All disclaimers in Chapter
I had a light dinner that night.
I didn't feel very hungry. Brandon stayed with me most of the evening. He was
quiet and subdued, which was unusual, because he normally talked incessantly about
the business. I was relieved at the change. Matter of fact, he was pleasant company.
Considering I was stuck with him. Unlike the previous night, when I saw his mischievous
side, tonight, I was treated to quite the opposite. He was quite kind, gentle
and loving in his tone and manner. He did nothing to make me uncomfortable.
His about face, made me wonder
about us all. I, too, had different sides to my personality. I surmised, after
being around him. I wasn't exactly the same to every person I met. It seemed everyone
reacts to the stimulus around them, more often than not. And he must have been
reacting to our trip to the gazebo. I knew it had reminded him of my mother; for,
he brought her up several times on the way back. I also knew that I had inadvertently
reminded him of how alone he was with my questions.
I felt sorry for him, as I watched
him staring out at the darkness many times over the course of his stay. What was
he looking for? I wondered. Or was he even looking out there? Perhaps he was looking
inside himself. The private thoughts of a lonely man, who had everything, accept
the woman he wanted most. To love someone for so long, without ever having
them, must be pure torture, I thought.
After he left, my thoughts turned
to my own private world. I flipped on the stereo and started the CD player. The
intro to track nine was beautiful: the sound of tinkling chimes and an organ.
Then the young woman began to sing. Her song was about a love that was new. She
was telling her lover she wanted to take things slow, asking that her lover wait
awhile, before they went to far. She promised she'd be worth the wait.
As I sat there listening, I could
see why Sara had chosen it. At times, during the song, I almost felt like she
was in the room with me, saying these things to me. I understood now, what she
was trying to say this afternoon. What she could not get across easily in her
own words, the song could.
Thinking back over the past few months: how I'd started out feeling towards her
like a mother, sort of; that mind-set changing to recognition of what these feelings
actually were; fighting those same inner demons for all I was worth; then just
Bang! Releasing them all, setting them free to be expressed! I
assumed, I'd more than likely been letting those once pent up and suppressed emotions
rule my better judgment, the past few days. Now, I understood why so many young
girls became pregnant too soon. Sexual desire is a driving force, one that takes
time to learn to control. This was something I hadn't given much thought to before,
since I'd never really had that many overt sexual feelings. Was that perhaps one
reason why they were so intense now? Or was it just because the guys had been
pushy and Sara was being anything but? Was pulling away from me, causing me to
chase her? Isn't that what I needed to control, the instinct to chase that which
kept trying to elude my grasp. My, oh my, how things had changed in a few short
I had to struggle to get my jeans
off, but finally managed. I changed into my pajamas and got into bed, waiting
for Sara to say goodnight. I didn't think Brandon would be back, he'd already
kissed my cheek, rather chastely and expressed that nightly sentiment.
A few moments later, the door
slowly opened and Sara walked in wearing a thin blue nightgown. I wondered why
she wasn't wearing her robe, as usual, but didn't inquire. I liked the view too
well to spoil it. She backed up against the doors, shutting them. "Did you
like the song?" she asked, moving towards me.
"Yes. And I understand. I'm
sorry that I've been so..." She stopped me by putting her finger to her own
"Don't apologize. There's
nothing to be sorry for. I only wanted you to understand why it would be better
not to make you feel guilty. So
no more I'm sorrys, hmm? Now
how was your day?" she asked, sitting down on the bed.
I amazed me sometimes how fast
she could change the subject.
"Fine. I... I'll be visiting
my parents... grave, tomorrow."
She looked surprised and quite
concerned. "How will you get there? Isn't that a long trip?" she asked,
her concern showing in her voice, as well.
I explained about the cemetery
beyond the west wing. I still felt numb talking about. As if I had no feelings.
"Are you sure you're ready
for this?" she asked, still sounding apprehensive.
I don't know. I
don't feel... anything. I'm just numb. I feel as though I should be sad
tears should be flowing, but... I mean, I'll be saying goodbye tomorrow and..."
"Not necessarily," she
said softly, as she fiddled with my fingers.
"Well, you have no memories
of them here. What I mean is... sometimes it takes a long time for a person to
let go of loved ones, especially in your case. You've been taken out of the environment
where you would normally confront your memories day after day and therefore come
to terms with it gradually. Back there... in Jackson Heights, is it?" I shook
my head, but didn't offer to correct her. "Well, you know what I mean. Back
there is where you'll most likely say goodbye. Because, in your mind, they're
still there, aren't they?"
