We were both a mess that morning, crying, hugging, crying some more… Well, Bill had asked me to marry him the night before. I… There is nothing in the universe I wanted more! And just a week ago, I didn’t even know that…

Well, I looked at the clock… We weren’t late, but we needed to get ready and go. We both used our own bathrooms, then Bill asked that I follow him back into mine. He explained that, for people that work with food, their hair really should be pulled back somehow. Nobody appreciates finding hair in their food! Bill even touching my hair feels so amazing. But he carefully tied my hair back into two, well like small ponytails, but one on each side, just a little behind each ear. This kept my hair out of my face, out of my ear, and out of everything else too. But my long hair still hung playfully on my shoulders. I really liked the way it looked. Bill did too, and I knew he almost started crying. Instead, he just said quietly “Maude, you are so beautiful…” We just hugged for a little while, right there in my bathroom.

Well, ok, Bill and I like to hug, and hug tightly. Maybe we need that… Well, his responses, the way his body responds is no secret to me, and I actually smile that I can do that to him. Still, Bill is very careful, and will find some way or another to avoid problems. “Maude, that should wait until we have… until I have earned that.” Bill has said this a few times. Well, even though he is the only man right now that I would EVER give myself to, he is really right. He explained that he is just treating me with the honor and respect I deserve. I think we both hope that some day…

Walking slowly to the Diner, I felt like I was dreaming. “Bill, is this for real?” I asked this just as a playful question. I was quickly crying. I only vaguely knew why I was crying. Bill knew exactly why…

Right in the road where we were, Bill stopped us, pulled me to himself, and hugged me. I laid my head on his shoulders and tried to calm down. Bill looked beyond me, and spoke to my heart…

“Maude, I know it has only been a few days… This has all happened so fast, for both of us…

“But I asked you to marry me last night, and I really meant that. Even though we are not officially married yet, I fully intend to maintain that committment, my committment to you.

“I don’t do short-timers, and I don’t do placeholders or one night stands, or ‘overnight jumps’ (said with disgust).

“When I asked what I did last night, I gave you everything… forever… Maude, I am not, will never go anywhere without you, as long as it is in my power…”

Well, we were both bawling again, by the time he was done… I so clearly knew where he stood, where he was coming from. Even though I couldn’t remember back more than a year maybe, I think my heart needed to hear that, to hear Bill fully explain what he meant last night. Even more amazing, I think Bill knew I needed to hear that…

We stood there, on the side of the road like that, crying, for a little while.. My only neighbors drove by, stopped, rolled their window down. The woman asked “Maude, are you ok?”

I wanted to cry even more. Because of Bill, I was so much better than ok… For the first time since I could remember, I felt so alive, so at peace… But I knew I had to tell them something, or Bill would be in jail in an hour. My neighbors were just concerned.

I did what I could, I showed them the ring on my ring finger, and started crying again. She understood immediately, and said “Oh, how precious, congratulations, Maude!” I think her husband was a little suspicious. They were soon on their way.

We were too, and would probably be a little late. Bill still hugged me, even if we walked a little faster. We had to walk together, well in step I think, to make that work, but that proved fairly simple. I didn’t care, I was with Bill. Not much else mattered.

That day at the Diner was a blur, and having Bill nearby always… Everyone liked my hair back like it was, and I think Bill was right about hair getting in food and such. We shared the same soda again, and nibbled on left-over food. Bill always cleared the tables after folks left, and he would carefully trim off any food that was still good. Soon there was a plate on the edge of the heating table in the back… There was plenty for both of us. And every time I got an opportunity, I would run back into the kitchen and hug Bill briefly. And our rings, well, the salesmorons were a lot nicer, a lot more respectful now, I don’t know. It didn’t matter, with Bill around anyway… And the locals talked to both Bill and I a lot more now, and I just don’t understand that! I don’t think we minded though. Well, I didn’t mind, that often gave me an opportunity to call Bill over, and I could usually count on a hug when that happened. Bill was careful, but he and I, we just felt so… dependent, maybe. Nobody minded, I don’t think. And I was coming to really enjoy that strange song swimming softly in the background(2)…

Well, at one point, I asked one of the older ladies that had known Edna. I think it was Maureen; Edna had a lot of friends! But I asked her if it was a problem that Bill and I hugged a lot while we worked at the Diner. She laughed, and then sighed.

