The Coldness in our SoulsbyDanseParc©
It's snowing in Seattle tonight - what a treat! Winters here are usually such a miserable dreary affair, wet and windy. A coldness that cuts right through you, sets your teeth chattering and your body huddled and shivering, no matter how much you bundle up. The iron-gray sky drizzles rain for days on end. Miserable depressing bitter cold.
The local news has been urgent, almost panicky with severe weather alerts, warning of something rolling down from Alaska to bring us God only knows what nastiness. And like the rest of Seattle, I immediately jumped into my car. Not to throng the supermarkets and buy up everything I think I might need. Instead I went to the waterfront on Alki Beach, all bundled up in my woolen coat and cashmere scarf, gloves and cap. Having grown up in New York, snow just doesn't faze me. In truth, I rather miss it.
Strolling along the beach with the entire park to myself, I watch a great dark wall rolling ominously inland. The sun is setting, a pale disk low in the sky, swallowed up by the approaching clouds. As evening cloaks the land, the first snow falls. Tiny little flakes, barely visible, dancing on the breeze.
By the time I reach Duwamish Head and turn south, night has fallen, and the Seattle skyline is radiant. Glowing diamonds of light reaching to the heavens, the low clouds reflect a golden halo over the city. Ferries traverse the inky blackness of the bay. It's dark and ever so peaceful. The snow falls heavier and heavier. Big fluffy snowflakes are so thick in the air that it's almost like walking in a cloud. They drift lazily onto the grass under my feet, piled a few inches high already. The air is chilly and brisk, but not nearly as sopping wet as is usually is.
I stop to look out across the water. Streetlamps catch the snowflakes as they settle on the barren branches. The only sound is like a white noise, barely audible, but muffling the night in a blanket of utter quiet. I hear footsteps crunching softly in the snow. Turning, I see a woman in a woolen duffel coat walking my way. Ah! A kindred spirit, out to enjoy the rare Seattle snow in solitude. I wondering if she's from around here; most Seattleites just hunker down when the weather gets even a little bad.
Normally quiet and reserved, I break character and venture "Lovely evening," as she approaches, just glad in knowing that I'm not alone in appreciating the winter show that nature is putting on for us. Would be lovely to have someone to share this special time with.
"Yes, it's beautiful." she replies, as she stops by my side. There's an inflection in her voice that I almost recognize.
"You've come a long way to see it snow in Seattle. Isn't it pretty?"
"It is, and so are you." Okay, she's definitely not local! Nobody around here is as open as she.
"Aww, you're so sweet... And forward too! Hi, I'm Marie."
"Hi Marie, I'm Barbara."
"So glad to meet you, Barbara. I love the sound of your voice, where are you from?"
"I'm from England, and I have good teeth!" She really does, I notice, as she laughs at her own little joke. She has such a warm radiant smile. I can't help but giggle myself.
"I stepped out to watch the snow, would you care to join me?"
"Yes, I would love to." Standing shoulder to shoulder we watch the snow fall on the bay. I show Barbara some of the the features of the skyline. That's the Space Needle, of course... see that row of lights moving over there, that's the Monorail... and that building, the one on the tapered pedestal, that's where I work.
"You're very friendly, Marie, I like you." Oh my! Her openness and friendliness is having an effect on me, it's prying me open a bit too.
"Aww, you're too kind." I can feel myself blushing down to my collarbone. I'm not used to being with anyone as forthcoming as Barbara. What a nice change from the Seattle Ice.
"Thank you darling." This is so new to me, I've never, and I mean never had anybody speak so familiarly, so intimately, after meeting only about five minutes ago. Perhaps it a British thing? I've always thought of them as very reserved, stuffy even. Barbara is certainly proving me wrong.
I shift my weight a little, and as I do my hand brushes against Barbara's. Even though we both are wearing gloves, I feel a little tingle as our fingers brush gently against each other... There's just something about Barbara. Maybe it's just the chill in the winter air, or the romantic snowy night, but I feel my cheeks flushing.
She's so warm and so engaging, there's something that's drawing me to her but I don't know what. I feel like I want to bring her close to me, but a little apprehensive, too. I've been so hurt before. Do I throw myself open, or shut myself off and be safe? I'm paralyzed with uncertainty. Praying that I'm not too forward, I lace my fingers with hers.
