I woke the next morning. I was not laying on my side next to Bill. I guess he had moved my head onto one of my pillows last night. How I slept through that… I really must have been tired. Waiting before I got too dismayed, I realized that Bill’s arm was around my waist. He was behind me, hugging me. He must have known I was awake now, because he ever so slightly pulled me closer. But he was crying very softly. Well, he was doing a terrible job at fighting back tears, at not crying. I just said quietly “Oh, Bill… How can I help you?” I intentionally used the same phrase he used last night. I honestly felt that way. And I wanted to know why he was fighting back tears.

“I… Waking up alone is so excruciating to me… I am not even sure why… But waking up to you… …such a treasure… Please don’t ever leave me…” Bill said this quietly, and I was pretty sure this was coming from deep inside his heart. Well, he had told me this earlier in the week too. But, me leave him? Like that would ever happen…

I asked him to pick his arm up, then I turned over to face him. Then I gently kissed his lips, and said quietly back. “You mentioned yesterday that you made a committment to me when you asked me to marry you. I made the same committment back, when I accepted your proposal.” It was quiet as I thought briefly. “Bill, you are stuck with me now.” Then I smiled. Well, he was quickly crying loudly, and I was too. We hugged tightly, which was kind of awkward laying on our sides on the bed, until I put cheek up on Bill’s cheek… My head was next to his head. Hugging him was amazing. I think we quickly calmed down. Maybe we were both on the same page with that now, too.

We headed to our separate bathrooms to get ready for work. I remembered how Bill had done my hair yesterday, and I did the same thing again. It worked well, and looked nice (Bill said so!). Bill was waiting for me on the couch when I came back out. He told me I looked so beautiful. I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing him saying that. I sat in his lap briefly, and he hugged me close. I grabbed the keys, and we were out the front door (locking it behind us), and we were on our way.

Again, we were a little early, so we took our time, and meandered our way to the Diner. Hugging and walking in step… I think we both felt like we were in heaven. Once to the Diner though, Bill and I both jumped into another busy day. It was stinking hot again, since it was summer time. But Bill kept the air flow up, and it never felt stinking hot here in the Diner. I am not sure how he does that. I could never pull that off. And I don’t know, it really seemed like business was picking up some. Maybe word was spreading that our AC was working (laughing as I typed that).

Well, I think Bill and I, together, well everyone seemed to enjoy watching us, maybe remembering such a time in their lives, or looking forward to it, in some cases. It was clear everyone adored Bill, as much as they delighted in me. Well, this is a small town, things are just like that. And just maybe, a few might have been waiting for, how did she say it, for the other shoe to drop, I think. This lady was just concerned. My… Bill and I had happened so quickly. She said I needed to be careful, and that, from the talk she heard, some were watching Bill like a hawk, ready should he decide to take a wrong turn. Well, I didn’t think that would ever happen. But I did agree with her that this had all happened so quickly. I told her plainly that Bill felt we should take it slow. It was just that things kept happening to, well, bind us even closer together, I don’t know. Still, she admitted she was just concerned. And I had to wonder if Edna had asked some to keep an eye out for me after she was gone. I would appreciate that!

I also realized that I was spending more time just talking to the locals. Ladies mostly, but still. I honestly think I was in zombie mode, I heard a young girl say, before Bill came along. I came to work, buried myself in everything I had to do to keep everyone served, for the 10 or so hours the Diner was open, then I went home, and collapsed into bed (that couch…). The next day I did it all again. Well, with Bill here, helping so much at the Diner, I really had a lot more time to talk, to relax while I was here. Bill was doing a lot of what I had to do until he came, but he is so organized… He just does everything so much faster than I. Well, it really helps. I have said this before, but just having him here is such a huge help to me.

I think I hugged Bill a number of times, on that day alone, just telling him how much I appreciated him helping me. One of those times, Bill smiled, gently kissed my lips, and said quietly “I’m stuck with you, remember?” Then he almost started crying. I gently kissed his lips, and said softly back “I’m stuck with you too, mister!” Then I almost started crying. Such brief but meaningful encounters were more and more becoming a part of our days at the Diner. I don’t think either of us minded. And one of the young girls whispered to me that many of the older ladies watch for us to kiss like that, and just sigh. I blushed, then replied honestly to that young girl “I can only hope you find a man as amazing as my Bill.” She jumped up and hugged me for that!

