La Reunion v2.0byDazman©
There are two stories submitted in recent weeks that share the same title. Both tales concern a reunion; both are true but unconnected through the space and time continuum. I felt that each episode, because they occupied an equally important phase in my tumultuous life, they deserved the same title.
A little over twelve months ago I tragically lost my wife and two-month-old son in a motor vehicle accident. My young family was returning home after spending a relaxing Sunday with my in-laws, the weather was atrocious with the sheeting rain reducing visibility to within a few meters. The Mitchell Freeway was surprisingly light since most sensible people decided it was better to shelter in doors rather than risk the Indian Ocean elements that occasionally batter the West Australian capital of Perth. The one unknown variable involved in an otherwise ordinary Sunday was the desperate drug addict driving the stolen Holden Commodore. Three Police units were in pursuit but this spurred the young desperado onto further recklessness. Narrowly escaping a ‘box-in’, the driver swerved maniacally to avoid smashing into a silver BMW 328I but instead clipped the back right hand quarter of the car causing both vehicles to spin uncontrollably in the treacherous conditions. The silver BMW, driven by my beautiful wife and containing my son, flipped over careering into two other vehicles, the forward momentum sending the wrecked car spinning into the barrier, before exploding in a fireball of hot metal. Both occupants were mercifully killed instantly before the flames erupted to paint the evening sky in a brilliant collage of orange and red. The occupants of the other cars involved were badly injured but the cause of the tragedy suffered a few cuts and bruises.
Barely two hours later I answered a ring at the front door only to be greeted by two Police officers. Both were visibly shaking, as white as ghosts and could barely speak coherently. Their manner was enough to convince me that something had gone terribly wrong during this evening of wind and rain. My whole world collapsed several sentences later and I fell to my knees in an explosion of tears and pain.
Twelve months later I found myself living back with my parents in the quaint little town of Pickering in the UK. They suggested that time away from home might help me come to terms with my sorrow. By strange quirk of fate I received an invite to my ten-year Sixth Form School reunion.
One week prior to the event and during an absent-minded visit to the supermarket I literally walked straight into an old acquaintance. Emma and I go way back to the successful days of the swimming club and then later we worked together at the local pool as well as sharing several academic classes. At one Christmas party during our first year at University we almost got together except I was unable to control my alcoholic intake, completely blowing my chance by parading my stupidity. Despite that murky incident we’d remained friends until the day I moved to Australia.
You can guess what followed, questions piled upon questions, each of us sketching a brief outline of our lives over the last ten years etcetera. I was a successful stock market trader and lead singer in The Savoy Swing Katz whilst Emma was a successful trauma-surgeon. I found her personality radiant, just as I’d remembered, and was captivated by her confident bearing but there seemed to be something not adding up, something missing and whatever this was it seemed to cause a sadness that permeated her bearing. Maybe it was the same something that afflicted me? After concluding the shopping and on the verge of parting Emma suddenly asked me if I was interested in going for a drink. Strangely enough I felt a genuine desire to spend some time with this female whose beauty and aura were desperately understated.
We met several days later at a pleasant country pub where we talked and laughed easily. I discovered that Emma had recently divorced six-months prior, a typical situation with the gentleman in question being found in the arms of another women. After explaining her situation with a mixture of anger, bitterness, disappointment and sadness, she abruptly changed tact and inquired about the health of my personal life. For a second I was tempted to lie, to pretend that I never had a family but instead felt an overwhelming desire to talk. And it all came out, tumbling out without cohesion, without structure simply a deluge of emotion that was as much a surprise to me as it was for Emma. At the end of my tale an unexpected calm enveloped me as if some great weight had been lifted. As I drove Emma home, I was realised that I wanted to see her again and asked if she’d like to accompany me to the reunion. She responded immediately adding that she’d be honoured and suddenly the sun began to shine after a 12-month absence.
The reunion was actually a dinner ball requiring a tuxedo, an ensemble of clothing to which I’ve never been comfortable wearing. Despite all I did endeavor to look my best and feel relaxed but I had a knotted stomach to contend with. I arrived at the appointed time and the vision that greeted me made me violently start. Standing in front of me was Emma and an Emma the likes of which I could only imagine. Her scarlet gown looked as if it had been molded to the exact contours of her body. Being tall, athletic, lithe and voluptuous, Emma exuded natural sensuality. She was a true brunette with long luxurious hair, slightly curled and worn with the left side draped across her shoulder and the right across her face and breast. She had deep set but radiant brown eyes, a slightly aquiline nose and a generous mouth. As far as balls go Emma was dressed fairly plain but the lack of ostentatious clothing deliberately highlighted her natural assets and if ever I’d met a goddess from some ancient time it was this night.
