Differences exist, but not in the city of love.
Thus my vows and yours, I know they are the same.
-“The Holy Water”, Rabia al Basri
Vincent let Catherine and the baby sleep away the rest of afternoon. They both were already immersed in a dreamless slumber, compressed close together on the far side of the bed by the time he reached them.
The matress was large, the room somnolent, but Vincent kept to the chair. He read and dozed. He made sure Catherine had something to eat during her brief experiments with consciousness. Peter did not return, and Vincent made a small offering prayer that he and his patient would be well.
It was very warm here, even in the large house on the compact street. So much warmer than he was used to.
Close to night, Jacob woke wailing. Earlier, during sleep, he’d fallen slightly out of arms. Only a few inches away, yet he howled without his mother’s direct and immediate comfort.
Catherine startled, disoriented for only a moment, but long enough for the more awake parent to gather up the baby to change him. The boy screamed louder, dispossessed of what he’d been deprived of all morning and, as quickly as he could, Vincent handed the child back. Catherine gathered the boy in and positioned him to feed.
It took the raging child some seconds to recognize he was getting what he wanted. However, after a time, he settled again, and Catherine spoke, the first time since Joe Maxwell left.
“It’s strange,” she began, her words heavy with remaining sleep. “You wouldn’t think a baby would be capable of anger. Sadness, but not anger.”
“Yes,” Vincent agreed. He had missed her voice.
“We could teach the world so much,” she commented, but with none of her usual humor.
Vincent crossed over to them and ran a comforting touch across the baby’s back.
“If they would only believe us,” he offered.
The house stilled again, just a few passing cars to remind them there was another world nearby.
“You didn’t tell them about Jacob.” The words a statement, but also a question to draw her out.
She lay over the covers, her head half on the pillow, half on her folded arm, not caring how sleep would affect her borrowed clothes. Perhaps, she reasoned, if she had no clothes to be seen in, she couldn’t go back to the F.B.I. Vincent did not have the heart to tell her of Peter’s high-end cast-offs.
He settled on the edge of the bed, so as not to disturb the baby at her breast. The child had mostly given into sleep again, his eyes closed, sucking only intermittently, secure in her presence.
“They might have had more sympathy for a new mother,” Vincent reasoned.
“I doubt much,” she countered.
“Dunn, the Special Agent in Charge, I’ve seen his type on the force … jaded, angry. He investigated Gabriel before … before everything.”
She spoke looking only at the child.
“He wants Moreno, and he’ll use me to get him. I’m nothing to him, just a means to an end. A good end, I know, but …”
“But?” Where did her thoughts trail?
“He’s spent so many years fighting crime, everyone’s become a criminal. You can’t trust him, because he trusts no one. I could have ended up like that …”
Could she? After years of frustration and heartache? He doubted it. And yet, should he, of all people, question the dark places a heart could fall?
“Catherine, you never could be that. Look at Kanin, whole again, back with his family, because of your work on his behalf. Look at Elliot, your friend in spite of his mistakes. Look at me …”
With so much to atone for.
“You have a forgiving heart.”
“But if I hadn’t known you?” she mused. “If I hadn’t had you to ground me, I think—” She looked away at the arm chair as if someone sat there. “My father was a good man, Vincent. He loved me, gave to charity, but he was a businessman. He lived his life far away from the streets. He believed the poor were poor for a reason … no shades of gray.” She took his hand and squeezed as she closed her eyes, distressed from something. She shook her head. “I’m glad I have you.” And then added, looking to their child, “I’m glad I have him.”
Truly, she was cut off from her other life. She couldn’t tell the agents of the child. She mistrusted their justice as much as he did.
For them, her family, she had buried her voice to the outside world.
At length, she asked, “What did you do while I was gone?” The whole sentence was a sigh.
“Mostly,” he exhaled in return, “attempted to appease the child.”
“And how did that work out?” she questioned, gracing him with a slight smile, already knowing most of the answer.