I nodded. "Yes, that's
that's how I remember them."
"Don't feel guilty about
feeling nothing. People handle grief in different ways. And they say there are
stages you go through. Being numb is one of them."
Looking into her eyes, I knew
she was right. Perhaps this was a stage I was going through. And perhaps inside
I knew I would not be saying goodbye tomorrow; for, to me, they weren't here.
"How'd you get to be so smart?"
I asked, taking her hands in mine.
"Didn't you know... it comes
natural," she teased, obviously trying to lighten the mood.
"I missed you today."
"So did I, but... I brought
back some tapes and CD's. You'll be dancing before long and I knew you'd need
some music to boogie down to."
"Will you dance with me?"
She smiled. "Every chance
I get. I'll make sure I fill in my name on every line of your dance card."
"What dance card?" I
questioned, thinking this sounded like something out of the stone-age.
"Oh, I'm sure as old fashioned
as Brandon is, he'll give one of those gala affairs commemorating the old South,
somewhere around Labor day and by that time you'll be on your feet and the men'll
be lining up to dance with the pretty Southern Bell."
"What put you in such a good
mood?" I asked, obviously changing the subject.
"Oh, I don't know. Could
be because you took your first step. Or... because Brandon goes back to work tomorrow
and I can have you all to myself," she said, her voice dropping an octave
or so on the last sentence, while she leaned in closer. Her eyes seemed to glow
She looked so beautiful. I wanted
to kiss her. Instead, she kissed me, very lightly and then pulled back. Her eyes
darted from my lips to my eyes and back again.
"Before I came in here, I
told myself I wouldn't do this and yet... I find it very hard to resist you,"
she admitted, her tone deep and sultry. She kissed me again.
One kiss led to another and another.
Each one growing more intense, until I felt my pajama top being lifted and her
hand unexpectedly surround my left breast. I gasped. The suddenness of it sent
a million sensations rushing downward, where they hit bottom and exploded outward
"Damn! she cursed softly,
I gotta get outta here. She pulled away, got up and left me laying
there, breathing very heavily and longing for her to come back.
I hadn't meant to scare her off. Not in the least. I wanted her to continue. I
would've given her complete control over my body without a moment's hesitation.
And that was one thing I'd never done before. I was always in control, at least
in this area. There had been no melting beneath a male's touch. But, I had definitely
felt as if I were soft butter and she, a warm knife. And wanted to experience
that again! I tingled from head to toe, desiring more. Much more! I wanted to
get up and follow her. Breeze into her room and crawl into bed with her; give
up my long held virginity; experience the wonders of my sexual awakening; touch,
kiss, caress, fondle... whatever seemed right at the moment.
I inhaled a shuddering breath
and then let it out slowly, resigning myself to merely remembering what had happened
tonight. After all, she's the one who wanted to take it slow, so she was the one
in control. All I could do was follow her lead. Well, most of the time, that is.
It wasn't as if I didn't have a few ideas of my own.
We spent all the next day together.
I took another step forward, slower and a tad more confident. She informed me
the next stage would be daily trips to the hospital in order to use their therapy
equipment. I needed to work on exercising my upper and lower body and learn to
walk all over again, using parallel bars for support. The idea of getting out
and about with Sara was intriguing. We could truly be alone. And I definitely
liked the sound of that! I also liked the idea of what would come after I was
able to move better: a walker. This represented freedom from the chair and also
meant Sara wouldn't be able to walk away from me as easily.
The incident the night before
was never mentioned by either of us. Somehow, I think we both knew that soon enough,
perhaps sooner than she expected, we'd be together. We played a few of the tapes
and CD's she had brought from her house. During the love songs, we would stare
at each other from across the room. If anyone else had been in attendance, it
would've been quite obvious how we felt. But no one could know; it had to be our
Dinner came far too quickly and
Brandon came up as always. He said he had informed the servants we'd have a small
memorial service for my parents this evening. In a way, I appreciated the gesture,
but I would've preferred only Sara and myself in attendance. I didn't want a big
production. The funeral had been months ago. But, he insisted. And with Brandon,
there was no arguing, most of the time. He liked making a production out of the
Sara helped me into a plain black
dress. No words passed between us, until Brandon arrived. Then all was quiet again
as we made our way to the gravesite. We took the limousine of course, taking it
slow down the narrow dirt track. It was quite a good ways across the field, much
farther that I had assumed. It turned out to be a fitting place for a cemetery.
