Life in a Northern Town Ch. 04byvelvetpie©
We went to our old high school later on that day. It was a surreal feeling to see other kids walking the halls that we'd once owned. Our teachers were all very happy to see us, giving us hugs and introducing us to their students. Some of the kids asked how the teachers were when we attended and we told them stories that had everyone laughing. We left address information and told them that we would come back and visit again. As we approached Peter's room, I stood on tiptoe, bypassing the glazed panes on the bottom of the door and looked in on the class.
I could only guess that the day's lesson had something to do with Shakespeare because Peter was dressed in Renaissance period garb, an accordion-pleated collar around his neck and a multi-colored Jacquard-patterned pantsuit on his lanky form. He was reading from a thick leather book, embellishing the words with his gestures and making the students laugh. The breath caught in my throat as I remembered the lessons he'd taught us and the ones I'd learned from him.
I found myself drawn to his mouth, a body part that had always held my attention where he was concerned. Peter had the most feminine lips that she'd ever seen and they were absolutely perfect. The top lip had a perfect cupid's bow curve, nice and thick in the center, then thinning to meet the bottom lip. It, too, was soft and thick, perfect to suck on. His voice was deep and resonant, reminiscent of former president Ronald Reagan's, and made anyone who heard it think of Norman Rockwell's era. It calmed, it soothed. It found that place in your soul where peace lived and fed it. You wanted to go to sleep listening to it, breathing it as if it was your air.
How many nights had I gone to sleep, snuggled against him, lulled by the sound of his heart beat and his mellifluous voice? Every night since I'd left, I thought of those times, of the peace that I'd felt in his arms. Seeing him now made me think about our baby. He would have been a fantastic father, warm and loving and above all, patient. Several of his students saw us at the window and his attention turned our way. He arose and came to the door, allowing us to enter.
"Well, well! Students, I'd like you to meet a few of my favorite former students, Taylor Bridgeforth and Jessica Maran." The students reluctantly said hello and he turned to us, a sarcastic tone in his voice. "To what do I owe the honor of this visit?"
Jessica nudged me and I stumbled forward, glancing at the kids before I turned to Peter, desperately trying to ignore his anger-filled eyes and racked my brain. Suddenly, my Shakespeare came back to me.
"'Fie, fie, unknit that threat'ning unkind brow and dart not scornful glances from those eyes to wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.'" The rest of the soliloquy from 'The Taming of the Shrew' came spilling out with a reverent grace that I had never possessed. I didn't know where it came from but I saw the effect on Peter. "'Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee and for thy maintenance; commits his body to painful labor both sea and land, to watch the night in storms, the day in cold, whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe; And craves no other tribute at thy hands but love, fair looks and true obedience ... too little payment for so great a debt.'"
I thought of him in his little bachelor apartment, crying and despondent over the loss of not only a child, but of a companion as well. At that moment, I hated myself for my selfishness. My life would have been so different if I had given him a chance but my mother's ugly words kept bleeding through. He's an older man. He won't want a child for a wife. And I believed her. I believed everything that evil woman had said. The movements that Elizabeth Taylor had done in the movie came back to me and I started doing them, my focus on Peter.
"'I am ashamed that women are so simple to offer war when they should kneel for peace, or seek for rule, supremacy and sway, when they are bound to serve, love and obey.'" My words were reaching Peter. I saw his anger dissipate and his emotions returned, blazing in his silvery eyes and quivering lip. I slowly lowered myself to my knees, my eyes connected with his. "'And place your hands below your husband's foot, in token of which duty as he please,'" I bowed low, placing my hand beneath his slippered foot. "'My hand is ready, may it do him ease.'"
Silence followed my words, then a smattering of applause that built into a roaring ovation rolled over us. I remained on my knees, my hand on the floor beneath his foot and my eyes angled downward.
Peter grasped my shoulders, lifting me to my feet and smiled into my face. "Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you read Shakespeare."