“I owe Father more thanks than I can ever give. He coped with my crying for three straight days. I found three straight hours almost unbearable.”
She said nothing, but her emotions spoke. She knew how intolerable Jacob’s distress could be.
“He finally slept,” he assured her. “And Peter told me a story of your parents.”
“Did he?” she asked in a stronger voice, her fatigue shaken off by curiosity.
“Your mother once took you and Susan to your grandmother’s house. Peter went also. Do you remember?”
“No.” Her sight focused on the sheer curtains. The light of the evening brought out the spring green in her eyes. “I barely remember that house. She wasn’t an affectionate woman, my grandmother.”
“Peter said as much. It was strange to think your mother came from such a callous woman. Peter said your grandmother was … cold.”
She nodded. “Dad blamed it on losing her father and older brother when she was young. They died during the First World War, from flu, I think. He showed me pictures. Maybe the losses … perhaps my grandmother couldn’t handle them.”
Yes, he thought. The pieces fit into that configuration. Loss could carve a heart and leave what’s left brittle stone. He couldn’t allow that for her. She had lost so much, but what should be done? She seemed so torn, so tired.
They lapsed into another uneasy silence, just one of the litany between them since her return, and perhaps that’s what made him think of it.
“Would you like me to read to you?”
Before, on balcony nights, when a day of bombardment by the world and its criminals left her beaten and left him no more sympathetic words to offer, she was almost always open to the words of others.
“I have a literary magazine. It’s Susan’s,” he said, reaching for it on the small table.
She said nothing.
He continued, filling the void. “Peter said he didn’t have the heart to let the subscription lapse.”
It wasn’t what she expected. He didn’t feel a firm “no” from her, but not a “yes” either. What did she wish? He had no choice but to forge the unknown path with tools he’d used on the known ones.
He spun the small journal around and handed it to her.
“All right,” she consented, but with a weary and neutral agreement
One end of the magazine lay on the bed, while she flipped the pages to her sideways view. She scanned, then finally chose. He sat back against the bedpost opposite her, the gloaming light all he needed to read by.
She picked Atwood—a sharper, harsher poet than she normally enjoyed. Although he was familiar with her other work, he’d only scanned this piece as he had paged through. He wasn’t acquainted enough with the poem to thoroughly understand the meaning, or be unconcerned by its aftermath.
Variation on the Word Sleep
I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
Catherine listened motionless for only a few heartbeats. Out of his corner vision he watched as she inched towards the side of the bed, shifting back and forth until she tipped and stood, gathering up the child into a smooth, comforting embrace that still impressed him.
I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head
She rocked the child across the room towards the dresser.
and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
She bent over as far as she could into the bassinet, keeping Jacob close to her body until she placed him inside.
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
She watched the child as he settled into the deep sleep of growing.
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center.
She was listening. To the even breathing of their son? To the poem? Was it offensive, or too close to heed? Her emotions were in flux and unreadable.
I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
After a few more moments at the cotside, she returned and settled into the bed again, placing her head on the top of his thigh, while her arm reached over for his other knee.
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in
Her embrace was an unconscious and evolved intimacy, one that silently spoke more volumes than he’d ever read on where she believed they were and should be.
Her actions continuously spoke a deeper language. How long did he attempt to rationalize her touches, her bending close? Too long, but that time was past.
The deepening blue of night and yellow of the street lamps colored her as she clasped his legs, clutching him as if he could disappear. The stream of her feelings—reverence, restlessness, care, fear—coursed into his heart. There was no explaining away her need for touch now, for affection.
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.
He finished, and the only sound between them was the brushing of her hand back and forth on his jeans-clad thigh.
He closed the journal, placed it on the bedside table, then tried to match her touch with a caress of his own along her back. The skin beneath her blouse still felt feverish, like heat radiating off a dangerous pipe.
What did she need?