The black wrought iron fence surrounding the site and its matching archway over
the entrance, emblazoned with the name NEILSON, blended in well with the pecans
and oaks, whose branches overhung the oldest of the headstones. One of these dated
back to 1829, when Jackson David Neilson died. I assumed he was the one who started
it all. The wrought iron fence had been freshly painted, or so it seemed and as
Brandon opened the gate, it squealed a minor protest. I glanced up at the archway
and wondered how many who weren't born Neilson's were buried here? As he
wheeled me over to the left side of the graveyard, I perused the headstones as
we passed. Some were green and weathered with age, exuding a sense of history.
Brandon stopped abruptly, which brought my attention back to the fore. In front
of me, were two new headstones: "Jonathan David Neilson, Beloved Father and
Husband, Marion Renee White Neilson, Beloved Mother". There it was
carved in stone. There was no denying the fact now. They weren't still happily
going about their lives back in Jackson Falls, as I often wanted to believe. It
had just been easier on me to think that one day they might walk through the door
and everything would be all right again. But, here it was before me, in big bold
letters saying, "They're not coming back!"
I started to tremble and Sara
placed her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. I could hear a voice, which sounded
like Brandon's, but I didn't understand the words, nor did I care to. I gripped
the chair and stared at the headstones, closing out everything except the memories
that flooded my mind. Quick pictures of happy times we'd shared, their laughter
ringing in my ears
my mother tucking me in at night
my father in his
study, pecking away at his typewriter
Hands were touching my arms on
either side, as blurred images moved past. Whispered words mingled with the hot
breeze, sighing in and out around me. I offered no response. I was as still as
a statue, completely numb from head to toe, my eyes as dry as any desert.
"Perhaps we should leave
now, Princess," I heard Brandon say, as he kissed my cheek.
"No," I finally managed
to utter. "I... want to be alone."
He seemed to accept this and started
away. "Miss Bennington," he called as if asking her to leave.
"Sara... stay," I requested.
She squeezed my shoulder letting
me know she wasn't going anywhere. "I'm sure she'll be alright, Mr. Neilson.
Give her some time," she offered. "I'll... push her back to the house
when she's ready."
"I'll wait," he countered.
"No, Brandon... I'm sure
you have more important things to do," I stated.
The silence that ensued when he
left was deafening. "I
I can't cry!" I finally said, growling
out the words like a mad dog. I could feel rage building up inside me. I knew
this should be sorrow, but what could I do about it? What's wrong with me?!
"Don't punish yourself.
Remember what I told you," Sara said, as she bent down beside me.
"Punish myself!" I exclaimed,
in disbelief. "They're the ones who've been punished! And for what? What
did they ever do to deserve this?" I screeched.
"Why do you think death is
a punishment?" she inquired, serenely.
"Because their life was cut
"I don't know, but I've heard
it said: 'only the good die young'."
"Bullshit!" I shouted.
tell me how you
"Feel? I growled, gritting
my teeth. I feel cheated, that's how I feel! I feel angry! I feel so much
ang-ger!!! It just doesn't make sense! Why were they taken and not me? Hmm? Why
my little brother and not me? Can anyone answer me that?"
Least of all, not
"I just wanna know why? Why
them? Why now? Why the hell did we ever get on that plane?!! I screamed,
not caring who heard or how it may sound.
And then the dam burst. The Sahara of my eyes finally gave up the water just beneath
the surface and tears poured down my cheeks like torrential rain. My heart felt
like it would burst wide open at any moment. "Oh God... why?!!!" I blubbered.
Sara held my hand as I wailed
in agony from the pain I felt inside. My stomach literally ached, as some force
within pushed to relieve all the emotional pressure that had been building up
for the past few months. My body was a pressure cooker; my mouth the steam escape
valve, venting all those pent up emotions; my eyes the lid, bubbling over with
It took over half an hour before
the tears subsided, but afterwards, I felt especially serene and peaceful. Just
like a summer thunderstorm, which brought the rains that cleansed the earth, the
storm inside me had been a cleansing experience. As Sara slowly pushed me towards
the house, I asked that she take me around to the gazebo. We sat silently side-by-side
-Sara on the floor by my chair- until the sun descended behind the trees, its
bright red glow highlighting the underbelly of the clouds to the west in an array
of ever decreasing shades of pink. The crickets began chirping, the cicadas commenced
their eerie trill and the tree frogs soon joined the late evening chorus that
would carry on throughout the night. The cooing of a mourning dove, somewhere
close by, filled the air with a lonesome sound. A few minutes later, the call
of a chuck-will's-widow drifted up to us, from the direction of the stables.