The evening was terrible, howling wind and torrential rain that reminded me of another incident not that long ago, not the most auspicious start to the evening. The drive to the school was brief and as we parked Emma sensed my reticence and leaned over, patted my arm and offered some reassuring words before pecking me on the cheek. Someone sounding like me spoke, “Before we go in, I’d just like to offer you a token of my gratitude for the other night. You have no idea how much of a help you were. It’s strange but it actually feels like the healing process has taken a huge step forward.”
“Oh Jason, that’s fine, anytime, and you don’t have to thank me. I was just happy to be there for you.” She replied with genuine feel.
“All the same. I’d like you to accept this, purely as a gift of thanks.” And with that I produced a long, slender gift-wrapped box. Emma carefully unwrapped the gift, opened it and let out a gasp of surprise. I had purchased or rather commissioned a diamond studded, pleated white gold necklace. The gift proved to be well chosen for Emma had nothing adorning her milky white neck and I took the precaution of preparing for the inevitable barrage of protests that followed. What seems expensive to me may not necessarily be expensive to the next person and I explained that whilst the gift has immense value it falls short of the depth of my gratitude. Still more protests but I silenced her, took the gift and draped it across her neck. “Please, just wear it for tonight.” And fastened the clasp. To look at her was to look at a painting that had just received the masterstroke and she leaned into me and kissed me fully on the lips lingering for more time than was necessary. I was glad she liked it.
The ball itself was in full swing and all eyes, some of them familiar, were upon us as we made our entrance. I was deeply embarrassed and was glad that the dimly lit hall hid the crimson. The ice was quickly broken and I became a little more comfortable with myself and with my conversations. I caught up with a lot of old friends and teachers alike usually answering the same questions and to my relief, Emma constantly hovering, would whisk me away just to make sure I was ok. I was and I was feeling quite at ease that is until Emma dropped the following bombshell. “Don’t look now but behind you is someone I don’t think you should meet.” I immediately spun around unconsciously ignoring Emma’s hissed protests and exasperated groans. My gaze locked onto that of an old nemesis, Beverley. She and I had dated during our final year for about eighteen months but the split was incredibly acrimonious so much so that it led indirectly to me moving out to Australia permanently all those years ago. Beverley, surrounded by her cronies, had a look of utter disgust painted across her countenance. I turned back rather unnerved. “What have I done?” I could barely speak since all the moisture in my mouth had instantly evaporated. “I have no idea but I wouldn’t talk to her if I were you.” This I accepted as sound advice and Emma shepherded me towards another group of people where I was soon distracted by the same inane questions that had plagued me earlier. However, no matter where I was, Beverley was not too far away always fixing me with that same withering glance. Her behaviour baffled me and made me incredibly nervous, surely she wasn’t still bitter at me, after all, our relationship ended over ten-years ago and as far as I knew she had since married. It seemed that Beverley was trying to corner me intending to shower me with vitriolic abuse no doubt but luckily Emma was always buzzing around steering me away from danger.
My luck didn’t hold however, as one of my old teachers excused himself for refreshments, I turned around anxiously looking for Emma but was greeted instead by the rather cold face of Beverley. “It seems that she has deserted you in your hour of need.” Were her first acidic words.
“Hi Bev and how are you?” I replied nervously, adrenaline coursing through my veins and I silently cursed Emma for her absence. “I’m well although I’m surprised to see you. I was hoping you’d never show you’re face around here again.” Cutting like a knife.
Now it was time to fight. “That’s an odd thing to say after ten years. I would have thought you’d be over me by now after all it’s my understanding that you’re married. I’m assuming that you are still married but I’m honoured you’re still so fond of me because I got over you a long time ago. In fact I had to ask Emma earlier who that scowling demon in the corner was.” I smiled in mock amusement but cold sweat pricked my skin.
Beverley’s face betrayed a build up of rage. “That gutter trash?” Obviously meaning Emma. “I knew you’re standards were low but not that low.” Then looking me up and down with a look of pure hatred, “But then again you both belong in the sewer together, don’t you?”
I sighed with a patient smile that only served to heighten Beverley’s anger. “Now you know that’s not a nice thing to say,” I spoke with sweet reasonableness despite my own anger rising, “And jealousy is a curse. You should really get your own house in order before casting aspersions on your neighbors.”
“So the widow and the rejected spouse? Ha! I assume you’ve been comforting each other after your recent and mutual ‘tragedies’? I bet the unlucky groom couldn’t wait be shot of that tart. And her! I bet she’s been laughing at your misfortune. The one person on this planet least worthy of a family is you.” There was a crowd gathering now.
