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               LOOKING HOMEWARD TO FIND INNER PEACE.            10-19-10
                                                 Roy Garde
Dawn Harris became pregnant when she was seventeen years old and because her parents were old-school and intractable about such things they put a great deal of pressure on her boyfriend’s parents and on him, Ben, and on Dawn of course, and, consequently, the two of them agreed to get married and the ceremony went through almost before she began to show.
The couple’s parents found an apartment for them and she delivered a beautiful baby boy – Andrew, ‘Drew’ – but instead of cementing the marriage he, or ‘it’ as Ben persisted in calling his son, was as directly responsible for ending it as he’d been for beginning it because he, Ben, simply wasn’t ready for the inconveniences nor the responsibility nor the curtailment of his social life and so one morning she woke up to find him – gone.
And ‘gone’ he stayed. Rumor had it that he’d moved to Vancouver.
Dawn’s mother, who was barely forty herself and had always wanted a son, came to her rescue and persuaded her to come home to live and she took over the raising of the child, so much so that his first word was “Nan.” Seeing that there was a lot of rapport going on between them Dawn felt free to finish high school and then leave home to get a degree in Economics and then an MBA and then, with Nan’s full agreement – and encouragement – she looked for a job in the City and soon after finding a very good one, and having tired of commuting in a matter of weeks, she rented an apartment there too and began to enjoy a full social life (also a nicely full sexual life because after having a whole lot of loving from, and with, Ben for around two whole years she found it very difficult to live without having a man in her bed regularly). She didn’t allow herself to get serious with any of them because a second marriage and more children didn’t appeal to her in the slightest.
Drew was a happy child and a bright student and he eventually got himself a degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT but then, tired of studying, he didn’t obey his Nan, who wanted him to stay in college and get another degree, and he applied for a job with GE in their traction factory in Ohio.
He was put on a type of management/apprenticeship scheme which sent him to a different department annually and he was dismayed to find that he didn’t like any of them and after three years, with his next move to ‘accounting’ looming over him, he quit and went home to Nan and asked if he could stay there for a ‘few months.’
Nan was not only delighted to have him come home again but she also needed help with her husband who had contracted Alzheimer’s and required more and more care from her and she was finding it difficult to do some of the heavy lifting.
Between them they coped well for several years until there was nothing for it but to put him in a constant-care home and a scant year after that he succumbed to the disease. Worse was to come into Drew’s life and disturbingly quickly because his Nan was devastated by her husband’s death and stopped looking after herself and a few months later she had a heart attack while taking her morning walk and she died where she fell in the street.
When her will was read Dawn was sitting at Ben’s side and they found that she had been left jewelry and two paintings and a few pieces of furniture but the house, along with all of her other assets, went to Drew.
Although the total amount had been dragged down severely by her husband’s medical needs there was still enough to support the running of the house and himself and so he was able to continue living a life of leisure although he didn’t think of it like that because he kept trying various new projects and, as was his nature, he threw all of his energy into each one until he’d wrestled it to the ground at which time he rapidly lost interest.
Dawn hadn’t mentioned it to Drew at the funeral, or at the will reading, but things weren’t going well for her in her company. Internal politics and blatant nepotism had combined to see to it that she didn’t get an all-important, and well deserved, promotion and although her CEO had several times pleaded with her to stay she remained miffed and was hovering on the verge of resigning.
One morning the alarm woke her up as usual and she found, as she was marshaling her thoughts and preparing to get out of bed, that she was crying real tears, for no reason as far as she knew, and then, as she was eating breakfast, it happened again and it came to her that there was a very good reason indeed for her crying jags in that they were a clear signal that she had do something about her unhappiness at work. She realized that the only way to do that was to break with, and move completely away, from her ungrateful company altogether and at once.
She went in one last time and told her immediate boss what she’d decided and then she went to see the Controller and they sorted out how much money she had coming to her from her vested pension fund and her 401K and what percentage of the year end bonus would come to her and then she collected her personal items and said goodbye to her old friends and colleagues on her way out.