"Shane is a beautiful horse,"
I commented, finally breaking the silence. "I know why Jason picked him."
"He's different. That lovely
beige mane of his and those eyes... it's hard to believe he was ever as wild as
"Don't we all have a wild
"A rebellious side that
wants to do something... even though you know it's probably the wrong thing to
"Hmph. Yeah, I know about
that side. It's... hard to control sometimes."
"You can say that again,"
she remarked, holding out a piece of pine straw: the three separate strands had
been braided together.
"It's hard to control sometimes,"
I repeated, admiring her handiwork.
She glanced up at me and we both
snickered. It seemed to ease the tension between us considerably. Even though
the references had been vague in those previous few lines, we both knew we were
discussing our relationship, in an indirect manner.
"Hey, look," she said,
pointing to the east. I followed her gaze and saw a bright orange moon barely
peaking its head above the tree line. "Isn't that beautiful?"
"Um-hmm, very," I agreed.
In silence we admired one of Mother
Nature's most mysterious wonders: the moon. It seemed to be an enormous fireball
in the sky, but I knew it had no light of its own. It was merely a reflection
of its counterpart and benefactor, the sun. All the folklore that had grown up
around this changeable nocturnal reflection of the sun was amazing to me. Some
people even feared it when it was full. But not me; just like the ocean's tide,
I could feel her working her magic on me.
How many lovers had been seduced
by this illusion and its magical pull? I wondered. A full moon was considered
romantic, but did anyone ever stop to wonder why? Was it because of her gravitational
pull on the earth, more so than her light? If she could move an ocean, what force
must she exert on us, as individuals, without our awareness of it?
A cool breeze floated up the little
rise where we sat. I looked over at Sara, wondering what she was thinking. The
breeze tossed short strands of her hair, which had slipped out of her coif, to
and fro. They danced around her forehead and flitted around her ear. I wondered
again what she had looked like with her natural color. Her olive complexion against
the blonde hair, gave the appearance of someone who spent a good deal of time
in the sun. And of course, our time in the pool had only darkened her skin to
a richer hue. I tried to imagine what she would look like with dark brown hair.
This reminded me of my own hair.
Day by day, it was slowly growing out. But, I still had only enough to make me
look like a boy with a crew cut. The scars still stood out against the light brown
stubble, winding its way across my forehead to my right eyebrow. Of course, the
turban I always wore now -in place of the bandage: removed the last time Dr. Rosemund
came out- still covered this up. But I still couldn't image how Sara could think
I was beautiful. The phrase, "love is blind" seemed to be whispered
in my ear, by the incoming breeze.
"Princess, what are you
two doing out here?" Brandon asked, as he quickly ascended the steps of the
gazebo. From his tone of voice and the expression on his face, I knew he'd assumed
I was alone, at first; from the path, Sara would have been out of sight sitting
on the floor beside me. "Shouldn't she be inside Miss Bennington?"
"Just a little while longer.
I want to stay until the moon climbs above the tree tops," I requested, giving
him what he seemed to expect from me: my best whiny brat impression.
"Moon?" he muttered,
as if not understanding why I would want to see this.
"Yes... over there."
I pointed towards it.
He sat down on the bench behind us with a heavy sigh. Sara seemed quite uneasy
about his presence and got up a few seconds later, walking over to the rail at
the entrance. Why did Brandon make her so uncomfortable? I wondered. Was
it just because of their mutual dislike? I had thought Sara stronger in character
than that. Or was it that she felt our closeness in his presence might reveal
our true relationship?
"I suppose I should have
known I would find you out here," Brandon began in a soft voice. "So
much like your mother you are."
I gritted my teeth. I wanted to
scream, I am not my mother, can't you see that? Yet, again, I held my tongue.
"Oh yes, I nearly forgot,"
he added, "I've arranged for a hairdresser to come out tomorrow."
"A hairdresser?" I repeated.
"Brandon I hardly think I need
"Ah-ah-ah, let me finish,
Princess. I know it was supposed to be a surprise and I was planning to be here,
but... things came up down at the office and I have to take care of it. I just
wanted to let you know he would be bringing several wigs for your approval."
