The Coincidence of Wind
Dana, Alice and Shane are here having mojitos before they drive to Malibu for a party up in the canyons. Maybe? I wasn’t paying attention. Alice is excited. That much I have tracked. Shane could care less about all the cool people who’re supposed to be there. That’s how really cool people are I realize as I watch her laugh at Alice’s exaggerations, and in the nicest, most unapparent ways she assuages Alice’s constant nervousness.
Dana and Tina are at the other end of the garden peering over a mysterious yellow and purple flower that just appeared yesterday. “It really looks like an orchid doesn’t it?” Tina says excitedly. “But how is that possible?”
My attention drifts away from their botanical mystery and I pour another Mojito. I’m standing just far enough away from everyone to join in if I feel the desire, but have not disappeared inside so they might come looking for me. Sometimes the best place to be alone is to be just on the edge.
At this moment it is a lazy Saturday afternoon, and I’ve not been this relaxed since we stayed in New Orleans a year ago. Our visit coincided with a moody, tropical stormy weekend of rain. An artist friend of mine had vacated his studio in the French Quarter for the Cape to paint and romance any number of people over the summer. Tina and I had the second and the third floors of a mid-eighteen fifties Creole mansion whose top windows overlooked the Mississippi River as it rolled by New Orleans. The food was incredible everywhere we managed to dodge a rainstorm to get into. It was a perfect time for that trip. After a few months of us both busy with work and not connecting – that stormy weekend by the river brought us together again.
I like a storm. I don’t like the drenching part, although the hot shower afterwards is always lovely. I like the rolling clouds, and I like the thunder, and I especially like the lightning. The tropical storm had come in waves all day Saturday, and after making love Tina and I had watched the river lazily from our bed. I think I was drunk by three.
Our Godsend was the French Creole café downstairs. They were so incapable of being phased by anything having run a French Quarter café for fifty years I was tempted late Saturday night to go down there one last time, but in my bathrobe. It would not have mattered.
Samuel Clemens spent a lot of time in New Orleans back when everything went by the Mississippi. My artist friend had a Clemens’ quote about lightning on his refrigerator under a Dixie beer bottle opener. It read, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” I know from a stormy battering of recent experiences how destructive the chasm in meanings can be between the right words, and all the other words in a love relationship.
Relationships eat up words. They devour them and they eat them greedily. The cravings never satisfy, never satisfy the eternity of dissatisfactions. It frightens me how incredibly hard it can be to have even one morning a week of un-aggravated happiness. I dress for work, try to psych out Tina’s agendas and needs for the day, or week, and where they conflict with my own. Try to weigh my answers accordingly, try to temper my attention and my responses to make a clean break for the office – where things are anything but relaxing. At least there I can openly be aggravated.
I’m still uncertain how our relationship came back around like a sail boom in a strong wind. Thank God, I was alert enough to catch the ropes as they thrashed in front of my face, and I tied them off finally catching the wind that came past me. What if I hadn’t been quick enough? What if I had been in jail for murdering Helena? What if I had missed the wind?
It’s incalculable and yet my mind restlessly tries to figure it out in case I ever get in a jam like this again – I want the keys to get out of it. I don’t want my relationship with Tina to be a mystery. I want this to be solved. And I still don’t know what I said or did that changed her mind to come back around like a sail broken free in a storm.
Perhaps I didn’t do anything at all, and it was all her sorting it out. That’s interesting. If I erase myself from the picture and no traces of my pleading with her, yelling then apology flowers, beseeching emails, drunken voice messages, urgent texts, or wax sealed letters delivered by courier with more creative gifts, what if those never existed to sway her attention back to me for one fucking second to please listen to me tell you…what? See, that’s it! I didn’t have the lightning words then, and I don’t have the fucking lightning words now!
Tonight probably that dream will come again where I’m walking stark naked down a dirt race track, and Formula racing cars drag past me at incredible whining speeds. That’s how close I am to knowing what the chronology is about any of this with Tina.
Tina snaps me back to this moment. “Bette, it’s nearly four. You’re coming tonight, right?”
“Ah, so that’s what time it is. Yes, of course, I’m coming to clap the loudest when they give you your honors!” I walk over to her.
“It’s the last thing I’m doing with Helena. She wants me to meet a few philanthropists she thinks will help the Social Justice Center.”
“I will stay clear of you, and Helena Peabody, and any staircases.”
“That would be wise. I’ll see you there.” She kisses me goodbye.
“Of course, I’ll see you there.” I walk back to Shane, Alice and Dana.