She looked up from her place nestled partially on him and next to him.
His gaze matched hers and focused, becoming only her, pulled in and targeted. He saw, felt —understood, experienced—and he knew.
He gasped as her offer/request filled him.
In return, hunger, control all but gone …
She is fire, to warm you, to consume you.
He nearly jumped from under her, their compounded need almost impossible to defy.
He didn’t turn when he heard her rise to kneel on the bed behind him. He deliberately muted his feelings among all those in the room. He needed to focus inward, to be singular, if he were to find any balance.
“Vincent, can we? I want …” she began, but she couldn’t ask. Not so blatantly.
“Catherine … I …”
“Yes?” she asked him to press on.
“I love you, but you are so entangled here … now.” He rushed through, realizing that as he was saying it, he was deflecting, unfairly attributing his frailty to her. “You are fighting for your life.”
She shook her head, sure. “No, I am fighting for us.”
Her next words danced around the desire, barely above a whisper’s strength. “I don’t think I can get pregnant again … yet.”
He twisted back to her.
“You … know?” she asked, halfway between skepticism and wonder.
The myriad signals to his perception … some subtle, some blatant, provoking—she hadn’t realized.
She didn’t realize what you were … what you are … not fully.
Perhaps he wasn’t the only one who had rationalized in their past.
“Catherine …” He bowed his head, so he’d not to be forced to see her surprise. “I’ve always known. Every time we … met, I could discern your ability, or inability …”
… to breed.
“Only once did I not …” Care? Think?
The madness after Paracelsus had stolen his diligence. The call, her healing, her language without words, had slipped in past his usual barriers.
A smile, both unconcerned and forgiving, graced her features. “I think that we got very lucky that we weren’t … worried … about that at the time.” She bent her attention to the sleeping child, his child, and a wave of masculine pride and unlimited love caught him off guard.
With the confidence of hindsight, he could sort through their past, recognize her shifting feelings—gratitude, affection, then perplexity, wonder, ultimately devotion, intention—each new emotion superimposed upon the last. She desired him … had desired him, since … when? Before Hughes and his cage? Before the cave-in? Certainly by Lin’s wedding she had wanted him in every way, and, in the fullness of time, had wanted his child.
I could have stopped it, she had said. But she hadn’t. She’d chosen him time and again, believed in them, in him, in a future together.
“So, what you are afraid of, Vincent?”
Afraid? Of so much …
“I could … Mistakes could be made, Catherine.”
“But we’ve been intimate before,” she said, propelling past his reticence. “You don’t think we’re over that?”
Will we ever be “over” that?
He didn’t speak the words, but by her wilting features, she understood.
What a disappointment you are.
You were a saved man. You trusted, and now you’ve lost your Faith.
How easy it was after she returned, to let go, to give into longing. He could barely recognize those actions as his own now. Had they been so secure then? Or was her deliverance enough to overcome his myriad doubts?
He couldn’t answer.
“Oh … then, I get it,” she offered, unexpectedly.
“I understand,” she said.
She stood from the bed.
“You’re not safe here,” she continued. “It’s stupid.” Tears. She wiped them away, angry they had fallen, but miraculously not angry at him. In fact, when she looked at him it was with warmth, not bitterness.
“I don’t want you to be uncomfortable,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t want to push you.”
“I know there’s the life we want,” she said, gesturing with one hand. “And the life that we’re afraid of,” she continued, motioning with the other hand. “We’re balanced here, in this house, between one world and another.” She sniffed. “One tip in the wrong direction …”
“You state the problem well.” He sighed.
“But not the solution?” she asked, trying to smile. “I don’t know the answer, Vincent. I know you’re afraid. I’m afraid too, and I think of the same things.”
Can you understand, my Catherine? Even if you can’t, even if it isn’t the same, I need to know. Give me your voice.
“Tell me …”
Her half smile and nod … “That we’ll lose. That this will never be ours … that we’ll never find a home together, that I’ll never be your wife.”