"Yes, of course, for the
party this weekend. You remember you remarked about your turban? Well, here's
That damn party again!
I hadn't been able to persuade him not to give the party, without coming right
out and telling him I despised his friends. So I'd relented. I'd reasoned that
he didn't ask a whole lot of me, usually, and just because he'd interrupted my
new love life on a few occasions was no reason to deprive him of his happiness;
I'd just slip away early. But now, however, he wanted me to do something else
for him. I'd never worn a wig before. Matter of fact, I'd never even seen one
up close; at least, not that I'd been aware of. The thought of wearing one had
never crossed my mind. Now that it had, I couldn't help but wonder what I'd look
like? An old lady was my first impression.
"I don't know what your hair
was like before," he continued, "but I assume it was as beautiful as
your mother's. So I picked out several that reminded me of her... for your approval,
of course," he added.
Of course is right, I thought.
If I do wear a wig, which I doubt, I sure ain't wearing anything I don't approve
of. Matter of fact, this whole idea would take some getting used to. I looked
over at Sara, who was merely staring off into the distance, while she twirled
a piece of pine straw around her fingers. Perhaps if she liked it, it might
After I changed for bed, Brandon
came up to say goodnight and brought another glass of milk. I wasn't thirsty and
knew how it affected me the last time I was tired, but I drank a few sips to let
him know I appreciated the gesture. His goodnight kiss lingered longer than usual,
as he rubbed his face against mine. "Get well soon, Princess," he whispered.
A few minutes after he left, I
took another sip of the milk. It didn't taste like ours at home, but of course
no two dairies are the same. As I lay there waiting for Sara, I could feel sleep
silently creeping up on me on little cat's feet.
Finally, she appeared in the doorway,
wearing her robe. "I think I'd better say goodnight from here," she
said, as she held onto the side of the open door and twisted the knob nervously.
"Is that what you really
"No," she replied, twisting
the knob back and forth, her eyes scanning the room like a fly searching for a
place to land. "But, I think it'd be better if...." She paused, her
gaze coming to rest on the nightstand. "Who brought the milk?" she asked,
She shrugged and shook her head.
I don't know." She rested her forehead against the door. "There's
just something about... a glass of milk. Every time I see it... I wanna get rid
of it. But
I can't say why," she added, shaking her head. "There's
so much I've lost."
Whaddaya mean, lost?
She sighed heavily and glanced
up at the ceiling. I've been meaning to tell you this for a while now, but
Well, it never seemed the right time or
She paused, looked
down at her feet and tapped her forehead against the edge of the door.
What is it, Sara?
She had me worried.
She sighed again, her forehead
merely resting against the door's edge now. Remember I told you that I didn't
recognize my own face when
I woke up in the hospital?
that wasn't just because it was such a mess, which it was.
She looked over at me and lifted her head from the door. It really was.
Much worse than yours by a long shot. But, that's not the real reason I didn't
ya see, Faith
I had amnesia.
That explained a lot. Amnesia? You mean you couldn't remem
Still can't, she interrupted, fidgeting with the doorknob. And
that's why I kept saying everything before the accident was fuzzy. Truth is
I don't remember.
You mean you don't remember anything about your past?" I asked, aghast.
"Not really. There've been
a few flashes
a few things that
I don't know
feel familiar or
nothing I can clearly say is a memory.
What flashes? What things feel familiar? I was intrigued.
Oh it's just
little things like
the milk and
for instance... I feel like I
either visited here before or... maybe lived
in one similar or somethin'."
"Maybe you knew Ashley,"
I interjected, trying to make some sense of her familiarity. Maybe you attended
one of Brandon's parties?
Her eyes took on a faraway look, as if she were trying to remember something.
"I doubt it. But, I don't know. And that's the worst part, I just... don't
know." She was fiddling with the latch now.
"What about your father,
can't he tell you anything?"
"He said I lived with my
mother until the accident."
"You mean she was killed
She nodded. "He said she...
died instantly. But
I have no memory of her. Unlike you... I couldn't even
mourn her properly. She was a stranger to me. I... I don't even know where she's
"It must be hard on you...
not knowing, I mean." I wanted to keep her talking. Although I felt sorry
for her, I was still fascinated with the amnesia.