“So, all this looks very promising.” Alice smiles and cheers her glass in my direction.
Dana looks up at me relieved, but also confused, “I can’t keep up, but then I had my own marriage plans to destroy.”
“You are a hard act to follow.” I agree, “But yes, we’re back together.”
“Dating and having a baby.” Shane finishes.
“It sounds so trashy the way you say that, Shane.” I admonish her.
“Plenty of people’s parents weren’t even dating still by the time they were born, Bette.” Shane sends me a “think about that for a minute” look.
“The baby’s named, Alice, of course.” Alice looks around us as if this were a given.
“The only clues I have is that it’s down to three and two of them start with an, A.” I confess with a laugh that drifts.
“Well, are you the final vote? Who decides if we have another, Alice?” Dana asks me.
“I have a vote. I just haven’t voted yet. Who knows Tina may change the alphabet all around on me and start with E’s or C’s tomorrow.”
“What about your mother’s name? Have you considered naming the baby after her?” Dana asks.
“I couldn’t do that. No, I just couldn’t do that.” I shake my head slowly.
I stop by The Planet on my way to Sunset and the hotel banquet room. My father is meeting Kit and Benjamin here tonight for dinner, and I feel the need to drop by and see Kit before Daddy comes, and my evening gets swept into another paradigm entirely.
“There you are, Lil Sis. Don’t worry. Daddy is going to be fine here unless he doesn’t like the food, but I’ve made sure that doesn’t happen.” Kit says as she greets me inside the door.
“No, I’m not checking on you.” I say as we sit at the bar.
“Do you want something?” The bartender asks me.
“Pellegrino is fine.” I turn my attention back to Kit. “Do you think Daddy just had affair after affair while he was with our Mothers?”
“Something other than the obvious bringing this on?” She looks at me sideways, “Any new developments I should know about? Any missiles gotten loose that might fall from the sky?”
“I was thinking about my mother today. Names for the baby, and she came up. I just wondered how many, many women’s hearts he broke before slowing down?”
“That’s the thing about those old timey men. They may beat you with a peach tree switch if they catch you sneaking off from church, but they’re burning through The Commandments as fast as they can.”
“I know. I have to really work to forgive Daddy for his hypocrisies, and for the way he treats Tina. Don’t get me started on his rejection of the baby.”
“But to answer your question: How much of a dog was our father? I have no idea. But considering how we turned out? My guess would be a bad dog, Bette. A very bad dog. But look, don’t you get all twisted up about it. Things are better with you right now.” I watch Kit’s attention drift from talking to me over to a group by the door.
“Listen, Sista, I gotta go, but Daddy will be fine. And you and Tina are getting more and more so. Go to the party and enjoy yourself. You won this one!”
Six Days Later – Bette
I don’t mind hospitals the way some people do. They complain they feel out of control, at the mercy of the doctors, or the disease. I don’t know why the reality in here is so different for them than outside the medical center? To me, the chances of getting bad news, or having something completely obliterate your life and happiness, can happen while drinking a latte in Santa Monica for Christ’s sake.
The fact that I have many people who will come running if I yell, or probably what they’d prefer is my pushing this Call Button instead, but the fact that there are computers doing calculations, people that will run in here when I want them to, are not the reasons we are going to my house now to move my father to stay with me. It’s that I see it very clearly as the next chapter for us. I think he can still get better, and if he doesn’t then he doesn’t. But he’s not going to die here in that hospital bed. That’s final.
Eight Days Later – Bette’s House
Kit’s shift with Melvyn
Kit has chased me back into my master bedroom to shower, and to do anything other than read to my father. He’s now in a coma, but I read the Mississippi River poem he loves to him over and over. Kit is now through with that. It’s her evening with him until midnight, and as I drop my clothes into the laundry bin, and twist on the hot water I hear a tap on the door.
“Bette?” Tina’s voice comes from outside the door.
“Here, just getting in the shower. When did you get back from Sacramento?” I test the temperature and enter.
The bathroom door opens. “When was the last time you ate? Do you remember?”
Hot water hits my face and I adjust the three shower heads to pulse on my body. Oh God, that is helping make me feel alive again. “A few hours ago. This morning I had oatmeal with Daddy.” I spurt out some water.
“Okay. It’s four o’clock, and Kit tells me you have circles under your eyes.”
“I don’t believe that’s true, but I haven’t looked in a mirror much in over a week. Would it matter anyway?” I feel myself getting furious. “Who the fuck cares if I have circles under my eyes? My fucking father is dying in the next room!”