And the salesmorons were now keeping their distance, and treating me like a lady. I guess they saw Bill do that. Maybe they will learn something…

Later in the afternoon, I noticed Bill carrying a square bag looking thing back into the kitchen. He said he would explain on the way home. That was fine, I would trust this man with anything. Well, we were quickly swamped by the dinner rush, and I forgot about it. Well, even during that mad rush to get people fed, Bill still found time to kiss me, to hug me. And Bill was also helping the cook a lot with cooking stuff during lunch and dinner. The cook really appreciated that. Well, the cook also really appreciated that Bill had figured out how to get the cooking heat out of the kitchen a little more efficiently. The huge cooking hoods didn’t work any more. Bill figured out what to do, managing the air moving through the whole Diner, I guess. That’s Bill. He is just really good at figuring stuff out. His brain is… amazing. Well, his body… Nevermind, that needs to wait.

The weekend was on the way (this was Thursday), and so the locals hung around until pretty late. We didn’t mind, Bill and I got to talk to some of them together. And, at one point, Bill sat down at a table of just men, the Sheriff included, and talked to them some too. This was very good. They needed to know that Bill wasn’t just some, what did the cook say, overnight jumper, or anything like that. Well, Bill was certainly not that. And him talking with the other men, hopefully they would see that.

Still, neither Bill nor I minded that we left the Diner as the sun was down, and the moon was coming up. We walked slowly, hugging. And Bill had the strap for that square looking bag over his shoulder. Bill explained briefly. “One of the ladies in town came up with this extra computer. She gave it to me because she said men like to play with these things. Well, I will play with it.”

It didn’t take me long… And I realized I had not told Bill about this either, my journal… Since Bill blazed into my life, it had been a while since I typed anything. I was really behind! Still, I explained my personal journal of sorts to Bill. He was really excited about this, and said he would see if this computer in the bag could be used for that. He also said he would be very interested in learning more about “Maude before Bill”, his words. Well, that just reminded me that there was a lot more that I would need to explain to my man. Maybe my journal could help me do that, I don’t know.

Once home, we headed to our separate bathrooms. And I took my hair down, and brushed it before I came out. Bill said again that I looked absolutely beautiful. I kissed him back. He said it was very tempting to sit on the front porch together like we did last night, but since it was dark… Like I said, I never even thought twice about doing that. I think though, that Bill understood the hazards better than I did. I honestly was thankful for that.

Well, there was a rocking chair in Edna’s, well my room. Edna used to sit in that chair, rocking slowly, and talk to me for hours. Sometimes the living room, sometimes the front porch, sometimes her room. I usually sat on the floor, leaned up against her bed or something else, and just listened. There was also a dresser on Ed’s side of the room, well it was Ed’s dresser, full of man clothes and such. So, when we were both ready for bed (still fully clothed), Bill sat down in the rocking chair, pulled one of the bottom drawers of Ed’s dresser out just a little, then turned the rocking chair so he could put his foot up on that open drawer. Bill had me sit in his lap, sideways, with my legs off to the side. Bill pulled me close to him. and I rested my head on his shoulder, and returned his hug. Bill could use his foot to slowly rock us as we hugged tightly, and on and off, cried softly together. Bill mentioned that we could do that any time, and that it was very nice to rock and hug me like that, but it was late, and we should get to bed. He was right.

And Bill took care of a potential problem even before I knew it would happen. Bill volunteered to lay on his back, and let me run my fingers through his chest hairs until I fell asleep. He said he would gently move me to a pillow, and head for his couch. Wow, did I appreciate him thinking ahead for me like that. All the lights were off, and I was soon laying on Bill’s chest, crying. I was crying because Bill had gone out of his way to anticipate what would help me, even before I knew it. Bill was definitely not an overnight jumper… He was living out the committment he had already made to me. I just cried on his chest for a while. But I did fall asleep. Again, how Bill managed to get a pillow under my head, and get up off the bed…

I woke up later to a very strange sound. All the windows were open since it was hot, and I thought at first that the sound was coming from outside, a hurt animal maybe. And I had already realized that Bill was on his couch now. He wasn’t in here any more. I sat up and listened. The sound was coming from the living room, from where Bill was. I… after last night, and Bill running in here for me, I got up quickly, opened my door, and looked on the couch. It was empty, and I gasped. Well, I gasped again… The moon was high, so I had quite a bit of moonlight. There was a small horse, I think, laying on its side on the floor next to the couch. Very light colored, but not white, and with Bill’s hair color. Well, the horse was crying… with Bill’s voice. The horse was Bill. I told myself that I surely was dreaming. People don’t turn into small horses. They just don’t. But the crying was Bill’s. I was concerned.

“Maude, I’m sorry… For no reason, this just happpens… I can’t… I don’t know… Please don’t…” Bill was crying because he was a small horse. He was crying even more because he thought I would leave him now… Well, it was pretty strange…

Really finding myself unable to even grasp all this, I was still concerned about my man. I carefully sat cross-legged with my knees near his horse legs. “Bill, relax” I said softly, then I ran my hand from his head between his horse ears down the middle of his head to his nose. I was not… this didn’t bother me, I don’t know. Well, I could explain none of this anyway, but I didn’t find this disturbing at all. I ran my hand along the side of his horse body, up to his front leg, then down his front leg to the hoof. Well, Bill wasn’t crying any more.