She knew him so well.
“Catherine, I cannot ask … You cannot be just …”
Warmth fled, and cold eclipsed her heart.
“What? What can’t I be, Vincent?” She backed away. “Just your wife? Just Jacob’s mother?” Her sudden anger made him realize how close to her heart this argument—one they had in one form or another, over and over since they’d met—actually was.
Is that how you see her? Just? Only? Less?
No. Catherine, you are so much more.
She had to understand.
“Catherine, I finally have you with me again. After months of promising that when you were found, once you were with me, nothing could stop us from our dream.”
“I made the same promise when you collapsed in my apartment.” She looked down, her sadness and fear from that time sincere and palpable. “You were so sick, Vincent. I promised that if you would only get better I would never stop fighting for us.” She countered with such conviction, he couldn’t challenge her.
In sickness and in health … the traditional marriage vow they hadn’t included in their own ceremony. They were far too intimate with the one state of late.
“Catherine, you have lost so much—your home, your work. We both know dreams can turn to nightmares.”
The dream, the nightmare of cold and loss … so close.
“I know we’ve chosen …” to be married should have been the next words, but somehow, he couldn’t say them. “What if—”
She interrupted. “What if I can’t belong to your world, like when my father died?” Her question blunt as a fist, her usual reserve succumbing to the hysteria beginning to grip her.
“You’re afraid that I can’t belong to you, or to myself?” Her voice rose along with her fear.
He tried to touch her, to ground her, but she shook him off and pivoted away.
She breathed the emotion under, as she had so many times in the past weeks. Only when she gained control again did she continue.
“I brought you a world, Vincent, my world, and by sharing it with you, you opened that world to me. You made me a part of it in a way I never was before. We don’t have that now, and don’t you think I’m afraid?”
“I know you are.”
Of course I know. How can I fight your fears when they are also mine?
“But, Vincent, no matter what, I would have changed because I love you,” she nearly cried, in a voice that pleaded with him to understand. “If I had met you when I was twenty, I would have changed.” She looked around the room, to Peter’s house, where their worlds wound together and overlapped. “If we had met as children, I would have changed. I think you would have too.”
He couldn’t help but chuff at the fantasy spoken. If only they had. “In that, Catherine, there is no doubt.”
“But, Vincent, that’s just it. I can’t be afraid of change anymore, because you and Jacob changed everything. What I fear is that my world will have no place for us. I’m afraid it will never be safe again, but not because I want the life I had. I don’t want that life alone. I couldn’t go back.”
She looked to the sleeping child in the basket and then to him again.
“Could you?” She searched him with gaze and heart.
Having them, flesh of his flesh, his family, with him every day, every night, having the ability to know her heart, even in its broken and healing state. Loving her, the memory of her body and the pleasure he took and gave. Could he give it up?
“No,” he answered, but could find no more words that might satisfy her.
“Do you regret having Jacob?” she pressed.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. Not the child, but the way he came, her loss? Would she not allow him those sins and their repentance?
Concrete and expertly erected walls now between them, they both looked away.
For a long time, her gaze focused on the world outside the window and steadfastly away. He felt her gathering her words as the scant light dimmed into night around them.
“Vincent, I have to deny you all day long,” she said, finally. “I have to pretend I’m not your wife, that our life doesn’t exist, and I hate it.”
Her fingers touched the windowsill.
“But what I hate doesn’t matter,” she said, adamantly shaking her head, “because I will do whatever I have to do. Because …” Steel began to buckle, fear weakening her voice. “I could destroy you with one wrong word. I could have before …”
During her captivity, when she stayed silent for so long, for those she loved …
By denying what she had chosen, he was pushing her back into her cell.
She stood in the now dark room as she had stood in that jail, arms wrapped around, trying to keep her fright and sadness within her, trying to keep them both safe.