The shower door flies opens. Tina is dressed in a long silk scarf we bought in India, and a navy and black maternity dress. Her hand is on her hip as she stares at me.
“I, for one, fucking care. Turn back around and look at me. I should not have gone to that conference in Sacramento with Oscar. I can see that now.”
I smooth the water from my face and cut the shower heads off. “Hand me a towel please. Can’t I even get a fucking shower in peace? Here look at me.” I wrap a towel around my waist. She takes my chin in her hand and looks at my weary face.
“Ok. Got it. Here’s what we’re going to do. You stay right there and put the clothes on I’m going to pick out for you.”
“No, I really don’t want to go out tonight. Maybe Saturday night?” I wipe the steam away from the mirrors. I do have circles under my eyes. She’s right.
“Don’t do anything to yourself. Just towel your hair. We’re walking down to the food truck and getting fish tacos and lemonades.”
As I walk to the doorway a pair of jeans hits my face and chest. I step back a pace. Next comes my Irish linen white shirt flying toward me, and then sailing by my ear is a bra. Tina turns toward me as I assemble the clothes on my arm.
“That should do it. Put those on.”
“You forgot my underwear.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, I like how it makes you focus.” She shoots a look at me before she leaves the bedroom.
Food truck experiences can vary so greatly from love to hate there is no computer invented that can plot all the probabilities. But this little man and his son have the fresh fish tacos down. The tortilla is made right there. All the tomatoes and chilies are fresh, and for eighteen dollars he recalibrates my world. Tina and I drink lemonade as we stroll through our neighborhood.
I put my arm around Tina’s shoulder, “Thank you for the rescue. I get a tunnel vision, you know? Blinders on and I can just disappear.”
“It’s your way of coping right now.”
“Narrow the field of intake.” I nod.
“Bette, I need you to cope with something else right now, too, though. Listen, the baby is due really soon. You’ve got a lot of things going on all at your house.”
“Where would you go?” I feel myself getting unsettled.
“That’s what I need you to focus on. I may need to go somewhere else. Think about it. Can you see me giving birth there right now?”
Midnight – Bette
My house is on the ocean side and fairly high in the desert hills and heavy rains are rare here. But as a storm comes down from the canyon tonight it wakes me up from a dream that has painted me with sadness. I slip out of bed and tip toe past Tina sleeping to look in on my father. His breath is rough, and a word twists out as a moan in his sleep. The light in the hallway flickers on, and erases the dimness around his bed. I feel Tina beside me.
“I don’t think it’s going to be long, Babe. Prepare yourself.”
“I think I have.” I say resolutely.
“Why do you think he had such an endless pervasive indifference toward me. He was capable of completely erasing me even as I sat right in front of him.”
I walk over to my father’s bedside table and pick up a photograph of me and Tina, blonde-headed like my mother. “You must remind him of her. That’s all I can think.”
“I had wondered,” Tina takes the photograph from me, and puts it back on the table. “But you’re not going to sit in here all night, Bette.”
“No, you’re here, and I don’t want to. God, this storm is incredible, isn’t it?”
“Come back to bed. We can watch the lightning through the skylights.” Tina takes my hand and leads me down the hallway.
Bedroom – Bette
Tina lies on my shoulder and looking up through the skylights we watch flashes of lightning through the thousands of raindrops that splatter above us. Thunder rolls in from the canyons, then booms around us. My mind moves from place to place as the wind tears around the house and through the palm trees in the garden. I visit my father’s rough breath as he slowly leaves his life behind. I feel the curve of Tina’s and my baby beside me. The two dynamic poles of life so close, yet seemingly in limbo as a storm thrashes at every window around me. Tina hugs me to her and shudders.
“Bette, did you just feel the house move a little?”
“Incredible isn’t it? The wind seems to be coming from everywhere.” I feel her shift next to me and pull my arm tighter around her. “Wait? Are you not alright?” I try to see her clearly through the strobes of lightning.
“It reminds me of that storm in New Orleans,” Tina says.
Bedroom – Tina
As I say this I watch Bette’s face changing as she begins to remember, too. We had been preoccupied with our jobs before we flew in that weekend, and as the time grew closer for us to leave I had begun to regret the plans. I had so much to do wrapping up my job before leaving to get ready to have this baby. But once we got to the old city, and our forays out exploring restaurants, and then rushing back to the house for shelter from the weather, I became a happy tourist.