Cautiously turning my face toward Barbara's, fearing to see some sign that she's awkward or uncomfortable. She hesitates a little, without resisting. I feel compelled and a little indecisive. Is she playing with me? I don't think so; she looks so contented. I squeeze her hand a little more snugly, and turn to look in her eyes.
"You getting cold, Barbara?" her cheeks are rosy from the chill.
"Yes, I need to be warm."
"I know a nice quiet wine bar close by, want to try?"
"Mmm, that sounds delightful." My heart almost jumps in my throat as I feel the first little glimmer of hope.
"Careful hon, the walk's slippery," Holding Barbara's hand, we walk in the grass instead of the pavement. Thank goodness we're both wearing sturdy winter boots. Slowly walking back to where I parked, silently enjoying each others company. Across the street and on a corner tucked into a turn-of-the-century neighborhood, a warm cheerful glow emanates from a window of a brick building, beckoning us. Inside the bar is lovely and warm. The light is low and intimate, candles and little white holiday lights strung along the walls. The tables and the bar are filled with happy couples, their quiet conversation making it just loud enough that we can't be overheard.
"Right, let's have that booth over in the corner!" Barbara doffs her coat hat and gloves, handing them to me to hang it on the coat hook, and for the first time I really see her. Oh my, she's beautiful. She's a little shorter than me but so much nicer a body. Long straight honey-blond hair cascades past her shoulders and catches highlights from the lights. We settle in to the soft leather banquette and take our time looking over the extensive list. My eyes are drawn to her blue chamois work shirt, noticing that certain buttons near the top are a little strained, and I'm having a hard time thinking about wine.
"You choose a bottle, Barbara, whatever you like." There's so much to choose from and I'd love nothing more than to sample the wine list until we either close down the place or pass out drunk.
"Ohh, this looks interesting," choosing the Hochar, a red from the Bekaa Valley. Handing the menus to our server, he returns after a few minutes with the wine and noshes of marinated olives and hot salty nuts.
"Oh Barbara this wine is delish... cheers." Looking at her over my glass, her pale blue eyes sparkle in the warm golden light. We're feeling so cozy and warm now. Barbara is so radiant and I'm so thankful that the snow came tonight. "If I may ask, you're a long way from home... what brings you to Seattle?"
"For a new life."
"Yeah, I'm making a new one too. Starting over with a clean slate."
"Mmm... long story..."
"We can always order more wine if this bottle runs out."
"Well, my life was out of control... I brought a lot of pain to people I care about." I'm feeling a bit awkward for sharing so much, but Barbara's friendly and attentive demeanor sets me at ease. Still I feel like I'm imposing; I just met her a bit ago, it's way too soon for her to be my therapist! "May I ask why you want a new life, hon?"
"I'm single now, with a broken heart... my partner cheated on me a year ago." Her cheerfulness sloughs away, and I feel like a jerk for asking.
"Oh honey... she must have been very special for you to want to come this far to forget," squeezing her hand and topping off her glass.
"She really was. So pretty and so kind. We had such plans... we bought a little farm up in Shropshire to raise Border Collies." A long sip from her glass. "And then that bitch turned up and that was all. Stupid me, it took me months to figure it out. All my dreams, everything I worked and saved for, ruined by this letter I found on the kitchen table."
"So what happened?"
"Sold the farm. Took the money and came over to America." All the life has drained from her face, she looks so gaunt and empty. All I want is to hold Barbara so close and reassure her, hold her to my breast, stroke her hair and tell her everything will be okay.
"Well, that's my miserable life. Tell me Marie, why do you need a new life? I hope you at least have somebody."
"No, I'm by myself right now. Was almost married but it didn't work out. The ex turned out to be a psycho, I had to get away..." And now it's my turn to spill. I tell her all about Dawn, about the lies that sparked so many fights, the malignant misandry that metastasized into me. How all the negativity caused me to withdraw into myself. "She was just a nasty little thing. And I was in such a fragile state, I just didn't need all the bad feelings."
"Oh darling, I'm no sorry." Barbara squeezing my hand back. Holding her hand in both of mine, we silently console each other with just our presence. Squirming a little in my seat, I lean against Barbara, she's so warm.
"So it was a woman? I didn't know that about you, Marie" She seems intrigued, but I'm not sure about what. I'm not concerned though, as long as Barbara is here with me. Here to listen, to share with me. I'm starting to feel a little thaw in my heart, as well in my hands and feet. Ans as I defrost, my body sags, leaning into Barbara a little more, until I sense that I'm squishing her shoulder. She shrugs a little, getting out from under me.