"Sometimes, like now, when
I remember little flashes of things..." She paused, as she crossed the room
to the vanity. "I often wonder what she looked like. My father said I look
like her, except for my... hair and eyes. That's another reason why I changed
them. I guess I thought if I looked more like her, it might trigger some memory,
I suppose my face changed a great deal after the accident."
"Didn't your father have
a picture of her?"
"Just a small faded snapshot.
You can't tell much about her."
"What about pictures from
your home, surely..."
"The house burnt down while
I was in the hospital. Vandals broke in and...." She shook her head sadly.
"All the memories I might've recalled through familiarity, they all
went up in smoke, I guess you could say." She seemed to be trying to dismiss
her sadness with humor.
"Can't he tell you anything
about her? I mean surely there are relatives or..."
"They were never married.
She sighed heavily. She left home because she was pregnant. Didn't keep
in touch, though he said he tried to find her." She frowned at her reflection
then looked away. "She had no relatives
"Where was the accident?"
"Outside of Atlanta."
"You mean you were living
around here, close to him and he didn't know?"
"No, he lived in south Georgia.
Down near Columbus."
"I thought you said you lived
here in Atlanta?"
"I do. I have an apartment
in Smyrna. And no, I didn't go live with him," she added, as if anticipating
my next question. "I spent a lot of time in the hospital. Then he rented
me an apartment so I could be close to the doctors, plastic surgeons and everything.
After that I started school here and... You have to remember I
know him very well."
"How often do you see him
and your little brother?" I inquired.
She ran her index finger over
the vanity top, as she stared into the mirror. She frowned at her reflection.
"I... I don't have a brother, Faith. I... I don't even have a father now.
He died... not long before this job came up."
I sighed heavily. She had lied
"I know there's no excuse
for lying to you. It... it was just easier somehow than telling the truth. Especially
when I'm not sure what the truth is
for me." Her frown deepened.
"Whaddaya mean?" I asked,
as I crossed my arms over my stomach. I realized as soon as I did this, it was
a defensive posture, designed to ward off any blows to my solar plexus, where
she had already, figuratively, hit me only moments before.
"There's... there's just
a lot of things he told me that
Well, they don't add up."
"Are you saying you think
he lied to you about something?"
She quickly turned away from the
vanity, then walked over to her chair and plopped down in it. "Perhaps...
I'll let you be the judge of that," she finally responded, glancing over
at me. "Sara Bennington, this is your life. Or at least according to my father."
She then related her history as
it had been told to her. Her mother had run off to Atlanta, because she didn't
want to marry her father. The birth certificate Sara had to produce for her new
social security card listed her as being born in Atlanta on December 14, 1960,
to Amy Jackson. The father was listed as Leon Bennington. According to her real
father, Leon was nowhere to be found at the time of the accident and her father
had no idea who he was or if he even existed at all, since her mother had never
changed her maiden name.
Her father knew nothing about
her previous life, other than the fact that she had lived in a rundown house on
the south side of Atlanta. Her mother had no living relatives and no friends that
he could find. As she had mentioned before, vandals had broken into the house
and somehow set fire to it. Sara had never seen it because by the time she was
up and around again, the lot had been cleared and another house erected on the
It was obvious Sara was disturbed
over the fact that she hadn't known her father at all, even before the accident
and then suddenly he walks into her life and takes over. She didn't know him from
"Adam's house cat". When she'd asked how he found out about the accident,
obviously suspicious, he explained that he'd read an article in the paper about
her mother dying in the crash. But, he could produce no proof that he was indeed
her father, other than the picture of her mother and a small black and white snapshot
of a little girl on horseback, which he said had been sent to him many years ago,
with no return address, after he'd snooped around looking for her. He reasoned
that Amy had wanted to appease him with this. But the snapshot was so worn Sara
had no way of knowing whether it was her or some other little girl.
I sighed heavily when she finished.
"Lot of unanswered questions, hmm?"
"A lot," she agreed.
And I know this gave me no right to lie to you, but... I didn't want you
feeling sorry for me. And I didn't want that... analytical mind of yours going
to work on me and my Swiss cheese of a life history. I wanted you to concentrate
"Well, at least you've told
finally. But would you, if I hadn't pried?"
"Eventually, I suppose. I
mean... how do you just come out and tell someone something this... odd? What
if what I'm telling you now isn't the truth? I have no way of knowing if I'm lying
to you right now or not."
"You're telling me the truth
as you know it, right?"
She nodded. "But, do you
see why I didn't tell you before?"