“Honey, what you have is such a treasure. Just enjoy it while you can. I don’t think anybody cares. Well, some of us might be just a little jealous.” She looked out the window, as if longing… “And I just wish there was a way… to… you know, keep that alive… Boy, wouldn’t that be grand!”

I had to leave for an order up ring after that, but I thought a lot about what she said the rest of the day. I was absolutely elated to have Bill near, to revel in his love. I had known him less than a week, and yet I never wanted this to end. In that short time, Bill had already made me feel so cherished. And, looking around at some of the older couples, locals who came in, they seemed to get along tolerably well, but I didn’t EVER want ‘just that’ for Bill and I… Ed had died by the time I was here, so I never saw how Ed and Edna got along. Well, I reminded myself that I was in no hurry, that Bill and I were in no hurry. Maybe that was one of the reasons Bill was trying so hard to slow things down. I laughed when I thought that. I don’t know how slow things are really going. It just seems like, with each passing day, we both need each other more desperately, I don’t know.

All of these thoughts swirled around in my head the rest of the day. Well, the dinner rush was busy, even with Bill, but he and I worked together so well… And it was only after things started to slow down, that I realized Bill had kept it very nice here in the Diner, even though it was a blistering day outside, here on the edge of the desert. He had taken care of that completely for me. Well, I knew I would just be a mess tonight… I also knew that my precious Bill would understand, and quickly put my fears to rest.

I am not sure why, but the locals cleared out a little early. After Bill did all my cleaning, he and I were slowly meandering home, hugging tightly, with another hour of sunlight left maybe. After we got home, and used our own bathrooms (I took my hair down and brushed it too), Bill had me come sit in his lap on the front porch, while he leaned his back against the front wall of the house. He had actually brought a cushion off one of the chairs inside, and was sitting on that, so we could sit together for a while. I was sideways, and I just curled up against his T-shirt as he held me close. I was thinking to myself that I didn’t want to ever leave this spot. Bill said it for us, quietly. “Maude, This seems so amazing… You are so amazing… I hope this never ends.” We both wept softly together for a while. Bill would often lay his head down against mine, or bend his head down, and gently kiss the top of my head. That didn’t hurt at all. Well, I still hadn’t told him about that… We watched the sun set off in the west, and cried softly together. I think we were both trying to come to terms with a deepening dependence on each other that we didn’t even know existed a week ago. I started crying again after thinking that, and Bill did too… Maybe we would both be a mess.

After sundown, we went inside, and Bill and I took turns taking a shower. Of course, I took my hair down for mine. And Bill brushed my hair after my shower. He said he really enjoys serving me like that, and I wasn’t about to complain. I just melted when he did that. Still, a shower with cold water… Well, after Bill’s talk about seeing if the thing that heats the water could be fixed… Neither of us were in the shower long. Each of us sat on the couch while the other showered. Still, I could tell the water didn’t run long for Bill. I kept forgetting about the blue t-shirts for Bill, but he had plenty of white ones. We were in clean clothes, and Bill led me to my door. I kept telling myself this was ok, that Bill would leave me in my room and sleep on the couch. I guess I would have preferred otherwise. I had all day with him, and he wouldn’t be far, so…

Our pillows were still on the floor, so he picked them up and put them back on my bed. Then he walked me over to the bed, sat me down on the edge, and guided me down onto the pillow, on my back on the bed. Then he kneeled next to the bed, and we hugged tightly for a while.

“I love you, Bill, please don’t ever leave…” I don’t know where this came from, scared little girl and all, and this was all I could get out. Then I cried.

Bill could only get out “Oh, Maude…”, and he cried with me. We were hugging very tightly for a little while. Sooner than either of us wanted, Bill pulled his arms away, kissed my forehead, brushed a tear from my eye, then said softly “Let’s get some sleep. We were up late last night.” He thought for a minute, then added “I’ll be on the couch, yell if you need me.” Bill walked to the door, blew me a kiss, then closed it.

Well, it had been a very different night last night, and Bill was right, we had not slept all that much. Today was busy at the Diner, I was beat, and I was soon asleep. I think Bill was too.

I woke up in the middle of the night, screaming. I only vaguely sensed that Bill had run in and was quickly kneeling next to the bed, hugging me again, just like he was before, kneeling by the side of the bed, his arms wrapped tightly around me. The really bazaar thing was that Bill was in my dream, and right before I woke up, I think, he was hugging me then too. I knew it was him. At least it seemed that way. I wrapped my arms tightly around Bill’s back right away, after I began to sense I was waking up. Well, it was an absolute nightmare, and I could not remember anything else from it, except being scared to death, and then hugging Bill right before I woke up.