"Come here, luv," as he puts her arm around me, pulling me in close to her. She's so strong but so gentle. I lean in closer as Barbara nuzzles my ear.
"Mmm, this wine is wonderful, it's warming me up."
"Me too. Marie, this place is delightful," taking another sip, looking over her glass into my eyes. "So... where do you live?" Her eyes and her voice sultry – my heart racing. As dense as I can be, even I know where this is going.
"In a neighborhood called Queen Anne. I have a flat on top of the hill with a bit of a view... would you like to see it?"
"Absolutely I would..." Barbara whispers, as she snuggles close. I slip my arm around her waist and pull her still closer. She closes her eyes and leans into me. "That's nice... I feel so safe, Marie."
"So do I, sweetie... can I share something with you?" Aware I may be about to break Barbara's heart even more, still I have to be honest, I couldn't bear to build her up then disappoint her. "I'm hate to ruin the moment, but I know this is an issue for some girls..."
"Please tell me, Marie." Turning to look right into my eyes, her gaze is warm and penetrating right to my soul.
"Umm, I'm not gay... I'm bi... I don't know if that's important but I know that other girls don't like that... and I don't want to..."
"Hey, hey, Marie... it's okay..." cutting off my babbling. Thank God she's so much stronger than me. We can both feel the tension drain from my body. I don't know if it's Barbara, or the wine, or both, but it's like a dam had burst in my soul, words and feelings overflowing.
"Thank you Barbara, for listening." Turning my head, my lips brushing her cheek, she melts in my arms.
"Mmm, it's okay sweetie..." as Barbara kisses my lips. "Not a big deal, Marie luv." Kissing me again, she's so moist and sweet. Her warmth radiates from her lips and engulfs my very soul.
"And I don't mean to get too far ahead... but if anything does come of this, I'm absolutely faithful."
"I hope so."
"No guy on the side. I might look but that's all!" God, I hope my little joke does something about all the tension. "Still want to come home with me?"
"Yeah, I'd love to see the snow from your balcony." Elated inside, I call to our server and ask for the bill and the rest of the wine to go. He returns with a sealed bag and wishes us a good night. I hand him a few bills, enough for a generous tip.
From here it's just a short walk to my car. The drive is spent mostly in silence, Barbara's hand on my knee. Driving very cautiously, threading through the narrow streets and roundabouts of old neighborhoods. Up a steep hill and finally we're home. By the time the elevator stops on the fourth floor, my heart is in my throat and I'm near breathless with anticipation, so much so that Barbara gets a little laugh as I fumble and drop the keys.
Finally inside, we doff our coats and walk out on the balcony. The snow is drifting down through branches of the old oaks and maples that line the street, a few autumn leaves clinging stubbornly to the branches. Streetlights and the glow from apartment widows filters through the branches, the snowflakes glowing in the diffuse light. Millions of big fluffy white fireflies quietly settling to the ground. Off to the left, the buildings end at a street corner. From there we can see the harbor, enshrouded in a pale silvery haze.
"Oh, this is so beautiful, it's just breathtaking!" we stand at the railing taking in the rare display of nature's beauty. Enjoying Barbara's company; she's so sweet and cheerful, something about her just relaxes me and puts me at ease, all my cares just slough off and we can forget about life for a while, be happy instead and feel a bit silly and playful. Taken by a whim, I open my mouth to catch a snowflake. Barbara sees me and catches one too . Faces turned to the sky, heads bobbing we spend long moments just sharing laughter as we play in the snow. I turn my face to hers and give her a long slow lingering kiss. Barbara melts into my arms as I wrap them around her waist and lean my chin on her shoulder, my breasts pressing into her back.
"Mmm this is heaven, Marie," My breath on her neck stirring her hair. "You're making me so tingly." This is such a magical evening, I'm so glad I went for that walk. My hands slide up her sides up to her shoulders and turn her around to face me, my fingertips stroking Barbara's hair at her temples.
"Marie, you've got me so aroused..." as she softly touches her lips to mine. They're so warm and petal-soft. I can taste the wine on her lips. Wrapping my arms around her shoulders, scratching between her shoulder blades, kissing her again, so much more passionately. Barbara breathes a little sigh as I pull her close, our breasts smooshing together.
"Mmm you feel so nice Barbara..." as my fingertips graze the sides. "I wish mine were as nice as yours."