“How dare you speak to Jason in that manner!” Came a confident and friendly voice from behind me. “And what gives you the right to belittle his suffering? It just goes to show what a bitter and twisted woman you’ve become.”
Emma emerged from the crowd interposing herself between Beverley and myself. “I can’t believe you’re still lamenting about the loss of the only man you’ve ever truly loved. It’s really sad to see someone drift into a marriage on the rebound, imagining that man is Jason and never admitting to yourself that the source of your unhappiness was of you’re own doing.”
No response and so Emma continued almost conversationally, “Jason bears his grief with great fortitude and I can only imagine what he’s going through. “ And then mercilessly, “I don’t know what sort of sick pleasure you’re deriving but it simply highlights how despicable you really are.”
Beverley had now blanched white under this withering onslaught. “One last thing. Jason and I are friends but if he wanted me I’d be there in a second.” And before I could comprehend or offer any protest, Emma spun round, grabbed my lapel and kissed me with a furious passion. This situation was spinning wildly out of control and as a consequence I don’t think I knew I was being kissed. Emma turned around to face Beverley who was visibly shaking in anger. “Slut!” But then with the speed of a snake striking, Emma swung her backhand right across Beverley’s face in a teeth-rattling blow that was felt throughout the hall. The crowd erupted in wild applause.
We stood in the car park sheltering from the rain under an unberella, nestled close together but neither of us speaking and avoiding eye contact. My mind was reeling from the night’s events I was totally confused by the whole situation and felt suddenly awkward in Emma’s presence although in no doubt that her actions were justified. One thing I was certain about, Emma truly proved her friendship towards me and I was proud of her. “I meant what I said earlier.” She said softly and then with a touch of despair, “For what it’s worth.”
It was worth a great deal. I pulled her towards me and involuntarily pressed my lips to hers and began kissing slowly but passionately. Emma responded instantly but there was no urgency between us just a realisation of an unfulfilled desire. We broke off and she looked deep into my tear filled eyes. “I want you Jason and I want you to want me, now, but only if you feel right. I don’t want to pressure you into anything you’re not comfortable with.” In reply I simply opened the passenger car door.
I started the car, switched on the headlights and then jumped in surprise. Beverley was at the far end of the car park soaked to the skin running towards the car, arms outstretched and with disdain I drove away leaving her in silent protest far behind.
As I closed the bedroom door, I turned to face a nervous Emma who, facing away from me, stared blankly out the window. There was a silence and it seemed to be like great abyss over which I was suspended on a single, fine tightrope. One false move and the moment would be lost, finished, and it was as if Emma and I were alone in the dark stormy night. The incandescent orange glow from a streetlight cast a shadow between her shoulder blades, a dark shadow running down into the intricate lace of her dress, and it seemed to me that there was nothing on earth so mysterious, so frightening, or as fragile as a beautiful woman.
Slowly I placed my fingers against her shoulder blade, a touch so gentle that it could have been a strand of her dark hair. I slid my fingers down her warm, dry skin and Emma did not move. My fingertips explored the ridges of her spine. Still she did not move and I let my other hand move slowly up to her neck. She was very still but slowly began to turn, looking earnestly into my eyes, searching, and my hands, as if frightened of breaking something very delicate, leapt from her skin. My heart was thumping inside me but the moment was still there. I hardly dared speak, I hardly dared breathe. I moved my hand, sliding it gently onto her back so that my fingertips touched the skin of her spine. Emma closed her eyes, seemed to sigh, and I pulled her easily towards me.
I leaned down and her face did not move. I kissed her and suddenly her arms were around me and she clung to me fiercely as if she wanted to suck the strength from me into her own self. My hand pressed on her back and, through the lace, hanging in fringes, I felt for the hooks of her gown and then pressed them, one by one between finger and thumb, each one effortlessly sliding out of its loop. I could scarce credit this happening to me and as I moved my hand to the last hook, pressed it back through the loop, I felt the material physically loosen as it moved, and Emma seemed to stiffen in my arms. I froze.
Emma looked up at me and searched my eyes; she gave a small smile arched up allowing the gown to fall away. She was naked beneath the gown and she stepped back to me over its folds. I put my arms around her and she hooked her leg around mine, lifted herself up, and kissed me again and I forgot all those little protests in my head. Seconds later Emma lowered herself to the floor took my hand and led to my bed as if she’d done this a million times. “Come.” I followed obediently into that dark and tempestuous night.