Waking up to Bill hugging me… He was crying too, and sounded scared, almost frantically saying over and over “It’s ok Maude, I’m right here.” It was his voice alone that made any difference to me. As soon as I recognized his voice, I began to calm down. Well, when I calmed down, Bill just cried more. I think he really was fearful for me, I don’t know. He only slowly calmed down.

A full moon made for a nice soft slightly blue glow in my room, we could see each other pretty good. Once it was quiet, Bill eased back, and kissed me ever so gently on the lips. He was trying to be careful, but we both treasured that rare privilege. I looked at Bill and smiled. He smiled back. We just looked into each other’s eyes for a few minutes. I found myself unconciously running my fingers through the hair on his chest when I realized he had no shirt on. I looked at his beautiful hairy chest, and said “mmmmm” as I ran my fingers through it some more. I said what I felt, it was amazing. Bill just sighed and smiled. I could have done that, run my fingers through his chest hair the rest of the night. And I couldn’t ever remember doing that before, I don’t know.

“Maude, how can I help you…” Bill asked softly.

I quickly replied, just as softly “Bill, you already are…”

For the next ten minutes, maybe, I just enjoyed Bill’s handsome chest, trying to forget that terrible nightmare. I reached an arm around Bill’s back, and ran my fingers down along his back to where I felt his jeans would stop me. I quickly forgot about the nightmare. My hand froze, and I said softly “Bill, you don’t have any clothes on…”

Still kneeling next to my bed, Bill smiled, then sighed again. Maybe he blushed like I did, but there was not enough light for me to tell. Then he kissed me again. “Oh, Maude, I’m sorry… I just can’t sleep on hot nights with clothes on, I just can’t. And you woke up screaming, scared to death, and that scared me too. I… had to get in here… with you…” Bill was crying softly by then. He was just concerned about me, and, well, it just worked out that way.

I don’t know where this came from either, but I looked Bill in the eye, smiled, then said softly “My precious man…” I thought a minute, then said slowly “Well, I’m gonna exercise some self control, but you need to go get dressed.” I moved my hand up on his back.

Surprising me, Bill hugged me tightly, and almost cried again. “Maude, you are better than I deserve…”

I returned his tight hug, and said quietly “You asked me to marry you, and I’m not leaving. You are my precious man now.”

We hugged tightly for a few minutes. Then Bill surprised me again. He got up off his knees, stood next to the bed, then turned and walked normally towards the door, then out, and blew me a kiss again before he closed the door. I could tell he was getting dressed. He didn’t need any light for that.

Oh, my goodness… Well, ok, so my bad dream had receeded quickly into the background. My amazing man had seen to that.

Well, he came back in, after knocking, he was dressed this time. He turned on one of the small lamps next to the bed. Surprising us both, there was a knock on our front door soon after. Bill helped me up, then we both walked to the front door together, and Bill turned the porch lights on. We opened the door, and stepped out onto the porch together.

Well, it was the Sheriff. He knew me certainly, but may have still had concerns about Bill. And I guess our neighbors (over a mile away, it was hot and all the windows were open) had called him after hearing me scream repeatedly. I just smiled calmly, and quickly pulled Bill next to me. “Officer, thank you, but everything is fine. I woke up screaming from a terrible nightmare, and just needed a hug from this amazing man to calm me down.” The Sheriff smiled, tipped his hat, and walked back to his patrol car, and was on his way.

Bill and I went back inside, and Bill turned the porch light off after the Sheriff was a good distance down the road. Then I surprised myself. “Bill, can I lay on your beautiful hairy chest for a while? Keep your jeans on though.”

Bill kissed me on the forehead. “Are you sure, Maude?” Then Bill chuckled. There were a couple ways to understand his question I guess. Well, Bill and I were on the same page; we were trying to take it slow.

Still, I smiled. “Yes. You have a bad dream to get rid of.”

Bill laughed. “Of course, precious Maude.” He took my hand and led me back into my room. He turned the small light off, pulled his white T-Shirt back off, and laid down on the far side of the bed with his head up on one of my pillows. I curled up on my side next to him with my head on his beautiful chest. I ran my fingers though his chest hairs until I fell asleep.

————————-

1. Maude: Meanderings is copyright 2017 by Shysage.

2. “Angelic” from the “Exodus” CD copyright by Andy Hunter. Please purchase this tune, and play it in the background as you read.

 

 

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