Friday morning… We both woke up together, and Bill said he slept well, and I did too. But the first thing, Bill rolled over on his back again, and I rested my head on his chest for a little while longer. “Thank you, Bill. Starting my day like this means a lot…” We were both crying ever so softly by then. After a little while, I raised my head and kissed Bill on the cheek. I think we both understood that was our signal. We headed to our separate bathrooms, and got ready for work. Well, when I came out, Bill was sitting on my bed. He told me again that I looked beautiful. Then he gathered all the noisy man things, and took them into his bathroom. I followed him, stopping at the couch, and sat down.

As Bill made noise, I just looked around the living room. I had spent almost a year sleeping on this couch. I was surely in survival mode during that time. Then Bill came. My Bill had sent me to Ed and Edna’s room while he spent a few nights out here. Now, we were both… I was wiping away tears when he came out. He had shaved, and looked so amazing. I got up quickly, and he pulled me close, and I put my face against his. Bill noticed my tears, and asked if anything was wrong. I just inhaled haltingly and said that I was so glad neither of us were spending the night out here any more. We didn’t move for a few minutes, but I am pretty sure Bill agreed.

It was a little early to leave for the Diner just yet, so Bill and I were quickly back in our rocking chair, just relaxing together. Bill hugged me close and I just melted with my head on his shoulder. He said softly a time or two that he loved me, and that just melted me more. It didn’t help that I remembered that, for as long as I could remember, Bill was the only man who had ever told me that. Now, I didn’t want to hear it from anyone else, especially another man. I think we both treasured our time together that morning; the time seemed to fly by so quickly.

It was time to go. I locked the door behind us, then we walked slowly, arm in arm, to the Diner. It was already pretty hot. I mentioned to Bill that Fridays and Saturdays are our busiest days, and that today would probably be very hectic. Maybe I was trying to warn Bill, I don’t know. He smiled, then said calmly “I accept that challenge.” It was quiet, then he added “Well, wait a minute, this is better. I will gladly devote my day to helping the most amazing woman on the planet.”

I pulled him a little closer briefly. “Bill, you are so amazing…” As I said that, Bill walked a little away from me, and of course I followed him. I soon realized what he was doing, and watched as he picked a beautiful white flower with yellow in the center. There was a stringy plant with a bunch of them along the side of the road. Bill carefully wove the stem of that flower firmly into the pony-tail on the left side of my head. Well, I often put my pen in my hair on the right side. Bill said again that I was beautiful, and he almost started crying. But we were almost to the Diner. That beautiful flower survived most of that day. I had to take it out before the dinner rush.

Well, the day was absolutely packed. It felt like, well, maybe the lunch rush started when we opened, and things didn’t slow down until after the dinner rush. It was really that busy. I think the locals were increasingly drawn here, on top of our normal weekend travelers. It didn’t really matter why. Bill still kept the Diner from getting stinking hot, and he kept the cook happy too. Both were very important tasks, and Bill did them better than I ever did. I just stood back in amazement, and hugged him whenever I could. And, at one point, in the afternoon, I think, I was taking an order. Bill was talking briefly to a local. This was all I heard “Well, it is harder to keep the temperature regulated during the summ– summer, since it gets so hot.” I didn’t understand any of that, how Bill managed to keep it cool in here. I took the order, heard the order up bell, and was on my way. It was a busy day. Bill still found time to hug me, or take me back into the kitchen for hugs and gentle cheek kisses. I cherished every single one.

After this bruiser day, Bill and I took a break on the steps out front and shared some ice cream. “Bill, why do you that, when you say the season summer?”

Bill put his head down, and said quietly “For as long as I can remember, whenever I try to say that season, it feels like someone is squeezing my throat tightly, as if trying to rip it out. It really hurts. I try to say it as little as possible. Sometimes I just can’t avoid…” I think he felt a little bad. I knew he worked so hard to give me his best. It just wasn’t that big of a deal.

“Bill, from now on, when you do that, say that season, you owe me rocking chair time… or chest hair time, if I am in the mood.” Bill laughed, and that meant the world to me. I laughed because we both knew I so treasured both of these. Bill would give them to me anyway, if I just asked. I just wanted Bill to know he need not be concerned about this. Bill was so good to me in so many ways…

The cook left as soon as everyone was gone, and asked Bill to clean the kitchen. He said he wasn’t feeling well. Bill didn’t even flinch, and said he would gladly do that. Neither of us knew how to cook, and so our cook was an important part of making the Diner run smoothly. Bill sent him home, and said we both hoped he would feel better tomorrow. The cook said it was probably just working so hard, today really was busy. He couldn’t wait for sunday so he could take some time to relax.

After watching my man clean practically the whole Diner, and clean it well, we were walking home together. Arm in arm… I was delighted. The moon came up a little later, and Bill suggested that we may want to see if we can come up with a flashlight for our walk home. I mentioned that I might find one at the house. We walked arm in arm for a while, in silence. I was just glad to be next to Bill, and I think he felt the same.

But I spent some of that time thinking. I tried to ask the question. “Bill, I know we are trying to take it slow, well with each other’s bodies anyway, but… It just seems like every day, I need you more…” I was crying again by the time I finished. Bill was too, so he carefully guided us both the rest of the way down the driveway. Then he parked me on the front porch, unlocked the front door, went inside, turned on the porch light and brought out that cushion he had used before. I sat in his lap as he leaned up against the wall. We both cried together for a while. Wiping away tears, Bill tried to say what he was thinking.