She fully expected new offers to come flooding her way but she hadn’t taken into account the near-recession and the almost total cessation of hiring anybody at all and so she stayed home, still waiting, and drew down her savings.
Finding out that your talents aren’t required by anyone, especially when you know that you are capable of doing good work for just about any company in related fields, is one of the most difficult and soul destroying experiences that anyone can have, especially an ex-executive who had been on the fast track to a top job for years.
She tried very hard to not let it affect her and she saw to it that she kept having a full life by going out on dates as usual and in the day time she found lots to do in the city but after around four months of that she realized that she’d be climbing walls if she didn’t find satisfying work soon.
Not long after that, luckily for her, her agency told her about a job opening that had potential although it was in a town that was far away from the city that she’d come to love. However, by a strange co-incident, it wasn’t all that far from her hometown.
When she’d been given the date and time of an appointment with the new company she called Drew and explained what was going on and asked if she could come and stay with him for ‘a few days.’
Their situation was a strange one and so neither of them was comfortable about being in the same room together for long no matter about knowing that they’d be sleeping in adjacent bedrooms but the awkwardness dissipated quickly when they found that they liked each other.
He’d been experimenting with cooking, it had been one of his interests, and he insisted on preparing dinner for them both and that night she was non-plussed to find herself sitting at the table where she’d eaten hundreds of regular, traditional meals being served a five course one of such high quality that she’d only ever found its equal in two and three star restaurants while on vacation.
Having lived in the city for many years she knew her way around take-outs and the ordering of home delivery and so on their second night – her appointment was for the next day – she surprised him by having a selection of foods delivered to their door that made him praise her to the skies for her cleverness.
When she showed up, five minutes early, for her appointment she was taken to the top floor of a fifteen floor building and was then ushered into a conference room where she was introduced to the company’s CEO and the COO and the CFO and several more top people and was delighted when the CEO told her that they were well aware of her potential and that they’d known about her splendid career long before they’d read the CV that she’d sent them and that he sincerely hoped that his HR department would be able to entice her to join them. He and his cohorts then shook her hand again and left her with the HR chief.
It quickly became obvious to Dawn that there was indeed a great deal of potential in the job that was being offered and, although the salary was only two thirds of what she’d been getting, she only needed a few minutes on her own before meeting up with HR chief again and accepting the job.
They agreed on a starting date which gave her two weeks to move out of her apartment and to put her furniture in storage until she’d located a new apartment nearby. Drew helped her to haul her personal stuff and her clothes to his house after assuring her that she could stay with him as long as she liked and could thus have plenty of time to pick and choose her new home.
It took ten days before Drew’s cover as a gourmet chef was blown because he only knew how to make four different dishes and so he had to repeat them, on alternate nights with her home deliveries, and she caught on after his sixth presentation and second repeat.
After that they took to going out every other night for dinner and it was the forced togetherness that came with having to decide on which restaurant to use and having to get dressed and getting in the car and then going home together that brought them closer and closer together and made their blood relationship retreat until it lost significance.
When she was comfortable with her new job and was getting on well with her colleagues she began to realize that she’d never been happier in her entire life. She liked going to her satisfying job every morning and she liked coming home to Drew every night and in not too long a time she gave up all thoughts of looking for an apartment to move to and, because he liked having her around too, he didn’t bring it up and so it never came up.
Occasionally their hands would touch, inadvertently, in the car or in the kitchen as they put meals together and they found that a kind of mild electrical charge would pass between them that gave them both pleasure. They were, of course, careful to not comment on but it wasn’t long before they began to extend that pleasure by not ending the contact for a second or two.
Inevitably, that led to a strange standoff in that although neither of them dared to be the one to take the next step they both accepted the fact that something nice was going to happen between them sooner or later.
After a few weeks she naturally got to note the patterns of his everyday life and so she knew that on the nights that they weren’t going out to eat, after having dinner and after they’d joined forces to deal with the dishes, he liked to catch up with world news on the computer that he’d set up in a spare bedroom and then, depending on what day it was, he’d go back downstairs in time to watch one of his favorite TV programs.
Neither of them ever did work out whether it was a coincidence or not when she happened to come out of the bathroom at the exact same time, one Tuesday night, that he was going along the landing on the way to the stairs to go down and catch NCIS.