But when my hand touched his hoof… I gasped again. In the blink of an eye, he turned back into my man, my Bill. After the time it took for this to register, I gasped again. Bill was stark naked. Then I remembered that Bill had to sleep with no clothes on when it was hot. I smiled, and said after a brief delay “I think I need to exercise self control again. I’ll get up and go into my room, can you get dressed?”

Bill just smiled… “You are amazing, Maude.”

Getting up when you are sitting cross-legged is not the easiest. And my man… But I did make it into my room, and closed the door. I sat on the edge of my bed. And it was only then that I remembered the dream I had… months ago now. Well, I thought it was a dream… But now… the exact same thing… I didn’t think it was a dream any more… I was quickly weeping softly…

Bill got up, got jeans on quickly, then knocked, and came in. He sat next to me, and asked quietly “Are we through, Maude?”

My soft weeping… I just burst into tears, and hugged Bill, was quickly clutching at Bill… “Nothing could… Bill, I need you so desperately… Please don’t…”

Bill hugged me tight, and stroked the back of my head. “Hey, hey… I didn’t say that for me, I said it for you. I will never leave you, even if you turn into a small horse, too…”

Instead of calming down, I just cried harder, and I’m sure this really confused Bill. Now he was concerned too, and he hugged me tightly. We cried together for a while, then I managed to blurt out “Happened to me…”

Bill didn’t freak out or anything… I am not sure why, but Bill stopped crying immediately. Well, now I was very concerned, but I should not have worried. With a silent break in between, he talked quietly as he thought…

“My amazing Maude…

“We are probably the only two people in the world…

“We share so much in common, it’s just strange…

“I’ll bet you are beautiful as a small horse, too…”

(I laughed while crying when he said that)

There was a bigger delay here. Then Bill hugged me tightly again, and said this.

“Maude, I’m never leaving you… I think we desparately, absolutely need each other…” (Well, my heart knew this was true.)

Then my Bill got up, kneeled down on one knee again, like he did the other night, and gently held the ring he had placed on my finger only nights ago now…

“Precious Maude, people or small horse, will you marry me?”

I didn’t answer, I couldn’t answer… Heaving deeply and fighting back an emotional waterfall, I again jumped on my man, and ended up on top of him as he lay on the floor. I just cried… That he would even want me… I tried to avoid crying loud because I didn’t want the Sheriff to come again. I just said this, over and over “Oh, Bill…” Bill didn’t even try and move me. We just hugged and cried together like that for a while.

Bill was slowly running his fingers along my back. Even through my T-Shirt, that felt so relaxing, so comforting. Well, I think we both knew we needed to get up. I propped myself up on my arms, and kissed my man. “People or small horse” I said, and Bill said the same thing.

I just sat there, looking at this amazing man that I didn’t have, didn’t even know about a week ago… I was smiling broadly, and he was too. Bill was in thought a minute maybe. “Maude, I don’t think this aspect of our lives should be common knowledge…” Bill said this slowly. He was right, of course. This was just so different… very different. We needed to keep this to ourselves, and hopefully it wouldn’t happen again. Propping my upper body over on one arm, I reached over and touched one of my fingers to his lips, as if to shoosh him. He kissed my finger. But I think we both understood, that we both understood. Wow…

I put my arm back down; holding myself up with two arms was a lot easier. Still, we were basically nose to nose, looking deep into each other’s eyes.

“Maude, I really love you…” Bill said softly.

“My precious man…” I said softly back.

Well, Bill knew we both needed some sleep. But he also knew that… I think we both realized that him sleeping on the couch, it just didn’t seem to be working. He said that if he slept next to me with his jeans and T-shirt on, well, he wouldn’t be able to sleep, it was too hot for that. Then I said with a giggle, that if he slept on my bed with no clothes on, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Bill smiled. Well, we were trying to take it slow. Bill turned one of the night-stand lamps on, and rummaged around in Ed’s dresser. He pulled out some white shorts. Well, it was a compromise, we would both make it work. Bill went into the bathroom and got them on, then came out. I told him he still looked so handsome.

Bill put me to sleep as I rested my head on his chest and ran my fingers through his chest-hair. After I was asleep, he moved me onto a pillow. Then Bill rolled over, and went to sleep himself. I think we both appreciated this arrangement. We were close. And we could both sleep, too. This was good, because Fridays were one of our busiest days, and tomorrow was Friday…

Bill never slept on that couch again…


1. Maude: Meanderings is copyright 2017 by Shysage.




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