The Closest Thing to HeavenbyAdrian Leverkuhn©
'I remember the way you used to walk, the swing in your hips, your long straight jet-black hair shielding your face as you walked from that old red brick classroom building over toward that old stone dorm that looked like a fortress. You know, the one you lived in your freshman year. You were in your black phase, remember? The old black cable knit sweater that hung down to your thighs, the dark olive corduroy skirt, the black tights. That sweater's still in the closet, you know? Did you know I fell in love with you then? I used to watch for you - watch for your legs, really - as you went from class to class; I hoped I'd get to see you in the cafeteria or in the library. It was a bad day when I didn't get see you, darlin'.
'I know I've told you this story a hundred times, I know, I know, but that day after psych class, you remember, when we'd gotten that silly assignment to interview other students about their reactions to pictures from magazine advertisements, I remember walking out of class behind you and asking you to wait up. I'd been looking at you - daydreaming about you - for an hour. I remember asking you if you wanted to work on the project together. Exactly how you said yes. Then, how we'd talked in the library for hours about the assignment, what kind of pictures we'd use, how to write the best questions. I felt even then that we were joining together. I'd look down at your crossed legs as you were looking through magazines; I'd look at the fabric of those black tights, how it stretched over your knees, let your creamy-white skin underneath peek through. I felt so human when I looked at your skin, felt my humanity. I've always wondered if you felt me looking at you. I had wanted to be close to you for so long, I knew you were the closest thing to heaven even then.
'Do you remember our first date? That silly old white M-G convertible, the one with leaky top? I can still smell that pizza place in the village; you do to? Sitting in that booth in the back where everyone had carved their initials on the walls. The hearts with the arrows through them. I wonder if ours are still there? God, how we laughed and licked the frozen rims on the icy mugs of root beer, how you leaned over and kissed me on the lips. I can still feel my face turning as red as those sticky tablecloths. I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach as we drove back to campus, how I tried to find a spot in the parking lot where no one would see us. When I turned out the lights and we just sat there for a minute, when we were not sure what to do but absolutely certain we knew what was going to happen, the anticipation - you remember, too? I thought my skin caught fire as you took my face in your hands, as our faces were drawn together. Do you remember how steamed up the windows got inside that little car; we must have kissed in there for hours!
'I can still feel the knot in my stomach as I got that funky old room in that wacky motel on the highway out of town. How you snuck in later, after I'd already gone up, and we'd felt so tense. Boy, we sure fooled the world, huh? Yeah, but I think we felt like kids pretending to be grown-ups, don't you? I think I remember best when you sat on the edge of the bed and took your sweater off, how my lower lip startled to tremble when I saw your white skin in the dim light of that room. The white bra you wore, oh my God, how I wanted you. I watched you as your little skirt dropped to the floor, how you flipped your shoes off and left your tights on because the room was a little cold, isn't that what you said? I remember how silly-shy I felt as you asked me to come and lie down next to you, how I wanted to crack a joke or something to just relieve the tension.
'But I remember how you guided me. How you guided me into your embrace, guided my hand to the outside of your panties. How I could rub and feel your silky hair under the clean white cotton between your legs, and how you moaned as I discovered the contours of your passion, how damp your panties became.
'It felt so strange leaning above you, my penis in your hand. Leaning into you, into your deep embrace. Feeling the warmth of your sweet breath on my face as I got closer to you, as you got ready for me. I will never forget the feeling as my penis touched your moist folds, how they opened up to me, how we so easily joined. I remember how it felt when your legs and feet encircled me, pulling me closer, pulling me deeper into you. It feels like it happened the day before yesterday.
'That first release, oh, my love, how my heart became a part of yours that night. It's funny to me that people these days, well, they just must be different from you and me. I think we both knew right there - yes, right then and there - from that time on we would always be with one another. I always felt that after that night, we weren't two people anymore.
'It seemed to me that for months I'd get sick if I wasn't holding your hand or at least talking to you on the telephone. Yeah, darlin', I know it was silly. But sometimes when I was away for awhile all I could see when I closed my eyes was you lying there waiting for me. I'd get lost as I thought of your legs wrapping around me, feel your breath on the side of my face. But I really just wanted to lie beside you and look into your eyes. Yeah, I know it's silly. But it's a simple truth.
The old man seemed to draw into himself as if cool rain was falling all around him. He hadn't talked to his wife about these things for years. It had been too long; too much time lost chasing after tomorrow. So much time lost by not just talking about the honest, easy things.
'Remember before the wedding? How my brother had slipped me a sip of whiskey from that flask of his because I was so jumpy? How we danced that night, so close? What I really remember is how excited we'd been when we got to the hotel, so excited we talked all night. Yeah, I know, it was just little stuff, but they were our dreams, honey.
'You know, I think I remember the exact moment we made Elizabeth. You remember that night, don't you, when the wind was howling and the trees were brushing against the side of that old red house on Davis Street, rubbing on the windows? It was like the earth wanted to get inside with us, take a part in her creation. I guess we both wanted her so much she knew it, she must have heard us calling out to her all the way from heaven. God, how you screamed as she came out of you, I thought you were going to break my hand into a million pieces.
'Yeah, I remember, you always wanted a boy. I know, honey, but we were lucky that God didn't call you home then, too. Don't be sad about that. We got through, hon, didn't we? It just makes Lizzie all that much more special. But you've got to admit we must have done something right; I don't think there's ever been a sweeter, prettier girl. Well, of course, not counting you, darlin'.
The old man stood beside his wife, holding her hand in his; there were tubes and leads attached to his wife, machines that minutes ago had connected her breathing life to his, to the life they had shared. She lay now in the sterile bed, silent, motionless. She looked up at the old man with quiet, content eyes. Presently a woman dressed in green came into the room and began to disconnect lines and tubes from the woman, moving around the bed, attending to the realities of her passage.
'Well, Doll. I want you to go on and rest. I know you didn't want to go, that you didn't want to leave Lizzie. But I've got to stay here and see that our little girl will be alright. Yeah, darlin', don't you worry. I'll be along shortly. You just go on ahead.'
The old man held his wife's hand in both of his. He bent down, with effort, to kiss her hand with all the love a lifetime could remember. A younger woman stood beside him, holding his arm in her hands; her face was streaked with tears.
"Daddy," she said, "we can stay here as long as you want." She was silent for a long while, looking down at the woman, her mother. She began to cry, quietly, restrained, and then more freely. "Oh, Daddy! Did she believe in heaven?"
"Oh, Lizzie, I wouldn't worry about that," the old man said to the younger woman. "Your momma was the closest thing to heaven that ever lived. I reckon if she doesn't go to heaven, well, then, heaven will just have to come to her."
'And wherever it is you're off to, darlin', don't you worry. I'll be along shortly.'