Friday, January 9, 2015

Chapter LXIII

      “I told him that we needed some grown up and private talk time but it was nothing for him to worry about ‘cause it was just like that sometimes when you get older.  Barely seem to faze him as they were playing some board game or other and want to finish it before bed.  I put him in charge to keep them from peeking under the door or listening at the key hole.  Now sit here on the steps with me and tell me why it upsets you so much to not want to skip spending time with me.”

      “You’re kidding right?”

      I was sitting on one of the bottom stairs and he was two steps directly behind and above me with his legs propped on either side effectively blocking me in.  It was cool down in the basement – not as bad as if we had gone outside – but being surrounded made it warm enough that I only shivered a little bit.  His arms reached around me and I started getting even warmer.  “I ain’t talking about the obvious Dovie; you might not say it out right but you show me well enough you like what we do.  I’m talking about what else I heard you not say.”

      Trying to avoid the issue I gave a chuckle and asked, “What you heard me not say?  Does that even make any sense?”

      “Dovie … no games or teasing.  Something is going on and I mean to know what it is.”

      I sighed.  “I … I don’t know how to say it without sounding like a … a hypocrite … or maybe something worse, like a floozy.”

      He snorted, “You ain’t a floozy – and when was the last time anyone under the age of 80 used that word Granny?  Trust me on this Dovie, I’ve known more than my fair share of  … er … floozies and that ain’t what you are.  As for the hypocrite part, reckon we all are to a certain extent but until you explain I can’t tell you if that’s what you are either.”

      I rolled my eyes and then allowed my head to fall forward with my chin on my chest rather than risk him seeing me, even in the dark.  “Don’t you dare laugh at me Jude, or worse get your feelings hurt.  I’m trying to speak the truth and I don’t know how you are going to feel about it.”

      I could feel him getting tense.  “Just say it Dovie.”

      After a couple of swallows that didn’t do anything to help replace the spit that had dried up in my mouth I said, “It’s … it’s scary Jude.  All the changes that have happened to me always turning me in a direction I didn’t expect or see coming.  Dad, the twins, Mom getting sick, the T-virus taking her off, living in quarantine and all they did to us, the kids, all those things that happened on the road, getting here not being what I expected it to be, now you.  I’m just realizing I grew up so fast and that there is no going back.  I wonder will I miss not going slower.  I wonder if … if I made so many mistakes along the way that I’m so off course that … I don’t know Jude.  It’s not that I’ve been listening to Crystal because when it comes right down to it I know what I want … and that’s scary too.  I’m grown Jude … well and truly grown.  But I’m seventeen … am I supposed to be this grown this soon?  What happens if something else changes?  What if … what if … if … if you decide you’ve changed and … and I’m left with feeling these feelings alone?  If that happens Jude I swear I wish I would have never felt these feelings in the first place.  I can’t lose someone like that one more time … I’ll shatter to a million pieces.  I’d likely wind up like Mom, all hollowed out, and that scares the bejeebers out of me.”

      “You say that like my change is a foregone conclusion … like you’re preparing yourself for it to happen even though you’re not for sure it will.  Don’t you think I worry some about that too?  And with more reason?  Like you say, you’re seventeen Dovie – and geez don’t I deserve to be shot for dragging you into something like this at that age – you’re the one more likely to change your mind.  Kinda sounds like you are.”

      “No!” I told him.  “No I’m not changing my mind.  But should I be Jude?  I know it is selfish but I’m scared that I’m just being a girl and you’re a guy and need a little scope to experience life yet and somehow I’m eventually going to get left behind.  Are you really going to be … be happy or … or whatever you are supposed to be getting stuck with just one girl after having your pick of so many?  If you stay with me you’ll be so tied down so fast that maybe you’ll realize you want to escape; that you jumped into the fire and don’t like getting burnt up.  And for what?  You’re used to girls with … ok, let’s be honest … you’re used to experienced girls … no, experienced women that know what they’re doing and are good at it.  Some of them probably have lots of experience and you know what I mean so don’t make me explain it.”

      He drew the hair away from my face where it had fallen forward.  “You don’t want to be like that Dovie.”

      I shook my head.  “No … no I don’t.  Aside from the fact that it makes me want to upchuck bile at the idea of how them girls got so much experience I just … maybe there is something wrong with me but I was never interested in that stuff … you know before you came along and kinda …”

      Curiously he asked, “Kinda what?”

      A little frustrated I told him, “Started doing whatever it is you do to me.  You open up places in my mind and my heart that I never even knew were there and it’s not fair.  Because now that I know they’re there and I know you’re the only one that has the key to those places I know that if you decide you don’t want this those places in me are going to be like empty closets that I pass by and only get to remember what they used to hold.  If you leave those places will never be full of anything but old mothballs.”

      As I talked I had started to hunch over.  I hadn’t meant to but I felt like I was curling up into a ball to make a smaller target for the kick I was afraid was coming.  Instead Jude slid down one more step until he was right in behind me and his arms pull me back tight against him; even his legs seemed to be hugging me.  “You shouldn’t keep worries like that to yourself Dovie.  For one, I could have told you already that most of your worries are just ‘cause you’re scared and not because they are real.  And second, we could have shared so neither one of us had to feel like we were worrying alone.”

      Rather than answer him I half turned on the riser I was sitting on so that my back was against one of his legs and my ear was against his chest.  I could hear his heart thumping strong and steady and the sound kind of calmed me down from where I had been working myself up.  My shivering slowly went away as he held me tight to him.