She was wearing a flimsy, filmy gown which opened up the middle and that’s exactly what it did when she reached out one arm to switch the bathroom light off.
He’d long known that she had nice breasts – all women who have them know how to select clothes that have different amounts of décolletage for use on different occasions – but seeing them wholly naked and free was something else again. Also, she had an invitingly round belly and thighs that were comely, to say the least.
That combination, of course, proclaimed ‘woman’ loud and clear but she was saved from being labeled ‘blatant woman’ because her pubic hair was trimmed into a dense, black triangle that made it look as if she was wearing a bikini bottom and so he only glanced at it and then went back to ogling the rest of her.
There was no way that he could keep from staring and he did so for the few seconds that it took her to succeed at switching the bathroom light off which meant that she could then drop her arm which, in turn, let her robe close.
To him, it seemed as if the sun had suddenly gone down at mid-day.
She had noted all of his reactions – and was highly pleased with what she’d seen – and so when she retreated to her room it was with the near certainty that neither of them would be watching any TV at all that night. She didn’t close her door all the way.
Ben had turned and had hurried away, when he could get his legs to obey him, and he sat down in front of his computer and he switched it on but he couldn’t see well enough to so much as pick out any of the icons.
He wanted to go to her badly and he sat there trying to rationalize a way in, or out, for himself but couldn’t do the first one and didn’t want to do the second one and so, after maybe five minutes of agonizing over his dilemma, he said, out loud, “Fuck it. I’m gonna just do it,” and he stood up and walked around to her bedroom.
Seeing that it was slightly ajar helped him to go through with his intention and so he tapped on it and then pushed it open and he saw that she was sitting at her dressing table, wearing only a bra and panties, with her back to him.
He waited until she looked around and when he saw that, far from being outraged or even annoyed, she had a welcoming smile on her face his lust rose in him so strongly that he heard a roaring in his ears but it didn’t affect his eyesight as he found out when she stood up and began walking over to the bed.
Something made him wait where he was and it was the right thing to have done because just before she got there she stopped to undo her bra and she dropped it on a chair and then she leaned forwards onto the bed and waited.
Every man that she’d ever been with had always rushed to her when she’d done that and had then reached around to be able to weigh her breasts and, few seconds later, had taken his hands back to be able to slip her panties down and then he’d kneel to kiss her bottom as his hands smoothed her belly and thighs before his fingers began to explore her intricacies.
Ben was no exception.
When he’d gotten fully acquainted he let go of her to get undressed whereupon she got onto the bed and laid herself down in the center of it.
When he came back to her he sat on the side of the bed and waited until she looked over and then he showed her that he was holding a condom.
She shook her head and mumbled that he wouldn’t need it because, “I’ve taken care of that. Don’t worry.”
Actually Mother Nature had taken care of it for her but she didn’t tell him that because, naturally, it wasn’t something that she wanted him to know about and she figured that he’d assume that she was on the pill.
When she was in college she and some friends had often conjectured that whoever the inventor of the pill was he or she had intended it to be eighty per cent beneficial to women, as nearly fool-proof birth control, and twenty per cent to men in that they no longer had to buy condoms and deal with the messy disposal of them and could also enjoy much more spontaneity. But, after one of them had told them that she’d heard one of her lovers, unwittingly, refer to how much he preferred to ‘go bareback’ they thought some more about the general aspect and they realized that because of the added pleasure that men get by not having anything artificial to contend with and because seeing that the pill was readily available there’d be many more women available for them because it made a whole lot of – up to then – fearful women become players, and then, on top of that and perhaps not an unimportant factor, a biology major in their group posited the idea that maybe men got tremendous satisfaction from knowing that instead of merely filling the bulb of a latex device they were sending their seed all the way into the woman’s secret, and revered and intricate, reproduction system where they belonged and where they’d feel at home and welcomed – even while knowing for sure that none of them could successfully achieve their goal – and so the group’s thinking changed completely around and they wound up knowing that the ratio that they’d agreed on earlier had to be reversed because, clearly, what the inventor – now revealed to be a man, quell surprise! – had worked for was to devise a chemical that gives men eighty per cent of the benefits and women twenty percent.
