their eyes locked together, he arched slightly thrusting up into her and she came apart. He pulled her down. Catching her cry and her breath with the sweep of his tongue. He rolled them over to lie on top of her, still buried deep inside. She exulted in his weight holding her steadily through the shudders that continued to rock through her flesh.
Was this the moment? The time to confess that he had become as important to her as air? He smiled. Down to the right of the bed the dog yipped for attention, it was time to let her outside for her morning walk. Even in the midst of a world apart, demands and responsibility lifted their head.
She opened her eyes into the pearl gray light before dawn. The bed was cool and empty. Throbbing awareness pulsed inside her.
She pulled herself up and out. “Come on then, Girl. I’ll take you outside.” She looked down at the ball of fur running in circles at her feet. “Your timing really stinks, you know.”