Her life before was over, her old identity destroyed; now in flux, she possessed only two certainties—she was their child’s mother and his wife. Everything she was would—must—stem from those truths.
She raised her eyes to his and he saw her grief, the loss of who she had been, the acknowledgement of his own grief.
Without thought, and sometimes that was best, he enfolded her, lifting her, and drew her up to him with a kiss—a kiss which she instantly responded to.
Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually—she was exhausted, but she wanted, and a husband’s job was to give.
In that moment he saw her word, wife, and all that it meant. Not an indictment against his fears, not a narrowing of her. They were her declaration of identity.
She touched his chest, her craving rising higher than uncertainty. She pulled at the fastenings of his vest without undoing them, allowing her fingers to flow over the lacings, a request without words.
Can I take this away? Will you show me?
He hesitated, putting her down.
“Oh, Vincent …” Her arms encircled his waist. “There’s more?”
His silence, his assent.
“Please, tell me.” Tell me your fears, your truths… “Please. I’m your wife.”
The longed-for word, a dream of a lifetime. A wish, but wished the way a child might long for a castle or a galleon, without any clue of what to do on its actual possession.
You should never have to beg me for anything. It’s my weakness that grounds us.
She let go, arms raised in a searching gesture.
“Vincent, why? Why won’t you love me?”
He had done so before. Their first time the madness, the desperation, had surged, a flash flood, and her love a lifeline. And the second—they’d traveled the current together, as it should have been, but this—
She was asking him to step from the shore into a raging river.
“It is so much … more than I … we … It is a complication that I do not know if we can afford yet.”
“A complication?” An almost mirthful sigh. “Vincent, for a married man, you have a very strange definition of complication.”
Didn’t she see?
He released her. “Catherine, neither one of us is completely healed from your abduction.” He tried to subdue his voice and feelings for the sleeping child’s sake, but the passion for her – and every accessory emotion – thwarted him. “My senses are more acute here, and focused ... on you.”
She had to understand.
“This afternoon, with … Joe.” The name still unfamiliar in his mouth. “I could have … I nearly—”
“I know. I felt it.” She acknowledged the dangerous truth, but absolved him in the next breath. “You didn’t hurt him, Vincent. You wouldn’t.”
Wouldn’t I? Those “police” in the park. I killed them with barely a thought.
“The men that questioned you today,” he said, voice deepening as he drifted closer to her, “I can smell them on your clothes. I could find them, and I could—“ He bit words back, forbidding the thoughts air.
He turned away, unable to speak to her eyes.
“Catherine, I can barely allow you out of my sight,” he growled, and his left hand engulfed the leather pouch she had given him. Beneath his fingers he could feel the outline of her rose. “If I were a normal man, maybe I could let you go, but …” He held the gift so tightly, the cord might break. “There are times … the madness is so close.”
He seized the bedpost, but the bed would not support him. It would buckle under his weight, and he tensed himself to keep it whole. “Today was impossible for you … and for me. I almost lost the balance. If you were hurt again, if they tried to keep you …”
“And you think that if we …” she began, “if we loved now, that … what? It could get worse? Vincent, I can barely leave you too. You know that,” she protested. “It’s normal—”
“Catherine, I am not … normal,” he said, seething, but then anger instantly gave way to regret. He couldn’t be angry at her. How could he? How could the world hurt her? She was so beautiful … so caring.
She ducked under his rigid arm, encasing herself within his embrace, entrapping herself there.
For a few breaths’ time, she didn’t seem to know what to say. She just studied him, until concern transmuted into caring, love and sorrow and resolution all vying in her gaze.
“Oh, Vincent, if only you could see you through my eyes.”
No, you are not normal, her feelings said.
You are not normal, and I don’t care.
“I won’t push you, Vincent. I love you.” She folded her arms, dropping her eyes. “I see what you are going through.”
He could feel her drawing away, cocooning within, wrapping herself in remonstrations and regret.