Saturday was the day we were stranded completely by the storm that became more and more violent as the morning wore on. I admit that with New Orleans’ reputation for hurricanes I was unsettled – even though this was a breeze compared to their last killer hurricane, Katrina. Bette and I had sipped wonderful, dark strong coffee in bed as our plans began to change, and our lovemaking began.
The clock had just turned on our being together for seven years, and being preoccupied with our work had become okay. Sometimes, too, I get so reactive to her mood swings my focus goes away from her incredible waiting sexuality that with the slightest attention will awaken and curl out to find what disturbed it, and why. I realized that morning in New Orleans my loneliness for her. My need felt complicated, and unsettled by the weather growing more and more violent. I had handed my coffee cup to her and slid down her stomach, and put her in my mouth. Then I had heard her clink our cups on the table and moan.
For me oral sex can give me that desired for feeling – to fall back into a lover’s visions of seduction and leave the planet with them if that’s what happens. I remember the rough breezes of the storm coming through the open French doors and mists gathering in our room as I made love to her. Fog horns from the river sounded urgently, and she had fallen back, and let me take her.
I don’t know what it was. The smells of the storm and the rising river, the sounds from the ship horns, or those she made herself – but I watched Bette become for a time, a much younger woman experiencing the pleasure of her body. Not as the first time, but as sensations still unusual and thrilling, as I had kissed her and teased her until finally she had threaded her hands on the back of my neck, and had looked at me sometimes with shakes of surprise at her pleasure.
Tonight, as I watch the lightning flashes through the skylight, and the reflections from the pool erratic against the walls of the bedroom I moan as Bette kisses my belly. I feel the baby kick in the fluid bubble inside me, and I feel Bette’s tongue slip between my legs.
She’s so good at this, but tonight I want to feel her confining arms – not a flight of pleasure for the hour she likes to do this. As she looks up from me, I watch her become entranced moving now to my breasts swollen with milk.
”I want to taste it. Is that wrong?” She licks my nipples over and over again, and then watches me for my reaction. ”I’ll stop if you want to stay dry.” She waits to see if I’ll let this burn for her begin.
”You did finally read something then.”
She laughs. ”Yes, I’ve been reading, you can check my browser cache.” She moves her leg between mine and circles my nipples with her fingers. ”I really want to.” She looks up at me questioning at first, but then a piercing look of desire overtakes her. I feel my skin flush up my chest to my neck.
She smiles slyly at me, “I’ll take that as a yes.”
One of my nipples feels very wet now in her mouth, and I hear her moan. My other breast seeps with a stickiness she catches with her fingers. An urge of wanting to fuck and suckle confuses me. I feel myself suck in my breath hard. She lifts her lips from me.
”What happened? Too weird?” She licks my breast as it seeps, clearly not wanting to stop.
”Not too weird. But too something, though.”
”Something that you now have to finish quickly. If you suck my breast milk anymore I’m going to lose it with it you.”
”I can’t take all night while it storms and thunders?” She asks coyly as I take her hand and press her to push inside me. ”Okay, I get the picture.” She whispers softly, ”Lean towards me a little more.”
She sucks my breast again as a wonderful probing rhythm from her exploring me begins inside. The air around my exposed breast mixes and tingles with the milk seeping from it. An itch begins. Then her mouth switches, and she licks more of my milk away. I feel her fingers come out of me slowly.
”I need a pillowcase, a towel really, but a pillowcase to catch this gush I’ve started.” She slips a pillow case free and puts it up to my left breast. We watch as the cotton darkens with moisture.
”I can’t tell you what it feels like, but I love it.” I tell her.
As her mouth takes over my nipples the feeling of my milk going out of me dissolves the last resistance I still had of being back with her again.
I’m gliding on the edge of orgasm when she asks, ”Can you feel the wind around us?”
I feel her arm muscles tighten as I run my hand up and down almost to her elbow. ”Only you inside me.” Her mouth on my nipple again. The unusual flow between us returning.
”You have no idea what that feels like. God!” I cry out as I feel her licks take the milk from my breasts.
”I need to. Tell me.”
Inside me she has found the place she wants. A field of ecstasy between us now spreads out with edges to fall from everywhere. Her long, taunting kiss on my lips for me to find her now.
”You don’t know what you mean to me anymore do you, Baby?” But the edge has approached before I can tell her. We see it in each others’ eyes.
If you enjoyed this story, please give me a little tip here at paypal.me/blackbirdwrites. For $3.00 you’ll be buying me a cup of coffee, $7 is a cold drink I’ll enjoy and $10 and up is dinner. A comment back from you I’d love, too.
The next story in the series is, Come Back to Me.