I frowned. "Why the little
She shrugged. "I don't know."
She was staring out the window. "I guess maybe I've always wanted one. But
I don't even know if that's true. I have no way of finding out what
I was like before the accident or... or even if it was my fault," she added,
as she got up out of the chair rather quickly. "I'm sorry, I think this conversation
has deteriorated into... something I don't like at all. And I'm sure you'd rather
not have a liar for a... friend." She started for the door.
" She stopped
at the door, her hand already on the knob, but she didn't offer to turn around.
you've helped me put my past behind me. Helped me get through... so
many things." I paused and nibbled on my bottom lip. "Maybe it's time
for me to return the favor. We... we can both put our past behind us and... walk
into the future
together." Tears welled up in my eyes and I tried to
will them back. Through my watery vision, I saw her hand slip from the doorknob;
her shoulders start to shake. I knew she was crying, too. "Are you coming
over here or... are you gonna make me get up outta this bed and come to you?"
She turned around slowly, looked
at me through tear filled eyes, then covered the distance between us in only a
"What did you do after you
got better?" I asked, when we both had stopped crying.
"I enrolled in college,"
she responded on a sigh, as she leaned her head back against the pillow propped
beneath it. "I wanted to be a psychologist like you, but... I couldn't hack
it." She reached down and fiddled with the sheet between us. "I mean,
I didn't even know who I was, how could I help anyone else find themselves? Anyway,
my therapist talked me into trying this. And five years later... here I am. I
love the job
don't get me wrong. It's very rewarding to help people. Especially,
someone like you," she added, as she cut her eyes over at me.
She was so very close, lying only
a few inches away and yet, I knew nothing would happen between us. "Where
did all the women come in?" I queried, feeling a smile forming at the corners
of my mouth.
I wondered when
you'd get around to that one. Well..." She paused and turned her fidgeting
fingers to the belt of her robe. "I
I had a crush on my therapist
to begin with." She cut her eyes over at me. I grinned. "But, she was
straight as an arrow. Then I met this girl in college and we had a thing for a
couple of months. My first
I suppose. And then let's see... there was a
succession of 'em. Ones I met at bars or through mutual friends."
"You mean none of the relationships
"No, not more than a couple
of months; some... not that long. I... I just couldn't commit to anyone for very
long, or either... they didn't wanna stick around."
This frightened me a bit, because
I wondered if I was letting myself in for heartbreak. I hadn't given much thought
to the future of the relationship. I'd been too busy reveling in my newfound feelings
to think past losing my virginity.
"That's why I want you to
think about this carefully, before we go too far," she continued, as she
turned over on her side to face me. "I feel more for you... than I have for
anyone, but... who knows what will happen later on." Her eyes darted back
and forth searching mine.
"What's that saying, I'd
rather have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?" I remarked,
"You're incorrigible, you
know that?" she asked, as she reached over and touched my hand. "No
matter how I try to keep my distance, you still end up luring me in."
"Could be because I want
you here," I responded, searching her eyes now.
"Such innocence," she
remarked, as she reached up and touched my face. "It scares me to think I
might hurt you, unwittingly."
"If I do get hurt
be my own fault, right?" I heard myself say. I started this, after
"Well, I better go,"
she asserted, withdrawing her hand. "It's getting late and..."
"Stay with me awhile longer,
please." I reached out for her hand, but ended up grabbing one side of the
belt to her robe.
"No, that wouldn't be a good
ide... Hey, let go of that."
"Stay," I pleaded, tugging
I hadn't meant to untie it. Hadn't
even thought about this happening when I tugged on the belt. But her robe suddenly
gaped open. Underneath, she wore nothing but a pair of blue underwear. A lump
formed in my throat, as I gazed upon her naked torso.
She slowly pulled the end of the belt from my hand. "You didn't expect this,
did you?" she queried.
I slowly shook my head, unable
to take my eyes off her breasts. She started to put her robe back together and
I reached out again, this time, catching hold of her hand. "Please, don't..."
She gazed down at me, her expression saying that she wasn't sure about allowing
this intimate perusal of her body. "You've seen mine," I reminded.
The sides of the robe slipped
from her hands and fell back to their previous positions. She then laced her fingers
in mine, seeming a bit embarrassed about this. My eyes perused her body, taking
in every curve, every line and every freckle of her shapely form; at least, every
one of these within my view. And the view was beautiful! Her breasts were firm
and round; light brown aureoles just starting to tighten; darker nipples becoming
erect beneath my gaze. I tried to get my hand free, but she held on tightly and
shook her head rather slowly. I wanted to touch her so badly I felt as if my fingertips
were itching with desire. But, I knew she was right. This would have to wait.
