Monday, July 27, 2009

For One Night Of Love (Part V)

SHORT STORY MONDAY

For One Night Of Love
Part V

The soft clunk startled him. Alyssa had rapped on the passenger door window with her knuckles, then lifted the handle. The door, having been locked, did not yield. Jeremy reached across the seat, opened it and Alyssa, wearing a red silk, quilted robe with a black lining, slid into the car.

Their eyes fought to discover one another's secrets.

"You don't have to say anything," Alyssa said. "I understand."

Jeremy remained silent, wrapped in resistance, staring off into the twilight.

"I knew you'd be confused," Alyssa said, her voice cracking.

He knew she was fighting tears now. They were both fighting tears.

"I'll be all right," he said. The sinking feeling had passed.

"Don't take it personally," she said. "You don't know how things are with my family."

Jeremy reached his hand out and she clasped it between her hands, resting them on her lap. Her head was bent so that her hair fell forward, hiding her face. Several minutes were passed in solemn silence. Jeremy felt as if they were the most beautiful moments of his whole life, and it struck him almost strange that such a passive act could so profoundly move him.

"Why are we so scared to show our real selves?" Jeremy said. "It's like I have all these feelings, and it's like I don't even know what to do with it all."

"You really are sweet," Alyssa said softly, still harboring his hand.

Jeremy closed his eyes and listened to her breathing.

"I have to go," she said quickly, returning his hand and opening the door.

Jeremy got out of the car as well, watching the shadow figure of Alyssa race across the lawn, silhouetted against the half moon risen above the trees. In a short time he saw the flash of lights from her room, on and off, three times. He went inside and returned his own double sign. His last thoughts were of her as he passed into sleep.

There were many nights of signals after that. Jeremy lived for those moments where he was in contact with her, even if only by the brief flashing of lights which had come to symbolize the embodiment of all things bright and wonderful and hopeful and pure. Sometimes he would exclaim, "Let there be light!" as he flashed, with rejoicing, the signal to her. At other times, it was with anguish, for it seemed the day would take a thousand years to pass before he should again see her sign. These were the most difficult nights, and in the pain of longing he wondered if it was worth it, for surely no good thing could come of it in the end and he believed he understood that it really is possible to die from a broken heart.

The night it happened he'd already made ready for bed when the phone rang. "Jeremy?" She spoke so softly he had difficulty hearing her, but he knew it was her. "Can you come here tonight?"

Jeremy answered voicelessly and she, not hearing, said, "Jeremy?"

"Yes," he replied, and he hung up the phone.

He dressed in haste, hitching his belt and buttoning his shirt as he strode down across the yard. The back door had been swung open with Alyssa standing just inside, wearing again the red silk robe, her face colorless. As Jeremy stepped inside the door, the girl flung herself against him, burying her face in the nape of his neck. While her urgency frightened him, the scent of her equally intoxicated him so that he was bewildered and uncertain, even afraid. His shirt became damp with her tears, first on the left and then the right side.

"It's all right," he said to her, trying to sound comforting. "I'm sure things will be all right."

She said nothing and continued to cry, pulling away from him and seating herself on a low couch that stretched along the wall, crying into her hands with her elbows propped on her knees. There was a lamp on somewhere in the house which presented just enough light to suggest outlines for the furnishings in that room. Jeremy placed himself at her side. With his right hand he stroked the back of her head, running his hand over her hair.

When at last she was able to speak, she said to him, "You mustn't make any noise," and he knew someone else was in the house.

Finally, she stood up and, grasping his hand, pulled him to his feet. She led him toward the hallway, down the hall across plush carpets, past woven wallpaper and tapestries, toward the back of the house, toward the room he had dreamed of where paradise must lay. Without a word she led him, and he followed, believing anything was possible. When they reached her room, he followed her inside, and she closed the door behind so that they were standing in absolute darkness, her hand tightly clasping his, restlessly squeezing and releasing. He did not know that in the corner of the room lay the dead body of her father.

CONTINUED


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