An excerpt from my yet to be titled love story.
The ending of Chapter 4 set in rural New Jersey, USA, 1943, during World War II.
”I hope so,” she says.
”I don’t want this moment to end, but I’m not exactly feeling my best and I have to be up early.”
”I know,” she replies. I bend toward her to kiss her cheek but she shifts her neck and I land at her mouth instead. For a moment we hover, and then move into each other. At first there is only a light pecking, her lips still being foreign, untouched and virgin to me. I pull back and as I do she whispers “no” staring into my eyes, cupping her hands behind my neck, pulling me close pleading that this is what feels right, this is what should have been all along. Her lips are warm, soft to the touch as our mouths meet and open ever so slightly caressing into each other, finding the folds of our skin, sliding up and down, ever so slightly in and out pushing and pulling.
”There’s something I want to give you, but I have to get it from my room,” I say.
”I’d like that.” She replies.
”Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
”Don’t hurt yourself, take it easy.”
”Ok,” I reply with a casual salute.
I get out of the car and make my way to my room, all the while my heart pounding with the taste of Lindsey. She’s invaded me and ensnared me in a web I’m not sure I’ll ever escape. I fumble in my desk drawer for a letter I’ve written and glance over it for about the millionth time, then scribble my name and shove it into an envelope. I exit the room like a mouse scurrying across the floor so as to not wake my parents and carefully place each step so as to keep the pounding that’s now shifted to my head at bay, but also as to not spoil the moment with my parent’s waking. Lindsey waits in the car and I sit back down next to her.
”Did you get what you needed?” She asks.
”I’ve been working on this all week.” I hand her the envelope. She looks at it curiously, flips it to see if anything is on the back but finds nothing. “I was going to post this to your door later tonight, but figure now’s as good a time as any.”
”What is it?”
”Go ahead, open it.”
Linds tears at the corner of the envelope and slides her finger along the seal. The thumping in my head intensifies and my hands feel clammy. What if I make a fool of myself when she reads this letter? What if she doesn’t have feelings for me like I have for her? She’s upset now, she’s taking pity on me. Her Paul Bunyan of a boyfriend just beat me the hell up after all. I sit up straight then lean back in my seat. She’s unfolding the letter, I close my eyes and turn my head pretending to look out the window hoping that she won’t be able to notice how I’ve lost all my nerves.
There’s so much I’d like to tell you, so many dreams I’d like to share with you, but I lack the heart to say any of this to your face. When you read this note I’ll be on way to serve our country, and truth be told the risk is high that I may never again see home. I feel compelled to admit all this to you now, for shall I fail in my duty the consequence isn’t one of second chance.
All through life I’ve thought about you. Every now and then I pretend that maybe sometimes you think about me as well. Sometimes before I sleep, I open my window and search the stars for a relief I’m never able to truly find. I might spend hours under moonlight dreaming about you. Sometimes I write to you in the sanctuary of my bed, other times I go into the woods to the same spot where I took you overlooking the lake. I wander there listening to all of nature’s sounds, but it is always the sound of you I search for most. I scribble down feelings and write long elaborate letters that I can never seem to get just right. The perfect letter is always elusive like the depths of your heart that I so tenderly wish to hold. Somehow I hope in succeeding you’ll fall in love with me, that maybe I can convince you through a miracle of words that we are meant to be together. I create a fiction that we are in love, that this love for you is reciprocated. Somehow all of this will become real, all the loneliness will be erased and everything will be all right. I bathe myself in this feeling and revel in its power for it allows me to have a purpose, that purpose being you even if it is based on what isn’t real. Maybe the fault lies within me. Maybe I should have expressed my feelings for you over the years. All these words eventually just collect dust, pages in notebooks that become filled and unused with time. I suppose that’s life and there’s nothing I can do to fix this now except to give you this tiny portion of myself. Now I’m rambling and feeling stupid for writing any of this. I’m going to have to muster up some courage and get this into an envelope and post it to your door. Fifty percent chance it won’t make it there and it’ll just find its way to trash.
I fell in love with you first.
A moment passes by, then two, then three. What is she thinking? Then I feel a tap on my leg. Tap tap tap it goes, each with a longer pause as the finger is pressed to my pants. I can’t look at her, I’ve shared a vulnerable side, the part without defense that no one else has ever known. Slowly I raise an eyelid.
”What’ll that set me back?” I ask, glancing at her then averting my eyes down as if there’s something interesting on the floorboard.
”Well,” she said, “I find myself in a precarious situation. I will require three more letters from you before I can give you an answer.”
”Was it really that bad?”
”Like I said, three more letters Soldier.”
Great, she hates me.
”I need to get back home Eric. Peter’s waiting.” Her voice cracks a little.
”I know,” I say eyes still averted from her. “Hey Linds…”
”Yes?” She answers. We find each other’s eyes.
”I’m sorry I was so absent in high school. I wish things had been different—”
”Shh.” She places her finger to my mouth and then reaches over to hug me. I don’t want this to end, I don’t want to leave in the morning for war and the change it represents. Up until this point in life I’ve had everything, even though I’ve not wanted to admit it to myself. I’ve lived comfortably, I’ve had a great education, I’ve had food and a place to live. I’ve always had summer work and spending money. Compared to many people I’d say I’ve been pretty well set. But love is the one thing in life I’ve always needed but never known. I’ve never even had a girlfriend before, I’ve only dreamed about her on paper. While writing down the inner workings of my heart somewhere alone lost under moonlight overlooking the calm waters of a large lake might sound romantic in some sense, in reality it’s soul crushingly lonely. There’s only so many years I’m able to pretend to myself that I’m fine, that I can get by with only words, that I can force myself to believe that time will be kind, that somehow I’ll write something beautiful and somewhere there will be a someone who falls in love with me. It’s not reality, life doesn’t work that way. Maybe it’ll happen when pigs can fly.
I get out of the car and go open the door for Lindsey. She stands and stares at me. I can’t move. I feel like a fish in a sea where all the water’s evaporating. Then she leans forward to hug but instead I touch my lips to her cheek.
She pauses for a moment as our eyes try to speak, then leans in again and we embrace. “Remember to write and stay alive Eric,” she whispers as her chin is pressed to my neck.
”I will,” I respond. Then she takes a step back and looks at me with that smile that could light the whole world ablaze.
”Cheer up, Captain,” she says lightly jabbing the side of my chin. The corners of my mouth respond with a slight twitch and then she turns. I watch her the whole walk back to her house. With every step I feel like something inside me breaks. She never glances back.