My gaze met hers again, searching
for something, anything to change the subject or else I felt I would go crazy
with desire. "So, did your father have chameleon eyes?" I queried, shattering
the moment to hell and back.
"Chameleon eyes?" she
repeated with a chuckle, slowly letting go of my hand, in order to put her robe
back together. I recaptured one of her fingers, not wanting to lose this enticing
and intriguing sight just yet. The back of my hand brushed against her stomach.
"Umm... she moaned and squeezed my finger. I don't really know
actually, she continued, answering my question, while at the same time letting
go of my finger and pulling her robe back together. I never noticed. I guess
so, since I don't have my mother's eyes, why?"
I cleared my throat. And fought
to clear my mind and proceed with the conversation I'd started. "Umm
isn't there anyway to find out more about her? I mean
knew her?" I was still staring at her robe, knowing now exactly what lay
beneath it and just how very beautiful that was.
"My father said he couldn't
This got my attention. No one
knew this woman? That didn't sound right. "Well, did you see the article
about the accident? Maybe that might tell you something."
"No, I never did. That's
an idea. Leave it to a clever mind like yours to think of that," she replied,
as she patted my hand, which was lying by her naked leg. "I suppose, I didn't
really wanna know a lot at the time. Like you, I had enough to do just recovering.
I guess I always hoped someone would recognize me or..."
"Do you want to find out
now? Try to fill in the holes in the Swiss cheese, so to speak?"
"Yes and... no. I guess I'm
afraid of what I might find. I mean these flashes... they're not... Well, they
make me feel... angry and scared like
like the milk, there," she said,
as she looked over at the nearly full glass. "To you, it's just a glass of
milk, but to me
foreboding feeling associated with it. I
I'm afraid my life wasn't a happy one, to be honest. I often wonder if it's best
that I don't know. Maybe I can't remember, because I don't want to."
"But won't you always feel
empty inside? I know I would. Maybe that's why you can't make a commitment to
anyone. You scare yourself away, because you don't truly know who you are, without
Several moments passed as she
considered this. "You'll make a fine psychologist one day, sweetheart. Mark
my words, a fine one," she said, as she touched my face again.
"You would've, too. The way
you manipulate people."
"Manipulate?" she repeated,
removing her hand. "Who have I manipulated?"
pulled myself up straighter in the bed. "There's Jason for one. Getting him
to come around, take part in helping me. Then there's me, of course. You manipulate
me all the time."
"When?" she asked, with
a sly grin.
"In the pool. And ya know,
you're pretty good at it, too." My eyes traveled downward, coming to rest
at the top of her robe, which was still slightly open. "You accuse me of
teasing you, when you do the same thing to me," I added, referring to the
fact that she had been nearly naked underneath her robe. My eyes traveled back
up to meet her gaze and gage her reaction.
"You think you have me all
figured out, don'chu?"
"Not yet, but I'm working
on it." I reached over and ran my fingertip along the collar of her robe.
"You're quite a challenge,
you know that? You're truly testing my resistance, aren't you?"
"I wouldn't say testing."
My finger proceeded down to where the two sides joined. I knew what lay underneath
that robe and I was dying to get my hands on
all of it.
"Oh, right... it's more like
you're wearing down my resistance." She removed my hand and intertwined her
fingers with mine. Gazing into my eyes, she rubbed her thumb back and forth over
my fingers. Then slowly she leaned over and kissed me ever so lightly. Goodnight
Faith." She quickly got up from the bed.
I wanted to reach out and pull her back, but she was too quick. I fell back against
the pillows frustrated and exhausted. I started to reach for the milk, then remembered
her foreboding feeling about it and decided against it. I turned off the light
instead and settled back.
Once again I had let those feelings
lead me. And like the night before, I was left frustrated. I couldn't help but
wonder what I would do if I ever pushed things too far and she suddenly stopped
playing this little cat and mouse game? I was being very aggressive and selfish
in this situation and I knew it. But, it was so hard to resist, once those feelings
took over. I felt like I was rapidly turning into a Howard: all roamin' hands
and rushin' fingers, with one thing on my mind. And I didn't know the first thing
about what I was rushing into.
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