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The Foward Berth
The Foward Berth
I awoke in the dark, suddenly but gently, for a few seconds disoriented by the rich sensory maze in which my body was absorbed. My newfound lover's scent and the humidity of her body infused me. And we were carried by a steady rythm, but not from us, for the wind had risen.
It was a warm wind, steady and strong, from the southwest. Not the aimless, playful kind of wind that pops up casually during the day, little thermal skirmishes between puffy cumulus clouds. No, this was one of those front-driven winds, compelled along by pressure differences on a continental scale, stable and purposeful, oblivious to time of day. The kind of wind that really gets the surface of the lake roiled up. It was almost dawn; it was going to rain that day.
These were not thoughts, but a sort of composite picture, an awareness I'd had even as I slept. When sailing is in your blood you pay attention to the weather.
But simulaneous with this, dominating and compounding, even confusing it, was my awareness of Gail. She lay lightly, lacelike in the crook of my arm, head on my shoulder, long black hair spilled across my chest and her hand which lay also there.
My disorientation vanished in an instant as the fresh memory of that long first night came rushing in. How many times had we repeated the cycle of passion and ecstasy? I wasn't sure, and did't care. Though new to each other, it was as though we'd known each other since before we could remember, and only found each other again after being lost. Certainly this was the woman of my dreams!
The hand of my arm in which she nestled was resting on her hip. I lifted it half off and drew my fingers across. Waking, she gave a low contented groan, a pause, then a single quick giggle. Lifting her head slightly, she reached around and pulled her hair back, and our mouths found each other yet again ...
Gail and I had sailed from Marblehead the previous afternoon, out into that giant puddle left over from a melting glacier eons ago, that pleasing expanse we call Lake Erie. We hadn't talked about it, but we had both known that we shared the same anticipation.
I had been eyeing her at the office for several months. We didn't work together, but had enough interaction to facilite this. She impressed me as sophisticated but wholly without guile or pretense; brilliantly professional, yes, but in the final analysis valuing her identity as simply a woman more than as anybody's boss. I was increasingly fascinated, and developed an irrepresible need to learn more. After a few weeks of clever glances and subtle flirting, which were clearly well-received, I'd finally taken the step. The old-fashioned, proper way, I'd decided: a tasteful card, sent via U.S. Mail, to her home, requesting the honor and pleasure of her company for an evening outing, and an RSVP. She promptly responded in kind, in the affirmartive, with stunningly graceful caligraphy on pale pink monogrammed stationary. The date was set.
And the date was perfect, really. I won't bore you, dear reader, with the details, but in brief: a fine downtown restaurant, plenty of wine, followed by a walk along the riverfront; long, warm, comfortable conversation of stories from childhood and college, our favorite movies and old songs, our pet political outrages. But most rich was the discovery of our mutual love sailing. We walked for hours, from time to time remarking how fast the moon seemed to traverse the night sky.
I kissed her at the door, a good, substantial kiss, not merely polite but neither a prelude to inevitable passion. We looked at each other and smiled, because we both knew that here was something potentially great, something rare. We both were full of new imagination and optimism about each other. And we both knew, without saying any of it, that all this was true of the other. As if on some unspoken cue, we decided to leave it there for the evening, "saving it up", as leaving the most exciting looking gifts yet unwrapped.
The next day I sent her a postcard of thanks, and mentioned that I'd phone her later in the week. Three days later at midday I called her direct line at the office, and after the briefest of chitchat, simply said, "Anyway, here's why I'm calling: will you join me this weekend for a cruise?"
On the river walk Saturday night I'd been telling her about the boat. Actually, she probed me endlessly for details about it. An old Viking 32, fiberglass, sloop rigged, inboard helm at the stern, small cockpit and broad deck, a modest cabin. Old I say, but still quite sound. My father used to skipper in the yatch clud's day-races, and I grew up crewing for him in these. We never gave that boat a name, and we didn't call it "she", I don't know why. But we loved it. When I finished school he gave it to me, saying he had finally outgrown it.
That Saturday, six miles out of Marblehead we came about to the east, striking a broad reach off a southwest breeze which we held all afternoon. We conversed on everything under the sun, big and small, funny, sad, profound, silly, and naturally the weather! We made incidental contact from time to time (I'm sure we were both doing this on purpose), and there was a strong, unmistakable undercurrent of sexual anticipcation. But continued to keep it there, under the surface, all day long.
At dusk we dropped the jib and stowed it, then pointed up and let the anchor. Various little tasks to secure the boat for the night, the last of which was me at the bow checking the lay of the anchor one last time. When done I stood and looked back at Gail, finally now fixing her with a gaze. She was standing at the stern, near the cabin hatch, watching and, it seemed, waiting. She suddenly smiled and said with a laugh, "Give me five minutes!". I returned the smile and nodded knowingly. She disappeared into the cabin below decks without a word. Soon I followed, and found her in the forward berth, the obvious place for two in that small space, in the very bow.
... Eight hour later I awoke in the dark, suddenly but gently, for a few seconds disoriented by the rich sensory maze in which my body was asborbed.
7/2/2006 5:43 pm
What a wonderful moment captured and shared with us here...thank you...it sounds beautiful *smiles*|
7/3/2006 7:52 am
What a romantic story.. rich sensory maze, beautiful words. I truly enjoyed your story.|