       The same group also agreed that there could be no doubt in any one’s mind that
the invention of Viagra – also by a man, of course – was unequivocally one hundred per cent for the benefit of men and they wondered how many wives who were sixty-odd years old and had thought that they’d at last been spared from having to be subjected to any more savage poundings while taking up, and having to hold, peculiar and close to humiliating positions, fell into deep despair when their partners found out about the drug and confronted them in their beds with a rejuvenated, recalled to service, erect penis that they were expected to greet and then accommodate as before and this time with no end in sight.
       Similarly, when Dawn, more recently, found out that another pill ‘for women’ is on the market which promises an end to the inconvenience of having to suffer through having her period for four or five days every month and would reduce them to ‘three or four times a year’ she knew at once whose ‘inconvenience’ they were referring to and wanted to lessen.
     What would be next, she asked herself? The ultimate one, she supposed, would be another chemical invention which, when introduced into the nation’s water supply, would, a few weeks later, mean that if a man, any man, stood within two feet of a woman, any woman, for more than five seconds she’d go into heat there and then and a touch from him, to breast or bottom or belly, would trigger her into demanding that the guy copulate with her on the spot.
      Women would have to start wearing panties that allowed easy access and wrap around dresses that open up at the middle so that, when the man had closed with her, she could wrap the sides of her dress around him to afford them both a little privacy although that nicety probably wouldn’t be needed for long because every other woman in the vicinity would be either doing the same thing or had just done it and was concentrating on seeing to it that she kept more than two feet between her and any and all of the other men in the room.
One of the last things that she’d done before leaving the city was to arrange for an appointment with her gynecologist and she’d been told that, as she’d had reason to suspect, “Your egg basket is completely empty,” and then, because she, the doctor, saw that Dawn hadn’t much liked the flippancy in her statement, she tried to re-establish her position of authority by going on to say, “As far as you are concerned, condoms will from now on take on their secondary role of being prophylactics only but don’t let us forget for a minute how important that role is for all women.”
When Ben had joined her on the bed she followed her usual practice with new partners which was to check out his propensities, and potential, by lying still to let him explore her body and was surprised and pleased to find that he spent several minutes kissing her face all over but, a little strangely, only the corners of her mouth. After a while he moved his full attention to her breasts and he spent the usual amount of time caressing and kissing them and although he flicked at her nipples he didn’t suck on them. When he wanted to move on he kissed his way down over her entire topography to get to his destination and when he’d arrived he worried her clitoris and he kissed and ‘plumped’ her labia with his lips but he didn’t let his tongue go any further than the vestibule of her vagina.
From that she understood his earlier inhibitions and was relieved in that they set the tone for them both in that they both knew what parameters had to be set, and kept, to avoid weirdness and still let them enjoy, and even wallow in, their compatibility while exploiting ‘la differance.’
As he was delighting her with his tongue she was uneasy in that maybe his inhibitions would extend to non-penetration but she needn’t have worried because in due course he moved up her body, pausing to revisit attractions on the way, and when he was physically able to do so he entered her as sweetly as she could have wished.
After working hard to welcome him properly it got to be time for another of her techniques to be brought into play and that was to search out the small towel and the face cloth that she’d slipped under her pillow before he’d come knocking at her bedroom door because she’d suspected that this, their first love session, was going to go on for most of the night and she didn’t want to have to get up to douche when he was awake because that would certainly break the rhythm – and might even signal the end of their session – nor did she want any unpleasantness to mar any part of their get-together and so, when he’d finished reveling in the initial penetrating phase and had settled into the long haul part, she put her ankles on his hips and she picked her moment to negate one of his thrusts by lifting up with him, as he was withdrawing to gather his forces for another assault, and she was thus able to pull the towel into position under her bottom.
It was as well that she did because he hadn’t been with a woman for weeks and so he came in three spurts and the first one transferred an amazing amount of fluids over and into her care and the second one gave her an average amount and the third one was mostly splatter but when joined with the rest would make a formidable total that she knew was far too big for her to absorb.
