There is something to be said for silence. There are times when even nature is still in the night and the sounds of this world all become muted. There are no frogs and no birds, no crickets singing, no lonely cry of the coyote or the hoot of the owl. The sound of the falling stars is the only audible presence and those simply because they can draw a quick breath from us as we lay under the sky, waiting. Why she chose this place for this time was not for me to question but for me to act upon. It was no harsh demand or outlandish whim but a simple idea to clear enough of the bank of the pond so that a blanket might fit and two people might look up at the sky at night. Time changes when creatures so small look up at the vastness above. The sheer weight of the Universe passing overhead is enough to stifle such a silly thing as human speech. What is there to be said? Everything that is everything floats above us and the magnitude stills the need for chatter or idle thought. There might be billions or billions of billions of creatures, great and small, living out their lives before us, most of whom must have died millions of years ago, and the light from their suns have only now completed the journey to a small speck circling a tiny yellow sun. No, it is too awesome of a sight to waste on words. We hold hands and our hearts can be heard as the eastern sky surrenders its darkness and mist begins to form on the surface of the pond. A large bird passes directly over us, so close we can hear its feathers scooping out flight from the sky, and both of us will remember that moment forever. It is a bonding moment; a moment of togetherness than no other person will ever be able to experience. In a million years, or a million million years, the wan light of our sun will reach some distant planet and carry with it the reflection of this moment. There are billions of these moments in every night’s sky and wordlessly we are awash in the same thoughts. We are a part of all of this. We are made of this stuff. This is who we are. Tiny specks on a tiny speck swirling around the Universe we hold onto one another to keep from being flung out into the darkness to become starts. Our breathing seems ethereal and nearly spiritual. There is nothing and there is everything. In the distance we can hear the noise of a truck on the highway and we both realize that the night, endless and magnificent and infinite beyond the thoughts of humans, is slipping away as surely as the light of a falling star.
The ice in the cooler shifts and makes a noise much louder than either of us was expecting and we both jump slightly. So soundless is the night that even this is garish. Sam shakes himself off, struggles to his feet, and woofs at us from the other side of the fence. It’s an act of democracy, this low throaty bark is. Sam isn’t sure what to make of what he heard so he woofs just loud enough to say he barked. Lilith and Lucas are in the woods nearby but neither seconds the motion, neither cares to join in, and the motion fails. Sam rattles his ears and plops back down and snorts. I can feel her grinning at Sam’s display of predawn territoriality. She turns over on her side now, facing me, and I ease towards her very slowly. The August night air is sticky and moist with humidity and our clothes, a necessary evil against mosquitoes, seem itchy and cumbersome now.
I can feel her breath, taste it so close to my own, I can feel her body heat, I can smell her hair and sense every beat of her heart inside of her body. The blood in her veins rushes underneath her skin and there is a joining of streams and rivers and waterfalls and oceans between us. My hand on her back, guiding her gently towards me, is the pull of gravity incarnate. The kiss is slow, gentle, and promising but I can feel a slight resistance, as if there is a feather in my hand, being blown by the slightest of breezes. If close my hand I crush the feather so I must leave my palm outstretched, but I also much make sure feather isn’t wafted away.
This one is like a tiny flame before dawn, a woman who even after a decade, does not say yes in a moment or sometimes even in many moments and sometimes not at all. Like the tip of a burning match being set to tinder in the dark, if the wind is too great, just might snuff out entirely any heat, if rushed or pushed too soon. Small flames devour fuel very slowly and more than once I have seen the edge of a leaf burn down to a little yellow flame, seemingly without any chance of real heat or life. Yet where there is heat there is life, and a small gentle kiss becomes prolonged and the bodies pressed together more closely, and the leaf flares up to ignite those around it.
“Not here” she whispers to me but she doesn’t pull away. This is her time to smolder; the building of a heat invisible except perhaps some small curling wisp of smoke. Not here doesn’t mean no but it isn’t an invitation yet, either. She leans into me, letting my body support hers, and I can feel her shifting her weight, pressing against me more tightly. The fire builds now, evident with a bright flame yet still small enough to die in a sudden gust of wind. She moves as if she can’t get comfortable and I know it’s a matter of time before she suggests a change of venue. But it will take that time. This is a woman who, after a decade, still wraps up in a sheet before she leaves the bed so she will not walk nude in front of me. Only when the fire is raging, only when the wind whips the flames into a conflagration that will consume all fuel and all emotion will she release herself to it. There is no dawn, no stars above, no sound, no stillness, and there is nothing but the fire and the heat and suddenly she pushes away and grabs the cooler, “Let’s go!”
There is the walk to the house, the blanket wrapped around us both even though it is far too warm, there is the sound of melting ice in the cooler, as if we’re affecting its lifespan by our nearness. There are the steps to the front door, three of them, and at the top she stops, turns to me, and is still shorter than I but delightfully taller as I stand on a lower step. There is a sound, the sound, of a truck on the highway, loud and rude, and then she is gone.