      “Now see here Dovie, I know how I feel.  And yeah, I know that in another life maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea for us to go so fast or to feel so much so early on.  The war is only a piece of what has changed everyone’s life like this.  Don’t you think I wonder too?  I wish I could take you on dates and do the kinda things you would likely have had some nice boy eventually do for you were things different.  But in another life I might still be a drunk or worse.  In another life maybe you would have never made it out of Phoenix or them kids upstairs never found you to protect ‘em.”  Somehow, though it seemed impossible, he drew me closer and then placed his chin on the top of my head so that I was completely surrounded by him on all sides.  “But this isn’t some other time, it’s this time.  And you’re here after living through what you lived through.  And them kids are here and need you … and me some too now I think … hope they do anyway ‘cause I’ve started to need them in a weird way.  And I’m not a drunk no more but I’ll always have to be a little more careful of my choices than most men.  Things are different from what they coulda been Dovie but that don’t mean it has to necessarily be a bad thing.”

      I whispered into his chest.  “Part of me does want you to talk to Uncle Roe … not to get us a chaperone but so that we can … can do whatever the next step is.  But … but part of me isn’t ready for that Jude.  I want it but I know I’m not ready for it.  I’m … geez Jude … I’m so confused.  I don’t want to mess this up.  I don’t know what I’d do … how I’d keep going on … if I mess this up.”

      He started rubbing my back.  “You ain’t gonna mess this up Dovie.  I ain’t gonna break just ‘cause I have to wait.  On occasion I might get a little frustrated but … well … that can be fun too.”  He chuckled but not cause anything was funny or dark … but a different kind that gave me the shivers all over again.  “And …”  He stopped for moment and was completely still except for his hand on my back.  “Now it is my turn to worry that I’m gonna hurt your feelings but it needs saying.  Dovie I need to know that you understand what you’re getting into with me.  I’ve done a lot of things wrong that I’m now trying to fix and change.  It ain’t going to happen overnight and some people might never think of me as anything but a fool.  You’re going to have to accept that, same as I do.  I … I need to know that you understand what being with me is gonna mean … for both of us.  I can’t play at things the way some men might.  There’s situations that I won’t put myself in no more … like maybe parties and such under certain circumstances.  The reason why I only hang out at church or with the Mennonites is because I know what my limits are right now and those are the only people that I care to be around because they share the same limits.  I gotta know I have your support and back up on this.  I wanna stay sober … not just for you or Dad or them kids upstairs … but for me.  I found I didn’t like who I was before.  I need to know you’ll help me to be the man I can be, not hinder me from it.”

      He was quiet and into his silence I said, “I like who you are Jude but if there’s things you want to improve on I’ll stand beside you.  Lord knows I’ve got some areas that need improving … like my tongue.”

      “I like your tongue just fine.  A man that can’t handle honesty can’t handle much.”  Then he proceeded to give me a deep kiss that came close to getting us off track in a major way.  Jude sighed.  “And then there is this.”

      “This?” I asked worriedly.  “Am … am I bad kisser?”

      He snorted.  “No.  You’re perfect for me.  Every bit of you is.  You fit me … your height, how you’re put together, the way my hands can wrap around you, those funny little noises you make, the things those eyes of yours do to me.  You’re the perfect handful though I could wish you would let me feed you up a little more so a good stiff wind wouldn’t carry you off.  It’s like God looked inside my head and created the perfect female who turns me every which way but loose … body and mind.  I just mean that I don’t want you to think that just because your body can turn mine inside out it’s the only reason I’m after you all the time.  I’ve just noticed that some females don’t care for a lot of manhandling and I … well frankly I like it Dovie … a lot.  Handling you just does it for me like nothing else.  And I worry you still think the only reason I started this up is because Dad put a bug in my ear.  The honest truth is he might have showed me there was a door but I’m the one that put my hand on the knob and opened it.”

I sighed contentedly as he started rubbing my back again.  “So long as you don’t get disappointed

in having to teach me everything.  His hand stopped and he groaned.  “OK, we’re so out of here.”

      “What?” I asked surprised and alarmed at his sudden change.  “But … but …”

      He pulled me up and into his embrace.  “Dovie, I’m at my limit girl.   I was doing OK until you mentioned me teaching you things.”

      “I … I guess I did sound stupid,” I said hesitantly.

      He groaned again like he was in real pain and suddenly I found myself backed up against the wall on either side of the stairwell and I was a little frightened by his intensity, something I had never been before.  “Dovie, now you listen here ‘cause I’m only gonna tell you this once.  You know them ground rules we set?  Well add to the list you talking about me teaching you … stuff.  That’s worse than teasing and might set into motion things that we agreed to draw the line at.  Understand?”  I shivered and he felt it and it seemed to draw another groan from him.  “I’m not trying to scare you Dovie.”

      I lied, “You’re not.”

      “Liar.” Then he kissed me and no telling how close to our line we would have gotten if Paulie hadn’t knocked on the door and whispered under the door, “I hear horses but they don’t sound like Uncle Roe’s.”


  1. Kathy Thanks for more of this fantastic story thanks for taking the time to write and post your gift for us.

  2. I just reread this story from the beginning again and enjoyed it greatly. What did I get for my troubles? Cliff!!! I see he is back. I will be checking back often. Grat story Kathy. Ken from Alaska