He lay full out on her afterwards and although she found it difficult to get enough air into her lungs she willed herself to suffer through it because she loved having full-body skin-contact with him.
After a few minutes she realized that he was still as hard as ever and sure enough, to her consternation and delight, it wasn’t long before he started moving in and out of her again and that time she was able to lose herself in the action.
When he’d finished the second time his member became small enough to slip out of her unaided and triggered him into rolling off her and she felt his semen escaping and was able to use the towel to deal with it and then she took up the face cloth and wiped his genitals with it, so as to spare her sheets from being stained, and by doing both things, and then dropping the towels onto the floor, she could then cuddle up to him and hold him and help him to pass through the inevitable ennui that comes to all men after they’ve been thoroughly drained.
When she knew that he’d dozed off she slipped out of bed and she douched and then washed and dried herself and then applied a little perfume, strategically, to be ready for him when their next bout started because it had long been her custom, when she really liked the man who had come into her life, to take a good deal of care to see to it that things went smoothly for him to avoid the risk of his losing some of his ardor due to the built in disgust that men have for pungent semen, even when they’d produced it and had deposited it themselves.
   When he woke up he took a minute to work out where he was and with whom and then he turned to her and kissed her face and her mouth and he used his tongue too and she thought, happily, that all of his inhibitions were gone but she was wrong there because one of them never went away and that was the sucking of her nipples which was bizarre she thought but she accepted it as one of the prices that she had to pay to get all of the rest of it keep happening.
      She showed him some of the tricks that she had picked up over the years from her multiple partners and he was delighted with all of them and proved to have admiral stamina and the flexibility to do them properly.
        Because she had few-to-no responsibilities at work up to then – she’d been given six months to feel her way into her new job and so she didn’t have to work twelve hour days like the others and wouldn’t be expected to do so until her probationary time was up – when five o’clock came every evening she left her desk and rode an elevator down to the basement and she’d get into her car and would sit there and want to hug herself because she could look back on having done a solid day’s work, of the kind that she enjoyed doing most, and could look forward to an evening and night in which her enjoyment was guaranteed.
      She knew that in a little while Ben would have heard her car come into the driveway and he’d be waiting just inside the door and would take her coat and then guide her over to the sofa in the living room for a lot of kissing and murmuring – and getting felt-up along with some friendly groping – and then he’d lift her and carry her upstairs to the bedroom and they’d indulge themselves until they felt hungry and then, when they’d come home from a restaurant or had eaten what she’d phoned out for, they’d happily go back upstairs for more of the same.
She was, of course, all too aware that her idyllic state couldn’t last long and that the time would come, all too soon no matter how much Pilates she did or how much dieting, when her breasts would sag or shrink beyond the pleasing-to-men stage and her ass would spread and stop being cute, and all the rest of it – she already had to tint the gray in her hair and remember to lift her chin when anyone came close so as to make the ridges of fat between the unseemly lines on her neck flatten out, she shuddered on hearing the words, ‘turtle neck sweater,’ or, ‘choker necklace,’ and she had to remember to pull in her stomach when she was naked and wasn’t lying down – and that shortly after that Ben wouldn’t bother with taking her bra off, ever, and their love making would shrink to the point where instead of bringing an erection to bed with him every night he’d bring a only a vague need once or twice a week and instead of taking up the sixty-nine position as their penultimate one she’d have move into it at once and then work hard at her end until she’d succeeded in giving him the necessary drive to want to reciprocate down at his end.
        And then, inevitably, he’d meet a woman who was literally a half her age and she’d have to move out, PDQ, and look for a one bedroom apartment in Hoboken or, God help us all, Weehawken, wherever the hell that was.
        She derived a good deal of comfort from knowing that by the time that his ardor was beginning to decline she’d have taken on much more responsibility at work and would need to work many more hours and would have to take work home with her every night.
       When she’d started her car and was looking around to see if it was safe to pull out from her parking space she’d remind herself to turn around what can be the saddest phrase in the English language – “That was then, this is now.” and make it – “This is now. That will be then.”