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Elliot's hand comes to immediate and reassuring rest upon the small of my back, as it unfailingly does when he ties next to me as I stir into awakening. I have loved Elliot for many years, and this familiar yet ever unexpected gesture continues to move me. I sometimes ponder how a subtle unabated desire for him has remained so alive and flamelike within me; familiarity so often dulls our sensitivity to the changing beauty of those we love.
We don't sleep like spoons, rarely confront issues, have not gone to therapy, and our shared time is as sporadic and imperfect as the paradoxical creatures we ourselves are. We live together, quite simply, as animals do.
Elliot's hand knows (whether Elliot himself does or not) that I need its warmth, its current, its solidity, to live. I have lived much without it, given our penchant for separations, but it is the current of life to me, that hand on my back; it is my food, my desire, my reason. From his palm to the small of my back and out through to my belly, which rests flat on the surface of the bed, Elliot's solar glow begins its slow radiance, suffusing my heart with its warmth, flowing downward like molten lava over my Venusian mound, down farther, down the insides of my legs, stirring like lights the inner spaces below my ankles.
Perhaps he is reading, possibly unaware of this journey we have begun. It is as though his instinct is ahead of him, moving him toward me, drawing him from his solitary flight. I don't know -- can we ever know another's experience directly? Still, myimagination seeks images of explanation; what is it at Elliot's deepest core that knows me? I don't ask him, I feel the current travel from him through me and out again; our molecules, heedless of our possible intent, begin their rhythmic intimate dance.
I listen to the sound of birds outside our cottage, then the sound of our breathing, now in unison, all of my senses coming alive. This time, this unique and unrepeatable time, I hear the rustling of a page. A magazine falls softly to the floor. Moments pass and his hand changes pressure slightly. Our breathing is slow, rhythmic and relaxed.
My eyes, resisting morning, are still closed and I am awake within that light-darkness. Elliot is wordlessly aware that I am awake; our ritual is silence. We are orphan-close, so far away in this moment from the day which will soon press upon us. We are farther still from our differences, our troubles, far from who we often pretend we are, even to each other.
Elliot withdraws his hand, as he turns on his side toward me. I feel a momentary emptiness, a longing, as the current subsides and begins again as he replaces his hand. Past images come at me like dreams as he moves closer. Elliot on his knees, gripping my arms as I sit, blocked from him by fear, pulling me down to meet him, his eyes calling me out from my defenses, where we can touch. I remember a San Francisco street corner and Elliot's arm encircling my waist, drawing me into him as I am about to obediently follow a green light. The light, the crowd, the sounds, stopped then, as the world has now. Elliot, sweet surprising Elliot, moving toward me panther-like, unexpected, with the grace of his full presence. I have lived without knowing if he desires me until these moments, coming without warning, taking me from who I thought we were; freeing me.
I open to him as his hand moves up from that sacred grove, up the center of my spine, so slow, so unhesitating. I feet lank morning strands of my hair being caressed into beauty, tousled farther across the broad flushed plains of my face. We are quiet and strange to each other, private. I feel his face close over my hair, my ear; we are still and new I cannot breathe enough, and am afraid to breathe, to break this timeless solitude.
I am all liquid -- no bones, no muscle, no resistance , as I turn to him; our legs cross-stitching themselves into patterns they know, independent of our effort. My face finds the cave of his throat where it can hide. My breasts lose their definition, softened against his rising and lowering chest. My hand moves up, gently grasping the lobe of his ear, my fingers softly stroking the tender skin that knows my arousing touch; a touch that quickly banishes any daevas that might be dancing in Elliot's imagination.
My hand, having made its familiar connection, slides down his chest and snakes around his slight man's curve of waist, around farther to that plateau-like center signifying his spine's end, his serpent's tail. My center finger circles that bony terrain, gently pressing, pulling him inextricably to me.
We are old friends and new territory, we are deep cavernous lovers, we are celebrants of the mystery. We begin to kiss, if such tentative brushes could be called kisses. Our lips, seemingly negligent parties to our increasing heat, take their time with casual random meetings. Our bodies cling to each other for the promise of some ultimate home, while our mouths impudently enact their own rituals of tasting, biting, cajoling, inspiring deeper breaths and tender urgency.
Elliot has told me he often feels fear before our lovemaking, that he thinks he always will. It must be now that he feels that primal near-terror, now, when he is so vulnerable. I am some dark chasm he cannot enter without being lost and changed, without becoming a stranger to himself.Pleasures. Copyright � by Lonnie G. Barbach. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.