Copyright is held by the author.
Now, after spending the better part of the day in bed, they sipped wine and read the afternoon newspaper. For a long time, they passed sections back and forth in silence. It was a consecrated hour, as hours go. It seemed that nothing else needed to be said. Finally, when the light had begun to fade in the window, he spread the paper out on his lap and cleared his throat.
“If I had to describe us,” he said, “we would be like an old cathedral. Lasting, you know.”
She considered this for a moment, and began to smile. She ran her green fingernails across his wide chest, then traced the small line of hair down his stomach.
“Us, a church?” she asked. This was a revelation to her.
They both began laughing, she because of his statement, he because she had tickled him in a tender place.
“A physical cathedral,” he explained. “Nothing more.”
He took her wandering hand and anchored it in his own. It amazed him still, how long and lovely her hands were. And how they fit so nicely inside his own. He ran his fingertip across her palm, tracing her lifeline. Then he placed his palm against hers. She then laced her fingers around his. Together, their fingers made steeples.
“We aren’t as stone cold as that,” she said. “Like a dark old church. Not us.”
She ran her tongue over her lips and made them shiny again. No, they weren’t like that at all, she was sure. They still had fires inside them. Wasn’t the afternoon proof of that? Then she stopped and thought about it. Was he trying to tell her something? Something sad, or final?
He ran his finger across her still wet lips, and leaned over to kiss her. He could not remember ever having wanted someone this badly, or this often. When he saw the confused look in her soft, dark eyes, he realized he had not made himself clear.
“Don’t you remember,” he said, “the summer we visited all those cathedrals in France? How they had lasted? Supported from the outside?”
“Buttresses, you mean?”
“Right,” he nodded. “Sturdy stuff. Moored in the earth.”
“I see now,” she said, quite relieved.
“Good, then. That’s how it is, this thing between us.”
He put his arms around her and drew her body next to his. Her head resting on his chest, he played with the long strands of her dark hair. He pulled a strand through his mouth and bit it gently. He was certain, he had never felt like this before, with anyone. The rarity of it, the simple joy of her, was a thing he could not now imagine living without. In the past, he had not known anything like this. In the past, he decided, he had not even been alive.
“Someday,” she said, making steeples again, “all cathedrals will be like this. Rising up to the sky.”
“We don’t need sky,” he said gently. “Just earth. Sturdy, and solid. Something else might bring bad luck.”
“You’re probably right,” she said. “Let’s leave it the way it is.”
Through the window, unknown to them, the moon was rising. A slight gust of wind blew across the bed. Without another word, he shifted his body, moving until she was beneath him. They began moving slowly then, deliberately, like all the hours on either side of them now.