My hair is long and soft, lying across your naked belly. You stroke it absentmindedly as I read you stories from an old literature book. I love these stories. Hidden gems that no one really reads any more. My copy of the book is tattered and soft with age and use. It feels like well worn leather and smells in that way that only old books do. I don’t think you enjoy the stories as much as I do, but you listen to me read just because you enjoy hearing my voice. You enjoy stroking my hair. My curls tangle as you pull them through your fingers, but neither of us minds. When you hit a snag, you delicately pick it out until my hair glides through your fingers again.
I know my dark curls are so different from your silky straight blonde strands, and at first it made me self conscious even to let you touch me. But you showed such wonder and admiration of my hair, I couldn’t bear to stop you. It was the same with our bodies. Your body was so lean, all straight lines and angles. Mine, soft and curvy… I was embarrassed when you touched my stomach. It was a reflex to suck in a breath. But you told me how jealous you were of my curves. That my skin felt like velvet. I couldn’t think of stopping you.
You run your fingers along my forehead, lightly along my hairline. Only twice though because you know the third time it tickles and I’ll stop reading and it will break the spell. Twice is relaxing, three is too much. And you know me so well, I don’t even have to tell you this. I smile as you do this twice and no more.
Outside my window, it’s raining, a steady thrum on the window and the fire escape. The room is warm enough that we can lie on the bed in our underwear without cover, just our bodies touching for warmth. My bra doesn’t match my panties and I’m so comfortable with you, I don’t even think about it.
As if reading my mind, you say, “You know you can’t dress like this with a guy. They would notice.”
I laugh and say, “That’s not anything I’ll have to worry about any time soon.”
We lapse back into our routine. I pick up the story where I left off. I can tell you’re getting a little distracted but I don’t want to stop. I’m afraid if you start thinking too much, you’ll leave. And I miss you when you aren’t here.
“Are you hungry?” You ask.
“What do you have in mind?”
I’m not hungry, but I love when you cook for me, so if you offer, I won’t say no.
“Biscuits and gravy? Tomato gravy?” you ask. It’s something our grandmothers would make and it’s a comfort food for us both. Your grandmother would put the tomatoes in the gravy, cooking it until the gravy is tinged red instead of white. My grandmother would cut fresh slices and serve it on biscuits with the gravy poured over them both. I prefer it my way, but the truth is, if you’re cooking, I won’t protest.
I smile and say, “Yes, I’d love that.”
You stand and stretch and walk the few steps to the kitchen. It’s my kitchen, with my tools, but you’ve cooked here so many times, they’re more yours than mine. Your legs are lean and tan as you stand on your toes to reach the cabinets. I admire and envy the length and shape of them.
You see me looking and smile at me. “Come read to me while I cook. I want to know what happens.” Your southern accent turning it more into, “I wanna know wha’ hap’ns…’” The end of ‘happens’ drifting off into nothing. It makes me long for home.
You saying this makes me happy because I know you aren’t cooking to segue into leaving, you’re only cooking because you’re hungry.
I come into the kitchen and hop up onto the counter. You roll out the dough for the biscuits as I continue the story. One by one you cut circles out of the dough and place them on the baking sheet. As you finish the biscuits, I finish the story.
You put the biscuits in the oven and walk over to me. You stand between my legs and take my book, leaving the slightest trace of flour along the cover. You place your hands on my legs and your fingers are cool. I lean down to kiss you. Your lips are soft and plump. You wrap your arms around me and put your head against my chest. I stroke your hair and marvel at how different it is from my own.
You pull away and look me in the eyes. “Tell me another story. Tell me one of your stories.” I’m flattered that you like my stories enough that you’d rather hear one of them than one from the book.
I lean back against the counter and close my eyes. “Once upon a time…..” I begin, jokingly.
You step away to start the gravy as I tell you my story. I choose a story I know well. That way I don’t have to think about it, I can watch you instead.
There had been a bit of a chill when we left the bedroom, but now that you’re cooking, the kitchen is pleasantly warm and smells of the rising biscuits. I focus on the warmth and the smell and the feel of the cool countertop through my thin underwear as I tell you my story.
I look up to see you stirring the gravy and then removing it from the heat. Then you step to the side and start slicing tomatoes. Soon afterwards the biscuits are done. You pull them from the oven and they’re perfect. All the same size, slightly brown on top, and lily-white in the middle.
You pull out two plates from the cabinet and put two biscuits on each one. You open them up, place a slice of tomato on each side and then cover them in gravy. White gravy. You made biscuits and gravy the way my grandmother made them.
With a plate in each hand, you smile and say, “Should we eat in the bedroom?”
I answer you with a smile and we walk to the bedroom. As we eat, we talk about nothing important. I tell you how good the food is.
When we finish, you stack the plates and put them on the table beside the bed. Then you lay down on the bed and open your arms indicating that I should lie down with you. I curl up with my back to your front. Your arms go around me and pull me tight against you.
I can smell your perfume on your wrists. I inhale deeply and close my eyes. My senses are filled with you: your smooth skin, your sweet perfume, the taste of your lips still on mine, your shallow breaths against my back. In my mind’s eye I see again your slender legs stretching as you move and reach for things in the kitchen…. I drift off to sleep, marking the end of this perfect, perfect day I got to spend with you.
Author: E Wilson
Author Bio: 34 year old wife, nurse, adventurer, short-story writer.