She was drained in body and spirit. She needed reassurance. There was a time and a place, and maybe this was neither, but it didn’t matter. There were no right answers.
He lifted her face with the calloused pads and curving nails that by some miracle she wished to touch her.
“And when you look at me, Catherine, what do you see?” he asked her again, tears tightening his voice to a whisper. This time, no rancor in the question.
He wanted truth.
It could destroy them.
Or set them free …
“My husband,” she said, with all her love and wishes and, yes, fears—for them, for the future.
That is who she saw.
No, Catherine, not yet. Not fully.
Who will I be, when I am your husband? he wished to ask.
Who will I be, when I am your wife? she’d already asked of him, of herself, of the world.
We can find out together.
“I don’t know what to do,” he whispered.
She nodded in understanding, but without pity or comment. She simply touched his shirt again, repeating her mute inquiry, Will you show me?
She would know. She would see.
He undid the lacing on his vest, slowly, and then with her help. It was off his body before he knew he was ready. Her fingers snuck under his ribbed shirt, quickly, in case he changed his mind, nails slowly sinking into the fur of his flanks and reaching his skin—a new sensation, lush, gratifying in a way he never knew he desperately craved. He closed his eyes, savoring the feeling. An instant later, she grasped his shirt, and with his aid lifted it up and over his head and off.
She stood in front of him, her eyes on his abdomen, then, slowly, taking in every inch, her gaze flowed, over ribs and chest and back down again. What fascinated her? It was fascination, attraction, that broadcast from her. Her hand reached out, almost unsure. Tentative fingers followed a rib to his stomach and then marched carefully through the short fur covering each muscle.
Statue still, poised beneath her mapping gaze and touch, he’d never submitted to this long of an appraisal from anyone. He never thought he would want this, but every one of her feelings he made himself open to said, Worthy, pleased … desired.
She traveled, following planes and curves of pectorals, to his collarbones and, for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime, he allowed himself to want more.
She kissed his shoulder, beginning a slow circumnavigation.
She ran her fingers through the fur at the curve of his spine, pressing in, following the lines of bones, tracing the overlapping muscles, the curving roads of him.
And he wanted more.
A kiss as she encountered where her natural height met his back. Twining arms … pressing her cheek between his spine and shoulder, she held him, breathed him. Before moving on, she kissed where she fit again.
More—her fingers fluttered, caressing hip as she kissed his shoulder.
More—she was before him again, both hands tracing the spaces between his ribs, stroking the soft fur there while her nails gently explored skin beneath. She kissed his sternum and muscle, claiming him with each gently wet impression left on his skin.
Awakened … his entire body, hands, skin, lips, awakened … hungry for her … voracious. Give back … kiss her with the passion she demands … invade … retreat.
It was so easy. With a hand on the back of her head, his lips could travel her jaw, follow stately line to graceful neck. He could inhale her … mouth could explore lithe muscle curving between neck and shoulder.
Her openness, her trust … complete … and he fell into her welcome, holding on when her desire became weakness, his desire strength.
She pressed in, explaining what was possible.
This can be ours. This can belong to us, her touch told him, as the bond told him.
An end to itself … he hadn’t realized that before, Below, when he had stopped her kisses, kept clothed, forced lustful sight away. Each touch could be a life in itself, another jewel, and another, and another. Even if the child woke, even if Peter returned, even if they had to stop this for now, they would have each kiss, each request, each token of love.
All those years, all those months of yearning, all those nights that couldn’t end for the insomnia of desire, believing that if they tried to have this, their love would be broken, tainted. Here, with her touching him, he could only regret those wasted days.
Before her recovery to him, he didn’t understand. She taught him—here, now, in every moment—there was a purity in need.
“All of you … I want all of you,” she whispered. Not just the man, she wanted everything, the bright aspect and the dark instinct.
With her he was more, never less. In her gaze, in her heart, he was beautiful, all of him, them together, beautiful. Dark and light, all the parts of him that set him apart, would not be parted from her.