"Oh, don't put yourself down like that, you look gorgeous in that top." blushing a little as she says that. I did in fact catch her doing a little window shopping as we got out of our coats. Apparently my top is snug enough to make me look like I have boobs, too!
"Aww thanks honey, you're really sweet." Breaking our connection just a bit, with both her hands in mine I look deep in her eyes. "Barbara honey..."
"There's a nice view from my bedroom, too..." My voice faltering a bit as I shyly look into her lovely blue eyes.
"Ohh baby take me there, here, have my hand!" I'm simply falling in love with the sound of Barbara's voice, her inflection, the figures of speech. Enchanted, I clasp her hand in mine, leading her back inside and closing the balcony door behind us.
"Honey your boots!" we kick them off and I wrap my arm around Barbara's waist and lead her to the bedroom. Whereas the living room is modern and functional, the bedroom is anything but. A huge oaken four-poster bed with a canopy takes up most of the room. The mattresses are stacked waist-high, with a thick comfy down cover on top, a mountain of pillows against the headboard, and gauzy white drapes on all four sides. There's an antique dresser and vanity, with matching side tables for the bed. All along the ceiling is a string of white holiday lights. A window overlooking the street dominates the far wall.
"Oh, how elegant... just gorgeous." as she looks over the room.
"Barbara, the bathrooms right down the hall if you want to freshen up while I get the room ready."
"Hmm, ready?" a quizzical expression crossing her pretty face.
"You'll see, girl. Git!" nudging her out the door, I hear water running as I walk down the hall. "There's a fresh toothbrush in the medicine cabinet." I call over my shoulder as I get the rest of the wine.
"Thanks, luv." Bottle and a pair of glasses in hand, I fill the glasses and set them on the nightstand. Then turning off the table lamp and turning on the Christmas lights. Lighting candles and suddenly the bedroom is warm and radiant with soft pale amber light. Barbara will love this... I sure hope she does... Oh, almost forgot! Theres a little bag next to the bed, from yesterday's shopping trip with Maddy. I hide it inside the linen closet, and I'm back in the bedroom just as Barbara finishes up.
"All better, hunny?"
"Much. Oh Marie, this is lovely!" the look of delight on her face is unmistakable. She's radiant in the warm light.
"Thanks hun, come sit beside me on the bed." Handing her a glass, and we drink a toast to new beginnings. To new lives and new happiness, and we seal the bargain with a slow lingering kiss, Barbara's lips made so much the sweeter from the wine.
"Wait one minute baby, I'm gonna freshen up too." setting down my glass.
"Don't be long!" swatting my bottom as I hasten out the door.
"Ow! Silly girl... I'll be right back." No way will I be long, I think to myself, as I get the shopping bag and carry it to the bathroom. Washing my face, brushing my teeth, the usually end of the day routine. Then slipping out of my clothes and tossing them in the corner.
In the shopping bag is a sheer little pink babydoll set. Stepping into the tiny bikini panty and slipping it up round my waist, checking myself in the mirror. Hmm, not so bad, there's nothing poking out from under the panties, thank God. My belly's looking a bit flatter, my workouts are definitely having an effect on those damned Paxil pounds. Then putting on the top, tying the lacy cups together with the little satin ribbons between my breasts. A little prayer of thanks, I know I sound so superficial, but so glad that I'm still perky. Lastly slipping my ponytail out of the scrunchie and brushing my hair into place. One last look in the mirror, resting my weight on counter.
"Okay, girl... you sure you know what you're doing?" Sucking up a deep breath, trying to get past the nervousness. Thoughts of Dawn. Recalling the loneliness, the fear of another destructive relationship. My heart sinking as my thoughts turn to the very real possibility of growing old alone. Christ, I'm forty-two years old and still picking up strangers.
What a loser I am. I should just call this off. Shuck this stupid pink frilly thing and send Barbara home. She'll be disappointed, but she'll get over it. Images form in my mind of her crestfallen expression. No, I can't do this to her. She's just so sweet and kind, so very fun. And there's no denying the desire I feel for her in my heart – and lower.
Taking another deep breath. Okay... I'm not going through life alone. If Barbara's not the one, then I'll just deal with the hurt. It won't be the first time. Hell, I'm starting to get pretty good at this, really.
Back in the hallway, pausing for just a moment, my fingertips hovering a hair's breadth above the doorknob. Gathering myself together, my heart in my throat as I gently tap on the bedroom door. "Barbara?"