“Maude, I don’t really know how successful we have been at slowing anything down… Your body is so beautiful, but I think we really are trying to keep that part slow… slower, anyway…” Bill was smiling; he really meant that. Still, he kept going. “But, I agree with you… It seems like there are aspects of our lives that… We have grown so close so quickly… And it isn’t just that we want… It seems we so desperately need each other…” Bill paused in thought, wiped some tears away, then added “I don’t think we can slow that down at all… That would just hurt…”

We cried together some more. Honestly, I agreed with everything he said. Seeing his body, that was doing things inside me I can’t ever remember feeling. But the mushrooming dependence… And my yearning to give so unreservedly, only to him… I didn’t want to slow any of that down, not for a minute. I just couldn’t… Still crying, I said softly “I just need my man…”

As best as he could, Bill quickly replied “I just need my Ma… What… Wait, I just neeed my Maude…”

But, I think we both felt the same about this whole area… I was beginning to calm down. Knowing that Bill felt the same way as I did about this; that put my heart to rest in a lot of ways. “Bill, it has only been a week…” I said quietly

Bill gasped, then started crying hard. And I know that was tough for him, but something… Bill cried pretty hard for a while, as I sat in his lap and hugged his neck. I was soon crying with him. Later, and with great difficulty, he explained, still crying pretty hard…

“Since I can remember…

“Trying so hard, frantically looking for…

“Well, I didn’t know what I was looking for…

“I just knew…

“Part of me was missing, a very important part…

“I groped, looked and looked, not even knowing what…

“People treated me like such a freak… I was just so tired…

“Even getting food to eat was a nightmare… so hungry… no money…

“…gave me that old car… Collected aluminum cans for gas money…

“had just given up…

“Headed for the desert to just die there… End my agony…

“Decided to get off freeway… this sleepy little town… last soda…

“Then I met you…”

Hearing Bill’s story just made me cry too. He was still crying hard himself. Then he said this.

“Maude, I almost missed you…

“Almost…

“Missed you…”

He said this last part more than once. I was crying hard too… Bill and I, our lives and hearts so desperately intertwined now… We had both come so perilously close to never finding what we now desperately needed… treasured…

I started saying too…

“I… almost…

“Missed you…”

Zombie eyed food service worker until I was 98, how ghastly… We were both crying hard, saying this slowly, and often… Hugging each other tightly, as if clutching, holding tightly to what we had almost lost forever… We cried for a while there… Bill moved us from the porch into the rocking chair, and we cried longer… After another hour maybe, Bill’s crying slowed.

Then he said quietly “Maude, I can’t ever leave you… I just can’t… It has only been a week I know, but… I just can’t… You are everything… I just can’t… I’ll do whatever you say… Sleep in clothes… Sleep on the couch… Do all the cleaning at the Diner… Anything else… I just can’t… leave… you…”

This just made me cry again. Bill was ALREADY doing everything I could think of having him do, and even stuff that I needed but had not yet realized… I didn’t WANT Bill far away from me at ALL… EVER… I wanted him as close to me as possible, every second of every day, and every second of the night too… But there was also a certain amount of security that came from this man revealing that he absolutely could never leave me, no matter what I told him to do. Inside I was smiling. This man had devotion to me so deeply etched in his very soul. And of course, I felt the same way towards him. I would follow him anywhere, even if he tried to leave, which I now knew was simply not possible for him.

I stopped crying, and hugged his neck tightly, and kissed his cheek. Bill worked on calming down.

“Bill, can you do me a favor?” I asked lovingly.

“Oh Maude… Whatever it is…” he replied, still sniffling a little.

“Can you put me to sleep by running your fingers down my back?”

Bill sighed. “Maude, I really don’t deserve you…”

I looked him in the eye and said softly “Bill whoever from wherever, you are stuck with me now!”

Fighting back tears, he said slowly back “A dream come true for me, Maude.” It was quiet for a minute, then he added “And I would be delighted to caress your back until you are asleep, even if my arms fall off in the process.”

“Oh, Bill…” That was all I could think of…

We both got up, it was time to get ready for bed. We both brushed our teeth in my bathroom, then Bill sat on the bed while I did a few things in my bathroom, then I sat on the couch while he did his stuff, and got those nice white shorts on. When he came out, looking so handsome, I sighed at my jeans and T-Shirt, but that would have to do for now. I giggled as I realized that. I knew he should know, so I said quietly “Well, if I slept with no clothes on, I don’t think either one of us would be able to sleep.”

Bill gathered me in his arms, hugged me tight for a minute maybe. “Maude, you are so beautiful…” The he took my hand and led me into our room. Laying on his side on the bed next to me, he gently ran his fingers down my back… top to bottom… for a long time… And again, even through my T-Shirt, it felt amazing. But he also began gently caressing the skin on my neck first… I honestly melted, and didn’t want to even move. After a while, he asked if he could get up and change sides because his arm was dead, he said. I changed the plan, and asked him to lay on his back, while I fell asleep on his chest. We were both soon asleep.

A little over a week ago, I was just a food service worker zombie, barely surviving from day to day working a harsh schedule at the Diner… And Bill just happened to stop at the Diner briefly before putting himself out of his misery… Just a week later… I couldn’t leave Bill if I had too… And he couldn’t leave me either…

We had almost missed…

————————-

1. Maude: Meanderings is copyright 2017 by Shysage.

 

 

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