Almost unwillingly, he released her neck, tilting her back to see her, to reach her.
“Take these clothes off me,” she begged. The clothes of Above, of the city.
I don’t need them with you.
Nodding … then buttons barely navigated without ripping, revealing harkening skin plummeting into curved descent, breasts firm within a stretched, damp bra, ribs that rose and fell with each rough breath.
One hand could enclose, he thought, completely cover, lift, hold. He didn’t realize thought followed vision, cupping palm and stroking fingers, until the aching emptiness, her longing to be filled, to take him in, scorched, roaring through him. His hand, dark in the darkness, pulled fabric down, revealing glowing skin beneath.
Bending, taking uncovered breast in his mouth, and she exhaled—relief, pleasure. He sucked gently in rhythm with the bond’s invisible pulse. She rocked against him, the same beat. It was her want, a needy, living thing.
She groped for his belt.
Her hands, pulling leather through the metal, recalling their first time, in the cave, circumventing all barricades … a shortcut to hunger’s realm. Clothes, not to hide in anymore, unacceptable …
Finally, nakedness, and with it, split-second sobriety.
The frenzy in his blood … he was losing himself. He couldn’t! She was with him, Above. He had to be vigilant, not only to the threats outside, but to the danger she created in him. Post-abduction, post-birth, post-everything, too easy to damage her.
He tensed, and a split second later, so did she, afraid this was where it would end.
Inspired by her vision of them, and the vision of her, he turned their bodies and laid back on the bed, pulling her on top of him. He needed her in control.
She smiled at his offer, at his capitulation.
All right, her expression said. I will accept that.
She kissed him, sliding her legs beside his, pressing herself along his body. Her weight reached across his hips, a beautiful, sensual feeling, and so close … They gazed at the equal miracle before their eyes, a brief lacuna before they joined.
He wanted to touch her sex, to open her, to guide himself inside her, but his hands trembled, the hunger too great, the fear of harm to great, and she didn’t need his guidance anyway. Without preamble or fear she simply drove down onto him, insistent, steady, a velvet brightness engulfing them both.
She curled her body up, and then cascaded down him again. It was excruciating pleasure. By the third stroke, any discomfort she’d felt from her physical healing was gone, replaced by mutual fervor to hasten each penetration. Exquisite.
Yours. He thrust into her.
Your husband, another thrust.
I am, release. Yours, accept.
You are, release. Mine, accept.
My lover. Thrust. My wife.
He held her hips tighter, the urge to have breaking through flawed resolutions. She smiled, drawing close, a perfect second skin, and kissed his ear, his temple, his throat.
She was rain in spring—each breath the sound of wind, each small sigh as they joined and parted and joined again the sound of every creature’s rebirth. She was sun, hot and bright. She was warm earth. He knew her as he knew this.
He sought more and more of her, shortening strokes, until her body—the earth, the universe— surrounded him. She encompassed his yearning, consumed his want, added it to her own. Possession soared above the sordid lies and complications into perfect narrative.
She rose, riding his desire.
Faster now, reaching, savoring giving way to must.
So close, piercing need hurtling them forward. Hunger exponentially multiplied.
Bow-taut, she came–to him, for him– falling, clinging to him, burying her face and cry into his chest. He came–to her, into her– in a roaring rush, reaching for her, filling her.
Exhausted, she moaned as he plunged once, twice more, into her now almost limp body and there they remained, joined, embracing.
His. His wife.
Hers. Her husband.
Even as he gently lifted her off to nestle her almost sleeping body into his arms, they were still bound— separate, but barely—vulnerably wrapped into a single fate.
It was their new truth, one that had been denied, pushed back, but had always yearned to be told to the world—the necessary truth that brought them mostly for better, and some for worse, into a new life together.
One—they were one.
It was the truth of all things.
 “What Rough Beast”