Washing down a mouthful before answering, “I got in on Thursday. Today’s Monday, and I’ve got to be aboard ship by 2400…” glancing at Marsha, “uh, midnight on the second. So I guess I’ve got about twelve days left.”
Without Mitchell! Now, suddenly Marsha could not imagine how she would be able to go back to living as she’d lived before. Without Mitchell? “Twelve days,” her voice breaking, snapping her fingers, “will go like that…”
Looking at his daughter, Eli realized that this young man was different than any of the other young men his daughter had introduced him to in the past.
“… and if you don’t mind,” Marsha said, fighting back tears, “I’d just as soon not talk about when you have to leave.”
Looking at her, suddenly finding it difficult to swallow his mouthful of hot dog around the lump in his throat, “Yeah,” Mitchell said, “me, too.”
July 2, 1955
Oh, God! It’s time!
“Bye, Mitchie,” holding back tears as she and her eldest son kissed, then held each other tightly for a moment.
“Dad.” The two men did as they’d done twice before: look stoically at each other, then—always surprising Mitchell—hug emotively.
Staying back, Myra and Walter left the two to their own goodbyes.
Walking hand in hand to the boarding gate, “My, God, Mitchie!” She’d tried to hold the tears back, but couldn’t. The shine in her eyes becoming fluid, “I’m going to miss you so much!”
At the gate, standing facing each other, watery eyes locked onto the others face, minds and hearts thinking and feeling as one.
“Marcie,” the painful lump in his chest moving to his throat, barely able to whisper her name, “Oh, Marcie.” Averting his face so she wouldn’t see him cry, pulling her to his chest, holding her tightly, “I love you! I’ll miss you!”
“Me, too, Mitchie! Me, too!”
Knowing he must! Pulling from her arms, without looking back Mitchell rushed through the gate, up the boarding ramp, into the plane.
Sitting on the port side window just aft of the wing, looking through the rounded-square window, through the shimmering distortion of his tears, still standing at the gate, he was able to see her, and… She saw him and waved, and Mitchell could see her mouth moving in exaggerated movements, and, though he could not hear the words, he knew what the words were and, silently mouthing the words back…
“I love you!” “I love you!” “I love you!”
Slammed shut, the hatch was secured by a stewardess…
The portable stairway pulled away, the four motors sputtered… then roared to life…
The plane, moving from the terminal…
They’d spent every possible moment together.
That Monday, after leaving Eli’s they had driven to Lanathin’s, where Mitchell came in and stood by Marsha’s side as she’d honestly told the store manager why she must have the next twelve days off.
As the manager’s husband had been in the army during Korea, and as she well remembered her own feelings, she did understand Marsha’s and, liking this young couple, did give Marsha the time off… without pay.
They went to the zoo, to the beach, to the movies. They went for quiet walks and long drives.
With the barrier broken on Undeen, if the situation became “hot” enough—and, oh, yeah, it most often did—she would allow him to touch her breasts, but only over her clothing and, though he’d tried—good Lord how he’d tried—his hands and eyes were not again allowed under her blouse or bathing suit.
They’d had long, hot—so hot—necking sessions with restricted petting and barely restrained passion, and even though at times he’d thought Marsha must think him a centipede and a half, Mitchell was happy to be with her, and to be allowed to touch and hold her within whatever boundaries she’d felt herself comfortable with, but…
Being human with a natural curiosity and very much in love, and certainly wanting him as much as—having no idea of just how badly he—wanted her, she’d actually had—although, considering how emphatically she’d been able to hold him off, he would never believe that she had—a harder time controlling her passion than he and, oh, yeah, she did want to touch him there, and oh, yeah, she did want him to touch her there. But somehow Marsha was able to find the presence of mind to keep his hands, and eyes, above her bathingsuit or blouse and completely away from the area of her groin, and…
Whereas she had counted their ever-dwindling days with dread, she really didn’t know how much longer she’d be able to keep her resolve and virginity intact, and though she knew she would miss him terribly, she also thought, in a sense, that she’d be relieved when he did leave.
But, oh, no, she wasn’t, and…
Watching as the plane became little more than a reflecting silver speck, Marsha was sorry that she hadn’t gone further with him, and allow him to go further with her… Maybe even… No! She knew herself and knew she’d never let Mitchell go all the way… Maybe.
Now, this was the fear he’d felt when Mitchell had first realized the depth of his feelings for Marsha.
Last year when he left home he’d had an immediate sense of homesickness; but not like this. Never like this! Now he knew, without a doubt, that he had left part of himself on the runway of the now barely visible airport.
Their time together: Talking to Marsha; the feel of her touch; the scent of her hair; being with her; loving her… Also, the dream of sex: of seeing Marsha nude; of lying next to Marsha nude; of the sight and feel of Marsha’s breasts, bare; of kissing her nipples, of tasting her nipples; of placing his hand onto her, into her, there; of feeling the warm moisture, there; of kissing her, there; of tasting her there; of loving her, there! Of Marsha loving him in return! Of, Oh, God! the consummate act.
These were the factual thoughts and masturbatory fantasies that had occupied Mitchell’s mind while he and Marsha had been together. But now…
Passing over Illinois, the plane flew east, and with each passing moment, with the physical distance between Marsha and himself widening, he could remember only one other time in his life that he’d felt this alone and this lonely, and though there was not a thing he could do about it then… Now?
For the first time, My, God! a thought came to mind, and, the thought jolting him, Why didn’t I think of that before? He knew that this time, now, he definitely could do something about it.
The plane landed at La Guardia Airport at 7:57 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
Having thought about it the length of the entire flight, knowing with absolute clarity what he intended to do, taking the subway to Times Square, he walked no more than a half-block before finding the exact type of store he’d thought about finding. Inside he found exactly what he’d thought about finding, bought it, wrote the note he’d mentally written and rewritten the entire length of the four-hour flight, then, “Do you have a box for this?” he asked the girl behind the counter.
Reaching into the waste can beneath the counter, “Yeah,” she tossed him a cardboard box and cover that was triple the size needed.
Using crumpled newspaper to hold it steady, enclosing it along with his note, “You got something I can wrap it with?”
Chomping on a wad of Double Bubble, “Yeah,” the girl handed him a brown paper bag, scissors and a roll of Scotch tape.
He wrapped it, addressed it, and—using five stamps, just to be on the safe side—kissing it, Mitchell dropped the clumsily-wrapped package into the first mailbox he saw.
Writing the note and sending the package had helped, somewhat, but now, despondent and lonely, standing on the bow of the Staten Island Ferry he saw the greenly-illuminated Statue of Liberty and the lights of the dozens of boats that were in the harbor. There was a bright, three-quarter moon and the pin-point lights of millions of stars that speckled the clear, pitch-black sky. “Marcie,” he whispered as he struggled to keep from crying, “is it possible that maybe you’re looking at this very same moon now, right now, at this exact time?”
Mitchell never knew but wondering, Mitchie, is it possible that you’re looking at this same moon this very same time? From her ninth floor apartment window, Marsha Goldman was.